Category Archives: blog

On The Road

Over at boingboing there is a link about Coppola filming an adaptation of “On The Road.”
This project has been around for almost ten years. The first time around, sometime in 1992 or so, I auditioned to play Neil Cassidy. I read a scene straight out of Dharma Bums.
I was already familiar with most of the Beat Generation, and was a huge fan of Burroughs, but I’d never read Kerouac.
I furiously read “On the Road,” and skimmed through “Dharma Bums.” I wanted to have a good sense of his style, so I could bring his character to life faithfully.
I was already a jazz geek, but I took the opportunity to fill several gaps in my collection, so I could listen to Charlie Parker and Chet Baker while I learned my scenes.
I worked with a coach to develop body language, and dialect. I bought clothes from a thrift shop and went through lots of different hairstyles until I got the correct look.
A little over a week later the audition came. I drove myself to this old church on Highland where they have auditions from time to time, listening to Bird the whole way. I walked into a large empty courtyard, filled with fountains, birds, and a beautiful garden. Only the sign-in sheet betrayed the presence of Hollywood. I sat down, focused and ready to go get this job.
While I was waiting, Emilio Estevez arrived.
Wow, I thought, I’m at the same audition as Emilio Estevez, and I’m about to meet the man who is responsible for The Godfather and Apocalypse Now!
I totally forgot why I was there, and became a drooling fan boy.
Emilio Estevez said hi to me, one professional to another, and I said, “Hey.”
There was a pause, and I heard myself say, “I want to tell you how much I like your work. Repo Man is one of my favorite movies of all time, and Breakfast Club is a classic.”
He went one better:”Wil, Stand By Me is a classic, and I love your work too. It’s really nice to meet you.”
I hadn’t told him my name, yet.
The casting assistant came out, and looked at the two of us. Emilio was on the “A” list. I was on my way to the “C” list, having been off TNG for a few years. She said, “Emilio, would you like to come in now?”
He looked at her, and said, “Wil was here before me. It’s his turn.”
She told him that it wasn’t a problem. They were ready for him.
“Well, if you’re ready for me, you’re ready for Wil, and he was here first.” He crossed his legs, and looked at his script.
I was stunned. He didn’t need to stand up for me, and it really didn’t matter to me who went first, but I thanked him and went in.
The room was large and very dark. Like the rest of the church, it was mission-style, with high, open-beamed ceilings and terra cotta tiles on the floor. Coppola was sitting behind his massive beard, a flimsy card table between us.
I approached him, and extended my hand. He didn’t take it, so I sat down.
“You don’t mind if I film you, do you?” he asked rhetorically, showing a palm-sized video camera he was holding.
“No, of course not.”
He asked me to slate my name, and begin the scene.
I did, and proceeded to give the worst audition of my life.
I’d forgotten why I was there, and was a drooling fan boy. I didn’t want to read this scene, I just wanted to talk about Apocalypse Now, and Rumblefish. I wanted to ask him about Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, and James Caan.
All these thoughts flooded my head while I stumbled through the scene. My Inner Voice, that internal critic/director/coach that all actor’s have, was screaming at me that I was doing horribly. I didn’t listen, instead hearing Robert Duvall shout, “Charlie don’t surf!” It screamed louder, telling me to stop and start over, but I was too busy watching John Cazale get on that boat, knowing that he was going to get whacked.
Then I was done, and Coppola was thanking me for coming in. We both knew that I’d blown it. We both knew that I’d wasted everyone’s time. I walked out, head hung low.
I passed Emilio Estevez, who asked me how it went. I shrugged, and told him to break a leg.
I drove home in silence, Chet Baker wondering how deep is the ocean?

Auditions 2: Electric Boogaloo

I called my manager this afternoon, to see if there was any news from my auditions.
“Hi, it’s Wil Wheaton for Chris,” I told the receptionist.
Chris immediately picked up the phone. “This is so weird. I just told Hank to put you on my list to call.”
Hearing this didn’t surprise me. Things like this happen all the time. If I could translate this amazing psychic ability that I have for phone calls into slot machines or dice, I could have myself a Rainman Suite.
I asked him if he’d heard anything about I, Robot
“Yes!” He told me, his normally calm and reassuring voice filled with excitement. “The casting director called me twice today, because he was so excited to give me feedback about you!”
My heart began to pound, and I felt my face flush.
“What did he say?”
“He said, ‘Wil was really, really, really, fucking incredible!’ He was very happy with what you did, and told me that he was very impressed.”
I let out a girlish squeal. “Really?!”
“Yes. He said that you were phenomenal, and he sent your tape this morning.”
Chris told me that we haven’t heard anything about the other audition, but I didn’t care. Getting feedback this quickly, and this positive, hardly ever happens. The director will look at the tapes of all the actors who read yesterday, and he will read notes that the casting director has prepared to go with each performance. If this casting director was so excited to tell my manager how happy he was, that he called twice, I am confident that he presented me to the director with similar confidence and praise.
A year ago, I wouldn’t have even had this audition, let alone a real chance at making it into the movie.

