the 2009 year in review, part five

Yeah, so it turns out I did a lot of cool stuff in 2009, and now this is up to five freakin' parts. Hey, at least they're small enough to read on a coffee break, right? This is continued from part four.

2009 was the best year I've had as an actor this entire decade. In addition to working on Leverage, I played Fawkes on Season Three of The Guild. I wore a kilt and battled ferocious flying beetles with my bare hands. Bravely. I also played an evil version of myself on The Big Bang Theory. I spent an incredible week on their set, where I leveled up as a comedy actor:

I remember being in drama school in my early twenties, and having at least a decade more experience than everyone else in the room except our teacher. I remember paying close attention all the time, even when I wasn't working on a scene in front of the class, or getting notes directly from her. I remember her telling the other kids in the school, many of whom were convinced that they were going to be The Next Big Thing (all of them except Salma Hyek were wrong) that they didn't learn anything about performing while they were actually doing it. They learned while watching other actors perform, and understanding why their choices worked or didn't work. 

I haven't done a show like this in years, and I want to make sure that I am completely back in shape, I guess you could say, by the time we perform the episode next week. To make sure I get there, I spent the entire day, even when I wasn't in the scene, watching and listening, and remembering skills that I once used every day, but haven't even thought about in a very long time. By the time we got to my last scene of the day (God, I wish I could describe it, because it's hilarious) I felt confident, I felt funny, and I felt weird but also good.

Wait. Not the last part. I'm saving that for the weekend, when I finally get to celebrate being on The Big Bang Theory.

I experienced The Big Bang Buzz

After lunch, the writers and producers came in so they could see us put the script up on its feet, and give us some comments and notes after each scene. I will admit that I was nervous; it was very important to me that I didn't kill any jokes or make them question their decision to cast me. I mean, I love this show, I love this script, I love the things they've given me to do, and I didn't want to screw anything up…

…so of course I stumbled over my first line, and had to say it a second time. But when everyone laughed anyway, (hopefully at my delivery and not at my nerves) I settled in, got out of my own way, did it how we rehearsed, and just enjoyed the experience of working with great actors to bring great material to life. When we finished, there was laughter and applause, and the general consensus was that we were all pretty funny, even Wil Wheaton.

I'm so happy and excited and grateful to be part of this show. After we finished the run through, and I was pretty much bouncing with joy the whole way home.

Even now, over five hours after I walked out of the stage, I can still feel what I'm calling The Big Bang Buzz.

I just realized that I never wrote all about my experience on the set in greater detail than this. I need to correct that in the coming weeks:

When he first talked to me about working on the show, Bill Prady told me that I'd be playing a "delightfully evil version" of myself. This sounded like a lot of fun to me, but it was more difficult to find that character than you'd think. When I'm playing Fawkes on The Guild it's easy to slip into his kilt and be a jerk, but wearing my own clothes and essentially playing a stylized version of myself made it a real challenge to hit "delightfully evil" without veering into "not committed to being delightfully evil" or "just plain evil." Keeping that twinkle in my eye, and knowing that Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Version) is planning to scam Sheldon from the moment he sits down, was essential to this particular characterization working out, and I didn't completely find it until we'd run the episode a couple of times.

During one of the run throughs, when Jim did his Klingon bit, I turned to Kevin and asked him, "Did he just say 'revenge is a dish best served cold' in Klingon?" like I was trying to figure out if that's actually what happened, like maybe I misunderstood him. Chuck Lorre told me that it would be funnier if I was more exasperated. "You're just here to play this game, and now some guy is quoting Klingon at you. This happens everywhere you go," he said. 

I sighed dramatically, and said, "Oh, it does." Everyone laughed, hard, and Chuck pointed his finger at me. "Yes. That is exactly the way to play that beat."

When Chuck gave me that note, I grokked how to play Evil Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Theory version), and I could see the comedy in every beat I played for the rest of the show. I totally grew a level in comedy acting, and learned something about letting go of who Ireally am, so I could embrace the Delightfully Evil version of myself (who I seriously hope will return in the future, because OMG was it fun to play him.)

I finally released Memories of the Future, Volume One, and there was much rejoicing.

I joined Paul and Storm, and Adam Savage for w00tstock. It was an experiment, to see if anyone wanted to come watch us do a show together … yeah, it was so frakking awesome and successful, we're doing more shows in 2010.

Everything I could possibly say about w00tstock has already been said by Paul and Storm, who made a lovely list, and Molly, who made a comic that captures exactly how I felt the whole time we did our shows.

I loved feeling the terror and exhilaration of trying something totally new (The Trade, with music) that was raw and unrehearsed enough to allow for surprises every night.

