Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Pull off a Scene with a Complete Bitch

I was called back for a second audition in a teaser (a trailer of a feature film not yet made, seeking financing). It is under the guise of a supernatural thriller but the story has more to do with the Armenian genocide.

I would be the lead . . . of course.

When I went in for the call back, it was just me and the other lead actor (playing my husband), who either wrote or wrote and produced it. I am not sure of his exact role, but it seems like he is as involved as the director. Also, he is an acting teacher at the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute (a school for acting).

We went through the lines and talked about it for a bit. I had to head out to a comedy show immediately afterward- but the second audition ended up taking 40 minutes. Ugh. Of course. When I have no where to go after an audition, I am in and out like a teenage Mormon.

I told him I had heard about the Armenian genocide, but didn't know much about it other than the Turks don't acknowledge it.

He said, "It was horrific. Now you go to Turkey and the people apologize for it left and right. It was horrible, I mean what my great grandparents went through makes what the Jews went through look sweet."

My face contorted. I am so late for the comedy show. Abe is in the car in the parking lot. Em and her hubby are waiting at The Improv for us. The clock is ticking . . . but I can't leave that on the table.

He said, "To be taken to a camp and then gassed to death would be a cake walk compared to what they went through."

I said, "Well, a lot of Jews were experimented on. I mean . . . there were a lot of methods of torture."

He said, "True, but you know what I mean."

You say tomato [tuh-mey-toh] I say tomato [tuh-mah-toh]. Its all genocide at the end of the day, right?

I said, "The stories I hear from Africa are beyond the imagination. Definitely, the worst things I have ever heard."

He said, "Oh yeah, I have a friend who is a politican. He is one of the nice ones, and he says that the government purposely severs aide to the continent. Not because they don't have it, but to keep the population from exploding. There is plenty of food. They are dumping crates of grain into the ocean to keep the prices up."

I could feel the air suck out of my lungs. I believe it. I fucking believe it.

Then he grabbed my hand and looked into my eyes.

"Ok, lets do the scene one more time. Let's get close. Its hard getting close."

I said, "I know, even in real life its hard getting close." I thought about Abe, and how the honeymoon period seemed much easier to wrap my heart around. Now that we are in the trenches of a relationship, I can feel myself afraid to let go entirely.

He said, "Oh I know, but I mean in this scene. Its hard getting close." Looking into my eyes, I shut up and did the scene. Just shut up and do the scene. Thats my motto.

I got the part last week and scheduled a rehearsal with them for this morning.

When I showed up, there was another actress there. She was smaller, older, unusual looking. She was very friendly to me and asked, "Are you the costume girl?"

I said, "No. I am the lead."

She said, "Oh . . . but I read with another girl who was the lead. You mean Annie?"

I said, "Yes. Maybe you are thinking of call backs."

She laughed, "No. It was a rehearsal."

Alright, bitch. You want to play this game? We can dance this dance.

I casually sipped my latte and said, "Well, they cast me last week but maybe I am second choice. That's fine. I don't mind. You gotta pick who you think is best for the role."

She grew silent then said "Cause I know I read with another woman who was Annie."

This bitch wasn't going to let it go. I ignored her. We did the scene and I was not off book. I am so fucking exhausted, I can't keep my eyes open at night to read through and memorize lines. Even if I did, I assure you, I would forget them by the morning.

Now, if I had more time, I could be well rested and have time to read the whole script. I am full time at Doggie Daycare for the rest of the month. (How am I staying up late to write this blog you might ask?)

Truth be told, I can memorize lines very quickly which has made me lazy. My ability to accomplish things quickly puts me in the habit of procrastinating. What can I say?

They noticed I wasn't off book. I was embarrassed. It may even seem that I didn't read the scenes until this morning. It seemed that way because I actually read them for the first time off my iPhone while driving into Hollywood that morning (which took an hour). GRRRRRR!

We got through the first scene and it was too polite. I am supposed to be pressing her for answers about a family secret and then connect with her when she finally opens up. She is the maid, I am the mistress.

We got up to do it, and she claimed the dialogue was too expository to sell as "natural." She started trimming the lines herself and threw up a loud protest to my stage husband when he offered to throw her a line during rehearsal. She said, "I don't want you to confuse me, because I have already changed the lines to make them sound more believable."

Dude. What a bitch.

We were having a hard time getting mean, she was so timid in the scene. They asked us to be over the top. I came in and improvised a few lines that involved the word "fuck" over and over. Her business was to wash dishes during the scene. She kept miming washing the fucking dishes so I slammed my hand down and kept screaming, "Put down the fucking dishes and TELL ME!!!"

She exploded, "Shut up, you fucking bitch!" Spit flew from her mouth and I could see she wasn't really acting.

We did the scene and it erupted into the level of anger and surrender we needed- but somehow we had to get to a place near the end of the scene where I have her head in my hands and then hold her. Hold this bitch? I don't care how talented of an actress you are, that is rough when dealing with little Miss Tude'.

I pulled her aside and apologized if I pushed her and explained it was just for the scene. She said, "Well, you just started improvising lines so I thought I should just improvise lines, too."

At least I am not REWRITING THE SCRIPT!

I said I was having trouble feeling like I could touch her at all during the scene, so I asked to hug her. Instead of waiting for an answer, I just hugged her. It was awkward. She didn't hug me back. Then I touched her head and said, "I am supposed to touch your head in the scene, but I don't know how to do that."

Miss Tude shook my hand out from under her head and said, "Don't worry, if I don't want you to touch my head, you won't touch my head."

Cunt. Jesus. YOU AREN'T THE LEAD!! GET OVER IT!!!

I excused myself to grab some tissue out of the restroom to blow my nose. When I came back, conversation between the director, Stage Hubby and Miss Tude suddenly halted.

