On Acting

 


Someone pointed out that I never post about my acting. There are a few good reasons…

Stage

As my mother’s Alzheimer’s ate away at her over the past few years, I could not commit to a play being staged months in the future. During those years, I daily expected a call requiring urgent travel to her care home in the UK. I could not risk letting down all the other actors by suddenly disappearing just before opening night. That’s not in my nature.

So that put my stage acting to rest.

Screen 1

Small speaking parts in movies usually have short lead times so I could take the risk.

Scores of movies are filmed in Luxembourg, especially during fine-weather months. Every day I see casting calls: for fluent Russian/Flemish/Swahili speakers; for men of African or Asiatic appearance; for young men; for women over 60…

But very few for a 65-year-old caucasian male with limited non-English language ability.

I feel like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Tootsie (a forerunner of Mrs. Doubtfire). Hofmann’s character is an actor who is constantly rejected at auditions: he is too tall, too short, too young, too old… Basically, he is too… “him”. (SPOILER: He finally succeeds by posing as a woman and becoming huge TV star.)

Sure, there are many calls for “extra” work where anyone is acceptable: crowd scenes, passersby, theater audiences… But simply being on set is no longer a fascinating novelty. ALSO… you can end up spending 12 hours under a marquee in a cold, muddy field with nowhere to sit and not enough hot food for everyone. (Mr. Director, you know who you are!)

My shortest “extra” gig was spending 4 hours in a nice, warm office playing a man in a suit standing in a corridor and sitting at a desk (with unlimited coffee).

I don’t do extra work anymore. A speaking part comes with your own warm, private green room equipped with TV, comfy chairs, fruit, biscuits, and coffee machine. Even better for the ego, everyone knows your name! It just spoils you and makes you decide you are not going back to standing about in muddy fields.

Nevertheless, I’ve clocked up a few speaking appearances in recent years. And it’s great fun!

Screen 2

(Yes, this is a multiplex post.)

Another reason for not posting about my experiences is that confidentiality contracts are getting tougher. One I signed prevented me from discussing anything related to the movie in any medium anywhere in the universe. I tried to protest that the alternative universe I come from had no lawyers… but they were not impressed. I signed.

(Oops! I just broke the contract by revealing its contents!)

I guess this clause is to prevent nasty gossip leaking out about the (other) famous actors, their antics, and unpleasantness. Luckily, I never worked with anyone who displayed behavior worthy of a leak. (Can I say GOOD things about people I worked with or does the confidentiality clause ban that, too?)

Was I disappointed in my fellow actors being normal human beings doing a job professionally? Not a bit. It means a smooth shoot and an enjoyable experience. And none of them will leak gossip about me fluffing my lines. (Never happened!)

Radio

I have given story readings on local radio, but there is no English-language drama broadcasting. Hard to act in a vacuum.

So, these days I focus on writing.

 

I’ll leave my “Performance” page online as an archive, but I doubt I’ll be expanding it anytime soon.

Meanwhile, whatever you are reading or viewing – enjoy!


 

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