Gary Oldman is the bomb

Aside

d5d2ecf381089cdf81634fa8c8f74021Loved this interview with Gary Oldman.  A excerpt:

Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances. An acting teacher told me that.

You choose your friends by their character and your socks by their color.

“Fuck ’em.” Shortest prayer in the world.

A lazy man works twice as hard. My mother told that to me, and now I say it to my kids. If you’re writing an essay, keep it in the lines and in the margins so you don’t have to do it over.

I wanted to play Dracula because I wanted to say: “I’ve crossed oceans of time to find you.” It was worth playing the role just to say that line.

…..

Read more: Gary Oldman Quotes – What I’ve Learned Gary Oldman Interview – Esquire

Crybaby

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The only time I feel kinship with male porn stars is when I have to cry on camera. It is the actor-version of a porn star having to ‘get it up’. You can’t fake it….and there is no fluffer for tears.

In real life, I love a good cry….and seem to cry at the drop of a hat.  Tears help me through the loss, hurt, and the slings and arrows that each of us have to wade through in life.  But I can also find myself crying over news stories, commercials, books, weddings, births, beautiful songs, breathtaking choreography, particularly anything that is unexpected compassion…stories involving animals or children… people overcoming adversity or rising to a challenge, people being their very best selves…  Let’s just say there are a lot of things that resonate with me and can bring me to tears. I’ve learned there are topics and conversations I have to avoid, because they immediately pull me down to a level of emotion I can have a hard time crawling out of. 

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The beauty and the horror of the world can overwhelm, and yes, it can feel so good to let go. To dive into big emotions and let those waves wash over you. But having to cry ‘on cue’ is another animal entirely….it gives me massive compassion for guys with erectile dysfunction. Your “tool” works on any normal day – but under pressure you can experience performance anxiety. You can find yourself sobbing during rehearsal, then with cameras rolling, with the sun going down and needing to get this shot RIGHT NOW, and with dozens of eyes on you silently screaming ‘cry!’, you may find your self dry as a (…yes, I had to do it …pun somewhat intended) bone, and you suddenly wish there was a form of Viagra to produce tears. That is where the training kicks in.

Acting is hard to describe to ‘civilians’. It is manufacturing truth. But it is TRUTH. At the dawn of movie history acting was dismissively described as ‘shaming’ or ‘posturing’. But acting that connects with the audience is committing so fully to what is happening in the scene that you are blurring the line between you and your character – really living that experience, being fully in the NOW.

Your goal is to be so ‘in the moment’ that all emotion floods naturally, and you can’t make a wrong move. It’s not about TRYING (that never works, and just looks like you are TRYING- which is painful)… it’s about BEING.  In the midst of the chaos on set, that can be more of a challenge than you can imagine. The pressure to deliver results and to deliver them this second can be terrifying.  If only there was a little blue pill.  

Apparently this is a fear I was meant to face, as almost every job I’ve had for the last two years has asked/required me to cry. I’ve had my daughter kidnapped, my lover murdered, was kidnapped myself, forced to kill someone to save my children, I’ve been beaten up, had loved ones killed before my eyes, been emotionally unstable, raped and tortured. Whew.…it’s been a brutal couple years. (Btw, universe, let’s try some lighter fare for a while!)

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Not long ago, I had a writer friend excitedly call me to discuss an idea for my character in a project we were working on together. His idea was that in every episode of the season, my character would burst into tears which he commented “will be easy for you because you cry on cue”. Though the idea was actually hilarious for the character, I thought about punching him in the balls. I have no idea how to cry on cue…though I wish I could. It is instead often a stressful and misery-making task, that leaves you emotionally drained and often in a funk all day. Yes, there are those rare, mysterious birds who are able to drop tears at a moment’s notice…some special ‘muscle’ they have control over, like the random people who can wiggle their ears or arch either eyebrow….but they are few and far between. I’ve only known one actress who could truly cry on cue and she booked a lot of jobs because of it. I was surprised when she admitted she always believed she was a fairly bad actor because she never felt the emotion, she just had the ability to control her tear ducts.

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There are behavioral psychologists who study emotion and how our bodies function, and it is fascinating to hear them talk about studying actors during performance. That the best actors truly transform themselves and their most intimate body functions follow obediently along… they sweat, pulse races, pupils will dilate, faces will flush and tiny muscles that are impossible to manipulate on cue…will nevertheless be stimulated when one is truly crossing the line between their life and the life of the character.

