Sunday, December 29, 2013

Confessions of a G-List Actress: Fear at 36000 Feet

I watched Flight for the first time last night.  Yup, it might be even longer before I fly again.
My dad once told me I was the bravest person he knew because I was willing to fly.  I never have been a fan of flying itself.  It's unnatural.  I know according to statistics it is the safest form of travel.  I won't get into the fact that if there were more planes in the sky that statistic would change and statistics are kinda made up numbers anyways.  Yada yada yada.  Yes sometimes I have to but you'd be surprised at how much I dislike it.  Alot of celebrities do.
Let me tell you exactly how terrified I am.  On arrival, I am excited for my destination.  I keep reminding myself I want to go where I am going.  BADLY.  I have, in fact, spent the money on the ticket.  Bags checked, weighed and good to go.  And let's be honest, plane tickets aren't cheap.  Around the time I am stepping through the xray-scanning-TSA-traffic-jam I tell myself, just another flight, you have done this before.  From the time I step out and grab my carry on this is the tone in my head amidst the praying.  Yes the praying is very sincere and honest because I am horrendously terrified and that is the only way I get through the flight is talking to God the whole way...and myself.

Ok.  Past the point of no return.  Good.  You got this.  You can do this.  You have done this before.  You have a hand to hold.  There is soda and food on the plane.  You can plug in a movie and relax the whole way.  This time you are going to relax through a flight.  This is going to happen.  Maybe I should get rosetta stone and learn a new language as we plummet to the earth.  So many things I haven't done.  I never won an oscar.  I never back packed across Europe. I never kissed a total stranger in a french cafe on a rainy day in spring.  Wow that's poetic.  If only it wasn't true.
Oh look a magazine stand.  Maybe I should grab a soda?  See you are so relaxed you can even think to get a soda before trying to get on the plane.  Maybe I should get a snack.  I am kinda hungry.  No.  Don't want my last meal to be chex mix.  Oh the clerk sees you.  Make a choice.  Don't make eye contact.  You can't let them know you are crying yet.  You got this.  Nothing to cry about.  No big.  Wait!  How long is it til it gets here?  Ten minutes?  They are late aren't they?  Forty minutes?  If a plane is late is there trouble?  Don't listen to Tommy.  Things can go wrong but it's alright.  You brought your hand to hold.  
Not like a hand to hold will do much good slamming at 500 miles an hour into the ground.  You won't feel a thing.  Don't be silly everything is fine.  It's not like there is a plane crash every day.  
Wait when was the last one?  They always step up their maintenance just after a major accident.  Two weeks?  A month?  Well, just trust them today.  No big.  What's the worst that can happen.  Besides if you are going to die they do give you oxygen.  Knowing your luck you will breath normally and won't get the high.  Okay, so if the bags do drop from the ceiling you need to hyperventilate.  
You really are morbid you know that.  Once you are at altitude you are fine.  And you have always loved the view once you got to the cruising altitude so you don't want to sleep the whole flight.  The biggest problems happen on takeoff and landing and you have never had a problem with landing.  Which seems unnatural since planes are specifically designed to climb in altitude.  In fact, the act of landing is the pilot asking the plane to do something it was not designed to do.  Should have gone to the doctor for a valium or something.  Stupid!  Now I am going to be nervous.  
Can't let anyone know.  You'll be fine.  They wouldn't do this if it was dangerous.  Are you stupid? Of course they would let you fly if it was dangerous.  They let people jump out of perfectly good airplanes.  And people still fly helicopters and there are only two types of helicopters.  Those that have crashed and those that haven't yet.
I wish I knew how to fly.  Then at least I'd be in control when things went bad.  Look at those two pilots drinking at the bar.  They seem calm.  Is that one or five?  How drunk is he?  Did he stumble when he stood up?  No.  Ok.  Haha.  Need to relax.  No way he's heading to my...why is that pilot walking towards my terminal?  Why is he stopping in my terminal?  Why is he shaking hands with the pilot who just left the plane in my terminal?  Why is he walking into the plane in my terminal?  How many drinks was that?  Seriously!  Do you have to blow a certain blood alcohol amount into a valve in the plane to get it to crank up?
I am going to die.  Still haven't been married.  I haven't been scuba diving.  I haven't been to Jamaica.  Why am I so worried about places I can't get to except by plane?  Who is going to take care of Nikita?  I hope mom and dad know to give her to Tommy.  Should I have left a will?  Are you sweating?  Yup.  I am sweating.  Oh it just went into my navel.  You have got to calm down.
Line...look at all the lovely people in line.  Oh there's a newborn.  Who brings an infant on a plane?  They wouldn't let an infant go on a plane.  Maybe this isn't your day to die.  Shut up and quit rationalizing this process.  It's ok.
When are they going to say my number?  Hurry up!  Did they just say my number? No rush or...any...thing.  Ok.  Line, line...remain calm and don't run.  Don't run.  Did they just make a joke.  Laugh.  Yes that was funny.  Joke don't let them know you are terrified.  Ok.  That plane looks really small.  I mean REALLY SMALL.  Is that safe?  Are the wings supposed to look like that?  Does it look a little dated to you?  Hey he dropped something!  Is that important?  Mister earmuff man?!  Was that...?
Into the void.  Ok...cold air.  How can this air be so cold and how can I be sweating so much?  You're laughing at this aren't you?  I would be laughing at this too.  It'll be fine.  The worry isn't so much about the crash at the end it's the terror before the sudden stop.  I really just don't want to be terrified before I die.  I know I really don't have a choice, but that is the thing.  Death in my sleep, ok.
 As long as I don't know it's coming.  Longest two minutes of your life.
Seriously.  They do know they are just strapping rockets to a cigarette box right?  I am going to kill Tommy.  I will murder him.  I was okay with this until those two flights.
Step onto the plane.  There are people waiting to get on.  I have to pee.  Will I be able to pee before we take off?  What if we take off while I am in the bathroom and the plane falls apart?  How close is my seat?  Half way?  Maybe I should wait.  Someone else take the window please.  No I don't want the window.  TAKE THE STUPID WINDOW!!!!!!!!!!  I DON'T WANT THE WINDOW.  STOP BEING POLITE.  YOU KNOW I AM PETRIFIED HERE STOP ASKING ME TO TAKE THE--window.
Whew...ok middle of the aisle.  And I really need to pee.  Pee.  Pee.  Pee.  Wash hands.  Pull on another shirt.  Try to relax.  Back to seat.  Can I leave?  Pull on sunglasses.  Strap in.  Don't read the plastic paper.  Don't read the...stop reading...stop...too late.  You've read it.  Ok...you gotta get out of here.  You'll just say you are going to...did the plane just move?  Too late to leave.  Can't jump plane now.  That would be a serious fall.  You'd break something.  Why did that scene from final destination come into your head?  Stop it.  You have your hand to hold.  Obviously they are grossed out by the sweating.  They can deal.
Ok.  Back on the horse....back on the horse...back on the horse...I hate Paris in the spring time...I
hate Paris in the fall...I hate Paris in the summer when it sizzles...I hate Paris in the winter when it drizzles.  I hate Paris...oh why, oh why do I hate Paris?  Because my love is there-...with his slut girlfriend.  HAHA.  Why am I not sitting next to Kevin Klein in a sound studio right now?  Why does everything I want to do involve me getting on a plane?
No I have no interest in watching take off and I will not be taking my glasses off until we reach altitude.  Yes I am crying.  
OK...OK...OK...OK....rumble....no...no...noo....NONONONONO...get me off I don't wanna Idon'twannaIdon'twanna...we're off the ground.  We're falling...we're falling...we're falling...NO I DO NOT WANT TO LOOK OUTSIDE!  Tell me a joke.  I need a joke.  Something to take my mind off the drop...The drop is about to...AHHHHH!  HATE THAT!  Is it supposed to be that loud?  Is the gear supposed to make that noise.  Ok, flight attendants are not panicked so I shouldn't be panicked.  They are starting service.  It's ok.  Seatbelt sign is off.   Alright we're good.  We're good....we're...what was that?  Did the plane move?  No...yes a soda would be lovely.  My hand hurts.  Sorry.  Going to just pop to the bathroom.  You are all so calm.  Ok.  Everything is fine.  And the view really is....ok the plane dropped!  What was that?!  Can't move.  Occupied bathroom.  Gotta wait.
And this is what has to be dealt with when I am having a good flying day.  This is the internal monologue driving me crazy.
Why do I ever do it?  Because how else would I get to see things?  Most places I want to see are only accessible by boat or plane and boats take too long.  And it always seems to be worth the agony and racing heart.  Sometimes things are just so beautiful and wonderful when I get where I am going.  It truly is magnificent.
So amidst my terror I will always find my way into the plane.  Into my seat.  And find a hand to hold, even if it's a strangers.  How else will I see the world?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Confessions of a G-List Actress: It's Raining, the End!

