Prelude to a Big Break

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Notes from a Well-Fed-Artist.

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Getting a job is important. Revelatory, I know. Nevertheless, feel free to indulge my analytical riff. Like any type of analysis, there’s the practical side and the (I’m not sure exactly what to call it which is why I’m going to spill 800 words on it) side. Practical first:

Talk about putting the button on a great year. Saturday night I was toasting 2010 (almost post-script, which is odd since there’s a month left) with at the Kings game. Most of our chatter centered around pilot season (due late January – late March) and how we were going to approach it. There was also a lively exchange on the merits of chili. (We’re both in favour.) On the subject of professional accomplishment, we were both reflecting on a progressive year. Rob wrapped a second season of his television show and a sequel to a very popular prequel — dig it. I moved to the American market, became a resident and notched a few jobs to go with an overgrown pile of moral victories. Cool beans. December was supposed to fall somewhere between preparatory and reflective. Now I’m preparing for the most intensive on-camera action of my career that doesn’t involve a boatload of sand. (Quick aside: Don’t think for a second that I wasn’t snapping photographs throughout my Spartacus screen-test. When I can share them without jeopardizing my ability to make a living… well, that’ll be neat.) December did an about face and I couldn’t be happier.

When you get a job, you make money. I welcome the opportunity to make money because all that’s missing from California’s preliminary tax structure for actors who generate revenue in chunks is Governor Schwarzenegger beating the shit out of you right when you examine what’s left of your pay cheque. (Most of it is retrievable with a good accountant… but still. Money > No Money.)

I’ve flirted with the network I’m going to work for — aggressively — throughout the year. I’m glad we’re finally doing some business together, so to speak. (I’ll stop being dickishly vague about what show I’m doing once filming begins. That’ll be soon.)

Now for the non-practical side: This blog still exists for a variety of reasons, but it began for one: I wanted to chart the journey of a professional actor. Why? Because I wanted to prove that the career arc has the same sort of connective tissue that binds all professional endeavours. The way we measure success for artists (finance-centric) is ridiculous. I can handle that, because what other people think of your career is usually just a reflection of their own professional insecurities. But the characterization that acting is a barren field followed by a transformative star-making “break” or a switch to some sort of grown-up job — with no middle ground — steps past being ridiculous and becomes something I can’t tolerate: irresponsible.

Two weeks ago I had the privilege to speak at Branksome Hall in Toronto. The audience: A film studies class and a Drama class comprised of 40 young women. (Talk about nerves… this guy was terrified.) I was given just shy of an hour to take them through a practical approach to professional acting and then we had a fun Q & A session littered with thoughtful questions. (At some point, I’ll try and reprint two of them and the reasoning behind my answers. The first was a question about why Canadian television doesn’t resonate with, you know, Canadians (!) the same way American shows do. And the second was a really interesting query on whether or not the private persona of an actor can effect the way people interpret their public persona. Fascinating stuff to consider.) The former part of the class was the first time that I’d ever really vocalized the chronology of my first six years in the business. The narrative made one thing abundantly clear: Everything matters. I got this job because I was super-prepared for three other auditions on the same show that I wasn’t totally right for. When it came time for them to make another decision, my work resonated. I believed in these principles before, but now… I have proof. The same strategy that primes a promotion in your office will secure you a three-episode arc on a hit tv-show. These are the facts.

(And to Branksome: Thank you for the gift. It’s keeping me hydrated at 35,000 feet… right now!)


Couple of things before I wrap this up: November was the busiest month in the site’s history: 6,691 hits. Thank you to everyone who visited.

(Here’s where you stop reading if a Toronto-centric rant isn’t for you.)

Toronto: Get over yourself. Apparently there’s a new policy at the “hip” restaurants in the city where you can only sit for two hours at a time. I mean… (hang on, I’m getting mad) TO, you’re a lovely city. Really, you are. So stop doing things that make me think you’re an asshole. Sitting down for a 3.5 hour dinner is one of the ways a city generates culture. Limiting the dine-time for patrons paying (WAY TOO MUCH) money to begin with doesn’t make your restaurant cooler. It makes you narrow-minded and greedy; not to mention the fact it wreaks of posturing. Let people sit and eat and then let them sit and talk. And while we’re here… When did a pint of beer start costing $8? When did taxi’s kick off at $4.25 before you’ve even rolled an inch? When did the subway start costing $3 a ticket? Seriously… when did that last thing happen? I want to like the city I grew up in. Stop making it difficult.

The following transmission was written closer to space than sea-level. Wi-Fi on flights!!! Feels like the future.


Written by Stephen Amell

December 1, 2010 at 10:05 am

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I’ll tell ya: Last night felt good. There was a Kings game (they’ve got the best record in the league and are a perfect 6-0 at home). I drank a little rum at the game and started between 4 and 620 sentences with the phrase: “If I book it…” I can talk like that with my brother Robbie. He gets it. And he knows that I’d entertain his semi-delirious ramblings for 4+ hours in a nanosecond. Later, it was onto a dive bar. We played beer pong and I hugged a lot of people. I’ve got three photos on my iPhone from the screen test… showing them to people is dreamy. In a week with two Friday’s, no Tuesday, 1,400 crunches, 120 handstand pushups, 17,000 air miles, the biggest day of my professional life, a Kings game, six straight victories at the beer pong table and a whiff of Christmas (!!!) in the air… My favorite moment was watching these two for three periods. That’s just how I roll.

