Note: This post was originally published on September 10th, 2010, the day I booked both CSI: Miami, which I accepted, and Nikita, which I did not. 2011 has been entirely wonderful thus far, but the Fall of last year was easily the most exciting time of my professional life. The decision between the two shows was not made by me, it was made by my agents and manager. Their reasoning was simple: CSI: Miami shoots in Los Angeles and Nikita shoots in Toronto. If I’m not in LA, I can’t audition for other episodic roles. On an off day I auditioned for and booked NCIS: Los Angeles. (Always listen to the people you hire to make difficult decisions for you.) One more story: On the way to the CSI: Miami audition a police officer gave me a ticket for jay-walking. Anyone who lives in Toronto knows that jay-walking is not only accepted, it’s practically encouraged. My reaction to this ticket landed somewhere between incredulous and delighted. I’ll never forget my first day on set… The first official shot of me in an American program involved a truck striking my person and killing me instantly. WHAT A MOMENT!
I started my drive to Hollywood 365 days ago. 364 days, 20(ish) callbacks and 7 screen tests later, two television shows put me on hold. A year to the day, the second phase of this journey begins. Network TV, top of show Guest Star. I’ll let you know when you can watch it. In the irony of ironies, I had to turn the other job down (!) because the dates conflicted. It shot in Toronto… you can’t make this stuff up. In the meantime… I’m having dinner tonight with one of my best friends in the whole fucking world. Before dinner, I’m hitting happy hour at Cabo Cantina. (That was a promise made last September. It’ll be the sweetest $3 Corona ever sipped by a human being.)
God Bless America.
Note: This was originally published on June 9. There is a whole back catalogue (so to speak) of posts that I’ve made private, but people have been searching for this on a daily basis. Here you go, whoever you are…
A brief thought on getting older: I turned 30 about a month ago, this is not old, per se. Then again, “old” is relative. I remember arriving at my high school in 1996, looking at the graduating class and thinking: “Those are full-blown adults. I will never be that old.” When I returned to the same school last week for some activities the opposite was true: “Look at how little and gangly these guys are. I was never that young.” (I was.) Concurrently, giving the word “adult” any sort of hard definition is no different than racial profiling – though, it is decidedly less malicious. Does being an adult mean you have a dependable job? Maybe. But what if that job makes you miserable? Isn’t occupying the majority of your waking hours in the pursuit of something that gives you no joy the least mature thing you can possibly do? (EDITORIAL OPINION: YES!!!!) If you’re into that sort of rigid definition, I was definitely an adult at age 26. I was also an asshole with a scarce number of dynamic friendships… so, there’s that. Growing up – to me – boils down to one thing and one thing only: Being comfortable in your own skin. For example, I’m beginning to enjoy feeling awesome and refreshed when I wake up more than staying up to all hours with a drink in hand. So, if I’m out with people and I want to leave, I go. (Sometimes I “Ghost”. My friends and I started calling it that before we knew it was already named an “Irish Goodbye”. I like my name better.) The great thing about being comfortable in your own skin – and the main reason it can serve as a sweeping definition for such a tricky transition – is how many different parts of your life it touches. Friendships get better. Relationships get better. Clothes fit better. (Know why? Because you wear what you want.) It’s easier to put criticism into perspective. (Just after my appearance on Vampire Diaries a reputable news organization called my character “human garbage”. This is a top 3 moment of 2011 for me, so far.) Most importantly, other people can sense a calm within you. I’m not religious, or spiritual, but I do believe that human beings are capable of much more then we give ourselves credit for. If you’re faking, people know. If you aren’t, people know. So… don’t be a faker. Figure that out and you can get as old as you want.
I like September. Lots of fun stuff happening.
Hung premieres in one month and one day. Would you like a sampling of it? Okay! Here’s the trailer where we do . Here’s the (slightly) abbreviated trailer that’s set to the song I thoroughly enjoy. Here’s the … and here’s some behind-the-scenes info: It doesn’t get any sexier than Rebecca Creskoff (with apologies to all other women everywhere).
My new is moving along swimmingly. Look… I’m sorry that I had to delete my @stephenamell account. The parts of me influenced by vanity didn’t like punting 4500 followers. At all. That being said, I had owned that handle for a very long time and I’m sure there were tweets (buried somewhere deep in the cache) I wouldn’t have been pleased with. Long story (semi) short: There’s a difference between semi-offensive tweets about the Blue Jays bullpen sent from a bar in 2009 and tweets sent when you’re representing a company as a public figure. I’m not famous, but I’m not anonymous and I want control over the information I share and do not share. Seems logical to me. Speaking of sharing…
I’m slowly building a (with some help from Erin) and it’s going to be a fun place to interact beyond 140 characters. Put up my first video this morning. Go check it out. And if you’d like to endear yourself to me, feel free to comment on the breadth and character of my facial hair.
Until next time…
Booking every job you audition for is impossible. And yet, I hate not booking a job more than anything else I can think of, with the notable exception of false humility or people who subscribe to the notion a “white lie” is something which actually exists.
