I'm not in holding today.
I'm in a trailer.
My own trailer.
All to myself.
When I called to get my details for The Path, the message goes:
"Check in number one, you are our OCD Waiting Room Patient. You are the client of a psychiatrist and you're waiting for your appointment. For wardrobe please no white, no black. Good options include a blouse, a solid colored tee, or a pullover. Good bottom options include a casual skirt, jeans, cords, or slacks. Finish your look with a casual shoe- flats, low heel, boot, or canvas sneaker and some simple jewelry. You will report to the honeywagon trailer."
This is going to spoil me so bad. How am I ever going to go back to church basements after this?*
The scene, less than a quarter of a page, is so short you could almost miss it except I don't miss it because it is my scene. It's also Hugh Dancy's scene but aside from the two of us, that's it. Just us, alone in a small room full of awkward silence. And it's awesome.
There's something really lovely about days when you are background but you're not in the background. Everyone knows your name and if they don't know it already, they ask and then introduce themselves. The AD's, the Director, the DP, and sometimes even the stars say hello and shake your hand. After the first take, the director comes into the room and says, "I don't know why but this might be one my favorite scenes in the whole show. I couldn't tell which one of you looked more uncomfortable!"
After a few more takes and another camera setup, the director reenters, shakes my hand and says, "Thank you, great job! You looked really uncomfortable." "Thanks, I'm good at doing that. Every day." He and Hugh Dancy laughed, they thought I was making a joke.
But it's true.
One of the AD's shook my hand as I was leaving set and added more praise and now I really start to wonder... I don't know what I did besides sit in a chair but compounding that with the fact that I was chosen specifically (either by casting or the director or both) to play someone nervously waiting to see their shrink, it starts to add up and brings me to a fairly obvious conclusion.
I have resting fear face.
I'm one of those people that looks like something's wrong all the time.
It's either that or I can actually act and I don't even want to open that door, because much like the character I pretended to be today, it scares me. I'm confused about life enough with goals focused on writing and directing. Adding acting to the mix would be like putting hot sauce on my eggs and having the cap come off mid-pour. Hey, I like spicy! I like a lot of spicy, but when is hot too hot? Sure, it'll taste great but could I handle it?
That's the question I ask myself all the time, probably the top question that has contributed to my appearance of nerves resembling those of a trembling chihuahua.
One thing I've learned that I am truly sure of, is this:
You have to live up to it.
You have to rise to the occasion and you have to do it every time** Being on set is it's own form of athleticism and if you aren't on set regularly, when you do return you will likely feel out of shape. You need stamina and patience and discipline. There is zero glamor. Any glamor that exists, exists afterwards. The making-of is hardly anything more than a workout.
But once in awhile, you get your own trailer, have one short scene with serious actors, and wrap out before noon. Maybe it's not glamorous exactly; maybe it's something than can be more accurately described by saying that this small scene I had on The Path made me feel like I accomplished something. There's a sort of purity in having one job, focusing on it, and doing that job well. It feels even better when you're naturally good at it. Acting is work but it's tangible work that people can see coming from you, work that you clearly have responsibility for, and personally work that I feel very comfortably uncomfortable doing. I don't know if I could ever feel so at ease as a director, but maybe that's not a bad a thing.
I wrap within two hours and have the whole day ahead of me so I head to a theater to see Battle of the Sexes. I go from kicking my legs up in my trailer to kicking my legs up and reclining back in one of AMC's adjustable sofa seats. As I watch the trailers play before the film begins, I notice how glorious they are; how their music goes along perfectly with the editing, how the brief glimpse into the characters and their world is measured in just the right amount. I shift in my seat and try to forget the street signs on all the curving roads I'm on and twisting paths I'm worried I may or may not take, and I do what I always do, what always helps inspire me.
I sit back and I enjoy the movie.
*Well, guess what? I did go back to the basement of a church a few days later, and not just any basement- the one where the great Chinese New Year riot occurred. For more about that, tune in again for my entry on The Kick.
**Everyone has an off day sometimes, it's okay. This is entertainment, not cranial surgery.