Tag Archive: stella adler


 

2016

Taking stock of the past twelve months…

For the first time (within one calendar year), I auditioned as Othello, Dr. King, and Malcolm X for different stage productions across town. Malcolm came post-November, and it was ‘Nation of Islam Minister Malcolm X’ at that.  I would have given Denzel a run for his money that day!  I’m comfortably in my sweet spot with the character types I excel in.  And it’s starting to mesh with the characters people see in me when I walk in the room and do a monologue.  Good times.

Private life feels settled for the first time in years as well.  There’s the Family, there’s the ‘Fam’, there are friends and there are work friends.  Current events have reinforced the natural bonds between myself and those with a common religious identity, a common racial experience; common politics or just a common vibe with how we look at the world.  More goodness.

One of the first things I took from Stella Adler is still one of the best: “Your aim should be to have a life that includes playing the part…”  Not the other way around.  My defining story of 2016, I don’t think anyone involved will be put out by me sharing this…

I got an invite about a possible job with the Los Angeles Lakers.  My Lakers.  They were looking for someone passionate about the franchise, comfortable with the camera and with live crowds, who they could trust to not talk about grabbing pussies on a hot mic.  They thought I might be a good fit.

But here was the issue: one of my brothers was getting married on the same timeline they needed to see me.  And I was in the wedding party.

Now, when I was say, 25? Would I have burned a personal relationship to the ground for a potential dream job opportunity?  Some of you know the answer to that better than others (and will never let me forget it).

But I’m not that guy anymore.  Haven’t been for years.  The wedding weekend was an experience, and of course the Lakers understood the timing was just bad, so long term they appreciated my professionalism while getting a peek into my value system as a man.  My ego was bruised for a couple days (no need to lie about that), but I did the right thing.

And not that I needed the Universe to further validate me, but not too long after that, my Hollywood patrons reached out to me out of the blue and gave me a part on one of their projects.  So you can look forward to seeing your boy in front of the camera again next summer.  If not sooner.

I haven’t always had the gift of relationship building, but I’ve learned. I’m always learning and still love doing so.

So in the year I’ll always remember for my house being completely put in order, I look outside (or in 2016, I log on) and…yeah.  The goodbyes this year have felt especially hard (like the two beloved people up top, just for starters).  Things seem especially dark on the world stage.  I have no naive optimism for you going into the next year.  Just a renewed commitment to do the right thing, even if it seems like it’s going to be harder than ever to do so.

Onward and Upward.  See you in 2017.

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For those of you who asked about my look in reference to yesterday’s post:

The quote above is a famous Stella Adler quote about defining a character through what they wear.

Shame

So everyone knows I’m a Brando guy, and I’ve talked about how ‘Last Tango in Paris’ was a major influence on how I built the character I used in “Lady In My Life.” So when one of the first things I heard about ‘Shame’ was that it was on some ‘Last Tango’ type ish, I was instantly like “Oh Really?!?”  I wasn’t going to hold any film to that  standard but I was intrigued.  And, as fate would have it, when I literally went from the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood to the Arclight only a few blocks away to catch a screening, I was really in a “Method” mood.

So let’s start there.  By own scale of 1 to 10 for commitment to a role, Michael Fassbender went for the 10 here; all in surrender of his body and spirit for the character.  Full salute from me for that.  For those unfamiliar, ‘Shame’ is about a young bachelor in his 30s, not a bad looking dude, stable in his job and living situation, who, for reasons never explained, is both unable and frankly uninterested in building and sustaining an emotional relationship with a woman.

(Let me pause this review here because I can here a certain peanut gallery picking up their phones to text me.  To you I say, shut it.)

What the main character of this film does have a passion for is sex.  But as the title implies, his passion for sex is…off.  He doesn’t do it for social status, for pleasure, for procreation, or as noted, for emotional connection.  He just…does it.  As often as possible and in plenty of inappropriate ways and places.  One of the things that director Steve McQueen (a brother from across the pond) gets right in this film is showing you in the first 20 minutes, there is nothing glamorous in this sexual perversion.

Casey Mulligan shows up as the sister of our protagonist. Not as one of the ‘normal sweet, girl next door’ types she’s played in other films, but as a desperate, really desperate for attention seeking little sister.  It was certainly an interesting choice for the audience to get no backstory on these two siblings, one emotionally vacant and one in constant need for approval, but in my opinion at least, it kept the film from maybe reaching its true potential.  If “Last Tango” is the standard, in that film there are little moments here and there where, if you don’t know, you (as the audience) can at least infer “Oh that’s why he’s an asshole.”  The audience of “Shame” doesn’t get that luxury.  For shame. (See what I did there?)

All that said, I think it’s a good film.  And the performances by the two leads are really good.  The film is rated NC-17, which I guess is its own reference to the high degree of sexuality in the film.  But to me all that NC-17 does is remind me how with the US ratings boards you can blow off all the heads and chop off all the arms you want and get an R, but you have one too many penis shots in your film and it’s immediately X-rated.  Another debate for another day…

 

george_clooney_1

Enough people have picked up on this one both off screen (see the Photos section) and on screen (the short and some of my past roles) that I might as well acknowledge it.  While I’m just another branch off Stella Adler’s ‘Method’ tree, and my social consciousness started with Malcolm, there are also multiple direct and indirect ways I can point to my respect of George Clooney.

  • The Actor

He’s played Batman, shall we start there?  And wasn’t the reason that film nearly killed off the franchise, he just couldn’t save it.  He co-starred with J.Lo at her absolute APEX (I knew more than a few of my college buddies are nodding their heads right now, remembering Out of Sight).  And he walked into a personal irritant of mine (trying to remake an already good movie) and nailed it.  Ocean’s 11, anyone?

This also falls under the overall concept of image, but Clooney is also a throwback style wise.  He was never a thirtysomething (now a fortysomething) trying to pass himself off as a 20 year old cool kid.  He found his cool as a grown ass man, and man did he run with it!  Part of being self-assured, he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously.  Especially in comedies, there’s always that vibe of “I’m not the guy curing cancer or AIDS, I’m not bringing peace to the Middle East.  I’m an actor, and I’m having fun doing it.”

  • The Writer/Director

Two films as a director: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is based on the autobiography of Chuck Barris.  The same Chuck Barris who hosted The Gong Show and created The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game claims to have been a covert assassin for the CIA in his spare time.  Well, OK.  Clooney takes on a supporting role in this good, not great film.  It wasn’t a blockbuster at the box office, but most critics agreed he did fine for his directorial debut.

His second film was Good Night and Good Luck, a look at Edward R. Murrow’s televised attacks on Senator Joseph McCarthy.  Clooney once again took a supporting role in another film based at least in part on television in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  Coincidence?  Hardly.  Clooney’s aunt is Rosemary Clooney, a popular singer in her day; his father’s career was in television also.  The lesson: choose material you’re comfortable with.  Good Night and Good Luck become one of the year’s critical hits, and Clooney became the first person to be nominated for directing one film and acting in another (his win for Syriana).

  • The Activist

Clooney was a low key celeb supporter in Obama’s presidential run; the cause he’s most known for is Darfur.  Along with Don Cheadle, his vocal support for the region has helped shine a spotlight on a part of Africa that I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t know about.  Their efforts have been recognized by both the United Nations and the Nobel Peace Prize committee.

  • The Brand

Intelligent without being overly preachy.  Stylish without being a complete fashion snob.  A serious artist with a rep for not taking himself too seriously.  A public figure willing to use his spotlight to draw attention to a cause he believes in.

I’ve followed in worse footsteps…