I know why I’m not a Hollywood celebrity – I don’t have “star drive,” that necessary trait for a person to succeed on the stage or screen. I also lack another key factor: talent.
Sure, I’ve made my lukewarm forays into the world of acting. Years ago, I took a few script reading and improv courses. And while living on the west coast, I did extra work in a dozen series and several movies.
When I read about an audition for a local filmmaker, I blew the dust off my skimpy acting resume. Although no pay was involved, the challenge sounded like fun and I scheduled an appointment to read at a nearby hotel.
After memorizing my lines, I skipped to that audition. But reading lines at your mirror doesn’t compare with doing the scene across from a stranger. When it was my turn to read, the script sounded completely foreign in my ears. I stammered and stumbled.
If bungling my lines wasn’t bad enough, my confidence plummeted when the director suggested I try again. “But this time,” he said, “don’t move around so much, and try to be more . . . quiet.”
“More quiet, okay, sure,” I said, wearing an idiot grin. What really went through my mind was, “What did I just do, flail my arms and shout?” At that surreal point, all I could focus on was remembering my lines and staring at the adorable scriptwriter, the one who read the other character’s lines. In the story, I was supposed to be his mother.
“I WISH I had a son as cute as you,” I thought, and then realized I’d spoken aloud as the group started laughing. Laughing is too strong; make that awkward chuckling. Not only was I a bad actor, I felt like Mrs. Robinson, surrounded by a crew young enough to be my children.
Surprise, surprise, I didn’t get the part. I couldn’t even give away my gratis acting services.
While leaving the hotel, I had a flashback: I was doing extra work at a rundown movie set in Vancouver. After pulling off a shapeless dress three sizes too large from wardrobe, I sighed at the end of a long night. The actors and crew were cranky, the bag lunches were stale, and someone yelled at me during a take when my shoes made scrunching noises on the dirty floor. Plus, I wanted to tell the actor playing an FBI agent to stop mumbling and speak up!
The highlight of the shoot was when a camera fell and knocked a man unconscious. I remember thinking, “This two-bit series will NEVER get off the ground. What a dump.”
That two-bit series? The X-Files, listed as one of the longest-running science fiction series at 12 seasons. Turns out the mumbling agent Mulder was played by David Duchovny and I was in the pilot with him.
The truth is out there: I’m a bad actor. Time to shelve my dreams of a Hollywood star and stick to writing, where I can invent my own characters and flail my arms until the cows come home. Or shout until I’m blue in the face. Pick a cliché and I’ll be there. With bells on.
The backing track on the audio version is
“Three Kinds of Suns”
by Norma Rockwell