As in life, not everything can go perfectly smoothly.  And this past weekend was, well, lets just say rough.
My dad's birthday was on the 14th but they wanted to film that day so on Friday the 13th we threw my dad a birthday party.  For the most part it went without a hitch.  I got up early and we got party stuff.  Granted I probably should have spent that morning packing, but, hindsight and all that.  So after the party I threw some stuff in a bag and went to work for 8 hours.
While at work I finally get to read through some mail and find out call has switched to 4pm due to the weather.  After checking he weather and asking some questions I figure to is a better idea to head in the direction of filming in lieu of a last minute change.
At 11:30 pm I looked through my car and found out I had a few important items I had left at mom and dad's so I called to say I was coming to get those things.  I accidentally sent a text meant for the boyfriend to mom, saying I would be late getting into Raleigh.  So I resent to the correct recipient and picked my things up, talking to mom and dad on the way through the house I grab my things and hit the road.  I do what I always do.  Fill up the tank, grab a snack, and drive the route my GPS takes me with the music and cold air blasting.  There is no way I will fall asleep as I make my way down the interstate at 1am.
Almost 20 minutes from where I will rest my head, I figure I will alert the sleep and pillow ahead of me to prep for landing.  I pull my phone from its hidden place and there are ALOT of calls from mom dad and the boyfriend.  Where are you?  Call us!  Did you get in?
Apparently, in the birthday exhaustion, the conversation I had with mom and dad was done al la somnambulist; aka they talked to me in their sleep.  When they woke up they saw the text about 2 am and panicked and called my boyfriend thinking something had gone wrong.  Thankfully he was working a late shift and wasn't woken up.  And so there were several apologetic calls that night.
I got in and found my sleep like and old friend.  Call time still 4pm.
My eyes snap open at 9am and no matter how hard I try I can't force myself to sleep a few more precious moments.  I look outside.  No rain yet.  I pack up my things and that is when the rain hits.  So boyfriend promises me lunch at our favorite place, but there is No parking and with only a small amount of time we find another place.  I eat a burger like it is going out of style.  I get to set where I sit in the warm and dry for a few minutes before walking into the bog.
The second I step out of the car my boot is covered in mud and wet and my socks are soaked through.  The 40 degree weather is not helping so I go in to look for the heaters in the warm and dry room.  We are shooting at and old farm and all our stuff is safely in the barn.  Due to the rain we can't do more than sit and wait for the rain to let up.
We do transfer one scene indoors and shoot as quickly as we can.  Now my feet are hot, so they sweat, making my socks wet again.  I can see my breath.
One of my fellow actors has a heating pad, for lower back pain.  And, while everyone else has passed it over, I relish the heat.  Heat.  Heat.  Warmy.  Warmy.  Heat.
During the scene, we chain ourselves to one another because we have been "captured" by the enemy.  Shane has made some great manacles.  It does take a while for us to figure out who needs to be shackled to who.  One thing to note about these manacles is that I can Houdini myself out of them.  Literally, I can pull them off like a bracelet.  Ehh, why not?  It'll be funny, and the director can only say no.
Action.  Walk to mark and.  Silence.  Wait...and wait...and wait.
I think, due to the cold, lines have become problematic.  That and since most of us are in 2 thin layers it's hard to think of your lines.  The one scene where I have NOTHING to say.  We figure the order of lines and start again.
We get to a line, I jerk the manacle off, shove it in William's chest and push him forward.  I don't think he knew it was coming.  He steps up, says what he is supposed to say, and cut.
Do it again the same way from 4 different angles and it is time to run back to the warm dry room.  The warm and dry room is the feed and tack room in the barn.  I strip my socks and shoes off and they are soaked!
Oh so wet.  I hang my socks close to the heater and stick my feet as close as I can to dry my feet.  Now we have crowded about 20 people in a room 8 ft by maybe 10 ft.  People are sitting in chairs and on buckets trying to keep dry and warm.
We wait to shoot the next scene and as soon as it happens I slide into my soppy hot socks and tramp out to shoot a few lines.
Yay we sit and William is the only one with lines.  The scene is over too quickly and I return to warm an dry room to rewarm the soupy socks on my feet.  Now we are waiting for the rain to stop.  Somewhere around 9:20 the rain stops and, due to the hour, the extras are dismissed.  But now w have a problem.  Several cars are stuck in the bog.  Now we have a more pressing issue.  So now there are seven people trying to push and slog cars out of the mush and muck.  With no traction we are tearing up the beautiful property we are borrowing. 
We can't tell the owners since they have gone to bed.  I don't know how the message is relayed but it is done somehow.  After 2 hours of digging cars out of the mud we call it quits and drive home.  Oh so much mud.  I smell like sweat, horse, and swamp and my feet are pruning in my shoes.
We hear through the grape vine that call time will be later the next day.  MORE SLEEP!
The day is cool and sunny and we have four scenes to shoot and we aren't on til noon.  Due to the previous day some of us try to make the best of it and others are just in a foul mood.  Ehh, bad days happen.  After a lot of debating we choose to shoot once scene and go home.  We are so close.  
I guess I am used to a full shooting day.  Up at 6, shooting by 7, work until EVERYTHING GETS DONE.
We shoot our scene with similar complications of mud and water, but we get through it.
My reward...DATE NIGHT!  Totally worth it.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bitter Bloggings from an Optomistic Actress: Why I Hate The Business

"As a show goes on, we start to think of bad acting as a character trait, and stop seeing it as the performer’s lack of skill." 
-Kevin Spak

I had to turn down a part yesterday.  I hate doing it, but I had to make a business move.  I hate it.  But it was a choice that had to be made.  Great part, small theater over Christmas break so I would have only missed a week of work.  I would have gotten a small pay check.  Why did I turn it down?  Two things, more importantly because I got a better paying offer for two days work where I can still work the 9-5 and save some money to audition work free for a few months.  Also, because when I sent in my information they said they had someone they had worked with before who had offered herself up for the part and they were waiting to hear back from her, they offered me the part, I kid you not, 5 minutes after I took the other role.  I cried.


