Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bewitched, Bothered and Befuddled

Tonight, my strategy for battling fatigue and frustration is listening to Regina Spektor in a pretty dress and drinking tea. I've already watched one Canadian chick flick ("Sabah" - quite good, really) and am trying to talk myself into going outside and walking to the east village to have champagne with my scene partner, the fabulous Vin Kridakorn, with whom I auditioned for The Actors Studio today. How did it go? How do we feel about it? We're asking you, because we don't really know.

However, the east village feels very far away right now. My forearms and shins are covered in bruises from two heavenly days of filming martial arts stunts for a book trailer: "Original Sin," produced by Escape Goat Pictures. Tomorrow is the first day in almost three months that I haven't had to be somewhere/leave for somewhere at 5 or 6am, and all that's on the books is one appointment with one student and one hour or so of recording some voice over for the trailer. Do I get a day of summer?!?!?

(Escape Goat Pictures at work in the rain)

Guys I am so thankful for all the opportunities I've had lately. Getting to do the action sequence for "Original Sin" was a dream come true and, I hope, an excellent beginning to a career of heroic roles full of danger, intrigue, and spy moves. Escape Goat Pictures ran an impressive set, with only 3 guys doing EVERYTHING from setup to tear down to 2-camera filming to choreography to makeup to sound. They filmed the entire thing in 3 days, and will finish the entire project after only 2 days of post/edit. Um, amazing. It really does inspire me to see how much people are capable of accomplishing when they set themselves to it.

However, tonight I don't have any desire to set myself at anything. Except maybe a jug of ice cream. Or a handsome Scotsman (see picture). Or, even better, a bottle of scotch. OR - a bottle of scotch WITH a handsome Scotsman.

(handsome Scotsman Gerard Butler could probably motivate me to go outside)

There's something about long-anticipated, much-desired auditions that really takes it out of me. I was actually nervous today - something that rarely happens anymore. Maybe it was because I knew Ellen Burstyn was one of the judges (!!!!!!). Maybe it was because I've spent the last 4 years working towards this particular audition. Maybe it was because suddenly, 20 minutes til "go," my tear ducts stopped functioning and my inner well of feelings/experiences to draw on seemed to run dry. My friend Marco Agnolucci summed it up pretty well when he said that at today's audition, he felt like he had regressed about 6 years in his acting skills. Me too, and all I can figure is that it was nerves. What is it about auditioning? Today I left feeling less like I was ascending into the clouds of artistry and more like I was scaling a barbed wire fence naked. Ouch.

In a way that's what's so beautiful about acting. It's never the same thing twice. The preparation that worked perfectly last night literally might not give you anything this morning, and the part you auditioned for might not be the part you get. What you thought might be your big break might be a flop - or it might be your big break. You never know! It's so weird! It's so unpredictable and exciting. The main thing is to be yourself and enjoy it, and once in a while to do some kung fu stunts.

(on set for "Original Sin")

So why, every so often, do I get into an audition room and feel like my body is suddenly being operated by a somewhat dimwitted space alien who does not have my best interests at heart? I feel like a bewitched, besotted teenager under the power of her crush; like a hot and bothered country girl at a hootenanny who just lost the dancing contest; like a befuddled old professor who suddenly can't make out the words on the pages of his favorite book. Once in a while, the familiar landscape of my artists' body and emotions feels like a foreign object on which I am a sojourner and passenger instead of the possessor or captain. Thank god that what we do is a craft and not just a mystery - not that it isn't mysterious. But I am glad there are some brass tacks, blueprints, and maps to cling to in those off-kilter moments: breath, connection, need, script, character, listening. Keeping it simple is sometimes really hard, isn't it? Human beings are pretty unfathomable creatures.

In sum, I'd like to say to all you artists out there: you're pretty awesome. What we do is a roller coaster, but SOMEONE'S GOT TO DO IT. We are blessed with the task of actualizing and acting out the impossible, not just for ourselves but for everyone. Some days it is glorious beyond glory. Some days we feel used and abused and bruised. Some days I feel a bit foolish. When you find yourself questioning where the love is in your difficult day, remember the joy, passion, bravery and adventure of it all. Every step forward is, in fact, a step forward - and every audition, whether you get it or not, is positive progress. At least that's what I'm telling myself tonight.