I loved how totally geeked out we all were to be working with each other, too. I mean, I knew it would be cool to meet Adam Savage – the guy's a freakin' genius, after all – but I was unprepared for how completely and utterly cool, kind, and enthusiastic he was. And his100 wishes are wonderful, especially that he, like I, wishes for his children to have careers that they love.

I loved feeling like we were creating something unique and special, that people would be talking about long after it was finished.

I loved how much fun we had every night, even though I was exhausted down to my bones by the time we finished our last show Wednesday night (actually, Thursday morning).

I loved how wonderful the audiences were at all the shows. Geeks truly are the best crowd, because even when they heckle us (I'm looking at you, Los Angeles front row) it was done with enthusiasm and love. Yes, even the hecklers were, in their own way, supportive.

I loved that we released the entire show under a Creative Commons license, so anyone who wanted to could record and share the show online. There are tons of videos at YouTube andpictures at Flickr, as a result. 

I made a soup geyser:

"You're putting way too much soup in there," Anne said.

"I'm fine," I said, eager to get the pureeing over with so we could get down to the eating part of our dinner. "I'll just hold the lid down when I turn it on."

I pressed the lid down tightly and held it down with my left hand. With my right, I pressed the button marked "puree."

I probably would have taken a moment to stare at the resulting butternut squash soup geyser, if the explosion of hot liquid hadn't burned the hell out of my hand, face, chest, and arm. I probably would have admired the CSI-like splatters of orange puree on the wall, the coffee maker, the microwave, and the refrigerator, if I hadn't been frantically stabbing at the buttons in an effort to silence the whirring blades which created it. But it wasn't until the moment had passed – really just a few seconds of chaos – that I was able to pause and appreciate what had just happened. I mean, it's not every day that a geyser erupts in my kitchen. Thank Steve the Fruitbat.

I turned around and looked at my wife, who appeared to have chosen a seat outside of the splash zone. "Um. I didn't think that would happen."


I grabbed a hand towel and wiped myself off. "Yeah. I, um. I thought it would blend."

"Oh it blended. It blended everywhere."

I'm not going to lie to you, Marge: that's one of my favorite things I've ever written.

To be continued in part six (Sheesh. Maybe I should have set the bar for inclusion a little higher, you think?)

13 thoughts on “the 2009 year in review, part five”

  1. In addition to the Big Bang Theory total writeup, I would love to see a more in-depth writeup on your Guild experience. I loved the Fawkes/Codex arc and it would be great to hear more about how you worked with Felicia and the rest of the cast.
    I don’t think I’m the only one here… anyone with me?

  2. Small enough to read on a coffee break? That’s crazy talk. I spent all morning yesterday reading all 5 D&D posts (and comments!), which apparently I missed the first time around. I’ve only kinda, sorta played once in my life when I was a kid with someone who admittedly had no idea what they were doing, but after reading those posts I’m thinking I might like to find some folks who know how to play and give it a try. And who doesn’t have time for that? Damn you, Wheaton!

  3. hi wil,
    just finished reading your 2009 review, and i find it sort of reassuring that other people also get this brief “what i wanted to do/finish/manage this year”-blues on december 31st. i’ve just gotten over it for this year and will now turn to the pleasant part of the evening, which includes dinner, wine, and good friends (yeah, over here it is already that late).
    so: a happy new year to you and your family and THANK YOU for the good work and for sharing your stories with the world. i really mean it, and i hope that 2010 will be even better for you than 2009. i’m currently waiting for my copy of “memories of the future” which should arrive any day now (lulu says it shipped before christmas), and it’ll make for a fantastic start of the new year. i’m really looking forward to it.
    (p.s.: oh, and thanks for sharing the one with the soup geyser! i remember a similar incident which included some red wine mousse thing i wanted to prepare for a couple of guests and that ended up with us re-painting the kitchen for two days 😉 i’ve been trying to avoid dishes that have the potential of transforming our kitchen into a desaster zone ever since. so, the dessert for today is WHITE mousse au chocolat – at least, that would match with the kitchen walls in a worst case scenario…

  4. I’m going to have champagne, and celebrate with my whole entire family. And My moms new years revolution is going to be, quit smoking, mine is to be better at skate boarding, well I know how to skate board, but I’m going to be better at tricks, [=. I don’t know anyone elses yet. Do you have a new years revolution, Wil?

  5. Thanks to the gods and the UK’s Channel E4 On Demand, just saw Evil Wil Wheaton (Big Bang Version) for the first time. What a great script, a killer injoke ending, and what an unmissable performance from Wil!

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