Auditions

I just walked in from my I, Robot audition. I think I did well, and I really had a good time. The scene I read felt very familiar to me. I think the writer took it from one of Asimov’s robot books, but I couldn’t tell you which one. The scene had a robot being questioned by a detective, who accused the robot of placing his owner in danger, then allowing his owner to die. Sound familiar to anyone?
I prepared the audition perfectly: I knew my lines, so I didn’t need to refer to the sides (that’s what they call the part of the script they give us to read) at all, and I was able to make some bold character choices. I didn’t feel nervous, anxious, or uncertain at all when I went in. I felt excited! I couldn’t wait to play this robot.
After one reading, the casting director, who also knew his lines and had clear character choices — an extreme rarity in Hollywood — gave me some direction, and we did it again. The difference I felt between the two performances was striking, and gave me a jolt of excited euphoria when I left. I had that feeling I talked about back when I was working on Boise, that thing I call “Mine.” Whether I get the job or not, I got to have that feeling, so it was a successful call in my book.
It’s funny, the way the entertainment industry works. I haven’t had an audition in forever, and I’ve had two in two days. I, Robot today, and a call for a pilot called “All About The Andersons” yesterday. The best part of yesterday’s audition was this sign I saw on my way out. I passed by the production office for some new show called “Real Celebrity Look-Alikes Caught On Tape!”
WTF? I laughed out loud when I passed it.
Hollywood is out of ideas, indeed.
Though both of these jobs would bring in good pay checks and help raise my profile a little bit (well, a lot if I book the movie), I didn’t feel the tense, pinched, “oh my god I must get this job or I am a total failure” feeling that so overwhelmed me last year. I think this is because I stoppd defining myself by my acting success or failure, and turned my creative focus onto writing, and my emotional focus onto my wife and stepkids. Seems really obvious, I know, but I had to spend a lot of time trying to climb the mountain before I learned to sit at its base and just enjoy looking at it.
Updates have been sparse recently and haven’t said much. When I finish the rewrites on my book, I should have more good stories to tell. Thanks for sticking around.
I’ll update when I hear feedback on the auditions.
Thought for today:

“One sees great things from the valley, only small things from the peak.”
–G. K. Chesterson

More Thoughts From The Wife

Hey! Check it out! The wife is actually using the computer! I’m pretty proud of myself. I even did a little on-line Christmas shopping. Guess who has on her big girl pants now!
I wanted to say a little something regarding our shitty (can I say that on here?) New Year’s Eve. See, I hadn’t heard any horror stories about the dog. Just that he was nervous around people. And that the dog didn’t like Darin (which is so odd, since Darin is the nicest, most non-threatening guy I know). Me being the animal lover, I just didn’t see that this dog was vicious. Just scared. I took my time hanging around the dog, and he eventually was rolling and rubbing his face on me. He seemed very happy. All the commotion in the house just scared him and I was the first thing he saw.
The first two days, I felt a little nervous when Ferris would lay on her back and roll over toward me, showing her big happy face and a mouth full of teeth. But this doesn’t change how I feel about animals. I even took my son to a shelter on Saturday and we hung out with the pooches. Stitches and all. And yes, all my other stitches (50 total in the face now….8 from jumping off my brother’s bed and hitting the mattress frame between my eyebrows) were from the dog we had when I was little.So the scared feeling I had when I was a kid definitely came back. I can’t imagine how Wil must have felt when I looked over at him with a mouthful of blood. He kept himself together though.
After my swelling went down a bit (I must say, I was kind of enjoying my Kim Basinger-like full pouting lips) I read the comments that were posted after Wil wrote about this. I am so touched by all of the ‘mojo’ and kind words everyone has sent. I was amazed to read all of the stories of dog bite incidences, as well as several stories of shitty (did we find out if I can say that yet?) New Year’s had by others. At least it was the end of a year, so we can all have a fresh new start!
The bite was a nice straight slice so I think it will heal fine with little scarring. My stitches are a lovely shade of blue which I’ve kind of gotten used to now. I won’t miss them when they’re gone though. And hopefully this will be the last time a dog uses my face for a chomping pad.Wil was right, it could have been so much worse.
Thank you so much for your concern. You are all awesome! No wonder Wil likes doing this website.
Take care and have a healthy, happy, injury-free year!
Anne (the wife)