I am a wealth of ideas and ambitions that will not be realized because I was born poor and honest. Those are two things the world hates more than Anne Hathaway.  Poverty and candor.   No it's not that I would ever think of giving up.  It's simply there isn't enough time left in my life as the ideas keep flowing.   In my "old age," because I have been reminded over and over again that 32 is considered the cut off date of becoming a permanent working actress, I have become more diplomatic, however middle class wages seem a dream.  Quite possibly because I loath the 9-5 grind.  It not that I don't love hard work.  I adore hard work.  I enjoy building sets and doing makeup, though I would never tell this to a theater because then I would do nothing else.  They can hire a million less talented actors to do the same job and no one will notice.   But if you can sew, you are invaluable and will likely never set foot on a professional stage.

"Well that's how Harrison Ford was discovered," you say, if you have any remote film knowledge.  Harrison Ford was in American Graffiti well before Star Wars and got the part because he was building sets, Lucas knew him and said, hey we are doing auditions for Star Wars, can you read with these actors?

If you have thirty six dollars and three days I strongly suggest watching Slings & Arrows.  It's a brilliant satire about that very thing.  The fight between business and art.
The first season is especially brilliant.  Spoilers: the head of accounting, RICHARD SMITH JONES, is lured into aiding a shrewd business woman, HOLLY DAY, who wants to turn a renown theatre festival, already on it's way down the path of commerce, into an extravagant theme park dedicated to all things money...and Shakespeare.  Complete with big budget musicals to bring in the crowds.
I will be honest, the business of acting should be avoided at all costs.  Why?  The business of acting is detrimental to the profession and the craft of acting.  How?  Keep reading.

Really the whole process can royally screw you over if you are not careful.  It kinda screws over everyone.

First off, it is a horrible climate for  artists.  In New York City only 12% of equity actors are employed.  Why?  THERE ARE TOO MANY OF US!  In the US in SAG/AFTRA alone there are no less than 120,000 and possibly up to 156,000 actors.  This is the number of people actually in SAG/AFTRA. There are 38,000 in ACTORS EQUITY.  Here is a brilliant flowchart on how many people are employed on a monthly basis.  **Hint:It's less than 6,000 on average** This can equal up to 190,000 people.  This is only UNION ACTORS!  Statistically this could lead to over 1,000,000 "actors" in the US.  I reiterate, there are too many.  I know in a population of 315,000,000 that doesn't seem impressive, but on average per month there are only so many jobs.  If actors equity employs less than 6,000 per month, think of how little SAG/AFTRA employs.  Especially if they employ the same people per month.  Think of the thousands who come in to audition for a single part.  As many as 7000 for a gig.

Have you ever noticed how often the talent is screwed over by business?   Edison royally screwed over Tesla, who, according to scientists, would have given us free electricity and flying cars by now.  Tesla died penniless.  Van Gogh, an artists so consumed by his own art he was driven to cut off his own ear, only sold one painting in his entire career and died penniless, supported by his brother Theo.  Think of the countless other artists and geniuses who die with NOTHING!  You want to know why?  Genius is always trumped by marketing.



In the years of social media we have instant Internet celebrities from people who may or may not have talent.  Seriously, look at the Internet.  People do something, and their friends like it, and their friends like it and before you know it the machine has taken over and thousands of people are liking a video of a guy tap dancing poorly in a rhino outfit.  This guy is asked to come and tap dance in a film or music video.  Now this is just an untalented tapper dancing with other people, who may be more capable tappers, but he has a name.  Now he is the soloist tapper in a video and can boot out other more capable tappers because he has the name and another 2000 will watch.

This may not happen often, but people do hire folks based off their IMDB rank and Facebook friends.  Why?  People are more likely to see it.  Ever wondered why you don't hear about those great parts in the big movies.  They specially select STARS and NAMED talent to bolster their numbers.  This is why these actors keep getting hired.  You wonder why that person who is slightly less talented than you are keeps getting roles?  Have you seen the numbers they draw?  Unless the film gets the numbers it won't make it's money back.  I myself lost a MAJOR part in a really well known film to one of Hollywood's A-list actors.  Why?  She could pull in a bigger crowd.  Was she more talented?  This was not the reason they gave me as they asked if I would accept a smaller one liner in the film as opposed to the lead role I would have had.  No contract except a verbal one so I am lucky I got the offer I guess.  No, the reason they gave me as I bit my tongue nearly off is, "She will draw in the crowds."  Not that the other three Hollywood names wouldn't do the same but she had a fan base.

Think about it.  What if they found the most talented people and put them in a movie?  How many Hollywood A-listers would survive?

So really what this whole process does is give us a fair to mediocre product.  No the American Public doesn't need more.  Thank you facebook and twitter for making instant gratification the only way to get a job in this town.  I kid you not there are now auditions where if you don't get your information in within 30 minutes the you don't get to audition.  Someone please tell me how the most talented and capable are supposed to keep an eye out at every moment for these gigs?  Hopefully these are the people working.  As much as I try, I very often miss these opportunities because I don't like having my phone on set.  There are already too many people not talking to one another, why add to the problem?

Sure these people may have talent, but what about the other more talented people.  You want to know why Hollywood folks are so happy to be working.  Because they know more talented people who aren't.  They know exactly how fortunate they are to be working.  I have seen actors that would make the Hollywood elite blanch with inferiority.  I have watched performances so groundbreaking Broadway itself would tremble.  Yet these actors, these talented amazing many, will never get their day in the sun because of a popular consensus.  "You aren't a friend of mine or on TV, so you must not be any good."  It is a weird idea that if you are working you must have talent.  No, if you are working in the biz you must be popular.  Good is all relative.

Think of this.  Tom Hulce put on a groundbreaking performance in AMADEUS.  Still one of my favorites of all time.  Why isn't he working?  Where is he?  Where have all those brilliant actors of old gone?

The casting folks weed through the smallest area for the brightest diamond, when one that is one hundred karats is just outside that line.  People hire people they have worked with before, even though
a more capable actor works next door from the location.  They hire famous people, even though the next Jennifer Lawrence is somewhere in the ether.  It really is unfortunate.  And how can they be expected to put out the best product if they are pulling from and creating for the lowest common denominator?

Is there anything you can do?  Not really.  Try harder, make more friends and do as many projects as you can to build up your followers as well as your talent.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Confessions of a G-List Actress: The Ghost of Performances Past

Here I am.  I find myself in this awe inspiring moment.  There is dim light and the small of week old saw dust and dry paint.  I can hear hushes and perhaps a gentle chord in the darkness.  I am, for the first time in months, exactly where I am meant to be.
My heart is racing and I can feel the excitement in my throat.  I swallow it hard and try to contain my utter elation.  I breath calmly for my pulse to be racing.  No fear, no anger, no sadness.
My first step is sure and the following are quick.  I can feel the boards holding me up as I pad gently a few paces and stop.  There's the excitement again.  I stifle a joyous tear and turn off my smile.
I can hear a click and hum in the distance and there is a warm glow that spreads at rapid pace to everyone.  To others, it the blink of an eye, but to me it's agonizingly wondrous ages.  It starts at my face, the warmth, and spreads gently across my face.  It hits my shoulders, my fingers, my toes.  I can feel each particle and atom flooding my person.  It's kind.  It's radiant.  For me, it's perfect.
Vibrations and sound.  Everything is vibrations and sound.  The vibrations have colors that warp the world around me.  I can feel the air warming in my lungs and the words take on life and burst forth like all those sugary sweet syrups of childhood.  There is beauty and ugliness and I am it all.
It's over.  Too soon I think.  Two weeks and I can't remember how I said what I said.  Was I brilliant?  I honestly don't know.  It was all a wash of love and joy.  Back to the cold reality.  It's more bitter than I realized.