Reminds you of the elusiveness and the purity of good acting. It is also the reminder of the respect you must have for the character between action and cut. You can’t be flooded with your own life, your own junk (unless it is helpful).  You have to be so engaged with the life of the character that you experience it all and it feeds your performance. I remember an acting coach talking about watching an audition for the role of a woman who had just lost her husband. The audition had a distracted quality. When asked, the actress admitted she was unfocused, that she had car trouble on the way to the audition, that she had missed an important call and had other things on her mind. The director stopped her…. while all of that was undoubtedly true, he made a point that I’ve never forgotten. During that 5 minutes, none of her sundry issues should have mattered… everything was about having enough respect for the character to be fully in that moment living and breathing her life. And a woman who has just lost her husband, doesn’t care about the car trouble, or the missed phone call, or the rent that is due…. so in those 5 minutes, neither should you.

Don’t tell me I have to cry. Don’t write in the script that the character is uncontrollably sobbing and expect that to be gospel. Maybe it’s ego – but demand something of me and I’ll instantly want to refuse. Just tell me to be in the moment…trust that as the actor you’ve hired, I’ve done my work and I know my character and whatever should happen WILL happen. Acting should be like real life – which isn’t always predictable – sometimes you keep it together when your world is falling apart other days the tiniest thing makes you fall to pieces. I find it far more interesting to watch someone fight to not cry. Just like playing drunk is about fighting to look sober.

So…it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to…at least I hope I will…I plan to.   I’m really gonna try.   But if an actor-version of Viagra does come along, sign me up for a sample.

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Foreplay?

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Pilot Season – the perfect storm that brings out the crazy in all of us. Where (even more than the other 8 months a year) each day has the potential to take you from rags to riches.  Where the world is suddenly rushing past at light speed…and where you most acutely feel you are riding the comet to success, or standing perfectly still as it passes you by.   It is exciting.  It is panic inducing.  I’ve had pilot seasons where I was so busy, it was a blur….my record is 9 auditions scheduled in one day.  I’ve tested for pilots.  I’ve booked pilots.  I’ve also had years where I’ve gone the entire season without reading for a single project.  I’ve had everything in between.

I’m starting this season with big dreams, and some bigger obstacles.  The details aren’t important, but the pieces of my chess board were unexpectedly upended recently…so I’m starting the year without all of my ducks in a row.   Maybe this won’t matter either way….but the odds – while always awful, today feel crushing because so much is out of my hands. I’m tempted to curl up in a blanket and hibernate. Sleep through pilot season and wake up once the opportunities I’m missing aren’t right before my eyes.  I have to remember- all it takes is 1 appointment…it just has to be the right one.  I also have to remember pilot season is not the only route to success… opportunities come in all shapes and sizes – and usually are not what you’ve been expecting.

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So I sit here, amused that I have absolutely no idea what is around the corner.  I only know:
a) It will surprise me.
b) I will give my everything to whatever comes my way.
c) My effort is all I have control over.

I feel READY.  I’m ripe for the picking, bursting with flavor, a juicy f*cking peach…but you never know the appetites of the industry.  Maybe this year they are on a cleanse and only gluten free-vegan-organic-raw-sugar free-Kombucha infused foams are on the menu.

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I can’t complain….I signed up for this roller coaster ride.   I shall remain optimistic and driven, even on days when everything is sprinkled with a dash of overwhelming and impossible. And though some days, if my career was a person I would want to punch it in the balls for giving me the run around –  I will remember to be grateful for each opportunity coming my way – despite the size, the budget or the distance from what I most want.  I have no idea what seemingly small step is leading to the next big milestone.  I must focus on doing great work and trusting it is where I’m supposed to be.

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I had a very auspicious beginning.   The first day of my first acting class, led immediately to my first audition, which led immediately to two major job offers.  Although due to circumstance I was not able to accept the jobs, that validation convinced me this career path wasn’t entirely crazy.  It gave me the confidence to be brave enough to give this career a go.   Months later, I moved to Los Angles feeling like I would be employed within days and on warp speed to ‘making it’.   It never occurred to me to consider the odds.

