Friday, April 26, 2013

(Keep) Your Friends Close

Have you ever had a terrible roommate experience? My answer - yours too - is YES.  

But somehow I have stumbled upon a seemingly uncanny young woman with whom to share a household. Oddly, about five years ago, I was standing in her apartment in Chicago - an old milk bottle factory (I'm told) - as a stranger in the middle of a wild theater bunch celebrating a trifecta of actress birthdays, one of which was Jocelyn's. I watched her perform the very first time I saw her. I like that fact very much, I do! (said in an Oliver Twist voice)

Then I meet her again in Los Angeles. Actually, I don't know that we really met outside of a sloppy Hey-Hey when she was busy whooping it up and I stood there awkwardly.  But here are we now, two actresses facing this town under the same roof.  

Tomorrow night is the premiere of her first feature film entitled "Your Friends Close".  A title that has ever-so-slowly grown on me upon first hearing it and has now reached barnacle status after viewing the film myself. 

I will say very little about it except these three things:

1. This film is game-centric.
If you are a gamer, you will adore it. If you have played games, you will like it. If you have any interest in the future of games - their possible and perhaps dangerous evolution -  see this film.

2. This film is very smart about relationships - hence the title.  It is an ensemble film with a concentration on a couple and their emerging battle that floats in and out of the public eye.   

3.  This film contains a sequence that you will not be able to turn away from, not for one second. I remember the very moment that my brain locked onto the screen and all else faded away. Total concentration command. Hm, sounds like a game instruction.  

If you are in Los Angeles and wish to see this film tomorrow night - Saturday, 4/27 - click the Link below the poster. (Um, she also has the most awesome poster in the roster....'nuff said.) I am very, very proud of the Fox.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Staring at Orchids

Hm. Staring at orchids is a bit like star gazing. No, celebrity star gazing, not millions of years old star gazing (though some celebs may seem this way). There is this gorgeous flower, almost too beautiful in its structure to be real, and yet it is extremely fragile, particular, vulnerable. But you can have one for only $14.99 at Trader Joe's. It is yours for a time. The time you take care of it of course. It requires certain amounts of water and acidity. It requires sunlight but not direct. It needs an open space filled with loveliness and I find it brings such warmth to a cold table. 

Actors are so similar. They bring something real and beautiful to the screen, to the story, to the person that they are for this film only. We buy them for about the same price at Arclight or for our own DVD purchase (that won't be around much longer you think?).  And we basically talk like we own them, don't we? "Her performance was terrible. She sucked." "He looked like sh**." "Why is her hair this way, that way?" We buy magazines with the visage of so and so and the interview with whatsername. We do own them in a way. Popularity is innate with celebrity, with the relevance of actors / actresses. We need you to like us! But like the orchid, you don't have to like anything else except the way we look. The way we add to the ambience. Even a hick in Kentucky can appreciate its exotic nature and leave it alone. 

I think of real beauty all the time. What IS it? To me, it is a natural quality - a person's skin and features, yes, but it is the personality that glows underneath that pins one down so resonantly. Isabella Rossellini is a great example. Never modified. Always herself. She does and asks you to accept. Do you? Usually yes. If not, who cares?  Does a new wrinkle scare her? No, she welcomes it to the party and says don't make too much noise.  I wake up and think "Oh my, my skin, my scars, my everything in the morning" - but is that not what makeup is for? What being a woman is about? I don't know exactly. Yes and uncomfortably no.  I love how makeup can transform but honestly? I look terrible with too much on. I look like a clown or at least not myself.   Give me concealer, mascara and lip gloss and I'll be happy. 

This blog is only a musing.  I think of photos that make people/actors/models look incredible. But they are normal with normal flaws. Some skinnier than others but so what? Where is the REAL beauty today? I love Carey Mulligan's face. She has a funny, slopey nose and demeanor, but she is pale with large, soulful eyes and such wonder!  Her beauty is strange but exactly what I want to see, like an orchid. I cannot wait to see The Great Gatsby. Entirely enthralled in anticipation.  I must read it again before it appears, it has been too long.

Anyway, I wish we could appreciate humans for their natural beauty. Many people come through my work that are just stunning but not aesthetically gorgeous, just overwhelmingly beautiful in their personalities. It humbles me and astounds me. It upsets me too.  But one day when I have enough power I will influence that portion. 

Love to the universe on this night. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Headshots are a Pain in the...

Well, HEAD of course. 

Little dollar signs floating around in your brain, obstructing your vision, writing checks and handing them over - flinging them quickly at people you have to pay for the deposit, the session, the hair and makeup, the "costumes" aka pieces you bought specifically for this shoot, the online proofs, the actual prints, the PER PHOTO CHARGE on every acting website your agents use and updating on every workshop site you are a member of (bends over panting in exhaustion), I mean Dave Chappelle would say gawDAYum. 