I never remember what I say on stage.  It's like an out of body experience.  I can remember the emotion.  I know what I felt.  But I have no idea what came out of my mouth.
Oh I know my lines.  I know everyone's lines.  I know everyone's lines and I know how I am going to fix the situation if you lose your lines, or the lights go down.  It's the same for film.  I know everyone's lines by heart.  I know your intention, your goal, your through line.
I may not know you well, but I know your character.  I know them as well as I know myself.  You are my best friend.  You are my lover.  You are my husband.  You are my child.  You mean everything.  You mean nothing.  *I simplify but you get the idea.*
I have seen video of myself and scoffed.  "I can do so much better.  Why did I make that choice?"  But it was the choice I made at the time.  No idea why.  It literally came out of my mouth.

I live for these moments, because, to me, it's the time I feel most myself.  It is the time I am most relaxed, most sure.  I am the best version of myself when I am this someone.  I don't dare say someone else, because you learn, as an actor, to be every version of yourself.  When I am this Lilly, who has another name, I am the best version of myself.

Bows and praise are so brief.  Less than a moment.  I don't live for that.  I could as easily amuse one as one hundred people.  I appreciate the applause and admiration.  Actors can't help but love it.  Those people who watch keep us employed.  I wouldn't dare call them fanatics.  They don't just come to watch me.  Or perhaps they do.  But even so, they too are all those things the people on stage are.

The audience has life and love and emotions.  I live for the days when someone cries because I cry, or laughs at me when I should be laughing at myself.  For a few glorious hours, or even a few glorious minutes I get to connect with people.  And no matter how fine that line is, that connection to another human being is worth all the money I have ever made as an actor and all the money I have made waiting tables.

For me, the story and the emotion involved are the drive.  The hours of adrenaline and the rush are intoxicating.  The need to collapse from exhaustion is grand.  I have stepped off stage trembling with adrenaline and anger.  I have to drink it in.  It's amazing.  If not to put so much of yourself into this that you become exhausted, why bother?  I have stepped offstage shaking.  I have finished a scene and felt emotionally drained.  It is SO AMAZERING!  *Yes I just made up the word amazering because scrumtrelescent was already used*  Does anyone else know how completely absurd and totally astounding the few quick moments we get to perform in our life are?  How precious is that?!

If I have to work on a project for any time and get invested I cry on the last day.  Not publicly or in any silly way, but I get so overwhelmed by the fact that for those few precious moments I was allowed to do this that it overwhelms me with happiness and sadness and loss and gain and everything and I will burst into tears in a private moment.  Heck, when Boeing Boeing was over in the middle of our post show final dinner a few tears dropped into my lap.  I may never see these people again and they have become such an important part of this character that will always be a little part of me.

So here's a toast to all those little bits of me that keep nagging away and are just waiting for their moment to escape.  I know most people don't get it.  But to me it's like fresh air after a year in the city.  Just feels good in the lungs.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Almost 8 Year Old Poetry

So, I forgot I had a live journal until someone reminded me via facebook.  LOL!  Forget throwback Thursday.  Throwback Monday.

Is it bad I think I was a better writer when I was younger.  Maybe the angst was kinda okay?

Nobody knows...

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.

Those this verse talks mostly bout Agape (brotherly) love.  Remember you were, at the start, my friend.  And yes, one person will read this and know who I am talking about.  So what?  Here is my solace in life. 

Love suffers long: I would wait for you
Love is kind: I want you to be happy
Love does not envy: Our relationship was not perfect, but I never needed another
Love does not parade itself: I'm not perfect
Love is not puffed up: You're not perfect
Love does not seek it's own: I wanted to give you everything, with no expectation of return
Love is not provoked: I never wanted to start a fight
Love thinks no evil: I never thought badly of you
Love does not rejoice in iniquity: I'm sorry for everything I ever did wrong
Love rejoices in the truth: to love you is not a punishment, to be away from you is
Love bears all things: no matter what you do I will never stop loving you
Love believes all things: I believe in you, that's all that matters
Love hopes all things: I hope you'll come back to me
Love endures all things: But if you don't I won't change or hate you
Love never fails: and no matter who or what happens I will always love you with all of my heart

1 am poetry

There's feeling alone

And where you left me

The only thing I have

Is this chain of memories

The warmth burns me so

And it all smells like you

It feels like someone

It still feels like truth

There's nothing you can do

To make me change

No reasons no signs

Can make me rearrange

The stitchings and inner workings

Of this human heart

Just another sad Saturday

To make my happy start

I hold on the past

Remembering the weight

How hard it is still

To let go so late

I won't move on

For just a moment more

No one need know

The things I'm begging for

There's nothing you can do

To make me change

No reasons no signs

Can make me rearrange

The stitchings and inner workings

Of this human heart

Just another sad Saturday

To make my happy start

The salt still waters my garden

Happiness cools the heart

Another beat, another week

Now to play the part

There's nothing you can do

To make me change

No reasons no signs

Can make me rearrange

The stitchings and inner workings

Of this human heart

Just another sad Saturday

To make my happy start

One more writing for...

I had another dream about you last night
I can't believe what I saw there
You smiled at me like you hadn't in so long
I had to smile in my sleep

I had another dream about you last night
I can still remember the chill
You touched my hand like you hadn't in so long
I trembled uncontrollably til I woke

I had another dream about you last night
You held me for a little while
You held me like you hadn't in so long
I was left breathless and warm

I had another dream about you last night
You can still take my breath away
You kissed me like you hadn't in so long
That I cried for want of the dream

I had another dream about you last night
No more, no less, but sure
You loved me in my dreams like you hadn't in so long
I don't want to wake up again

Another day I just feel like writing

I can say it over and over
Repeat it til I think it's true
Recite it just like it's a fact
I can make everyone a fool

I make my mind believe it
I say it before I go to sleep
I push the thought out of my mind
I ignore the fantasy

I can whisper the word to just anyone
They'll believe it just the same
I can cry out to anyone
I can call out any name

I really haven't lied to anyone
What I say is entirely true
I can love him for the rest of my days
But I just can't keep from loving you

I see his eyes, I kiss his mouth
His scents still sweeter than yours
But I still can taste the bitterness
The still soft bitterness I long for

Bored...sad...feel like writing

I swear it was a dream last night
When I woke up and thought of you
I must admit you have never ever startled me awake
Your image never made me feel so naked and deprived
Couldn't sleep, couldn't dream

I felt so lost when I got your message
My brain couldn't grasp a syllable
Now I am waiting like a man on his last hope
Praying that what you said wasn't true
I'm sorry, I know I did this to you

Couldn't understand you on the receiver
Guess the bourbon rotted your sense away
I still wonder if the bottle was empty after the call
I think I needed to burn out my senses too
Just waiting, I'm just waiting

I just want to hear from you
Just want to hear you were a dream
Just want to think that maybe you were my temporary relief
The short lived attraction to bring me back to reality
I just want to go back to sleep, I just want to go back to sleep

Wow!