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Which is actually a good thing.   The odds are impossible and if you allow yourself to truly admit to the numbers, you would be paralyzed in fear – or headed home to start plan B. I love/miss the insulation youth gives you.  You are brave without realizing it.  Audacious swagger seeps from your pores, blind faith is the pheromone you give off.   You arrive a bright shiny penny that has no idea what awaits it.

I’ve had a couple of difficult years and I feel a bit like I’m waking from a slumber, from anesthesia of heartbreak and loss and disappointment.    Now I’m on the edge of the cliff ready to dive in.  Every career ebbs and flows, but when the years start to pile on, it’s a whole new reason your confidence can begin to shake like a leaf.  My career is a shameless flirt. Teasing me like a stripper. Batting her eyes at me, dropping one item of clothing at a time, giving me a glimpse of the goods to keep me interested, but staying just out of reach.  Leaving me frustrated.  Alas, I am sick of this casual ‘flirtationship’.  I’m looking for commitment.   Give me the (brass) ring.
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When I first moved to LA I assumed I was on the same playing field as everyone else – it was calming to be so naïve. I quickly realized that much of my competition had been working professionally since they were children, even infants – and had resumes, connections and on-set experience that was 20 years deeper than mine.   Whoa, wake up call.  I want to take comfort in the fact that I’m the one who now has a hefty(ish) resume – but the quirk of working in this business, is that A+B doesn’t necessarily = C.  It might as well equal monkeys or mason jars.  This business is like a platypus – it’s super cool, but you don’t really understand it (is it a bird or a mammal?  Part duck, part beaver?) and you have a hard time describing it to others.

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This is a career where you are constantly starting from scratch after each gig.  Your job is fulfilling the needs of the character and it’s basically a level playing field in terms of what you bring into the room. The finances of the project may dictate that your resume gives you more sway, as might your prior connections, but not always.   In fact, it is horrifying to realize that sometimes the only sin you commit is being familiar…just the fact that you already have an established relationship with them, can sometimes work against you.    Can stop someone from seeing you in a new way.   You have to push for the chance to change their minds, to SHOW THEM that you are more than what they expect.  More than they imagined

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In this business I fluctuate daily between being amazed, downright flabbergasted that my life is so fantastic, and being paralyzed by how agonizingly far my life is from what I hope it can one day be.  So much is beyond our control….but hard work and bravery are rewarded.  Tides turn every day.  Fortunes change.  Circumstance shift.  Almost anything can happen at almost any time. Even (some version of) this:
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(*Shout out to PulseStudios for making/sending me this hilarious photo… and no, I’m not stalking BP, nor is this supposed to represent ‘ideal’ – just thought this image was too funny to keep to myself).

So shake off the disappointments.  Let go of the ‘what should have been’ or ‘almost was’.    There is no room in your heart to hold on to complaints, heartache, or the bitter pill of ‘not yet’.    Stop telling yourself the same old story of how it didn’t work and how high or frightening the stakes are.   Remember, you are a juicy peach, it is a new year, a new pilot season, a new beginning and anything is possible.   The past?   Well, that was just foreplay. The best part starts now.

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I can’t wait.

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How to make a casting director happy.

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I’m planning to share a list of my own tips and advice for new actors, soon – but this jumped out at me today.    Its a great little blog from casting director Risa Bramon Garcia  listing the top 15 things actors do that make her happy.  No, it’s not about bribing her with flowers, getting featured in a tabloid or reaching a certain number of followers online.  It’s about inspiration and responsibility.    Here are two that caught my eye:

11. You understand the power of fear, that it’s a force, not an impediment. You take risks in spite of your terror. You let it fuel you. You do what Yoda says: “Feel the force!”

12. You’re courageous. You embrace the struggle and find a way to love it, knowing that the creative spirit grows from battling through the night, that this is the force with which we create. You’re willing to do whatever it takes.

Read the full list here.

Preparing for torture

As the agony and ecstasy of pilot season approaches, thought I’d post a link to this blogGuys are not going to want to f**k her  by Ken Levine.   Its a doozy.   It is hard to describe how sensational it is to be part of this biz  when things are going well.  You’ll just have to trust me….it truly does justify the lunacy we go through trying to get there.

We really are gluttons for punishment.

Breadcrumbs & Pots of Gold.

