Day Seven

You’d think that, after working as an actor for 23 years with some pretty impressive people, I’d just stop feeling star struck, just take it in stride when I have a scene with someone who I really admire.
Of course, you’d be wrong.
Each time I have a scene with Isaac Hayes, I get this flutter in my belly, the same way I did when I had scenes with Patrick on TNG or Robin Williams in Flubber, or Ron Jeremy in Mr. Stitch. I catch myself between takes, mind wandering, thinking, “Oh man! This is so cool!”
We had a scene this morning, and this other actor, a brilliant man called John Reilly, is in the scene with us. John turns to Isaac, and says, “ I saw you on this awards show, and you were covered with FX smoke…what show was that?”
Isaac looks at him, and smiles, and replies, “You mean the Academy Awards?”
Maureen and I explode into laughter, and I say, “Oh, yeah. that awards show. Did anybody see it?”
John laughs too, and explains that Isaac is one of his idols, so he has seen most of his performances, and they’ve sort of blurred together across the years.
They talk about the performance, about how hard it was to see Isaac, and Isaac says, “Man, Billy spent the rest of the night talking about that!”
“Billy” is, of course, Billy Crystal.
When Isaac speaks of these hugely famous people he knows, he always refers to them by their first name, only, and he speaks of them the way you’d speak of Dan from Accounting, or Jenny the girl from upstairs. It’s very surreal.
The rest of the day is spent filming scenes with just me and Maureen. It’s long and at times it’s a bit arduous, but very satisfying.
There’s a scene which really needs some help from us, because in the rewrites, it’s drifted from its original meaning, and has gotten sort of muddled and a bit confused. So maureen and I spend a lot of time just improvising, staying true to our characters and keeping things simple, and we ultimately discover several very wonderful moments which add great depth and meaning to the story and our characters. We are very fortunate to have a director who trusts us, and to trust each other, so we can follow the little inspirations which occasionally pop up during a take, knowing that we’ll create something interesting and maybe even moving in the process.
I’m happy when the day is done. I feel very satisfied with what we’ve done, and proud of the work we’ve turned in.
We also got the word from the Big Tough Executive Producer Guy Man Dude, and the word was that he loves the work he is seeing, and that this is his favorite of all the productions he’s done for PAX.
Yesterday, I spoke of that seemingly endless waiting period when we don’t know if what we’ve done will translate to the screen, and today I had a thought: the wonderful sense of satisfaction I enjoyed today can’t ever be taken away from me, regardless of what happens with the final cut of the film. It is that feeling which compels me to create, whether it be as an actor, writer, or street-performing mime who is trapped in an ever-shrinking box.
That feeling is Mine(tm), and if the audience likes what we did, if everything comes together in just the right way and we end up with something memorable, well, that’s just a bonus.

59 thoughts on “Day Seven”

  1. Wil,
    You’re a lucky man. Lucky because you’re doing what you love and living a dream.
    When you start feeling cynical and pessimistic about acting, remember this feeling and revisit this post. This is why you’re an actor, and you’re good at it. Or tell you’re agent that you’re out of the business so that Murphy’s Law and fate can bring you an onslaught of offers. :D
    Now get over the fanboy thing, will you? You’ve already been there a week and besides, you’re a professional.

  2. About this “first name” stuff, Wil… SIR. As someone else said, what else ya gonna call him, eh?
    I had the ineffable experience of spending a morning with Patrick Stewart a couple of years ago. He was narrating a project I’d written. After spending weeks setting up the session with his agent (who called him “Mr. Stewart” all the time), it was natural for me to do the same.
    After the second time I called him “Mr. Stewart” he said, “Call me Patrick.” So I did. But that sure didn’t stop MY fangirl flutters at meeting and working with someone whose work I’ve admired for years. (and I’m nearly 50!)
    It was the second or third time my husband had worked with him, and they were just kind of like “Hi, how ya doin… ” but it was MY first time. So, now I get to call him Patrick right? Well, I guess… but in my mind I’m still saying “Mr. Stewart.” It’s a mark of respect, too…
    Anyway, I think your running commentary on the ins and outs of doing this movie is fascinating. Thanks for thinking of all of us and for the effort you’re putting in… and, hey — that sensation you talk about in terms of creativity and creating your sense of satisfaction — works for me as a writer, too. And, like you, I often have to wait weeks and months before I get the audience feedback… (from readers, whatever)
    Keep on keepin’ on Wil.

  3. Cool. The closest I’ve come to famous actors was at Trek conventions. I briefly met Majel Barrett Roddenberry one year at Creation Con. She’s a very classy lady. I also got a hug from the actor who played Morn on DS9 at a local sci-fi convention last year. So when are you going to come to Minneapolis to promote your book and see our great city? :)

  4. I saw a great interview with Edward Norton awhile back about The Score. He talked about a scene where it was him, Brando, and De Niro at a table in a bar.. he said during filming he suddenly thought something like, “Wow, this is it. I’m living my dream now.. I’m sitting between two of my idols… I’ve got Brando on one side of me, and De Niro on the other.” Then he noticed that Brando was pouring water into his lap (was missing the glass and didn’t seem to notice), and De Niro was dozing off (it was toward the end of a long day). He said De Niro looked up and asked “Was I just sleeping?” or something too.
    Of course, him telling it was really funny, and he mentioned it was one of those things that just made him remember that even those stars that seem so amazing/different/whatever, are really just regular people like you and me.
    Anyway, I thought it was funny, and your post today reminded me of it.

  5. Wil,
    I am so glad that you are having a great time doing this movie. You deserve all the good luck, fame and fortune that comes your way.
    I like you Wil, your not like other people here on the internet, and where is that damn burrow owl anyway?
    Best to you and your family……
    Matt……

  6. “When Isaac speaks of these hugely famous people he knows, he always refers to them by their first name, only, and he speaks of them the way you

  7. that flutter in your belly is a good thing…when i was in plays and musicals in high school i felt it too…every night…every performance…and i wasn’t even in a scene with isaac hayes!…it always kept me from just going through the motions, reciting my lines competantly like alot of high school actors do…i bet it gives your performance an edge too!…keep on having fun!

  8. Happy Halloween everyone! have a groovy halloween! lol
    R.I.P. River Jude Phoenix~ 9 years
    we love you and miss you so much!!!
    your an angel now i love you

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