Written by Stephen Amell

November 7, 2010 at 9:31 am

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Does this mean I really, really live here now? Settling in LA has been a process. (Don’t believe me? Kindly peruse the 300,000 words of content on this webblesite.) However you define an arrival to a new place, I think we can all agree that there is a difference between living in a city, and living in a city. I’ll be the first to say: I Love LA. I really do. I love the weather; I love the people; I love watching sports in the morning; I love the tourists that walk along Hollywood Boulevard; I love the enthusiasm for cinema and all facets of entertainment; I love running through the Hollywood Hills and trying to decipher who’s having a party at their house and who’s shooting a porno; I love Dodger Stadium; I love stupid, ridiculous, excessive Hollywood hot-spots; I love the dive bars littered throughout the city with $3 draft and free pour whiskey; I love the WEATHER; I love the stores specifically dedicated to sneakers; I love sneakers; I love the inclusionary nature of Hollywood residents (be who you want to be, as enthusiastically as you want…); I love my friends and the similar nature of our professional / personal goals; I love walking Louis The Dog in Runyon Canyon until he lays on the floor, passes out and starts to twitch. I love it here.

And tonight, I loved the LA Kings Home Opener. My cousin Robbie and I have startling seats four rows off the ice in the middle of the Kings offensive zone for the 1st and 3rd period. These seats cost roughly 1/85th of what the Maple Leafs would charge. The Kings fans are raucous, inappropriate, passionate and, most importantly, ready for a winner. The organization has bent over backwards to placate Rob and I from the moment we hopped on board last May.

Some people will think the Kings seats only represent sports. Not quite. First, this is about family. Our grandfather was on the board of directors for the Maple Leafs during the 1960′s. Both of our fathers have entertained us with stories about Saturday nights at the Gardens when, you know, the Leafs weren’t owned by a monolithic corporation that seems hell-bent on destroying everything good about sports. $19 beer anyone? (There isn’t enough hyperbole, sometimes.) Half a century later, it’s time for two Amell boys to carry on a tradition. Different city, different team, same idea.

And second? Well, if you don’t understand following a team from (arguably) the two best seats in the house, through the ebb and flow of a regular season, into the greatest playoff tournament in professional sports, with a doubling as the teams best player… I don’t know what to tell you. Go Kings.

EDIT: I couldn’t let this post drift away without some leftover game thoughts.

  • , from 8 feet away, on skates, looks like he should have some type of electrical cable sticking out his neck.
  • The Kings offensive zone is directly infront of us for the 1st, 3rd, Overtime and Shootout. So what’d we do in the 2nd period? We went up to the ICM luxury suite for free beer like a couple of assholes. There’s no guarantee that we’ll do this every game. Conversely, there’s not NOT a guarantee.
  • During a fairly stagnant 1st period for the Kings offense, two guys rode the linesmen so hard that he gave a our section an eff-you wink. Seriously. What’d they say to garner a reaction? I’ll paraphrase: Shove the puck in your (expletive) ref! / You’re missing a good game… You (expletive)! / This isn’t the NBA, you (expletive)! Can you imagine that sort of chatter in the Air Canada Centre? How quickly would the ushers throw these people out? This digs to a larger point about the juxtaposition between American and Canadian sports fans: Boisterous and passionate seems to be the default position of the former. Before the game, I could barely spot anyone that wasn’t wearing some sort of Kings paraphernalia. (Count me among the minority. I’ve been searching high and low for an old-school Kings hat with no success. Going to find it before Friday. Dammit.) The latter part of this point needs it own bullet…
  • Kings fans are a blue collar group. This seems counterintuitive, I know. After all, the team plays 20 minutes from Hollywood and the . The Lakers dominate the scene in LA, USC / UCLA take care of the football appetite, The Clippers cover masochists and racists and The Dodgers dominate the Hispanic community. The Kings? Well, they’ve got every transplanted Canadian, every film crew member that grew up in the Northeast as a hockey fan and a few Hollywood big-wigs (Jerry Bruckheimer has an on-ice luxury suite, which should be impossible). It all adds up to a formidable hockey crowd. Last night, we were loud. The playoff game last spring against the Canucks was one of the loudest crowds I’ve ever been a part of.
  • Check out this ! Anze Kopitar (23), Brayden Schenn (19), Dustin Brown (25), Wayne Simmonds (22), Drew Doughty (20), Jack Johnson (23) and Jonathan Quick (24).
  • 12 Canadians on the roster not counting Anze Kopitar who in the opener against Vancouver and potted a spectacular goal in the shootout. We’re making him honorary #13.
  • In the process of researching this post, I stumbled on . A thousand times, yes!

  • The Kings emerge from a castle door before the start of each period. The castle door has fake flames on each side of it, with a dash of fake smoke and red-ish floor lighting. It’s entirely ridiculous. Boy, do I enjoy it!

  • Finally… I found some footage of the Kings taking the ice before Game 6 against the Canucks last spring. Robbie and I were there. This sold us.


Written by Stephen Amell

October 12, 2010 at 10:45 pm

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