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Are you?   There is a certain smugness…a self-satisfaction artists often have.  Even when their mojo isn’t working, they are still attempting to do what they love, chasing their dream.  It’s a luxury not everyone has {discovering what their dream is, let alone being able to attempt it}.   It’s a strange journey, freeing and also one that makes you a bit of a prisoner.  A love affair you stubbornly cling to even when it starts to fall apart.  Persevere though you’ve been cheated, faithful to the promise of a happy ending.  It’s a marriage contract between your reality and your dreams. For better or for worse?  For richer or for poorer?  When do you throw in the towel?    I’m far from throwing in the towel, but I am ready for some change.

Currently, when asked about my career – I describe it as a ‘tapas menu’.  Luckily, I have several little things going on (2 films, a radio show, 2 popular web series, videogames, staged readings, etc) but I’m looking for a new main course.   I’m tightening my belt hoping the entrée is just around the corner.     I’m ready for a feast!

I’ve been talking to friends about this new ‘illusion of working’.    In the past 5 or so years, the economy of acting has drastically changed.  Partly when the writers strike happened which changed the landscape of the industry and the contracts, and partly with the advancement of technology and digital filmmaking.   It means that on one hand more work is being done than ever before, more quickly and for less money.   On the other hand it means it is harder than ever to stand out and get attention, so the studio work is ever more difficult to land.  It also means the pay for all of this work has dropped dramatically.

It is easy to suddenly feel how overwhelming the odds are…but you have to remember there ARE opportunities out there.   Keep walking forward!

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I’ve been working a lot the past few years, and I am shocked when I realize you can work consistently and find your bottom line has been ‘dropping like its hot’.  I find this crazy-making, but I also find this is par for the course in my peer group.     We are all hustling to get traction and reach the jobs that are steady and can still provide a living.  To book those jobs that can still turn into amazing opportunities that will potentially butter your bread for a lifetime – at least if you manage it right.  But those jobs are scarce.

As pay rates keep going down each year, you have this widening gap, between wealthy super stars and those struggling to make it work. It feels a bit like the death of the middle class actor.  The actor who worked all the time and made their living ONLY acting, but wasn’t super famous (hey I know that guy…but what is his name?).  There has always been a misconception of how the working-actor lives.  The public only hears about the mega pay-day that the top stars get, but this is entirely unrepresentative of most of the industry.   Its like comparing the CEO to the secretary.

Pretty soon I fear seeing actors hanging out outside of studios like day laborers in front of Home Depot.  Just hoping that someone will drive by and pick them for a day of underpaid, under-supervised, underwhelming work…but still work.

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Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh!   But then I calm down and reassess.  Things are different now.

Almost everyone I know is doing jobs now or accepting pay now that they would have never considered 10 years ago (sure I’ll do that short film for free- or that ‘co-star role’  or that web spot, or that {hopefully} viral video…’you never know what will hit!’)  You can’t help feeling like you are going backwards – but you also have to accept this is the new reality.  Readjust your thinking.  It’s the wild west and you have to carve out your piece of the pie.  Mine for the gold.  And we’ve gone from out right ignoring all of the ‘ultra low budget breakdowns’ to actively hoping some of them will hire you.   Pragmatically, you don’t want to lose your insurance….but it’s also about building your career, your homestead brick by brick, now that we are in this new frontier.

It gives you the exhilarating and terrifying opportunity to think of things in a different way – to channel your inner mogul.   Make it happen in ways that weren’t even considered in the past.  Yee-haw.

I see breakdowns sometimes that just blow my mind – ultra low budget deferred, you must cover your own travel and includes nudity, submit star names only.   Gee, sign me up.  Wait, no seriously, sign me up.    Ok, not really, I do have my standards – but you get what I’m saying.    Also, years ago it would have been impossible to imagine a star name being submitted for this….but lately it’s happening.   This is horrifying on one hand – and amazing on the other.   Everything is in flux.

I ran into a friend at a voice over audition the other day.   The material was quite gnarly.  It was a commercial for a restaurant, but needed to sound like a phone sex add.   We commiserated afterwards that we couldn’t believe we’d gone in for it…we were both disgusted and semi-humiliated by the content  “its the worst thing I’ve ever read, its terrible”. But we also both semi-joked.. “oh, I hope I get it!”    And though we cringed at the material, it was a great paying national job.   And you hate being in that position.   Hoping you book the project, but embarrassed to admit that you did. Not being in the position to turn it down.