Schoolyard Derision

From an e-mail:


Hi! I was browsing your site, and saw that you mentioned a Kent Purser. Now, keep in mind that I am a nerd, and the fact I had a chemistry teacher who may or may not have known a cast member of Star Trek: TNG excited me. So I planned on asking him about it, the only problem is I had graduated from high school already and wasn’t in the area. None of my lazy friends who were still in high school would ask him if he was indeed the Kent Purser who knew Wil Wheaton, so I had to wait until I went back to visit last week. He was indeed the Kent mentioned in your Star Wars toy story (Do you still get those? I got the coolest Jabba’s Palace one a while ago.) So yeah, Kent is now a chemistry high school teacher. He watched some Star Trek: TNG (Bet you wanted to know that), and claims he used to beat you up in school. I’m not sure if I believe him on the beating up part though. If you want, I’ll send you a picture of him (He looks somewhat goatish. A goatee will do that.) Adieu

Response:
Ha! Kent never beat me up. As a matter of fact, the only bully who ever beat me up was Joey Carnes, and that was just two hits: his fist hitting my nose, and my body hitting the ground.
Kent was one of The Cool Kids who I so desperately wanted to be friends with. Since he was a Cool Kid and I was a Total Geek that just wasn’t going to happen. He picked on me a lot, but that really doesn’t put him in any great club — everyone picked on me in grade school, because I was a Total Geek.
However, he did humiliate me pretty hardcore one time. In 5th grade, I was sitting off to the side of the playground, looking over a Monster Manual, or Player’s Handbook or something, when Kent and some of the other Cool Kids — Jimmy Galvin, Scott Anderson, Brandon Springs — walked by, heatedly discussing Schoolhouse Rock. Kent shouted over his shoulder to me, “Hey Wil, do you watch Schoolhouse Rock?”
I loved Schoolhouse Rock, and got up early on Saturdays to watch it at 6:00 a.m. before Superfriends. I knew the entire preamble to the Constitution, understood the complexities of Manifest Destiny, and was a math whiz, because of my devotion to SHR. I would often sing “Verb! That’s what’s happenin’!” in my head while waiting for my parents to pick me up from school. But we were in 5th grade, and I hadn’t heard enough of their conversation to know if I was supposed to answer in the affirmative, or not. So I flipped a mental coin, and sneered. “No way,” I laughed, summoning all the contempt and scorn I could muster. I did my best to sound like our principal, Mr Schultz, during one of his long lectures about the dangers of rock music. “Schoolhouse Rock is stupid. It’s totally for babies.”
I sat back, anxiously awaiting their agreement and approval. Maybe they’d welcome me into their circle for a few days, and they wouldn’t throw at my head when we played dodgeball in PE.
Kent made a braying sound, and topped my carefully measured derision. “For babies?! Schoolhouse Rock is cool, Wil. I watch it every chance I get.”
Kent and The Cool Kids all laughed, and walked away. My face began to sting, anticipating PE.