I guess just for the heck of it some poetry is necessary...

Welcome to my world
Population one or thousands
Depending on the time of day
Welcome to my daydream
Where the monsters feed
Lusting for my sanity
Welcome to my nightmare
Where all is logic
I feel nothing but numb
Welcome to my mind
Where the daylight
is never shone
Welcome to my world
Where many fear
and never tread
Welcome my dearest weary one
Welcome to the land
Where sanity is dead

Yeah I know it's crap...like I said the PA dept pulls a lot out of me...

Bitter Bloggings from an Optimistic Actress: Talent and Casting

"I'm a skilled professional actor. Whether or not I've any talent is beside the point."
~ Michael Caine


As actors, we all know the process of being hired.  It's is a long process for both performer and casting director that can take a few hours, when you are very lucky, or days, weeks, even months to cast a simple project and in the end, someone with no actual ability can get the role. 

Talent won't get you in the door.  In fact, in this business, especially film, talent can be taught.  What will get your foot in the door?  Chaos theory.  The best thing you can do is keep throwing your foot into doorways until you catch someone off guard.  It's all down to someone else thinking you've got that something.  Does anyone realize how ridiculous that is?  There is something that we are supposed to have and another human, or group of humans, is there to analyze if we have "it."  Can anyone define the "it?"  Nope.  Talent is only there to keep you in a better position to stay in the room once you get in there in the first place.  And if someone else has more of the "it" than you.  All your talent will be passed over with you.

Let's be honest.  The casting process is no picnic for the CD.  They have to weed through hundreds of people who look exactly alike to find one person to fit a single role.  Have you looked at actors recently?  I sat in an audition and five girls wearing the same outfit and hairstyle walked in.  I seriously thought the same person was walking out, changing their t-shirt to another color and walking back in.  They are trying to streamline the process in such a way to make it easier for everyone.  They want you to get the part.  It makes their life so much easier.  They want to say, You!  You are perfect!  I can stop searching and work on another project!

I can't tell you how often I have had friends of mine in the business call me in for an audition.  I clear my schedule and happily make time.  I love the script and want so badly to be a part of the project.  Yet, I find myself, hours or weeks later, no closer to my goal of joining the ranks of said film.  Weeks pass by and I get a call from the CD to go to lunch and hear these words; she was horrible.  Nothing breaks my heart more than those words.  

In a way, a script is like someone you are in love with.  Truly and deeply.  You will always be sad and a little broken if you don't get the part.  Yet, you want what is best for the project.

The comment on the  performance is always followed by, they should have hired you.  Well obviously if you weren't getting what you wanted out of her then she shouldn't have been hired in the first place and there are tons of capable actresses out there who could have done better. 

A director friend told me, I wish these actors would just take acting classes and stop taking auditioning classes.  Auditioning classes are great.  However, a good actual acting class will break an auditioning class every time.  Why?   Auditioning classes don't teach you to act.  They teach you how to audition.  I took an audition class in college where the first three classes were about slating and introductions.  We perfected monologues by choosing certain moments and words for inflections.  Was it acting?  Not really.  The acting came from other classes.  

Normally people will say, well you weren't right for the part.  As an actor I can't wholly believe in this concept.  I can understand that I wasn't the type if I was aiming to play Othello. To me, as often as they tell me otherwise, a true actor is typeless.  But I do my best to offer myself to those parts I seem most suited for.  To type yourself is to wrap what you are capable of in a pretty package, just like the other pretty packages out there.  Yes, know your limitations, but don't overlook those parts that allow you to stretch yourself as an actor.  Who knows, you might get lucky.

Casting, when you break it down, is one of the most unfair systems in the business today.  The casting process, like life, can be cruel to actor and casting director alike.  Why?  Because it looks at acting as a business.  

But it is a business, you say!  We can argue art versus economics for hours, but lets look at an all too familiar topic, starting with everyone's favorite part of the casting process.  Step one as we, the actors, know it.

1)  The casting call. The casting director may or may not have read the script.  They may be given a script and read the whole thing.  They may just have a character break down.  The CD may be busy, or, in some cases it happens, lazy.  They may give it to their assistant to read. They may have been given parameters.  Name only?  (By the way if anyone can define name talent please let me know)  SAG-Only.  No brunettes.  But the director has told them here is a project and it is their job to call out to the talent.  No matter how they go about it, it is imperative they find the right person.  So they write an article, send out posts, and open the flood gates.  They don't know how many submissions they will get.  Maybe ten, maybe ten thousand.  We surf these websites with reckless abandon in search of the great part.  That one written ticket to acting glory.  We submit for everything.  Need female late 20's.  I look late 20's.  Need female 30's.  I am 30.  Need spokesperson, model, vampire lover, juicer, sex kitten.  We find it all and submit.  Unless they are asking for someone who isn't my gender, color, within ten years of my age, or they are asking for an amputee, I will submit.  I kid you not, this morning alone, I submitted for the director of an art gallery, an insurance host, a wife, a girlfriend, a college student, a vampire hunter, and two early 20's girls who are in the middle of the apocalypse fighting some sort of zombie outbreak.


2) Head shots.  Yes, your headshot is the second step you as an actor take to get yourself a job.  If getting the part is the destination, your headshot is the money in your pocket for the travel.  Why don't I mention resumes yet?  Because the first thing the CD will look at is your headshot.  In my experience, a CD won't even look at your resume until they have weeded through headshots.  Yes.  No.  Maybe.  These are the piles you are divided into.  So guess what?  You may, officially, be the most talented actor on the face of the planet.  Your performance of this role, were it given to you, would be Oscar worthy, without a doubt.  The famous in Hollywood would tremble at your awesome actoring skills and beg for advice and give you dirty looks.  But, if the CD doesn't think the director will like you, you won't get a second glance.  Maybe they are looking for a name.  You aren't a name actor, sorry.  You may be the most talented person in the pile, but if they would prefer someone with green eyes and yours are brown, you are going in the no or maybe pile.  They may have talked to the director and he has decided they need a heavier girl and you are supermodel thin.  Well, talent or not, you have now lost your shot.  Unfair right?  They didn't mention these parameters on the casting notice?  Too bad.  So much of your casting
depends on if you look the part.  I kid you not, several friends of mine have gotten parts based entirely on their headshot.  I was auditioning for a theater and found out later that the second the director saw my headshot they chose me for the part.  A lead role in a huge company and they gave me the part before I opened my mouth.  Wow, she looks just like I pictured the character.  I did an audition video for a friend from a website, which had the sides and how to submit on the site, and they were immediately cast in the part they wanted.  I kid you not they sent in the info and were given the part thirty minutes later.  They didn't even send in their resume.  We looked up on YouTube and the video had been watched three times and a total of fifteen seconds of the film had been watched, there was a headshot at the beginning, for five seconds, as well as a ten second slate.  Mathematically, the audition was never watched.  Your headshot is just that important.