When I was younger, I felt like a genius for picking this career.   Lately I occasionally think “why didn’t I go to law school?”.  If only because taking that route makes it easier to predict and count on the outcome.  Stability and predictability can seem like tantalizingly exciting ideas when they are out of your reach.   There’s a very specific frustration that comes along with having just enough to keep you pressing forward, but not enough to confidently build a life/career on.    It makes it hard to find a sense of peace.   Hard to feel you have the security to start a family, buy a house, or take that big trip, or even leave town… for fear of missing opportunities.     But this is a career that has benefits that are extraordinary.   ‘Spoils of victory’  that will take your breath away –they are worth the fight, the struggle, the persistence.

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I once heard it said that out-of-work-actors are to LA, what homeless people are to Calcutta.  That comparison is obnoxious and in obvious bad taste, but there is a grain of truth in the observation of the pervasiveness.  People arrive by the thousands each year, hoping to make it.   Many get swallowed up by the journey. Some are weeded out by lack of talent, or lack of good judgment or lack of funds.  Some come face to face with their own demons.  Some realize they only wanted fame and move on to other ways of getting attention.   That still leaves a wealth of incredibly talented actors in the mix pounding the pavement every day.   The actor who is between jobs is still working – each day attending meetings, classes, auditions, writing, rehearsing – just not getting paid for it.    They are taking the initiative and practicing alchemy…truly making something out of nothing.   Turning something of little obvious value into GOLD.

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There is a renaissance of people doing their own projects.   This is fantastic creatively and I’m lucky to be part of and to watch as so many of my friends aren’t waiting for studios, but are doing it themselves.  Creating brave, smart, unique projects that are inching their way into the mainstream.  But the vast majority of these projects aren’t yet paying the bills.

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I was talking to my sister the other day and telling her about this interesting job I was offered, I ended with – “but of course there is no pay.”   And she said – “oh, you’re doing more charity acting”.   I laughed at this description and also loved it.  Charity acting.   I’m adopting that phrase.   No its not SAG-Ultra low budget deferred…..its me donating my skills for a worthy cause.   Maybe I can write that off on my taxes.

The fear of being part of the ‘has been’ crowd is deeply embedded in all of us. We see fortunes changing every day.  We see both sides of the mountain…the rags to riches and the boom to bust multiple times in one career.  I recently found a book at the used book store that was a compilation of the ‘biggest stars of 1999’  – the shocker of the book is that very few of them are still working, still celebs, still known.    To be big enough to be included in a book like that – and to have vanished a decade later – is stunning.   It keeps you on your toes!

I never want to be the girl that stays too late at the party.   I don’t want to miss my cue to exit.   Don’t misunderstand, I’m hoping this ‘show’  is just getting started and continues to run for years….but I’m aware that is usually an industry with an expiration date. Know when to fold them.  Know when to walk away. I’m feeling at a crossroads trying to figure out the choreography of my next few moves.  How to finally reach the next level that will allow me to share the deep well of work I have burning inside me…and to find happiness during the lean times when the only audience who truly appreciates and witnesses your brilliance is your dog.

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I was talking to a friend recently who knows my work and has great expectations for my career.  She talked about signs from the universe. I am working consistently. I have good feedback. I’ve carved out a career I’m proud of without connections, without knowing anyone.     She told me that I had to focus on the breadcrumbs…that the universe was giving me  – these consistently positive signs that I am still on the right track.

So how much faith do you put in breadcrumbs? How do you interpret them…is it great you are working or is the sign that it isn’t more/better work?   How long do you put up with the struggle? And then the “aha!” hits you.  The breadcrumbs ARE the feast.   Celebrate all of the successes – even the minor ones. Don’t miss the extraordinary ‘now’.  Let go of your ‘plan’ and trust that it is all coming together as it should.  Put your best out there and believe it will come back to you.  You will lose your mind if you think of it any other way.

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Sometimes auditions suck a bag of dicks.

Apologies for the vulgarity…but it’s true.

You sometimes sit in your car afterwards…shell-shocked, trying to understand what just happened. I don’t know a single actor without audition horror stories.   Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment – but I find it hilarious to look back at some of these sticky situations.   When you decide to be an actor, you really have no idea what you are getting into.   You picture the work…not the process of getting there.

