“The Clock Ticketh”
I was doing a guest spot on a tv show this week, and every few hours or so my part got smaller due to time restraints. This is the nature of these things, and I don’t take personal offense. Only once in my life has a guest role gotten bigger, and that was a somewhat alarming experience. In that case, after my first day, I got home and was sent “new pages,” which generally involves some minor tweaking of lines and stage direction, but what arrived was a three page monologue, wherein I basically explained the entire episode. (So much for “show, don’t tell,” but there you have it.)
But this week I watched my once interesting role be reduced to a guy running around hallways and shouting something every now and then. It would have been very easy to get pissed off, or sulk, or worry about how I would come off when the show airs, and these thoughts certainly passed through my head. But over lunch, something happened. One of the stand-ins came over and asked if he could sit with me. Naturally, I said yes. He was a good-natured guy, articulate and curious.
He started asking for advice. What followed was a fairly profound conversation about taking action and the emotional roller-coaster that is an actor’s life. And over the course of our conversation, I recognized that I had a choice to make. My thick, addled brain woke up to the fact that this guy was looking at me like somebody he aspires to be, an idea that had been drowned in feelings of disappointment not five minutes prior. Perspective, perspective, perspective…
The afternoon crawled on apace, and every passing hour made it clearer that still more of my role would be lost. There was mild talk of having me come back another day to finish the work, but that was dismissed, which actually suited my schedule better anyway.
I look around the set. I had previously worked with the 1st Ad, the sound department, the camera department and some of the PA’s. I was dressed in a beautiful suit. In a couple of weeks I would be paid handsomely for my time, whether it was used to its full extent or not, and I could then afford to pursue my career on my terms. The show itself would come and go like a winter’s breeze and nothing more. What to focus on suddenly seemed so simple. Feelings of letdown disappeared. If anything, they were replaced by a certain glee that every overtime hour spent wondering if we were going to shoot my scenes was, in fact, contributing to my “new laptop” fund.
Eventually they sent me home with a handshake and a mild apology. It wasn’t necessary. They had given me so much.
Yet another Mineralava Musing…