3)  YES,the CD flipped the headshot over or opened the other file.  Congratulations.  You, the actor making their way to gig town, have pulled the money from your pocket to count your change.  The CD liked your look.  Congrats.  They think the director will like you.  Uber congrats.  Or maybe they only found two or three definite candidates and you were lucky enough to be bumped from maybe to yes.  Still, congratulations.  Now they will look at your resume and reel.  Honestly, in many cases the reel and resume are interchangeable.  Some folks look at the resume and will make a choice based on that whether or not to call you in.  Sometimes it is a little of both resume and reel.  But here is hoping you have that certain something that will wow the crowd.  I like variety.  The more variety the better.  But a casting director may want to see a definite type.  Either way, your resume and reel need to show a range of emotion at least.  Really, the first three steps can actually rule out those of talent.  Why, because the CD is basing their choice on looks and the choice of previous CDs who have made a similar choice a similar way.  There are people I have worked with of such talent, they should never be in want of a professional lead acting job.  And yet, now, they are teaching acting.  Why?  Because, really, there is nothing else to do.  They never quite found their niche, but they shouldn't have had to.  That kind of brilliance knows no bounds.

4)  Auditions.  Now is the first time you get to show what you can do.  They have set the day and you are on your way to the audition.  You as the actor are prepped and ready to go.  You walk in with a big smile, you are excited to be there.  You sit for an eternity with other actors who have been here for several hours.  When your name is called you take a breath and enter.  Your audition is brief.  Sometimes so fast it makes you wonder if you were there at all after you drove five hours.  Did the CD notice you?  Will you get a callback?  They seemed to like you.  They asked you to read three times and commented on how well you take direction.  You got the part right?  I have lost parts simply due to my six foot stature.  You hope if it was something to do with your acting that they will tell your agent.  Depending on how involved the director wants to be it may no longer be the CD's decision.  Sometimes at this point the director takes over, watched the auditions, and calls back who he wants.  Sometimes it is the casting director's decision to call back the actors who they thought were most suited for the director.  Sometimes the director puts it entirely in the CD's capable hands.

5)  Waiting.  Well, actors do this step.  Actors wait and hope.  Or try to forget.  For CD's this is think time.  Would so and so pair well with so and so?  Would actor A outshine actor B?  Actor B can't have that.  This is the time for brains and thinking.  Pairing people in this business can be volatile.  It is arduous.  Will the actor fit the part?  Will they work well with others?  CDs prep for step 6.

6) Callbacks.  YAY!  You, the actor, got a callback.  You prep some more and audition.  The CD waits, hoping that the powers that be will love one of the few people they called in.

7)CASTING!

Really, in any of the previous steps you could take out the talent and someone with a modicum of ability to speak conversationally could just as easily get a part if they looked more the part.  Just part of how this works.  

A casting horror story.  Or, why actors fear the CD.  

A close friend of mine was working for a CD.  They were having auditions for a particular part, the lead in a short film.  My friend was keeping notes for the director.  After seeing the same girl, or the same type of girl, for five hours, the whole process was getting tiresome.  Honestly, the part called for someone with a little less breast and a little more brain, but the same brunette with the same breasts and the same short skirt kept walking in over and over and saying the same lines the same way.  
When all hope seemed lost, a miracle.  Had the playwright brought this girl in?  She was verbatim what the script called for from head to toe.  She read with gusto.  She was talented.  She even dressed how the character dressed.  I don't know how to better describe how perfect she was, on paper, for this part.  
The CD had her read twice, with direction in between.  My friend was in tears at the end.  They thanked the woman and she left.  
The door closed and my dear friend was waiting to hear the praise.  No, we don't need to see anyone else.  Tell that girl to come back in.  The part is hers.  But this never came.  Instead they talked for a few moments about her physical appearance, laughed, and went on to the next audition.


In steps a perfect feminine specimen.  The women before were hot, but this girl was an eleven.  She had perfect breasts, that you could see in their minute anatomical entirety, under her shirt.  I use the term shirt loosely.  She wore a micro-mini skirt and heels to make her legs appear longer than they already did.  The auditioner bent over at one point and my friend found out she wasn't wearing underwear of any kind, as did every other male in the room.  With the inflection of Ben Stein and the gusto of a wet mop, she worked her way through this audition.  From the story, to call it bad acting would be an insult to bad actors and hacks everywhere.  Once again, she read twice.  Once again, they thanked her profusely.
This time, as the door closed, my friend waited for the same jibes.  I thought she was great.  Yeah, call her back in.  She was perfect.  I saw it and felt it.

So, any guesses as to who got the part? 

The film never went anywhere.  But it was a painful reminder that, yes, this does happen.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Confessions of a G-List Actress: BETTY'S PAGE

When we last heard from Lilly she was working 40 hours...

So, as I was saying a few days ago, after a 40 hour work week I found myself in Raleigh around 1:30 am.  Went to the boyfriend's house.  And arrived just in time to shower and go completely unconscious.  I literally hugged my boyfriend, showered, and slept.

This kinda made me sad, been needing some actual human interaction and students at an art college are only so good at that.  Ever driven almost two hours and been excited to see someone and maybe talk?  Yeah, soon as I washed the day off that was not going to happen.

Every actor knows this level of exhaustion.  You are still perfectly functioning, but you know it won't last.  You think you might be smelling yourself so you climb into the shower and that water feels so nice.  I mean it, so nice you sit in the bottom of your shower, a la lifetime, and just let the water run over you.  You don't have the energy to scrub.  You just need a minute and the energy will come back.  But it doesn't and you actually fall asleep for a second in the shower, just sitting there.  You wake up and figure, oh a little sleep and you will be fine.  So you step out of the shower, put on your pajamas and...HOLY CRAP!!!  IT'S 8AM!!!!  When did I go to sleep?!

The older I get, the more of a narcoleptic I am.  I can sleep anywhere.
ANYWHERE!

**Side Note:  Now that I think of it I do seem to pass out more easily when the boyfriend is around.  He must be bathing in chloroform.  That would explain the sudden need to pass out in his presence.  Either that or he has created some sort of airborne rohypnol.  This would make him a maniacal genius.  I'm OK with this.  Martian Sandcastle, World Domination, Sandwich!**

So somewhere in my comatose like sleep I wake up to the annoying  sound of alarm and drag myself out of bed and into "action."  Actually, to be honest I laid there and eventually pulled myself out of bed by sheer force of will and the promise of a chai tea latte, and screen time.  I always have time to awaken for a line and screen time.

About 45 minutes, and a bumbling, half asleep, attempt to put my makeup on in the car later, we arrive.  I was not driving.  Arrival is just in time to feast upon doughnuts and coffee and get ready for what might be the fastest day of filming we have had on Fix It In Post.

Today we get to eat on set, what do I mean by that?  We get to eat the food put before us and enjoy while someone video tapes us.  The kid on City Island would be having a field day.  And Betty gets to be compassionate and content.  Kinda alien, but I can dig it.  She got what she wanted.  
I got to eat out of a skull.  BBQ out of a skull is kinda fun actually, until you realize every single time you pick it up BBQ is wasted on a table you really don't want to lick.  You might lick it anyways when no one is looking.  It's BBQ for crying out loud!  You can't help but think of Hamlet while eating pork out of a plastic replica skull.  Alas poor Yorick.  His brains were from Lexington.  Somehow Alan got the best picture of my profile I have seen in a long time.  WOW.  Seriously.  Mad props.
Lines were said.  Laughs were had.  Food was eaten at great speed.  Few more cannibal jokes and we are done with the scene.  Time flies on set, except when it doesn't.

At least it wasn't cold that day.  It was freezing the following day when they had to shoot all that summer stuff.  But that is another story.

