Netflix Releases Footage Of Jessica Gunning's Baby Reindeer Audition – And It's Chilling

Richard Gadd has also revealed he saw some of "the best actresses in Britain" before casting Jessica as Martha.
Jessica Gunning in one of her Baby Reindeer audition videos
Jessica Gunning in one of her Baby Reindeer audition videos

Netflix has unveiled footage of Jessica Gunning’s Baby Reindeer audition tape – revealing her characterisation of Martha was already pretty much spot-on before filming had even begun.

On Friday evening, the streaming service posted two different clips of Jessica’s audition to play Martha in the drama back in 2022, which would go on to become one of Netflix’s biggest successes of this year.

The videos, shared on Netflix’s official social media accounts, are interspersed with footage of the actual drama, revealing how much of Martha was Jessica’s own creation.

Watch the footage for yourself below:

Excerpts of Jessica’s audition were first included as part of a video feature put together by Variety last week.

In the footage, both Jessica and the show’s creator Richard Gadd opened up about the casting process for the character of Martha, which the latter described as “long” and “challenging”.

“The show really hinged on an actor being able to deliver the nuances of Martha. If somebody plays it nothing but evil, nothing but weird, nothing but twisted, the show fails to take on the nuance that I think it needs to be an interesting piece of work,” Richard explained.

He went on to reveal that he’d seen “the best actresses in Britain” and even some international performers for the role, but he’d “always wanted Jess” to play alongside him.

“Every time I’d seen her in something she’d stolen the scene in anything she did,” he claimed.

Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning on The Tonight Show last week
Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning on The Tonight Show last week
NBC via Getty Images

Jessica also recalled: “I’d auditioned over the space of about four months. They wanted to really make sure that the chemistry between us was spot on.

“I think you could go several ways with part of Martha, I really fought for it, because I just saw her so clearly, and I just kept thinking, ‘oh man, if somebody were to do this and play her as a villain or as crazy you’d miss the point of it’. Because she so isn’t that. And so I went in again and again to try and persuade them.”

At one point, Jessica heard “through the grapevine” that producers were worried she was too young to play Martha, so she decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I spoke to a friend of mine who’s actually an amazing make-up designer, and I was chatting to her and I was like, ‘if you were designing the show, would you think I was too young?’, and she was like, ‘no, I’d just either wig you up or grey your hair a bit’,” she explained.

“So she sent me to a wig place in London, and they wigged me up and aged me up, and then I went and put myself on tape and sent it over to them, to be like, ‘look! See! Please?!’. And luckily it worked.”

For his part, Richard remembered this slightly differently.

“She did a self-tape where she’d aged herself up and she’d bought a wig from a joke shop, and it was the maddest wig I’d ever seen,” he revealed with a laugh. “But again, [she showed] this commitment, this passion for it.”

The timing of Netflix’s audition post was interesting, as it came shortly after a lawsuit was filed against the streaming service by a woman claiming to have been the inspiration for Martha, accusing the company of “defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, gross negligence” and “violations of [her] right to privacy”.

Netflix has vowed to “defend this matter vigorously”, with a spokesperson insisting they also stood by “Richard Gadd’s right to tell his story”.


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