Some days being an actor, even an actor between jobs, rocks.  Some auditions are gifts.   You are on THE LOT, you have reserved parking (these small things can feel like lotto winnings when they are rare).  It feels glamorous and ‘old-Hollywood’.  You feel part of something important when the project is one you WANT to be part of, with people you are excited to work with. The character speaks to you and you KNOW you can not only do the job beautifully, but you can bring fire to the role that no one else can. You can bring the character to life, and surprise even the writer and creator with your connection, insight and delivery of the material.   You feel like a warrior who is conquering.   When you nail an audition it is magic, – like real magic where you transport someone to another place and time and can bring them to tears, turn them on, scare them, take their breath away, get them to laugh or to REALLY SEE YOU like they hadn’t before you created that magic.  It is incredibly fulfilling, validating and POWERFUL.   You feel invincible – because, when you truly connect, you can not make a wrong choice.  Everything you do sizzles with heaping spoonfuls of YES(!) and they can’t get enough.

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….but many auditions are an exercise in humiliation.

They say actors go on more job interviews in a week, than most people do in a lifetime.   With the stakes being this high and the odds being against you, the pressure is on.  The wins can be epic…and the failures can be spectacular.

Add this to the fact that auditions are freakin’ weird – and you have a recipe for disaster.

Auditioning and acting are two very different skills.   In an audition, you are reading with someone who is usually not an actor and is just sitting in a chair next to the camera, feeding you all of the other characters lines, often monotone, and completely unengaged with you.   There is no interaction between the actor and reader, no props, sets, costumes or anything to ‘fill’ the moment.  Just your read.   For chatty dramatic scenes, or witty comedic banter this is cool… for complicated action scenes, or really any scene that involves any action – this can be absurd. Picture saying your lines while simultaneously pretending to be skydiving, or being killed, or worse – having sex, and you start to picture the cringe worthy event that is an audition. Not to mention you are trying to do the best you can with this crazy situation while your ‘audience’ (casting director, writer, producers, director etc) may be eating lunch or texting or looking through a stack of headshots  (“No keep going”, they’ll say.   “I can see everything you are doing”   What? No you can’t. Not properly.)

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Side note: (I am amused and horrified that they have started including footage of auditions as part of DVD commentary…as mentioned above, sometimes it is magic, but sometimes even for A-listers who were brilliant in the role, the auditions just feel sad and humiliating as they stand there pretending to fend off an invisible attacker using the sides as an imaginary knife.  WHY are they showing the world this crazy part of the process that doesn’t make anyone look good??)

Sometimes auditions are the 7th circle of Hell.

(Most) actors aren’t mimes, so the potential ridiculousness of this advanced level of charades can’t be underestimated.

Picture for instance, you must convince us you are driving a car through a fiery inferno and shooting a gun, after being stabbed in the neck by the alien in the passenger seat,   and simultaneously disarming a bomb in the glove box-  all while delivering a dramatic I’m sorry/forgive me monologue in a South African accent over the phone to your dying wife that should leave us in tears. Don’t forget that the stakes are enormous, not only is making your mortgage on the line – but this is one of those roles in a major project that could take you to the ‘next level’.  And ACTION!   That audition may leave someone in tears, but between you and casting, it’s probably not casting.    It’s you in your car afterwards as you think ‘what the eff am I doing with my life’.

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Auditions are spinning the roulette wheel.   You never know what you are gonna get.  And whatever that is, you show up and do the best you can with what you are given.  After 15 years working, I still have auditions arrive and think ‘what am I supposed to do with this material’?  How can I pull this off without looking like a complete asshat?

I have endless examples of audition material that is heinous and embarrassing…. But instead I’ll focus on the situation itself.  Regardless of the material, auditions can be insane.  Here is a sampling of crazy things that have happened when I was auditioning….and btw, these are not tiny projects…this is the real deal stuff.

Being in the waiting room, thinking you are on a final call back for a project – but overhearing the casting director in the next room, on the phone discussing how they already hired someone for this job, but called you back in because they want to put you on tape, to show the actress they did hire, what they would like her to do.    Yes, this happened.

Being asked to audition in a famous producers living room because they didn’t want to come into the office.   Getting there and having to do a dance routine (expected, as this was the role of a dancer) but almost being attacked by the large pet Doberman Pinscher  who interpreted my high kicks as threatening to his owner.    Yes, this happened too.