Until this morning, I’d had 3 auditions for episodic shows since wrapping principle photography on Hung. I booked all 3, but shot 2 because of scheduling conflicts. Yesterday evening I was under the impression my 4th audition would yield my 4th booking. This afternoon, my team told me I was now 2nd choice and wouldn’t be getting the part. Concurrently, I was screen-testing for a movie (today) that I do not think I’ll book despite what I consider to be my strongest series of auditions for any project I’ve ever been involved with.
Both non-bookings are purely based on the aesthetic values of the show / movie and don’t in anyway reflect the performance I gave. As a matter of fact, I think my advancement on the movie happened in spite of my physical appearance and as a result of the strength I brought to the reading.
And this is how I know how engaged I am with my industry: Both of these results (one confirmed, one not) fucking piss me off.
When I think I’m best for something, I’ll never accept that I didn’t get it until I’ve eaten the bowl of shit that accompanies the decision. And remembered exactly what it tastes like.
This is the most incredible display of public speaking that I have ever seen. Whether you knew of Jack Layton or not, take some time and let Stephen Lewis tell you a bit about what his life meant to him, to Canada and to his family. It’s a perfect eulogy.
(He had me at “vituperative”.)
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A great part about living in the States, but not actually working for a living? I get to rationalize this sort of thought process:
Well… My passport needs to be renewed, and I’ve got to renew my O1 work visa. Why not turn this into a five day jaunt north of the border in Vancouver? By the time I’m back, football will be days away and I’ll be able to drink a few beers that don’t taste like an alcoholics urine sample. Great idea, self.
Every time I finish a job, there’s a moment of introspection / reflection / satisfaction. Said moment took place yesterday afternoon, on my couch, while I sipped a bottle of and sauntered (metaphorically) towards a heroic late afternoon nap.
What’s been the thing that triggered consistent work, I thought… Persistence, etc.? Sure, but that’s too easy. Facial hair? I’d like to think so, but no. ? Perhaps. I kept circling back to being comfortable. When I auditioned for Hung I had to simulate sex (with a woman) on a conference table in front of 4 people I’d never met (tough) and 2 people I’d met several times (brutal). When I auditioned for my latest job, I didn’t have the correct interpretation for the first scene… and I could tell by the directors reaction, she was left wanting. So I asked questions and tried it again. Didn’t quite get there. Asked again and made a specific choice that didn’t necessarily fit into the rhythm of the scene; nonetheless, it proved I could get where she wanted me to go.
Simulated sex on a conference table and in-audition adjustments are possible when you’re relaxed enough that it doesn’t feel like your heart is beating through the soles of your feet. Acting is such a heightened experience… and I think it’s the ability slow everything down in between takes that is serving me best.
I mean… it’s not brain surgery, right?
I had a lovely day on set. I have one more day… then it’s onto the next one.
I have to work 33 more days in order to reach my goal of 100. For clarities sake, 67 days is – by far and away – my busiest year. Secondarily, “amount of days worked” is a relatively arbitrary way of measuring success. If you eliminated every other job I’ve done in 2011 and just kept Hung, this would be the greatest professional year of my life by approximately 130%.
And yet… It’s 100 or bust, right? (ya, it is)
Tired & Happy... On we go...
During the filming of Justice For Natalee Holloway, pilot season was beginning to ramp up in LA. I recall this being moderately stressful because the schedule on JFNH was incredibly demanding and playing joranvandersloot gave me the same shameful feeling closeted conservative leaders get when they beg off sex with their wives. Additionally, there wasn’t anybody to read the audition scenes with me. (Ad)additionally, the idea of submitting a sub-standard tape was not appealing. Why do that? And… if I devoted a great deal of energy to an audition at the expense of my job, I’d be peeing on a group of people who were compensating me (nicely) to pretend I was a reviled criminal. In short, it was a quagmire. My peoples back in California were informed (with varying degrees of success) that I would only do a tape if it absolutely, positively could not wait.
A particular pilot needed material immediately. A quick (bland) plot recap: Zombies have revealed themselves to humans in the same manner Vampires did in True Blood. Zombies – in this instance – appear human, but can also “zombie out.” The audition scene was set in a large field with my character (the name escapes me) described as a “wild-eyed cult leader,” or something to that effect. (Brief aside: Unless the character I’m reading for is based on a real person, I pay almost no attention to the description. Same goes for stage direction in the audition pages. Rarely are either of these anything other than a detriment.) There was an opportunity to reconfigure the audition scene into a monologue and treat it like a confessional video. So I propped my iPhone on something and sat infront of the vanity mirror in my trailer during lunch. This audition got me a meeting with the creative team back in LA. Ultimately, I wasn’t a physical match for the character. On an entirely unrelated note, the pilot did not get picked up. Too bad… it was a good script. And this is one my favorite auditions.
Finally, it’s nice to write about acting, on a blog about acting.