Friday, February 29, 2008

To Be Or Not To Be A Sissy.

I was in a hoity-toity play called The Heiress at a theater in Pasadena (that's me, top row, second from the right, nattily clad in orange cravat.)

As the only straight male in the cast, during intermissions on Sundays I avoided backstage hen sessions and sprinted over to the pub across the street to catch some football. In full costume, of course.

One day, a large Raider-nation type customer saw me in my getup and asked me for a menu. After letting him know I didn't work there, he looked me up and down and shook his head like I was a maniac.

Pardon me, ace, but I'm an actor. What could I possibly know about waiting tables?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I Played A Nazi. But The Good Kind.

Allow me to explain, before my mom goes out in the backyard and practices rolling over in her grave.

I had a role as a radio engineer working for the Nazi party in early World War II. Sensing something very wrong was going on, I lodged a complaint and was killed by SS agents.

Getting into that frame of mind was easier than if my character had been pro-Holocaust. But even if I were playing a bad guy, it's my job as an actor to believe that whatever my character is doing, he believes he's right.

A great example of this occured when Jeremy Renner, an actor who had been struggling in Hollywood for over a decade, secured the leading part in a film about Jeffrey Dahmer. Sensing this was a breakout role, Renner worked hard to understand what made Dahmer tick, including masturbating to pictures of cadavers in medical textbooks to understand Jeffrey's rather unusual sexual preference.

When Dahmer premiered, Renner was a sensation. Movie offers piled in, and he chose a role in the movie SWAT, was paid high six figures for it, and bought a house in the Hollywood Hills. He's been working ever since. Great actors do their homework.

Oh, and Mom, if it makes you feel better, I did play Moses once. Also the good kind.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

On Second Thought...

All I have to do to make it in this town is learn to lick my own balls.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Here's Six Pages of Dialogue; See You in 15 Minutes.

It's the kind of pressure that can make even the most seasoned actor pooh his pants just a little bit.

Every Monday night I have an acting class in which I'm handed a scene and given a very short period of time to diagnose, memorize and then perform it in front of a camera. It's a technique known as "cold reading," and it happens often in real audition situations.

In addition to creating a rich history for my character and learning my lines, I have to tackle technicalities, such as: what if I'm supposed to be driving a car or laying in bed? Or talking to three different characters even though only one casting director will be in the room with me? Are my hands gesturing too much, is my voice too soft, are my eyes down on my script too long, etc., etc., etc...

Now imagine corralling all of this in front of a room full of producers from a hit TV show. Or entering and finding out that Denzel has decided he's going to be there reading his role opposite you.

Pressure. Nature's laxative.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hell Yeah I Kissed Her.

Some guys have a ninth-inning homer. Or the night their band opened for Nirvana. I made out with a Playboy chick.

Acting allows me to to see and do things that other vocations just don't offer. Such as kiss an actress named Diora Baird in a scene for a movie. After shooting our film, Diora booked a role in Wedding Crashers, and then was approached by Playboy to do the cover.

Of course, I won't be bragging nearly as much when I have to play a gay dude.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My Man Crush.

He had roles in no less than 15 failed pilots, and still hung in there. After he was lampooned in the movie Team America: World Police, he said he would have been offended if they hadn't made fun of him. He's been awarded by Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.

In the coming months, I'll delve deeper into why George Clooney is The Man. But for now, on this, the holiest of holidays here in Hollywood – Oscar Sunday – let's take a look at the greatest award speech ever given, after he was named Best Actor in a Supporting Role, in 2006:

"Wow. Wow. All right, so I'm not winning director. It's the funny thing about winning an Academy Award– it will always be synonymous with your name from here on in. It will be Oscar winner, George Clooney. Sexiest Man Alive, 1997. Batman died today in a freak accident at a... listen, I don't know how you compare art. You look at these performances this year, of these actors, and unless we all did the same role, everybody put on a bat suit, and we'll all try that. Unless we all did the same role, I don't how you compare it. They are stellar performances and wonderful work, and I'm honored, truly honored to be up here. And finally, I would say that, you know, we are a little bit out of touch in Hollywood every once in a while. I think it's probably a good thing. We're the ones who talk about AIDS when it was just being whispered, and we talked about civil rights when it wasn't very popular. And we, you know, we bring up subjects. This Academy, this group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were all sitting in the backs of theaters. I'm proud to be a part of this Academy. Proud to be part of this community, and proud to be out of touch. And I thank you so much for this."

He didn't thank his woman, his director or his agent. He questioned how deserving he was. He referenced one of his most embarrassing roles – Batman – not once, but twice. And he dispelled the myth that the entertainment industry is chock full of pure egotism.

A Nike ad once summed up my feelings very succinctly: have heroes.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Three Degrees, Baby.

I'm sure you're all familiar with the trivia game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." Although the game originally offended Kevin, he soon embraced it as a testament to his prolific career. I'd love to work with him, but in the meantime, as I build my acting resumé, I'm edging ever closer.

Here's how my connection breaks down: I was in a horror flick a couple years ago with an actor named Edwin Craig. You might remember Edwin from the original Batman film. He shook hands with the Joker, played by Jack Nicholson, and was zapped with such a jolt of electricity that Edwin's head exploded.

Jack Nicholson then starred with Kevin Bacon in A Few Good Men, so the link works thusly:

Kevin Bacon was in A Few Good Men with Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson was in Batman with Edwin Craig
Edwin Craig was in Brain Blockers with Matt Shevin

There you have it. Nifty.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Forget Bermuda. Give me Beefaroni.

While friends put down $100,000 on a house, I clip coupons for $1.00 off deodorant. They lease a new car every 3-4 years, while my odometer climbs well into the triple digits. I don't order in pizza. I clean my own apartment. I wash my own car.

And I wouldn't change a thing.

Why do I forgo even the tiniest luxuries - and spend all my money on classes, workshops, headshots and filling up my car? Part of my answer is simple: acting is the most fun thing in the world. There is nothing like being on a set. The crew hustling cohesively to make something great. Getting the chance to act opposite a great actor for an accomplished director. 

Then, there's the rush I feel when I really go through what a character is supposed to be feeling, physically and mentally. Feeling the warm sense of attraction in a romantic scene. Rage or heartache in drama. When I'm locked in, really feeling what I'm supposed to feel, the endorphins are pumping, my thoughts are clear and I am in that world. When the director yells "cut," I literally have to shake my head and snap out of that story and back into reality. There's no better feeling in the world.

Acting provides what few other things in life allow: a chance to be great. Not just great at my craft, allowing an audience to feel something they have never felt before, but to play/be someone great.

That's why.