Director, "We are just discussing how she wasn't sure if you were the final Annie."

I said, "I told her I was the real Annie." Then I shrugged my shoulders and cackled. Oh yeah. CACKLED! The director laughed and said he liked my confidence.

I shrugged my shoulders again. What the fuck!?

We did the scene again, and this time, at the pivotal moment in the scene where anger melts into sympathy, I just hugged her and cried. Oh yeah. I cried. Tears!

The director applauded. I told them I fucked up my lines. They said it was perfect. They asked
us how we felt. I looked at her, she looked at me.

I said, "Pretty good, you know. Still a little awkward."

My Stage Husband said, "Well, it needs to feel awkward to work as a scene."

I nodded and smiled. Miss Tude looked at me with a smile and said, "I am just really uncomfortable."

Um.

They told her it was working, that being uncomfortable was helping the character. She raised her voice and kept going on about how her self esteem wasn't where it needs to be (probably because they gave her direction and didn't dismiss her as perfect out the door) then I tuned her out. I don't know what else she said because I was trying to make sarcastic eyes with my Stage Husband. His stared straight forward, he wasn't going to indulge me.

They comforted her and assured her. Pish posh. The woman is upset because of the same reason most women are upset around me. Its because I am genetically superior. Now, I don't mean I am better looking necessarily, though in this case that is a hands down YES I AM. My physical qualities might be more pleasing to a potential mate, but in addition to that, my body is ideal for childbirth and I have no history of disease in my family. Everyone in my extended family outlived their friends and ended up dying at a very old age of something like a car accident.

Nature has intended my genetic strain to thrive. Miss Tude, however, is meant to die alone in the forest.

Now, Abe will say, "Babe, you can't just go around saying that you are genetically superior."

I don't know why not, when bitches are just going around treating me like shit as if that is some kind of token at the toll booth of ugly.

She left. I heard her feet scuffle out the door like a rat rushing out of daylight.

The Director and Stage Hubby assured me she confused her call back with a rehearsal and there was never another Annie. I said, "I would imagine you wouldn't have time seeing as you cast me last week, a couple days after the second audition. Not that it matters, but it was still inappropriate to say to me before a rehearsal."

Stage Hubby, "Very inappropriate. You have to be careful in this town with your reputation. I probably wouldn't cast her again. She is perfect for this role though. The thing is, if a director asks you to stand on one foot and do the scene, you don't ask why. You stand up on one foot and do the scene. Lee Strasberg said, 'This isn't a democracy. The stage is totalitarian. There is no conversation. For all intents and purposes, I am God."

That's why I always say, "Just shut up and do the scene."

We went through a husband/wife scene where I push him for answers to the family secret. It felt good. I was given permission to experiment. I played with his arm hair and gazed into his eyes. Felt blood rush to my cheeks when I scolded him.

In the middle of the scene, he didn't come back with a line. He just looked and me and smiled. I smiled back, we were obviously no longer in this scene.

Stage Hubby, "I was just thinking this is why I married you. You are so beautiful. That's just what I was thinking right now in the scene."

I thought about this. He was identifying why he would marry the real me and make me his wife. I might get confused about the moment if he wasn't 15 years older than me (like all my stage husbands) and also in a relationship with someone else. It made me feel at ease, it was weird. I felt comfortable.

We found ourselves in the scene, and it was great. You know, the acting thing sometimes is the only thing I can do right (outside of writing this blog and having sex with Abe). Its strange that I have only discovered that now.

We finished and they both walked me to my car. The Director said, "The only thing I am concerned about is you two being off book."

Stage Hubby, "I always tell my students, know your lines backwards and forwards before walking on set."

I bit my lip. They weren't looking at me, they were looking at each other, but they were talking to me.

I said, "Its easy for me to get off book. I will be on Friday."

The director said, "This is an independent production, so we won't have time to learn lines on set."

I smiled but thought about the two early morning shifts I am working up until production. And, I am rescuing another dog tomorrow after work. Shit.

They nodded and hugged me.

I kind of beat myself up about it on the ride to work. I should have known my lines. I am just so tired.

You know what made me feel better? (I mean besides a blow off the pipe and a huge doberman pincher standing between my legs all afternoon) . . . that last scene in "8 Mile":

Cheddar Bob
Yo where you headed, Rabbit?

Jim
I gotta get back to work, yo-

Sol
(Laughs)
C'mon, dawg. I told that girl from the laundromat who wasn't that good lookin' we'd meet up with her late- I need a second opinion, yo-

Cheddar Bob
Yeah. We gonna get all the hot bitches now you won, Rabbit!

Jimmy (keeps walking) Fuckit.
(to Cheddar Bob)
I'm, late for work, yo. I'll see you guys tomorrow-

Jimmy and Future walk down the street together.

Jimmy
Yo Fuche, you ever seen a horse before?

Future
You mean the four legged kind?

Jimmy
Yeah.

Future
Why?

Beat

Jimmy
Fuckit, man- I gotta run.

Jimmy says goodbye to the Future, and takes off running down the street. On his own.

Away from his friends.
Away from the crowd.
Away from the club.

Running by himself down the dirty streets of Detroit. Heading in the opposite direction of everyone else.

2 comments:

  1. I just wanted to say hello and tell you that I've been enjoying your blog. I'm not even sure how I found it, but it's really well-written and interesting, and I personally think it could be adapted into a pretty cool memoir or possibly a one-woman show. I'm also a starving actor here in L.A., so I can relate to so much of this, but you write about it in a much more entertaining way than I ever could. ;)

    -Juliette

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, Juliette!!! That compliment will carry me for the rest of the week!

    xoxox

    ReplyDelete