As the sun sets we tape the window closed so it will appear to be nighttime.  Yeah.  The Magic of Film making.
We close all the doors and lock ourselves into a stable.  Back to rage.  Time for William and Betty to gently threaten Lexy, who is too stupid to defend herself.  We practice some shoves and the first time Lexy bangs her head on a bar.  Ooops.  Well, now she's scared.

Putting Miles and I in a scene together opposite one another is a dangerous enough thing.  It can get quite volatile.  Putting other people in it can make it even more dangerous.   

The first take I saw some genuine fear in Lexy's eye and I really don't want to hurt another human being.  Betty shoves her against a wall and claps a hand over her face.  William rips her off and they fight a bit.  He suddenly is confronted with exactly how stupid Lexy is and that's his breaking point.

After a few fumbled takes , as everyone is trying to rush to pry William off Lexy, the chair Bill is sitting on breaks and in a very Matrix Style, he forces himself to stand up as the chair crumbles underneath him.  It was really impressive.  Wish I had video of it.
Now that we are in the swing of the scene I cry for help as Lexy explains how Scott is going to fix everything.  When William pulls me off of Lexy I fight him.  People gasp the first few times.  I cuss him out.  Call him names.  Climb up the bars of the cell.  Threaten to kill.  Grab William and try to console him and calm him.  It's great to be gasping for breath after a scene.

Since Betty has now been pleading for help in the background they decide to film a little of me going nuts.

"Hey!  Help!  Hey we got a fat one in here!  I'll snap her neck for you!"  I can hear Lexy gasp in faux annoyance.  Do it the other way.  OK.  We are done.  

Food.  Bed.  Was going to watch DOCTOR WHO but the day wore me out.  Besides, I spent a few dollars and watched it later and was very angry with the MOFF!  Stop changing rules.  The Doctor can't be perfect.

I fade in and out of sleep, while Highlander, the TV show, plays on Netflix.  I slept through most of it.  Ehh, Richie wasn't in the episode anyways.

7:30 am and my car won't start.  A sweet landlord jumps my car and I am on my way to Charlotte for Partners!  

I get to Charlotte a little before 11 and climb from my car into Darren's car.  Nice Mercedes with heated seats.  Good thing too.  It is freezing outside!

We talk on the way over.  On location they are setting up our scene...OUTSIDE.  We pull a large white blanket out and walk over to the edge of a lake.  Thankfully the sun is straight above us, causing enough heat to make the cold bearable, but now the light is right in my face and I am lying on my back trying not to squint into the sun that is right in my line of sight.

They move way too quickly into close ups.  Now Darren is trying to shield my eyes while I act.  I am trying to not look into the sunlight.  We kiss.  They cut.  We start over.  Dialogue.  Kiss.  Cut.
  
The scene is over so quick it makes your head spin.  Back into the warm.  Change and get mentally prepped to emote.

As a rule, if you think you might hit someone it is a good idea to ask.  Especially if the person you are about to hit is a highway patrolman.  Didn't know if I would.  But an emotional woman will do anything so I figured I would ask.  He said OK.  First take he sits down on the floor next to me and I am bawling.  I am crying so hard Darren starts to cry and then BAM!  Couldn't help it.  Slapped the fire out of a state trooper.  Got up and ran out of the room.

Director says cut.  Umm?  Do we need a safety?  Nine takes from different angles later and I am on the verge of an asthma attack.  Thankfully we are done with my filming and I can go downstairs and take a nap until dinner.  We eat and fill out paperwork. Before I know it, hey hey hey, I am on my way home.

Work tomorrow and for the next few hours I will be living on cloud nine.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bitter Bloggings from an Optomistic Actress: The importance of being an EXTRA

I was going to write about actors and talent, but this got to me. Please forgive my candor, but this drove me INSANE!  


A news station in NC interviewed an extra from the newest blockbuster to hit the theaters and put it on television, treating him like he starred in the film.  It's a bit like last year when they interviewed the NC native who was in a similar film as a featured extra: no lines, less than 30 seconds of screen time, and died in the first ten minutes of the film.  I honestly don't think the reporters who called them to schedule an interview know how acting works.


I got snubbed by someone who does background work on a network TV show as a regular extra.  Seriously, they are paid extras and acted superior due to the fact they are a regular extra on network TV.  I watched some of the show.  I saw their back turned as they stood behind the star.  The star talked while they mimed a motion. They likely filmed several times because the background guy was being too conspicuous.


Recently, did you know, on the HUNGER GAMES CATCHING FIRE IMDb site, they removed 200 extras who didn't mention uncredited when they applied?  It just said Capital Citizen or Tribute.  Are they in the credits at the end of the film?  Heck no!  The IMDb folks were MAD!


I have to say this.  Background work, no matter how you want to slice it, is not acting work.  Let me repeat this, EXTRA WORK IS NOT ACTING WORK!  I have a cousin with a recurring role on TV and when I was young he told me, "If you want to be an actor, be an actor.  If you want to be an extra, be an extra."  Truer words have never been spoken.


Notice I didn't say background wasn't work.  I am not saying you can't make a great living as an extra in a union state, or any other state for that matter.  In places like New York they still pay over $100 for an 8 hour day to extras.  $100 a day, five days a week, four weeks a month.  You could almost survive that way in a bigger city.  In fact, I know a lot of people who make money as extras in major cities getting paid well over $500 a week to just sit in a room for 8 hours a day.  Do they have dreams of hitting it big?  No, they just like being in the background.  There is an art to blending in with the background, and that is the job of an extra, to not stick out, to meld with the scene.  It is an honorable profession, because without extras there would be no movies.  And to those who make their livings in the Background and show up every time on time to do that, I salute you.  



You do this for no thanks and a piddling amount of money...and I would give you a big hug if I was on set right now.  Directors yell at you to move your head and get out of the shot.  The stars eat better than you.  You may or may not get to talk to the celebrities.  The one time I agreed to do extra work I was not allowed to talk to the talent.  Someone who was star struck was removed from the set and not paid for talking to the star after the director said no.  An extra is not there to network with the director or schmooze with the stars, no matter what Ricky Gervais may imply.  So thanks for your dedication and willingness to not be seen.

The above and below also goes for you folks who are Professional Stand-Ins.  Not acting work.  Integral to the filming process.  We love you.


Hey!  You remember when Robert Downy Jr hurt himself on Iron Man?  The director pointed to the extra, Jack Flap, and said, "You.  Yes you!  I recognize your talent.  I have loved your work since you ate that sandwich in the diner.  You don't belong with the extras.  Robbie is out!  Please, oh please be my Iron Man.  Will you?!  And then when this is over, you will be a star!  Bigger than anyone!"  Yeah I had that dream too, but it involved Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle.  This will never happen!  While on set you might get a line if the part is small enough and the person they hired didn't show, but being bumped from featured extra to day player on a big studio film is highly unlikely, and by that I mean if it happens you have a horseshoe shoved where the sun don't shine.


So all you extras who dream of acting, stop taking the extra roles.  It is not making your resume any more appealing.  And all you folks who see your friends in extra roles and tell them "congratulations, you're going to be famous"; stop encouraging mediocrity in your acting friends.  


