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A high-profile auction of tapes featuring A-list Hollywood stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe and Brad Pitt auditioning for roles has been cancelled following complaints by the US’s largest acting union.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) stepped in after it emerged that video tapes made by casting directors for 2001’s Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind, a 1990 TV adaptation of the 1983 brat pack drama The Outsiders and the 1991 firefighter thriller Backdraft were due to go under the hammer. The tapes included DiCaprio’s failed audition for the role of Ponyboy in Frances Ford Coppola’s little-seen small screen take on The Outsiders, Crowe’s audition for the role of maths genius John Nash in Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind (which eventually won him a Bafta and a nominated for an Oscar for best actor) and auditions by Pitt and Robert Downey Jr for the role of Chicago firefighter Brian McCaffrey in Backdraft (which eventually went to William Baldwin).

“SAG-AFTRA considers the right of performers to control the use of their image to be of utmost importance and we vigorously protect those rights,” the union said in a statement. “Auditions are not public performances, and under SAG-AFTRA collective bargaining agreements performers are entitled to expect them to remain private. SAG-AFTRA, on behalf of our members, has requested that Julien’s Auctions discontinue the sale of these private tapes, and they have agreed to do so immediately.”

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