Happy New Year

As we approached the automatic doors, I drew a tense breath. I feared what they would reveal when they opened. I’ve spent many nights in Emergency Rooms, and it’s never a pleasant experience.
I held my arm around Anne’s shoulders, and we walked into an empty room. A television hung from one wall, and Dick Clark counted down the remaining hours of 2002 for several empty chairs and a threadbare couch — the only occupants of the very small waiting room.
Anne pressed a towel to her mouth, hoping to slow the flow of blood. The shock was wearing off, and she was beginning to feel the pain.
I walked to the check-in window and thought, this is a fucked up way to spend New Year’s Eve.
Since the kids were with their dad, this New Year’s had presented Anne and me with several options. We could have attended numerous parties, eaten dinner in several restaurants, stayed home alone, or even walked to Colorado Blvd. and staked out a spot to watch the Rose Parade.
Two of our friends had recently bought a new house, and they were having a quiet gathering there. Most of our friends would be in attendance, so that’s where we went. Quiet and low-key would be the perfect way to end the year.
The evening had been pretty fun. A trip to the ER was the farthest thing from my mind as I played Munchkin with some of my friends, and Anne sat on the floor, trying to convince our friend’s new dog that he and Anne should be friends.
The dog, however, is the anti-Ferris: he’s really aggressive, and not good with people at all. He was recently rescued, and is still getting socialized around strangers. During the evening, he’d snapped at pretty much everyone there, and kept growling and barking at my friend Darin. Anne has the animal empathy of an 18th-level Druid Ranger, though, and she was determined to bring out the love in this animal.
She was doing a great job, too. She sat on the floor with him for close to two hours, calmly talking to him while his master held his leash, and the dog eventually relaxed. Everyone at the party was amazed, except for me. My wife is the very definition of boundless love, especially for animals. As soon as we were warned about the dog, I knew that Anne would have it eating out of her hand by the end of the evening.
While Anne continued to pet the dog, my friends and I prepared to follow up Munchkin with a rousing game of Naval War. We were laughing and fooling around, and then, like a bad made-for-cable movie, everything went horribly wrong.
I was holding the instructions in my hand, looking for the number of cards to be dealt, as my friend Cal shuffled them. KROQ was counting down the top 106.7 songs of 2002, and our friends Pat and Shane had just arrived. I heard the dog begin to growl at Darin, and thought nothing of it — he’d been growling at Darin all night long.
Then the dog barked, and I heard Anne’s voice cry out, shrill above the din of the party, “Wil!”
I turned, and saw something no husband would ever want to see (unless he was OJ Simpson): my wife was holding her mouth, as blood poured over her hand.
Anne went into shock, more from the emotional trauma than the wound, I thought. Before last night, Anne had taken 44 stitches in her face, and eight of them were not from a dog. When that dog bit her lip, Anne was five years old again, helpless and terrified.
We packed ice into a towel, pressed it against her mouth, and drove her to the hospital. Since it was empty, we got through triage and into a bed very quickly. While Anne was being prepared for closure, I walked out to the waiting room, to tell our friend Joe what her status was. He owns the dog, and he and his wife felt terrible about what had happened. We told him that he should go home to be with his wife at midnight, but he insisted that he stay with us until Anne was cared for.
As I walked to the waiting room, I passed an old man who was on a ventilator. A woman, possibly his daughter, sat at his feet, and leaned over the bed, clutching his legs. Sobs rocked her body. My heart went out to them, as I thought, “it’s just a dog bite. It could be so much worse.”I told Joe that we’d be leaving soon, and walked back to be with my wife. The doctor put six stitches into her lip, and we were out of the ER by 11:45 PM. We walked back into Joe’s house with 2 minutes remaining on the year. Anne drank a champagne toast, and we hugged our friends goodbye.
Joe and his wife walked us to the car, apologizing the entire way. We weren’t upset with them, and still aren’t. It wasn’t their fault. It was just a terrible accident. I thought back to that man on the ventilator, and told them that it could have been much, much worse.
We drove carefully back to our house. Each car on the freeway was a potential drunk driver, especially the one who was weaving across three lanes on the 210. I pointed to the car, a white Toyota, and told Anne that things like that made me wish I’d outfitted my car at Uncle Albert’s. She didn’t get it.
We were in bed by 12:30. Anne watched “Sex And The City” and I read “Watchmen.” We were asleep by 1. Yeah, this was not the way I planned on spending New Year’s Eve.
Anne woke me up in the middle of the night, crying. Her Advil had worn off, and she told me that the pain in her face reminded her of when she was a little kid. I wished that I could take her pain away from her, but I did the best that I could: I held her in my arms, and let her tears fall against my cheek and roll onto my pillow.
We fell back asleep, and slept until two Stealth Fighters flew over our house at 8 a.m. to start the Rose Parade.