Here's to you, artists! Here's to sticking your chin out, half hoping you get punched, half hoping you get kissed. As my Dad says, you can't expect a golden ring every time.

It can't have been all that bad - look at us smiling after...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Want Your Bad Romance

Q: What do my hypothetical future wedding, Lady Gaga, and my upcoming project "Otto and Ludmilla" have in common?

A: Each possesses a certain bemused sense of tragedy. They also have this in common: "Bad Romance" could be their theme song.

Okay maybe weddings and Lady Gaga aren't necessarily
tragic. And, by the by, I don't sit around thinking about my hypothetical future wedding all THAT often. Some of my roommates do, though, especially after watching chick flicks and bemoaning the lack of real-life eligible young men. (Note: I don't really share the view. The world abounds with interesting peeps, I think the trick is being interested in what exists instead of what is imagined. One of my roommates quipped - "I just want a man that looks like James Marsden, sings like Elvis, and has a heart like Jesus. Is that too much to ask!!!?"...I mean...probably? But dream big.)

Yes roommates, I majorly just called you guys out and revealed the shameful wedding obsession secret, mwahaha! But affectionate teasing aside, I confess that once in a while I find myself following suit. And when I do, in my imaginings of my hypothetical future wedding, "Bad Romance" is my wedding march because I am a classy lady. When the fancy strikes me, I like to picture myself helicopter-dropped James Bond/commando style at the alter to the blaring crescendo of Lady Gaga's uplifting ditty (dancing monsters and all):

No dancing monsters, no wedding.

My character Ludmilla in the upcoming web project "Otto and Ludmilla" by filmmaker John C. Williams of Awareness Films, Inc. and Reel Works certainly knows what Lady Gaga sings so eloquently about. (Okay, perhaps eloquently is the wrong word...bluntly?) Along with her fellow title character, Ludmilla is perpetually sucked into an intense, endless, indefinable romance that spans years and troubles, like a cosmic whirlpool of emotional ambiguity, uncertainty, and passion. Like an addiction. Like a wound. Like a virgin. Like all the metaphors ever used for romance. And like Romeo and Juliet, Bonnie and Clyde, or Lars and the Real Girl, Otto and Ludmilla can't seem to find their footing together in a complicated world. Otto and Ludmilla have a bad romance, in full blooming glory.

John C. Williams explains that it's a story that explores how all relationships effect us, but not all necessarily lead to growth - what leads to growth is our choices. It's powerful, poetic stuff and I am really excited to sink my teeth into it.

Let's be real: wouldn't you rather have a bad romance than a happy ending? Doesn't it hurt so good? Isn't the excitement, the suspense, the pain, the ecstasy, the agony, the adventure, risk and rawness EPIC? Yes,
yes and OMG YES. At least I would. (Attention all New Yorkers: you know you agree with me, deep, deep down inside, yes?)

We all want a little more bite, a little less bark.

PS I am Heathcliff.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Unfortunately I did not get a chance to toast the rest of the cast and crew for "Toothbrush," which wrapped early this week, but right now I'm drinking some grenache I got at wholesale price (YUP!) and saying, CHEERS TO THE MOST FUN, PRO, AND RIDICULOUS FILM SHOOT POSSIBLE! Yes we stayed in a mansion in Dedham that used to belong to one of Whitey Bulger's hitmen. Yes we ate a lot of cookies. Yes we went to bed at 5 or 6am every day. Yes I purposely rode a bicycle into a moving car. Yes everyone was not only AWESOME but super talented and kicked @#$ with their various jobs. Yes you need to see this movie when it is finished. There's nothing hotter than functioning, breathing, moving collaboration. Miss it already. Tear.

PS it's Friday the 13th! Be sure to howl at the moon.

ALSO - can't wait for the new Pirates of the Caribbean! Totally going to the midnight premier.