It's a lot of money to be an actor. Talk about an occupation of torrential risk to pursue - pursue! Not interview for, CHASE. Literally chase down while spending money on things that will "eventually" pay off.  I once explained to a friend a list of expenses I had to keep on top of my normal everday life ones.  I talked for like ten minutes in this list. It is CRAZY - especially if you are single and working to pay every bill yourself by having more than one job.  Even joining SAG was a mere $3K.  And don't get me started on hair appointments.

Anywho, I have new headshots. My hair is longer, darker, curlier - and I needed something warmer ontop of something current compared the "Ice Queen" series I took last. That's not a put down! I love those photos, but they are so blonde and snowy. The following were taken by Adam Sheridan Taylor. Please ignore the fact that I look like Norma Jean in the blue commercial shot - wait, that fact will make me a lot of money! Spread the word!  Well, I think these shots cover a few facets of my personality, definitely not the majority, but we'll see how CDs respond.

Oh and speaking of ice queens, I watched Frost/Nixon last night. FINALLY.  Michael Sheen is pretty fabulous, I have to say, though his actual conversations - outside of the interviews - with Nixon leave him seeming nearly speechless, which is a poor script choice in my opinion.  He lets Nixon talk and talk and talk and chooses to say nearly nothing every time. One word responses with a polite awkward smile. I did not understand that. It seemed meek and hobbit-like. Frank Langella - to be expected - is a force. Michael barely reckoned with him, but his phone call to Frost in the middle of the night - loved it. Sadness, anger, and left with nothing but those tangling negative tapes to play endlessly in his mind until death. The film also did a lovely job of clarifying the emotion of the nation during that time by showing tons of news footage in the era. 

It's a bit long, not particularly impressive filmmaking, but a great exercise for actors to watch.  Michael Sheen and Frank Langella exemplify exactly what I was talking about in my last blog - they are tasting that cake the entire time.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dirty Socks and Dirty Martinis

I was working on a scene today. One I am rather familiar with at this point - meaning lines memorized for weeks, lines misinterpreted for weeks also, and intentions and ownings unclear. Too often I am watching myself, listening to myself, judging myself, critisizing myself - all while speaking these g*()#@!m lines. Yes, it's been a  problem for a long time.   Yes, I get better when I go deeper.   Yes, I'm tired of talking about it (at least in life, not on this blog). 

So I decided I was forgetting a lot of things. I instead began rehearsing aloud the two pages prior to where my scene started. It spoke volumes more of where my character, Elizabeth, REALLY was. She has a lot on her mind but her best friend is talking her ear off because she just wants to escape from her family and get drunk on the porch while they fold laundry and enjoy a Texas sunset. That's more routine than anything, but today Elizabeth is not quite as cheery or chatty, there's something amiss, but not totally obvious. My interpretation of this darkened mood was coming from where the characters immediately and literally WERE, meaning disconnected from the prior part of the play. I looked at the circumstances surrounding them, but what other moments (and I mean MOMENTS, true pieces of the present) brought these women here and now. And the feeling is so FINE in the beginning of the scene that only a true, life long bestie would be able to tell that something is wrong today outside of other days.

James McClure, author of Laundry and Bourbon, has given his actors a thousand brilliant tells about the relationships in this play. They may be two simple Texas gals, but they've known each other nearly their whole lives.  They were friends during their first kisses, their first periods, their first times. Honestly, this one-act is like a homemade chocolate cake that's been sittin' out on the picnic table just long enough - the layers are rich and oh-so-satisfying to dig your fork into and then, to taste.  That's the part I'm getting at today: the taste. 

You can think about how something tastes if you've had it beore - you have to. But eventually you get to a point where you must actually taste it but in your mind.  You are LIVING in that moment therefore you are tasting it before our very eyes. You are not thinking about what you are doing, you are not watching it or listening to it - you are experiencing it, full-fledged and thick-blooded.  Do you know how important the imagination is to an actor?  I hate to continue stating obvious things here but what most people don't understand about Los Angeles is that many actors go through the motions of the lifestyle / career and NEVER really engage in the moment or even know what that means. I BARELY know what it means, but I'm on the brink of it again. As a kid, I had the craziest imagination and could entertain myself on a stump in the woods for hours pretending this and pretending that. So I used to have a clue.  Actually - just read my next blog: Children Have All the Answers.