Tastes like burning

On December 7th, my wife and I, with the help of some friends, put down about 3000 square feet of sod in our front yard. It was tough work, but worth every strained muscle and aching back: the yard looks beautiful.
In addition to representing lots of hard work, the lawn also represents a significant financial investment, so I am sort of manic about keeping it looking its best.
Because of this mania, I am ready to fucking kill the goddamn skunks who keep tearing up the edges of the grass each night.
However, I am a peace loving man, and I’ve chosen to refrain from planting AP mines at the corners of the yard. Instead, I bought a big old jug of red pepper flakes at Smart and Final (for 5 dollars, thank you very much), and spread them all over the perimeter of the lawn last night.
Here’s the thing about red pepper flakes: even when you wash and dry your hands really well after you’re done? The oil that makes them spicy is still on your hands. So when you absentmindedly scratch your chin, or rub your eye, or go to the bathroom, every single thing you touch will immediately burst into flames.
Every. Single. Thing.
Burns.
Oh, how it burns.
So when I got into bed last night, I felt like I’d spent a week in Bangkok.
But when I got up this morning, the burning had subsided, and my front yard was unmolested by the little stinky bastards.
Skunks- 5
Wil- 1

Christmas 2002

The scent of balsam fir and spiced cider permeates every corner of our house.
Wrapping paper and ribbons, tags and tape litter the living room floor. Our cats chase bits of ribbon and bows, tearing around the floor like they are kittens again.
Ferris snores heavily by the fire.
We turn out all the lights, and stand together in front of the fireplace.
Candle and firelight play across our faces. The only other light in the house comes from the village atop the piano and the lights on our tree. We share a Christmas kiss, before settling our brains for a long Winter’s nap.
Merry Christmas, everyone. May peace prevail on Earth.

Cough revisited

An 8×10 sale update!
The photo lab finished printing my order this morning, so all the 8x10s have been mailed out, except for about 6, for people who haven’t told me what to sign on their pictures.
So if you’ve ordered, but you haven’t sent me your request, get on it, man! :)
Anything going out after today clearly won’t arrive in time for Christmas, but if you’ve been waiting to order, and it’s not a gift, go ahead and do it. I have about 50 of each photo left after filling orders, and if those sell out, I’ll order more in the new year.
I’ve gotten sick, it would seem, despite my best efforts to hold off the cold which is ravaging my family right now.
Since I’m feeling like crap, I’m putting off the last-minute shopping until REALLY the last minute, and I’m spending my time the last couple of days heavily editing my book.
I gotta tell you, I’m really excited, and getting nervous. Excited, because my editor, Andrew, has given me notes that fall into two categories: “Duh. I am so lame for missing that.” and “Holy crap! This is such a great idea! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that on my own!” His notes have made the book much more readable, and clearer than it would have ever been if I’d done it all on my own.
Nervous, because as it gets closer and closer to being released to Real Life Readers, I worry that it just isn’t good enough. This is normal, though, for me. It happens with everything creative that I do. I guess it’s just my nature.
Back to work!
:)

STORM WATCH!

This massive Pacific Winter storm is bearing down on Southern California, threatening to turn our burn areas into giant rivers of mud and rocks. The wind is currently gusting outside my bedroom, pelting my window with rain.
All of this means that we here in Los Angeles are on STORM WATCH!
That’s right, baby! STORM WATCH! Wall to wall coverage of brave citizens filling and stacking sandbags in their backyards, rugged individuals stubbornly refusing to leave their trailers under the threat of up to three inches of deadly rain!
As I write this, Anne is watching the CBS news, and Laura Diaz is urging everyone to stay warm, and for the love of god, if you travel over the Grapevine, take blankets and extra food and water!
Now, for my STORM WATCH! coverage, I much prefer the undisputed master of local news hyperbole, the inimitable Paul Moyer, who can turn the very threat of rain, still a week away, into the greatest drama since OJ’s slow speed chase. But Anne will not be moved. The Channel 2 News Team, with the watchful eye of Chopper 2, will be taking us along on STORM WATCH! tonight.
This is the first night in weeks that I’ve been sitting in bed watching TV at 11. Until tonight, I’ve been sitting in front of the fireplace every night reading this amazing book, “The Best American Non-Required Reading of 2002.” I give this book the strongest WWDN endorsement possible: the coveted and never-before-awarded GOLDEN MONKEY! The writers in this book are so amazing, and their stories so compelling, with the turning of each page I learned how far I have to go before I can call myself a writer.
Whenever I finish a book, I feel a sense of achievement, and I begin to look forward to the next one in my ever-growing stack. However, I also feel a certain sadness as I bid characters or an author farewell.
Thank god I have STORM WATCH! to ease the pain.
And Anne just rolled over and turned off her light. As soon as she dons the eye mask and ear plugs, I can grab the clicker and switch to NBC.
. . . *click*
D’OH! Paul Moyer is running down the Golden Globe nominations.
I’ll keep watching, though, because when we’re on STORM WATCH! the news can break at any time.