One False Move

I’ve been rehearsing with Kevin, my scene partner for the showcase. We met at The Actors’ Centre to discuss scripts and drink some Rustoleum disguised as coffee, then read through some scenes to get a feel for how we might work together.

We had to pick something that was five minutes long with enough range in each character to showcase each person’s talent (or what we hoped would pass as talent). He rejected my suggestion of Broadcast News, as he was too attractive to play the Al Brooks role. (Holly Hunter: “THIS IS IMPORTANT TO ME!” – a classic.)

I rejected some of his car chase/bimbo-storyline suggestions. We finally settled on a scene from Eyes Wide Shut – the one where Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are arguing in the bedroom. He thought he was as cute as Tom Cruise and I knew I was as white as Nicole Kidman. We didn’t really think about wardrobe. That was my first mistake.

So we met up a few times, ran through lines and watched the scene from the movie repeatedly (probably something we should have avoided). That was the easy part. Then we had to become more comfortable each other so we wouldn’t have any awkwardness on stage. Building trust with your scene partner is key to a successful performance.

“Well, Lucy, we need to get comfortable. How about you give me a blow job”: his attempt at humor.

Blank stare: my attempt at a response.

At some point we realized professional help was needed, so we worked with an acting coach. He took us through the typical exercises: what animal do you think your character is like? What is she really thinking? What does she want from him?

Yes, yes, yes – I’d done my homework. But then – “He’s going to kiss you at the opening of the scene. You’re going to have to make this look real. What can Kevin do to turn you on?”

“Um, nothing,” I thought. Although I agreed he was better looking that Al Brooks, he didn’t do much for me. Besides, he was short.

I called to mind the famous Laurence Olivier response to Dustin Hoffman’s method acting for Marathon Man. Rather than trying to create feelings that were never going to happen, why don’t we just “try acting”.

If I can pull off this kiss, I’ll know I’m in the right business.

House of Wax

Twins. I never bothered much with my eyebrows until years ago when I read that un-groomed brows are wasted potential. Not wanting to let the potential of my only facial hair go to waste, I made an appointment at a local salon.

“Your eyebrows grow in two different directions,” I was informed by the beautician, “don’t worry, eyebrows aren’t twins, they’re sisters.” So she waxed and tweezed away, taking a bit too much delight in her sadism-disguised-as-beautifying.

“Take a look.” She presented me the kind of round mirror with a long handle that you only see in salons or on Snow White.

“Oh,” I gasped at her handiwork. “This one looks like it was adopted.”

Bikini Beach. On a Caribbean holiday, Cheri and I adventurously bought some Green Aussie Wax which had packaging that let us know it was “As Seen on TV”.

Cheri went first, heating up the wax and applying the long plastic-backed strip for the prescribed amount of time. When she peeled it off, we expected to see a Chia-pet-like miracle on the strip and a patch of smooth skin on her inner thigh.

“This wax isn’t coming off!”

“What? Try again with the plastic.”


“I’ve got wax stuck to my legs!”

“Hmm, let me see that box. You must have done something wrong.” (After all, I had seen this on TV.) Defiantly, I warmed up my wax – five seconds longer than Cheri had, as I was sure that would make the difference.

When I attempted to rip off the wax strip, it hurt so much that I instinctively smacked my hand on the wax-covered area to diminish the stinging.

Ninety minutes and two showers each later, we both still had bikini lines that could qualify for Mme Tussauds. My hand was just as bad (by the way, have you ever tried washing your hair with just one hand?). As we walked to the beachfront café, our shorts increasingly stuck to our legs with every stride.

I thought if I could meet the people behind this scam-of-a-product right now, I’d love to shake their hands.

Short Cuts

Dealing with rejection is a part of this business. You can’t take it personally. When you go into an audition as an unknown, 90% of getting the part is looking the part. No one wants to be stereotyped, but let’s face it – I’m probably not going to get cast as a sun-drenched native Caribbean beauty, no matter how far spray-tan technology advances. You just don’t get to play against type until you’re already big – like Renée Zellwegger in Bridget Jones. (Why couldn’t they just hire someone who was already fat instead of having her scarf down Snickers Bars at every meal? But that’s another matter.)

So when you don’t get that callback, you just have to figure you were too tall, too young, too old, too blonde, too American or too whatever. I like to go with too tall. Did you ever realize how short most actors are? They won’t cast an actress opposite a diminutive Tom Cruise-like actor unless she a) is married to him or b) is a supermodel making her first – and usually only – major motion picture.

I saw Nick Nolte on the flight back from Cannes (that guy has some scraggly luggage by the way – think Down and Out in Beverly Hills). The guy looks huge on screen, but in person – let’s just say although he could still take me down in a dark alley, if I had the right heels on I’d have a fighting chance.

My theory on short actors is this: think back to high school. The tall guys played basketball or baseball, the big guys played football or wrestled. That leaves the little guys for plays and musicals.

When you go to an audition, or a first date, it’s best not to pin all of your hopes on this being “the one”. High hopes and low expectations is the way to go. So when I got an e-mail telling me I got into the showcase I auditioned for a few weeks ago, I was elated. I could be seen in front of agents and have a chance to get to that next level. What scene would I do? Who would be directing? What would my scene partner be like? But then, as I toasted myself with some imported Crystal Lite (a poor gal’s Cristal), I began to think, “Hey wait a minute. Does everyone get in? Is this a scam? Should I even bother?” It’s the old axiom: do I want to join a club that would have me as a member?

Finally I decided to take it for what it was – an opportunity. Besides, maybe my scene partner would be cute. But let’s face it, he’ll probably be short.