Anyway, I am suddenly going through this scene line by line, asking a thousand questions about if I was the one experiencing these things, what would I do? How would I feel about it?  What kind of reaction would I actually have if I saw a gorgeous, heaping cloud and it reminded me of God and the Universe and LIFE - and people giving life?  And I know I am pregnant in this moment and my husband hasn't been home in two days? It's all too much. Then how can I expect my friend to understand anything is wrong if I don't speak up? Why am I hiding it from her? Because she is judgemental about me and my life, she is envious and puts me down in these soft quick ways. But I love her and I don't have anyone else to talk to about it - and unlike that cloud, my face is about to burst into a rainstorm but I have to hold SOMETHING together so that my friend doesn't gloat in the needed nature of that moment.  I need comfort.  And I know she loves me.  I give her the benefit of the doubt because that is what I do and for many years we've gone through a number of important moments - persevering just fine.

That covers about half a page in a four and half page scene. So I'm sitting there going line by line and just thinking - wow, I'm making these lines really BIG, meaning like "dramatic", but then I'm really - no really! - feeling some of them.  And I remember that I feel things in a big way - meaning me, Eva Swan. I just forget that I am capable of it because I have a tendency to go invisible (51% introvert, 49% extrovert) and make my own experiences small while in public so as not to disturb or distract (See my next blog: The Neverending High School).  So I ingest! But with acting - it is my JOB to react and to show those reactions with as much detail and commitment as possible!  Can you imagine really - no I mean really! - living life that way? Oh please, you might think "I do! I strive for that every day!" but come on, be honest - think about it. You have self consciousness a thousand times a day for whatever things, maybe even the same thing. And things - namely people - stop you from fully realizing all of the potential of those moments. You might be closer than I am to living life so freely, but I see the nerves on peoples faces or the dark thoughts that loom and keep their personalities prisoner.

Sidebar - you also know you've seen that person who lives closer than anyone else to a free life and they just GLOW.  That is not not a rare thing. 

The point of this blog, I suppose, it just to say I've tapped into the maple tree. I've attached a spigot.  Now I am slowly turning the handle and extracting. I hope to do that onstage one day here in LA. And also Broadway. But that is down the road. For now, g'night and Happy Taxes. Don't forget to file for an extension at least!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

OCD Lucy

Ummmmmm, did I mention I have become a cleanfruit? I say fruit rather than freak because I do NOT need to have everything clean all of the time or I don't sleep at night or break sweats. I have simply been on a cleaning kick which has now upgraded to glistening, dust free fruit status.  Look, people, I JUST learned that the key to organization is to have a place for EVERYTHING which I most certainly do NOT.  So I'm starting with the little things that you suddenly realize are BIG THINGS once you've cleaned them, then the organization can happen in a sparkling space.

So every once in awhile I want to share things that amaze me when I try them.  I am ashamed to admit that I have not written about the magic eraser, but in due course.

I just scoured the tub which probably hasn't had a thorough clean was installed. And Lucille Ball used to own this building. I literally have hated showering in it because of the red gook / bacteria that has built up from a bad drain and also from tile sludge-rust. (Hey!  It's red because its Lucy Bacteria!  Well, I'm with Ricky on this one, I don't love it and never have. Yeowch.)  But you know those spots in YOUR tub that could be....well, let's not think of what they are and just focus on how stubborn and permanent they seem when you clean like a normal person with a can of foamy spray, or in my ex boyfriend's case, powdered ajax - a product he somehow time warped into his shopping bag.

Today, I used this concoction recipe to get the sticky difficult residue off of a seemingly hopeless tub with LITTLE EFFORT.  Use a brush with a handle, yo - SO much easier while you're bending around in there.

In a mixing bowl (not large):

1 cup of baking soda
1 teaspoon of liquid soap
A few drops of Tea Tree oil (or Peppermint)
Water mixed in until it is a PASTE, not a watery mess.

Wet your tub first, then WHAMMO use this stuff to make that tub DANG white again. So white you'll think your tub is Salt Lake City!

Also, I used it on the kitchen sinks. A. Maz. Ing. (Toe-touch) CLEANING NERD!
I may live in this now. Gleaming heavenly white!


Toby Guidry!

That's who I took a workshop from on Saturday, 4/6.  Full circle for me because he was the very first casting director I workshopped with in Los Angeles. Or anywhere actually.

He is extremely kind.  Unusually nice man for his position. He explains everything in great detail and with good humor.

I prepared a scene from the Actors Key sides vault - ughk - it's always excruciating to go through those sides and find ones that don't SUCK or that are in the vein of the television show that CD is working on.  Since Guidry is on The Ordained (yes I sent a tape in for an audition, yes I got good feedback, no I didn't get the role) I needed something powerful, or with a power play and shout of professionalism. Most everyone in The Ordained is a lawyer, politician or shark. There will be many other characters I'm sure but as far as the pilot goes - aggressive, sharp lawyer types.

