Prelude to a Big Break

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Posts Tagged ‘robbie amell

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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Written by Stephen Amell

October 31, 2010 at 10:28 am

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Happy Halloween Internet Folk! If you read regularly or peruse my then you’re familiar with this guys propensity to analogize (almost) everything with sports. You could even argue that if I didn’t feel the need to incessantly produce sporty-tweets that require the reader to be watching the game and thinking the exact same thing as me, I wouldn’t be lagging behind * by (approximately) 10,900 followers. (It could also be because he’s famous.) Anyways… I can view anything through the prism of athletics. If you didn’t know, now you know.

Before football games in High School everyone has their own behaviour pattern. Some guys walked around and joked (this irritated me), others threw up (good on them) and some dudes sat quietly at their locker staring straight ahead like they might turn into at any moment. Me? I yawned and fought off the urge to fall asleep. This has always been my natural reaction to big moments; I just become incredibly sleepy. Mixed in with this (admittedly curious) state is a “body evacuation” of sorts that crescendo’s as we get closer to the event and seems to defy all logic. (Draw your own conclusions. Or just realize that I’m talking about pooping.) The former part of this equation has gripped me. I’m tired. Last night I went to a Halloween party as an elephant with a giant, phallic trunk sticking out of my forehead. The costume was a huge hit. You’d think this would be invigorating. Nope, I was just tired. At midnight Ele-Steve vanished like only a giant land mammal with retro Nike sneakers on can. So long, party.

7 Days is misleading. The test is probably Thursday (5 Days) and I lose a day flying to Auckland (4 Days). The test deal is done. I can do 10 hand-stand pushups. I am utterly ready. And now, through the fog of my adrenaline induced slumber I need to wrap my head around a life-altering moment.

* – Everyone in Hollywood assumes that Robbie and I are brothers. This week we decided to just go with it. Both of us were half-joking, which means we were also half-not-joking. (Family!)

Written by Stephen Amell

October 30, 2010 at 8:09 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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Before we get started, I’d just like to say, that this is the greatest photo that’s ever been taken of .

Last Tuesday was like any other Tuesday for me.  Which is to say, lovely.  The morning was spent reading a script and prepping for an audition (this past) Friday.  Took Lou for a hike around midday…  It would take a command of language far beyond my reach to transcribe how beautiful early May in LA continues to be.  If that wasn’t enough, I heard this song for the first time.  So, very, good.

The afternoon revolved around a Blue Jay game and the first day of prep for two jobs coming up towards the end of May.  (Neat afternoon.)

Met four people for Mexican food around 8:30.  One of them is a “promoter”.  For the life of me, I cannot figure out what promoters do.  That being said, I have two friends – aside from my Mexican food companion – who make their livings as promoters.  Since they both seem like above average human beings, I’m going to take a leap of faith and assume that there is a tangible set of elements that go into a successful proprietor of promotion.

Anyways…  The promoter at our table suggested we go to .  I had been there a week prior for a video-game launch (I’ll get to those…) and it seemed like a good time.  If Trousdale sounds familiar, .

If you’re scoring at home the following elements are in play:

  • It’s a Tuesday.  You know who parties on a Tuesday?  Actors!  We don’t have real jobs.  It’s the weekend in perpetuity.
  • The life cycle for a “Hollywood Hot Spot” is anywhere between 36 hours and 8 weeks.  Then it goes to shit.  Trousdale has been hopping since early April.  Translation: It’s peaking.
  • I haven’t worn anything other than jeans, sneakers and t-shirts since I arrived in LA.  As an added bonus, I shaved my head and grew an awful beard.  Why?  Because I don’t care.  I mean that sincerely. Your opinion of me will only be shaped by the quality, or lack thereof, of our conversation.  This has proved to be ironic position insofar as it has the exact opposite effect on almost everybody.  They assume that my wardrobe (seriously…  I have one pair of jeans) is the only way that I actively define myself.  That false assumption makes people deduce that I’m some sort of maverick-y loner, or, better yet, a badass.  (Ha!)  People aren’t kidding when they say that LA – Hollywood, in particular – is a shallow, vain, heavily materialistic place.  It’s all those things in a state far more pronounced than even the most egregiously high expectation.  I find such transparency refreshing.  You get, what you get, and you see, what you see.  That’s a very roundabout way of saying that by shunning so many of the norms, everyone assumes I’m either very famous or exceptionally rich.  I am neither, but at Trousdale, wearing Nike’s, jeans and a t-shirt (that I hiked in for 3 straight days), I might as well be.
  • We’re arriving with a promoter.  That means we walk right past a line with 3 VIP alleys, paparazzi and at least four guys wearing Varsity Jackets with spikes on them.  (Newest trend, apparently.  I blame James Harden and poor parenting.)  I hate lines.  Not because I think I’m better than waiting, but because everybody acts like a cross between Spencer Pratt and the Mexican Twins from “Breaking Bad”. It’s the worst of people.  No thank you.
  • We’ve been invited to sit at the owners table.  I don’t know why.  I don’t care, either.
  • I am stone-cold sober.  Incidentally, that’s how I roll these days.  Sober people-watching at a Hollywood night club could ween a hardened drug user off of meth.  It’s the mecca of people watching.  (As an aside, to this aside, the people-watching in LA is unsurpassable.  The bleachers at Dodger Stadium, Venice Beach, Runyon Canyon on a Saturday, The Staples Center for Lakers games, Hollywood Boulevard and every single pool party where you might see someone drink red wine in the shallow end before 1:00 pm.)

