How to Be a Movie Star Part 1:
Get the Part
(It helps to look like a stoned Jesus)
Some time in late april, I received a most peculiar phone call. It was from a woman I know named Sindi. That's not peculiar. The fact that she is the girlfriend of Michael Tanner, the Green Fool of Fools Play Improv is not peculiar either. The peculiar part of the phone call was that Sindi was asking me if I wanted to be in a movie.
Sindi was somehow invovled in the production of a short film, directed by a woman named Renate (I wouldn't learn her last name until much, much later). Renate needed someone who looked a particular way to play a character in her movie. She described the person to Sindi, and as it turned out she was describing a person who looked exactly like me. The character was the drugged-out boyfriend of a female rock star. The movie was very short, and super low budget, so I wouldn't get paid or anything.
But I figured, sure, why the Hell not? It's a stretch, considering I've never been stoned in my life, but I've seen enough of it from other people to do a cartoony version of it.
Well, a week or so later I drove out to Renate's house for my audition. I got directions from mapquest and everything and headed on out. As I was driving through Seattle, the neighborhoods through which I was passing got progressively worse and worse and worse. I began to think, man, what kind of a film is this going to be?
When suddenly I crested a hill and dove down into one of the richest, nicest neighborhoods in all of Seattle, right on the shore of Lake Washington, full of half-a-million dollar houses and fancy cars. And here I am with my '92 Ford Tempo with a banged-up rear bumper, dressed for the part (i.e., not very well shaven), walking around in a neighborhood where the people who lived there could buy and sell me a couple hundred times over.
Renate's house had a gorgeous view of the lake. Renate herself was a small, quiet woman with a charming foreign accent (I'm not quite sure where exactly it was from). We waited for a woman who was being considered for the part of the female rock star, and I talked about my Improv/acting experience and plugged Fools Play some. I was given a copy of the script for the very first time. I had four lines.
They were all the same:
That seemed easy enough. Soon the woman being considered for my girlfriend arrived, and we ventured downstairs to the basement, passing by a poster of Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai, one of my favorite recent films. Well, I thought, if Renate likes Ghost Dog, this could be very good.
So we sit down on the couch in front of a video camera, and read through the two scenes that I'm in (the very first and very last). I say "yeah" four times and fumble for a mimed cell phone. Then we read through the middle scene, just so the woman can try that one, beacuse that's where the meat of the movie (and her part) was.
And that's that. A couple of minutes and I was on my way, Renate basically saying that I had the part (although it wasn't official as of yet), telling me that how I looked and what I was wearing would be perfect for the character. I got back in my embarrasing car and drove the 45 minutes back to Tacoma. It was weird; all this was through practically no work of my own. It seemed like I was falling ass-backwards into landing a part in a film.
So in conclusion:
How I landed a role in a movie: Looked like a stoned Jesus, and drove for about an hour and a half (total) for a two-minute audition.
Total amount of effort on my part: practically zero.
And I keep hearing all these actors down in Hollywood complaining that it's so hard to get parts in movies! Jeez! Cry-babies!
Coming Soon: How to Be a Movie Star Part 2: Rehearsals