I played a flirty journalist finishing up an interview with a young, cocky entrepreneur where I ask him a question leaving him flustered and off-kilter. And perhaps, extremely concerned! Dun dunnnn.

Anyway, I FELT I was totally natural and that the acting portion was clean and good.  But my instincts involving the interpretation of the scene were less, are less? honed. I made a rather obvious choice at the end rather than taking a specific risk that made WAY more sense for dramatic purposes. Toby pointed this out - I agreed - we did another little take and I got my little grade sheet a few minutes later.

That was all well and good.

The unfortunate part of this story is that I keep learning disheartening things for actors that live in Los Angeles. Toby assured us that 90% of the time when filming outside of Los Angeles, say Arizona or Georgia, New Orleans or New York - those roles outside of the series regulars (co-star, guest star) will be cast LOCALLY.  So unless I live in New Orleans, I won't get cast in a role I should be competing for HERE.  But it's not here, it's THERE.  And I don't live there or have the means to fly myself back and forth to audition and then fly myself there and put myself up in a hotel while we shoot if I AM cast.

Toby let us know that for The Ordained there were at least five actors he had to push for casting in the co-star/guest star level, but he had to make each one aware that they had to fly themselves to New York, put themselves up and fly back - all on their own dime.  Did they take the opportunity? Of COURSE THEY DID.  What actors will pass up another credit, another role, something that could deepen your career or "take it to the next level" on a show like that? I suppose I would take it too. But even in THIS case, Toby knew these actors already. He was familiar with their work and they are working, so for someone like me to get that kind of opportunity is grim - as I have yet to get to know many of the CDs in town.  Hm, I think that should be a shared responsibility with my agent, but so far I am scrounging to pay for workshops and the other side of this seesaw has a note that says "Back after lunch!"or "Back after you book something yourself!"

I'm not orange peel about it or anything.

All in all, I've gotta go keep seeing Toby. I need him to recognize me as a good one in the masses. The extra spectacular daffodil among the thousands, brighter than a highlighter made with liquid sunshine. I'll get there, guys....eventually.

The Place Beyond the Pines

You know The Place Beyond the Pines?

Go. Go there now. 
I'll go too.

Emory Cohen.  Where. Did. This. Kid. Come. From? He plays an entitled, white gangsta wannabe with Marlon Brando cool and bit of his thickness. No he's a charming knucklehead whose need to manipulate and control people fills the gaping father/son void. Daddy, I want attention! I got it, now... I'm scared!  Kid is killer good in this film. Enough reason to see it.

That and Dane DeHaan - who we all already know is a badass.  He's got that Gilbert Grape edge and is always looking gloriously ragged, like... all the time. Feral cats can barely compare. His hair and skin are kind of the same color when your brain recollects him. But he's the type that is either totally unnoticeable or completely unforgettable. Guess which the avid fan eye will see? If you saw Lawless (aka formerly The Wettest County), you'd remember he stole the show in that flick.

Also, Gosling is in it less than you think (no complaints here, getting a little bored with his cool-boy loser characters), Bradley Cooper has a double chin (I'll bet he's SO self conscious of it, but don't you love seeing actors from those unflattering angles? I'm probably just envious of his success), and Eva Mendes's boobs look GREAT.

Finally: Ben Mendelsohn. Are you kidding me? Authentic. Pure authenticity and truth in the moment.  What chops that guy must REALLY have.  And when will he star in something? Probably never. I mean STAR star in something.  He should be the lead in House of Cards.  He's the kind of actor I want to spend TIME watching, which is why I immediately think of a series.  Anywho, I want to marry him.  Just kiiiiidding, that alcoholism was a little too believable.

I don't have a lot to say plot-wise. The notions are interesting. The motives unclear. The relationships and passing of our genetics is fascinating and unexpected. For an actor, good character study in vignettes, I would say. I loved the structure of the film even though it was lacking a few beams.

If you take anything away from this blog today though, let it be that you should never EVER go see At Any Price.  At least Derek Cianfrance can direct an actor. AAP is like watching a live version of The Grinch (aka Dennis Quaid) caring a liiiiiiiiittle too much about corn. Remember me saying that thing about talent being attractive? Dennis Quaid is now the Elephant Man.  Heather Graham's only purpose in the film is to lose a shoe in the corn silo.  (Insert corn hole joke here.) And watching Zac Efron is like watching a film I already saw, The Paperboy.  Though actually, his agent was probably like "HEY ZAC - I know you just DID this kind of role, but you were surrounded by like AMAZING actors so how about we do this role AGAIN but instead you do it with DENNIS QUAID and you'll look AMAZING too this time around??!!!"

Zac: .............................sure. ("..........." indicates laying by pool finishing skinny girl mojito)