  • I drove my Smart Car.  Just a quick note on the Smart Car.  It is not a hybrid.  It is not particularly good on gas (for a compact).  It doesn’t drive particularly well because of the narrow wheel base.  The stereo doesn’t deliver Kid Cudi to my eardrums exactly like I’d like.  Does anyone waiting in line know that, or do they think that I’m researching a role for an upcoming feature about Silicon Valley Automobile manufacturers who make cars that run on old iPods?  (The latter.)

So…  Since this is a “teaching” website, I’d like to provide a handy guide for you, the reader.  I call it:

The Guide to figuring out if you’re at a Hollywood Party.

What is the ratio of people standing on furniture to sitting on furniture?

  • You need at least 85% of the patrons standing on the clubs furniture to deem your soiree an actual Hollywood party.  Why do people stand on furniture?  It’s an outwardly passive (inwardly overt) way for someone to assert that they think they’re better than you.  Please know, that I’m not kidding.

Are people smoking cigarettes?

  • Is smoking indoors in the state of California legal?  No.  Of course it isn’t.  Do celebrities and pseudo celebrities smoke wherever they want in some misguided attempt to emulate that thing they heard Sean Penn does every year at the Toronto International Film Festival?  You betcha.

How drunk are people?

  • 30 – 35% of your revellers need to “high-school gunned”, as my buddy Bolton would say.

Is the average distance from the bottom of a girls skirt, to her knee, longer than the distance between your elbow and the tip of your finger?

  • Yes?  Hollywood Party!

How many times per minute do you smell pot?

  • Anything below .7 times per minute and you’re at an impostor party.

What percentage of white guys at the party rap along a little too aggressively every time the DJ plays hip-hop?

  • Needs to be above 75% to qualify.

When you meet somebody new, do they name drop a famous friend immediately?
Are you paying for drinks?
Do people overreact every time they play “Drake”?
Does someone say “I want an iPhone but I, like, NEED BBM.”?
Do you see at least three outfits, on dudes, that leave you dumbfounded and maybe even a little itchy?

  • Those have to roll: Yes, No, Yes, Yes, Yes.

The Trousdale kept me enraptured for nearly 90 minutes, after which it was home to my pup and a bowl of ice cream.  In reality, I was tired.  To the eyes of many, I was taking off early because I had somewhere cooler to go.  Those Hollywood party people were right.  I did.

Written by Stephen Amell

May 10, 2010 at 1:12 pm

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Coming this weekend: My extended thoughts on the Hollywood Party Scene.

Written by Stephen Amell

May 7, 2010 at 12:03 pm

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I don’t know where to begin. So I’ll begin at the beginning. On February 14th I sat on top of Runyon Canyon and wrote that I was Apparently, I was right. What a weekend.

Saturday: 6:00 AM — Driving rain woke me up. When it rains in California, it rains angry. My alarm was set for 6:00 AM because Lou was due for Air Canada Cargo shortly after 9:00 AM Eastern. If my Uncle and my Mom needed anything, it was my responsibility to be awake and alert. So I was.

10:00 AM — I sat around and read a script / watched “The Wire” (this is important) for 4 hours. Lou’s on his way and I have an audition at 12:30. That’s the thing about Pilot Season… You have auditions on Saturday.  My buddy Nate had an audition today (Sunday). Unbelievable.

10:30 AM — Target. Dog Bowl / Mat for dog bowl / Toy that he can’t destroy immediately / Treats / Swiffer Sweeper and pads / Towel rack (nothing to do with Lou) / New collar (that doesn’t fit) / Food / Food scooper.

