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9:03 AM - Thurs 9.24.15
I'm Not In The Dignity Business

I'm Not In The Dignity Business

Well, I have to acknowledge - While I'm not getting exactly what I want (i.e. a lot of great tv and movie auditions), auditions are happening at a nice clip.

I've had seven (six commercial, and one tv) so far this month - My most recent being for a Capital One internet spot on Tuesday.

This past Friday, I had one for Vodaphone (which I'm assuming is a cellphone company).

The spot will air in Europe, and involves a nude wedding ceremony (The "airing in Europe" part becomes significant here, since they're apparently a lot freer about nudity in commercials than we are).

I know nothing about the spot beyond that - there was no copy - and I wasn't going in for a specific "role", so far as I knew (I was just going to be "a naked person at a naked wedding"). And I still don't know how nude is "nude" - Will the actors be wearing flesh-colored briefs, or be totally naked, or what?.

I had some major misgivings when I found out about the audition (I have a pretty high degree of shame about my body). But I'd marked "willing to do nudity" on LA Casting (The big commercial casting website), partly because I want to be the kind of actor who's "willing to do whatever's required" in a role, and partly because I didn't really expect anyone to call me on it (Because I'm an older character actor, and how much nudity of that ilk do you see in American commercials? Or in movies and tv, for that matter?).

Anyway, the audition was this past Friday morning.

The audition itself could have required nudity - apparently all they have to do is give advance notice to the actors - but it didn't (Women auditioned in bra and panties, and men in their briefs, one at a time).

When my time came, the camera guy was pretty cool (Also an actor, he was auditioning for the spot himself, later in the day).

He explained what the Director wanted (very small, subtle expressions) and how he was shooting the audition - It was almost entirely a close-up on my face, only pulling back to a full body-shot at the end (He basically just directed me - "Okay, go to a dark back to you're you really love this person..." - as I concentrated on being as "small and subtle" as possible.

While standing in front of a camera in my underwear.

The casting notice had specified that there'd be nudity, and that actors had to be comfortable with that, and the camera guy asked again, "Are you comfortable being nude on the set?".

And while I wanted to say, "Oh GOD no!", I did what an actor does in this situation, and said, "Absolutely!" (And if/when the day comes, I'll totally do it, and I won't appear to have any qualms about it - because I said I'd do it, and that's what the role requires).

Afterwards, I remember being amused that I'd done it (It's actually the second time in a year I've been in an audition room in my underwear - the last time being for Fruit-of-the-Loom), then second-guessing myself a little over whether I'd done it successfully.

But mostly, I was happy I'd gotten in early enough that I could actually hit my Weight Watchers meeting at 10:30 (I've been trying to get back into the groove of attending weekly meetings).

For some reason, I wasn't thinking of this as something that was actually going to happen (mostly because it just seemed too weird and funny a thing to actually happen), particularly when I double-checked the original casting notice - I think late Tuesday night - and saw that callbacks had been "potentially" scheduled for the day before.

But I got the call yesterday (while at work) that I am - once again - "on avail" for the spot (Meaning, I haven't booked it yet, but they're interested).

If I book it, there's a "fitting" scheduled for the 29th (Yeah, I know - I don't know what a "fitting" for a nude wedding party would entail either), and the spot will shoot one day, either sometime from the 30th-2nd, or on the 5th.

There's a potential "fly in the ointment" here - My next Shameless shoots on the 2nd (At least that's the preliminary schedule) - so I've gotta hope, A. That I book it, and, B. That it does't shoot on the 2nd.

And I do want to book it - for the usual reasons(Money, credit, free food, etc), but mostly for the novelty of the nudity, and the fact that I'm not "comfortable" with it.

It's tough, when you don't feel good about your body, to expose it to certain laughter and ridicule (On a national/potentially international scale), to have the whole world say, in effect, "Yeah, you're right - You really do look gross!".

I think about this a lot in the context of Shameless - It hasn't happened yet, but I often think there's no reason I couldn't get a script that has Kermit in some comically compromising condition, just for fun.

And I'm on the show, I know what the show is, and I'd have to just "grin and bare it", so to speak (Particularly since the stars of the show get naked on a pretty regular basis).

This all connects to a fundamental misunderstanding I've had about acting, particularly when it comes to my being an actor.

My "fantasy" about being an actor - cause really, that's what it was - formed before I really knew what "being an actor" was, was always that I'd get to embody people smarter, faster, funnier, and just generally better than I was in real life.

Doesn't take a psych major to make sense of that - the foster kid who figured something had to be wrong with him (cause nobody wanted him), sought to escape, the world he was in and "the skin he lived in", first by reading, then by being "other people" altogether.

But that's not really what acting is - probably not for anybody, but certainly not for character actors.

I've wondered sometimes if that's part of why actors can seem so screwed up - going in, they want to "escape themselves", but the job is really about "confronting yourself".

I might from time to time embody in a character a trait I like about myself (I think there's a certain "sweetness" to Kermit that's one of the more likable aspects of my own character), but it seems much more likely that, if I make any real mark as an actor, it'll be by tapping into "the darker stuff" - Not so much by demonstrating who I wish I were, but who I am, and who I'm afraid I might be.

And actually embracing it.

And this pale, hairy, flabby/overweight middle-aged body that I'm embarrassed and ashamed about? That I don't want to be the stuff of comic horror and ridicule?

It's just part of my "tool kit".

The subject of what acting "is", and what it does or doesn't require of me, is way more complicated than this, and I don't really have the time to really go "into the weeds" here.

The point is that acting isn't about "escaping who you are" - If anything, it's about exploring, more deeply than most people, who you are, and "owning it".

Using it - The good, the bad, and the ugly.

As Alec Baldwin once said of actors and acting, "We're not in the dignity business".

So I want to book this commercial - I want to be on the set, and drop my pants, get over my embarrassment, and get the job done (I just made it sound like I'm doing a porn movie, didn't I?).

If nothing else, it'll make for a great journal entry, am I right?


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