Being asked if I could be taller, have bigger boobs, if I could pass for Eskimo, Iranian, 15, 46,  if I could bring additional funds to the project, if I could get some of my famous friends interested,  – or this one – if I wanted to be set up on a date with their brother.  Umm, what?

Having the reader suddenly try to inappropriately touch me or kiss me in the scene.  #ewww  Not threatening, just not acceptable!

Having the reader who was suffering from an obvious hangover, stand up, walk across the room and throw up, in the middle of my read.   Yes, for real.

Having the casting director lose it during my audition – just start sobbing, and that turning into me counseling them on the divorce they were in the middle of.

Having the sprinklers in the building go off .   Yep.

Having my car stolen from the studio valet.  (Returned about 30 minutes later when they realized I was looking for it…it was ‘borrowed’ to go pick up lunch.  What?  Yes.)

Having the casting directors dog throw up.   I tried not to take that personally.

Having the reader make it all about them – trying to book a job they aren’t even in the running for.  This backfired on them, but was awkward for all of us.

Or this one…I recently auditioned for a project where they were casting two characters in the session – the character I was going in for…and ‘Missy’ a transsexual.  I have to admit, I was intimidated by how stunning most of these ‘Missy’s’ were in the waiting room.    So, I walk into the  office for the reading and should I be offended or complimented by the fact that the CD started reading me for the Missy role?   I chose to  feel quite fly.

There was a show (no longer on the air) that had a bit of a love affair with me.   They brought me in 17, yes you read that correctly – seventeen– times in 2 years  (15 times straight to producers) and never hired me. Things like that blow my mind. So close, yet so far.

Or this gem:  A friends of mine was testing for a huge new series and was thrown out of the building at the final callback for network because the company president was offended, and found it disrespectful that he was wearing flip flops instead of ‘real shoes’ to audition for his project.  (the flip flops were appropriate to the beach-bum character, and worn at each previous audition, btw)

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Sometimes the frustration comes after the fact-

I had a producer come up to me at an event a few years after I had auditioned for his series.   He was excited to come up and re-introduce himself and tell me the ‘funniest story’ about how  “He loved me at my audition and wanted to cast me as a lead role in his series, but they lost my photo and couldn’t remember my last name and eventually gave the part to another girl.   But it wasn’t that big of a deal, the series only lasted a year.  Isn’t that hilarious!”      No, that’s not even a little bit funny.  You and I have totally different definitions of what qualifies as amusing.  Would you excuse me a minute while I go cry in the corner?  Thanks.   Even if he was exaggerating…that story sucked.

Being replaced at the last second after being hired, when they found a bigger name to take the role.    Ouch.

You never know what is behind the door.    It may be your dreams coming true.     Or it might be fodder to entertain your friends over dinner.     The absurdity blends into one giant kaleidoscope of mayhem that you have to wear like a badge of pride to avoid being sucked into a downward spiral.  Luckily, the moments you covet, the ones that really stick to your ribs, are the ones where the magic happens.   Where you hold the audience in the palm of your hand and bend them to your will.

Fresh faces – actors just off the bus, with no expectations, (and no resume) book more than their fair share of work. I imagine casting is often attracted to the girl who is just happy to be there and doesn’t care what she is asked to do.  She’s game for whatever and doesn’t know any better.    It gets more frustrating as you get older – you have less patience with the gamble of what is on the other side of the casting door.  You feel you’ve paid your dues and have less tolerance for the goofy experiences you feel should be far behind you at this point in your career….and I’m sure that can occasionally feel off putting to those in charge.

I was chatting with some girlfriends the other night – swapping war stories – and we all agreed we had a bit of a chip on our shoulders that had built up over the years from dealing with so many strange and disheartening experiences.

We came up with a new motto:    We are cashing in our chips!    

Leaving our chip(munk)s behind: Image

Starting fresh.   With renewed optimism and eager to play.  Just don’t ask us to mime.

Want more audition horror stories?  Check out this great show:   http://www.worstauditioneverblog.com/

Or the fantastic documentary Showing Up  at  http://www.showingupmovie.com/

Bonus thought:   *Chipmunk on your shoulder is much cuter than a chip. Image