In my actor/writer/producer cycle, 2016 has been a writing year.
But not all that long ago, I was asked to come in and read for a Shakespeare play. I’ve had a monologue from Othello in my utility belt for years; this was the first time as a professional someone asked to see it.
Earned a callback but the part in that production ultimately went to someone else. I wasn’t remotely upset. Like I said, I’ve been focused on other things this year. More than that though, just knowing I have my Shakespeare strong enough to book now gives me a lot of confidence for the long term.
(While I’m talking about it, there’s a great piece in the Atlantic this week about what ‘Method acting’ means right now in Hollywood. I’m a Method guy myself so I don’t agree with all of it. But I think it’s a fair critique to say for every Heath or Denzel who goes away to learn accents and skills so their characters instincts appear ‘natural’ by the time the audience sees it, there’s a ‘Tropic Thunder’ element that’s been attached to Method acting too. And there’s no doubt in my mind the most likable and respected actresses we have couldn’t get away with half of the questionable behavior some of the guys get away with and we’d write it off as ‘they’re just so into their craft and their character, you have to take this as part of it.’ Anyway…)
Beyond writing, 2016 has always been designed for me as a year for the detective work. I’m ‘active’ obviously, but most of my time has been spent doing research. Who’s working on what? What agencies represents who? Who doesn’t get along with each other? How does my brand fit into all of this? (I’m already sick and tired of that word but, business.)
My Method lets me play several different things well, but some parts just naturally fit better. Starfleet Captain? LAPD Detective? Morgan Freeman? The handsome black professional in an interracial relationship? I’ve played all these men and played them well. Crack dealer? Car jacker? The heartthrob who has at least one scene with no shirt on? I…can play these roles too. But it’s rarely what I project or what people see when I walk into the room. (And just so we’re absolutely clear, I’m cool with a lot of the guys who play these roles, so this isn’t a disrespect thing. My point is Philip Seymour Hoffman, rest his soul, had a nice long career playing all the parts within his type and Channing Tatum is having a nice long career playing all the different parts that fit his type. There’s room for all of us.)
I didn’t come into this ‘artform’ thinking that I’d need the analytical part of my mind as much as I do, but…business. Like most things in this town though, you hang around long enough, you figure out what your place is.
I’ve found mine.