I was in pain on the inside like you wouldn’t believe. But shit, I had the starring roll and the director, Bill Grefe seem to mind, and he casted me. So now…I’m older 51! Can’t believe it myself. Nearly all of us remember 10 years ago, just….multiply that by 3. That’s how fast it comes. Don’t you EVER let someone convince you that you’re ugly! Would I have handled that freak differently today? Would I confront that sibling today? Probably not…people like that don’t change. Hmm, hard call. I’ve been on sets where extras have hidden my pay stubs and put dirt in my food, so I’m aware how many “so-called” actors behave on sets. I’ve ignored some brutal comments, the worst you can imagine a man saying to another man. (and I don’t know how they did it, but they had access to..and I’m not lying…my medical information…and were taunting me with it). Yup. You can find all sorts of things on the internet. I have no doubt some of those haters are reading this very message. I IGNORE THEM COMPLETELY. I’ve been on sets where these petty souls do things like hide fellow actors car keys even as a tow truck pulls up. Most of them deserve exactly what they get in the end.
Last film I was on for a week, R.I.P.D. where a group of punk backgrounders half my age. (Yes, I was casted with men half my age at about 43 and that alone bothered them) started to attack. That’s when the dirt was put my food and I damaged a tooth. Disgusting I know, and I was deathly ill for two weeks after that shoot. If I told you what they said, you wouldn’t believe it. But I did report everything to the SAG office, along with their names. I only extrad about 2-3 years ago in a Liam Niesan scene in Worcester. I suppose my experience on the set of R.I.P.D. was the reason, or just because I decided focus on Shakespeare and stage. I don’t think I’m likely to return to it. It’s not worth that sort of hassle. Maybe a bigger man than me could have handled it better, I don’t know. But my takeaway is that there is nothing quite as ruthless as an “extra” with no particular talent careening towards 30 and who believes they will become a star if the director sees them in the right lighting.
Dear hopefuls, there’s not that much CG and lighting in the world. This is why the professional actors keep to themselves. Incidentally, I did notice a correlation between the level of training actors have and the amount of respect they showed fellow actors. When you have pages of dialogue to get down, you really don’t have time for petty games…you are working. When I started getting auditions for PARTS that meant protection in a way. Some people may doubt these things happen..but they do. And I wasn’t prepared for it at all. How bad does it get? When I was hired to do a week on Hachiko, some “actor” risked their own IMDB profile to hack into IMDB to cast me as Hachiko. The DOG in the film. Man, they must think of me lots…when they never even cross my mind. LOL And when I got to set, the A.D. I think he was a Native American brother, he approached me and asked me how that happened. I said, honestly, I have no idea. IMDB said they gave the person who did it a warning, but could not tell me who it was. I’m so certain SAG is well aware of these sort of tactics. I have been jostled, hit, and insulted more times than I can count…not by casting or producers, but by fellow background actors. Each time I have handled the situations directly with the men. Oh, incidentally…I’ve never had a female do any of these things. Never any issues with principals that were noteworthy. The production paid my dental bill and thankfully it was minor…the medic on that set helped me with the forms. I know he thought I was “special” because my handwriting is…unique.
So what did I do on that set? I acted as if I didn’t hear a word. I should have moved, but we were by groups…so I didn’t. In retrospect I should have distanced. The microagressions on set extended to the cops they used as extras too. They were a bit nasty. I ignored them too. SAGAFTRA must do more to protect actors, not from just the threats of mistreatment from producers and the like, but from other actors, low-level crew and extras. I remember one shoot we were on…and it was on a windy lake, all day. And I dont’ know if anyone knows what that feels like. I go into Krafty and I make a coffee. The caterer yells at me: “THAT”S FOR UNION only!” I was frozen to my toes to my asshole. I go, “I”m Union” thinking that would be the end of it. This MF said: “Let me see your card.” I poured my coffee, and calmly told him. “I’m not showing you shit.” I got my snacks and went about my day. PA’s too, sometimes abuse actors. And ya’ll should know. I’m sure others have their story. I kept professional. I think I was the only one of us to appear in a scene with Ryan Reynolds, and even then from the back, even though we had our close-ups, they didn’t make it to the final project. The life of a background artists. So, it doesn’t always pay to knock someone out. I would never advocate that….but I will NEVER forget who did it and what they said and did. And my reports to casting and the union are prompt and professional.
My thinking is, if you are threatened by me and I haven’t even tried really, that’s just a compliment. And if you have to insult every race on God’s green earth just to try to get at me…LOL…then you just validated the fact that I can play any role. Stupids. Lesson, treat people with respect on sets at all times, and don’t mess with an actor who writes. Cuz I’m legit black and white and read all over. 😛 OH, I almost forgot. PS. After seeing the film, my acne is pronounced only in one clip, and honestly it looks like freckles and a mole at worst. Still in the Union…and still available to work. 32 years later. Boo-ya!!!