In a way you are treating them like children and not encouraging them to get better.  You know when a kid comes up to you with paint all over their faces, staining hair, in their mouths, and shows you the picture they just spat onto that piece of cardboard.  Do you tell them the truth?  "Oh that is horrible."  No, you tell them "Great job, you are going to be the next Picasso."  Except in the case of your actor friends you sort of mean it.  "You will be the next Brando."  Oh my gosh you were brilliant.  You were so good at not staring at Charlize Theron while she stripped naked.  Congratulations for being on screen behind the person getting paid the equivalent of all the extras on set for the entire production.  Stop treating your five seconds on a studio production like your big break.  It's not.  It's another job that you don't even get credit for.  A single line in an indie film is worth more on paper than any number of studio extra credits, featured or not.


Stop thanking the academy when you get home after standing for three hours behind Morgan Freeman or Kevin Klein, who likely said very little to you.  The only people you are famous to are your friends.  This is not the time to drop everything and move to LA.


"Wow, they recognized your talent."  No they didn't, they asked for a certain number of people and they filled their quota as quickly as possible.  Weather it is you, or your friend, standing next to the star may give you screen time.  But as far any casting director is concerned, you might as well be the park bench if you don't have any lines.


And I know you will bring up this little article here.  I think this article was written by an extra who wants to be an actor.  Maybe the famous guy or girl in question did do extra work because at the time they were broke and needed money.  Here is the same list of actors with the information they left out.



1. SYLVESTER STALLONE
The Year before Woody Allen's Film, Bananas, Stallone was the star in two films, one of which was a soft core pornographic film and the other was a studio film called No Place to Hide.  By the time he was doing that extra role in Bananas, Stallone was already trying to sell Rocky to major investors and they knew who he was.

2. BRAD PITT

Months before before the extra work in Less than Zero, he was already a regular, named Chris, on a soap opera, Another World.
3. CLINT EASTWOOD
Yes, Mr. Eastwood's first few films were as background/extra roles.  But did you know the studio was actually grooming him to be an actor?  He already had a contract with Universal and the studio was paying for him to attend acting classes as well as $100 a week.  His contract began April 1954, 11 months before his first extra role.  At that time if the studio took you on, you were going to star one day.  So, no, the extra work didn't lead to fame.  His screen test for the head of the studio led to fame.


4. PHIL COLLINS

So the famous musician Phil Collins was in a movie when he was 13.  This particular posting is a real stretch.  Phil Collins was an established musician before he started doing speaking roles in movies.  So he, or some chick he knew, was a fan of the Beatles and they went to an open call for extra roles.  Big deal.  That didn't lead to his future screen time.  It was his music.
5. PATTI BOYD
Sure, George Harrison's first wife was an extra in Hard Days Night.  But she already was a successful model/photographer before then.  It didn't hurt she married a Beatle and Eric Clapton, but her start really wasn't as an extra.  Her modeling started in 1962, a full 2 years before she was an extra on A Hard Days Night.

6. RUDOLPH VALENTINO
Rudolph Valentino was an extra in several silent films before he became a leading man?  He was a dancer in his first film.  Technically an extra, but this went only for 2 films before he got a leading role.  And before then, he was doing theater.

7.NOEL COWARD
Noel Coward was a lead in a children's play when he was 12 and worked in the theater touring as well as being the protege of a famous painter.  He was well renowned as a stage actor for almost a decade before he got his first extra credit.

8. AYN RAND
Now is probably the best time to mention that she was not an actress.  Ayn Rand is a screenwriter and her meeting with Cecil B Demille didn't really catapult anything forward.  Sure she became a junior screenwriter, but she didn't even sell her first play to Paramount, whom she and Demille worked for.  She sold her first script to Universal Studios and it wasn't even produced.  Her part as an extra did almost nothing for her writing career.
9. RENÉE ZELLWEGER
Before Dazed and Confused in 1993, there was made for TV movie, A Taste For Killing, in 1992.  It was a small role, but she had lines.
10. JOHN WAYNE
"In the 1920s, John Wayne was an extra in several silent films before his first starring role in 1930's The Big Trail."  Actually the year before that he had a speaking role in Words and Music.  You want to know what really got John Wayne, born Marion Robert Morrison, into film?  Football.  He was Pre-law at USC and was on a full football scholarship.  A bodysurfing accident broke his collar bone and he lost is scholarship.  Tom Mix, a western film star and fan of Wayne's football skill, helped Wayne get a job in a studio props department in exchange for football tickets and introduced him to John Ford, who gave Wayne his big break.  No, the extra work didn't give John Wayne his start.  A fan of USC and Wayne's football career did.


11. CLARK GABLE

Clark Gable was a stage actor before he began extra work.  His stage career was not improved by the extra work and, in fact, it wasn't until he almost quit film altogether that an MGM film producer saw him on stage in LA and offered him a contract with MGM.  No the director didn't see him in a film in the background and exclaim, "I'm going to make him a star!"
12. MEGAN FOX
Just gonna put this out there verbatim from the source.  At 15, Fox made her acting debut in the 2001 film Holiday in the Sun, as spoiled heiress Brianna Wallace and rival of Alex Stewart (Ashley Olsen), which was released direct-to-DVD on November 20, 2001.  Bad Boys wasn't until 2003.  
13. JAMES DEAN
In the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedy Sailor Beware Dean had one line: "The guy's a professional."  So he was a day player.  Not an extra.  And besides, he was in a Pepsi commercial first and had two other walk on roles where he had lines.
14. BEN AFFLECK & 15. MATT DAMON
Ben Affleck was a child actor and Matt Damon made his film debut in Mystic Pizza with one line.  Extras, I think not.
















16. Jackie Chan
As a teenager, Jackie Chan was an extra in two Bruce Lee films: Fists of Fury (1971) and Enter the Dragon (1973).  This is incorrect!  Jackie was a stuntman.  Not an extra.  And before then he had been on TV, yup he had lines and everything.

17. JEAN HARLOW
Jean Harlow was an extra first, it's true.  But she had turned down lead roles before her mother kinda made her take the work since Harlow was 17, divorced, and penniless.
18. BRUCE WILLIS
Look carefully and you'll spot Bruce Willis as an extra in the courtroom scene of Paul Newman's 1981 film, The Verdict.  Yes, look carefully.  Bruce Willis knew Sam Shepard and had been working off Broadway for nearly 4 years in lead roles in Sam Shepard plays.  But yeah, it was the verdict that made him the man he is today.
19. MARILYN MONROE
Marilyn Monroe was on the cover of dozens of magazines before a 20th Century Fox executive saw her and signed her to become the studios new star in training.  That's how she got the extra work in the first place and also how she got her first lines.  Once again, the extra work didn't make her famous, she was a cover girl already.

Notice I don't say don't be an extra.  If you have no film credits, be an extra.  If you have no resume.  Be an extra.  But, if you want to act, work the right way towards getting out of the extra role.  Talking to the director on a big budget set is not likely to get you big work.  Talking to the actor might, but they're at work.  This is not the time to ask Demi Moore if she's ever heard of you and pass her your portfolio.  If you get acquainted then, maybe later on at a coffee shop, you can talk about acting, but plenty of extras get on set to talk to camera guys, actors, and directors to no longer be extras.  Be careful and try not to be that guy.

Also, as far as LA goes.  Hard town man.  You won't be able to go to LA with only extra credits and make a name for yourself as working actor.  

I would really love for everyone to get their big break and have all those hours as extras pay off with a big leading role.  But lets be realistic.  More than anything, I think it's important to know that LA is a hard sell and people with names who live in the area fight tooth and nail to stay employed.  They will eat you alive if you try to get in their way.  I really just don't want anyone to end up homeless or broke in LA with no way to get back to a safe place.