11:20 AM — Over to Johnny Bennett’s to exchange the Smart Car with a Ford Escape. This is the first instance where a friend of mine stepped up – like a friend should – this weekend. The first of many.

12:30 PM — Somewhere in Studio City for an audition. A great audition. A killer audition. You can build momentum through Pilot Season. The actual auditions aren’t interconnected, but your craft is dependent on repetition and confidence. I dismantled that audition. This is factual.

1:30 PM — Italia Ricci. She’s Lou’s owner… just ask US Customs. And she gave up her afternoon to help me pick him up at LAX. Italia: I love you.

2:15 PM / 3:00 PM / 4:00 PM / 4:25 PM — WAITING.

4:40 PM — Louis. (Italia calls him “Hand Bag”.  Brilliant.)

5:30 PM — Lou and me hoofing it around Hollywood Blvd. You’re not going to believe this, but he was excited.

7:00 PM — Arrived at Capitol City (a spectacular sports bar) for the second half of a great college basketball game.

9:00 PM — Pre-party for the lovely Italia. She’s filming a show in Toronto as of next Saturday. Party, hearty.

12:00 AM (ish) — My thought process: “My buddy The Lou is at home chillin’. I should get out of here.


2:00 – 7:15 AM — Slept with a black guy.

7:30 AM — My head… MY HEAD… I couldn’t wait to take Lou to Runyon Canyon. Get him out… Get him running.

7:50 AM — Remember when I borrowed Johnny Bennett’s car? Well, now I’m out on my street and his car is nowhere to be seen. Seems it touched a red zone and got towed… To South Central.

8:10 AM — Johnny – miraculously, he’s awake – and I are zooming along with 101 towards South Central. Friends. Being there.

8:20 AM — South Central. Tow Yard. We decide the man guarding it is an Alien. Picture? Taken:

9:30 – 11:00 AM — 8 hours later he’s still a mess. Nothing makes me happier than a tired pup.

12:00 PM — Did you know that Canada and the US were playing for the Gold Medal in Hockey? It was on television and everything.

12:40 PM — Warren (my buddy and high school roommate), Italia, Davey, Vanessa and Chantal (by proxy) start cheering.

1:20 PM — Robbie Amell rounds out our booth. We’re exactly the same. Ask anyone.

2:40ish PM — 24 seconds left in the game — It was my understanding the bar was approximately 65% (US) – 35% (CAN). Not so. More like 94% – 6%. When the US scored with 24 seconds left to tie it, Capitol City erupted. We sat there with our hearts in our stomachs. We waited.

OVERTIME (I don’t know what time it was.) — This is tense / don’t get caught too deep / This shouldn’t be 4 on 4 / JUST SHOOT IT / I’d like a Budweiser and some Heroin / Crosby’s diggin’…


There was a delayed reaction from our booth. As in: “Wait a minute… Is that puck in the net? It is?!?!?!” At which point, we yelled. We screamed. We held it six beats too long. We punctuated with hoarse calls across a deadly silent room. Sidney Crosby — our very best player — scored in overtime for the Gold Medal and one fucker of an exclamation point on the Winter Games. YellScreamYellHugYellPauseYELL.

Then you sit and relax. You tell the waiter to bring you something Canadian. They bring you Canadian Club and you kill it. The medals come out and you start making fun of yourself because you’re crying. Your cousin snaps a photo:

3:45 PM — Everybody leaves but me.

4:00 PM — A girl from Vancouver at the bar. She’s a lawyer with a Canada shirt on. Patron, more Canadian Club, Patron. An actor from “The Wire” rolls in and we become buddies. “Hey Man…  Last time I saw you they caught you with 20K in cash.”

4:30 PM — Quiet moment thought process: “Sidney Crosby scored the overtime winner. The Golden Goal. The greatest moment in the history of Canadian sport. Paul Henderson should light a cigar somewhere and think about his 38 years of undisputed glory.”

5:30 PM — Again, Lou’s at home. Strolling down Hollywood Blvd. with the sun crashing over all the buildings that L. Ron Hubbard owns. My apartment, my Pup, an audition tomorrow morning.  t couldn’t be more beautiful outside.

I pass 3 Canadians surrounding Alex Trebek’s Star on Hollywood Blvd. They aren’t there by accident.

4,300 KM away from Toronto.  Home.  (Capital H.)

EDIT: Just because…

Written by Stephen Amell

February 28, 2010 at 7:42 pm

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