Monday, January 28, 2013

I Have A Face For Radio

I made my first movie in Paris, France when I was none of your business years old. On the day of the shoot my mom took this picture of me because I'd spent so much time on my hair I wanted documentation. I’d set it and painstakingly got it to curl and was so proud of the final outcome. I had no idea that when you’re cast in a movie, hairstylists do your hair. Thank God because by the time I arrived at the studio, my curl was on life-support.

I played a nurse and wardrobe put me in a micro-mini skin-tight uniform. I did every take hovering over a sickly man because let’s give a guy on his deathbed something to hasten his departure. I had no lines. I was probably supposed to have lines but once they saw that my hair couldn’t hold a curl, I’m sure they changed their minds.

The day it aired I was so excited. This would surely be the start of me following in the footsteps of the brilliant Simone Signoret or the breathtaking Capucine.

Sidebar: Capucine famously jumped from her 8th floor apartment building in 1990. She was depressed and it was rumored it was because she didn’t like the way she was aging.

Sidebar, Jr.: I can totally relate but only live on the 3rd floor.

My scene came up and I inched closer to the TV, straining my eyes to look at my hair. I needn’t have bothered. While the dying man said his lines the camera focused on my ass. For the entire scene. Hi welcome to France.

                                    ***

One of the first commercials I booked in New York was for Hanes underwear. I sat on the far left of the top level of a two-tiered bleacher. There were 3 people on my level and 3 on the level below us. The star of the commercial was seated in the middle of the level below us and I hope he amounted to nothing. I’m thinking it so I might as well say it out loud.

A *Hanes Inspector* walked up and down the level below us, checking our work, the *factory workers* pasting our *Approved* stickers into each pair of men’s underwear. 

“Quiet on the set.”
“Roll camera."
“And…..action.”
“CUT!”

“Girl with the really straight hair.” The director waved his hand in my direction.
“Me?” I asked just in case there was another girl with really straight hair but we all know there wasn’t.
“What’s your name?”
“Suzy.”
“OK, Suzy, you have to move a little to your right.”

I moved my chair to the right. Everyone was staring at me like I’d committed some kind of Hanes Underwear Crime Against Humanity.”

“Quiet on the set."
“Roll camera.”
“And…..action.”
“CUT!”

“Uh, Suzy?” Everyone turned to look at me. Again. Clearly I was guilty of being unable to move a chair properly and I hope they all amounted to nothing. I’m thinking it so I might as well say it out loud.
“Yes?”
“Could you move your chair a little bit more to the right?”
I again moved my chair to the right.

“Quiet on the set.”
“Roll camera.”
“And…..action.”
“CUT! WE CAN STILL SEE SUZY!”

                                   ***

The American Film Conservatory in Los Angeles is one of the top film schools in the world. I’d auditioned for one of their student films and they were so impressed they had me read for another role. After that reading the casting people said they were going to have a hard time deciding which role to give me.

My agent never heard from them again. Hi welcome to Hollywood.

Two weeks later my agent called to say AFI had cast me but it was very last minute and could I rush over there? It was a few blocks from my house and I ran like the wind. Not sure wind can run but if it does, I did too. Wardrobe dressed me in an elaborate 19th century costume. I looked nothing like Keira Knightly in Anna Karenina but for the sake of my fragile ego let's pretend I did.

When I got to the set, the 2nd A.D. placed me in front of a fake house with a fake garden. He told me to stand facing the fake house, with my back to the camera. And that’s how I shot the entire scene, which lasted about one minute. I had no lines.

Back in wardrobe I heard everyone talking about the wrap party that night. No one said a word to me so I asked if the wrap party was that night, in hopes they’d accidentally overlooked me. A girl nodded in my direction and then hurried off.

Whoever was the star of their stupid film obviously wasn’t available to shoot that pickup shot so that’s why I was called in. My back obviously looked like her back. Is that an Oscar category?

And because of all these stories I became a stand-up comic.
Because you have to face the audience.
And people are happy about it.
Usually.

17 comments:

  1. I don't know how you survive in that business. You have a perfectly lovely face - I don't get it.

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  2. Show business is a nightmare. You have to be made of steel to do it. I'm made of marshmallows.

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  3. OMG Hilarious and should have made pop corn for this mini!

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  4. I'm in the music business and I used to act, so I hear ya. An A&R guy from a label once told me flat out to "lose the baby fat and get a nose job". I was 21 and weighed 105 lbs. Sigh.

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  5. blech. I was in radio - and that is why I was in radio. ;)

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  6. Sometimes I can empathize with Capucine. Not every day, mind you; just those days I happen to look in the mirror.

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  7. I love this. Makes me feel like I'm eavesdropping on the most delicious inside gossip I'll ever hear.

    Thanks for taking me to the other side, girl with the really straight hair and nice backside.

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  8. Just clicked on the link for Capucine. MY GOSH she is beautiful. Discovered at 17 while riding in a carriage? That doesn't happen anymore. People just make duck faces in front of mirrors now and post them on FB.

    She is like a swan. And naturally so, from the days before surgical enhancement.

    She was beautiful. Devastating suicide--gets the brightest of the stars.

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  9. "While the dying man said his lines the camera focused on my ass. For the entire scene. Hi welcome to France." You will have me laughing at that last line all day long!!!
    :-)
    jj

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  10. I always get Capucine confused with Coccinelle. I blame it on the fact that I don't speak French.

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  11. Just like Helen, your ass launched a thousand dying men.

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  12. so damn funny I came back to read it again, but have popcorn and a peppa..let the giggling begin... Stalking!!!

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  13. Could you move a little more to the right, please?

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  14. Actually, I preferred you on the left. F*%k Hollywood.

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  15. Yup, I figured with the micro mini you were cast because of those long sexy legs.

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  16. LOL: Thank you so much, I really needed that good hard laugh today! I had my first job interview in eons.

    My sister was an actor, such funny stories from the casting cue. It was like listening to her. You've done us all social service ;-)

    I have straight hair also. I'm convinced if we types were to be sent out to drought stricken areas of the world with a set of hot-hair curlers… it would most assuredly rain.

    And you were probably too pretty for the Hane's ad, they don't want anything to take the viewer's eyes off the product?

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