Category Archives: movies

Hall and Oates had more number one hits than any other band in the 80s.

I stayed up way too late last night, and got up way too early this morning.
After getting the kids to school, I decided to go back to bed, and just sleep until I wasn’t tired any more.
That was two hours ago. I haven’t closed my eyes once, because I’ve been watching Free Enterprise.
Man, I know these guys. I am these guys. Every single one of them.
And William Shatner is my Hero.

The Book of Days

In October of last year, I worked on a movie which was code-named Boise. This movie carries a very important distinction in my career history: it’s the first lead I’ve had in ages, and it’s the first movie I’ve done since deciding to focus more on writing and my family than acting and the hollow pursuit of fame. It was very strange, but not unwelcome, when I dug my actor pants out from under the bed and put them back on. Initially, they weren’t very comfortable, but they did feel familiar, and when I got used to them again, I decided that I’d never be able to fully take them off — I feel incredibly naked without them.
Wow. That was an extended metaphor from hell.
Anyway, I was really happy with the work I did. My satisfaction on the set, was matched by the joy and satisfaction I took in writing about my experiences on the set each day. Everyone who reads this lame website has been so supportive, and ridden the violent ups and downs with me for so long . . . I felt like something good had finally happened, and I really enjoyed sharing those experiences with you. (If you want to relive it, follow that link, and click the >> to get to the next day’s entry.)
Tomorrow night, the movie will air on the PAX network, and we get to see if the work I did on the set translates to the screen.
Before one of my projects is released, I’m always apprehensive — I feel unsure about how the music is going to play, how the director cut the scenes together, things like that. I also feel apprehensive about my performance. Will the audience see what I intended? Will I get caught “acting?” I don’t feel all that apprehensive about this project, which is surprising and rewarding. I feel very confident in the work I did on the day. I’m sure I’ll find things in my performance that I don’t like, and I bet many of the things I find will be found only by me. Some people say that I’m ripping myself off when I do that, but if I don’t look for those flaws, I never improve.
My gut feeling on this film is that it’s going to be pretty good. It’s not going to be spectacular –there’s some badly written courtroom drama in the middle, where I think it really slows down — but I think audiences will enjoy it.
They’re calling it The Book of Days. Check your local listings for details.

That’s a Wrap!

First of all, I got it. I screwed up my courage, and told Isaac that Anne and I were introduced to our wedding reception to the Theme From Shaft, and asked him if he’d mind signing my CD.
“Are you kidding me?! I’d love to!”
I had to hold in a girlish squeal of delight, but somehow I managed.
We walked to my dressing room, and on the way, he told me how much he loved Star Trek, and how excited he was to be working with me.
I really couldn’t believe it. I mean, people tell me that they love Star Trek all the time, and these days they usually aren’t following up that admission with, “but I really hated you, jack ass. Now get off my lawn, and take your umbrella with you.” But still…hearing from someone who I really admire that he admires me back…well, it was great.
Now I know that I’ve really beaten this horse to death, buried it, dug it up and beaten it again, so I’ll stop.
Today was the last day on the movie, and I approached it the way I always do when a project is over: with a mixture of relief and sadness. Relief because I know that I’ll be returning to a normal life again. Relief because I know that the movie is completly out of my hands, now, and I can let go of the character.
Sadness, because I’ve formed very great friendships with my fellow cast members, and with the crew, and we’ve all created this little world which we’ve lived in for the duration of the production. We all know that we’ll be leaving this world, and it’s a one-way road out.
I had a wonderful time on this picture. The hours were long, the work was demanding as hell, and it feels like it was over as quickly as it started. But the crew was wonderful. They were the hardest-working bunch of dedicated artisans I’ve worked with in years, and I will forever cherish this experience.
The cast was amazing. They assembled a fantastic group of performers, who all worked their asses off to bring this script to life. Their character choices were clear, and their commitment to bringing them to life never wavered.
As the days go on and on, it’s easy to get tired, and fall into a “let’s just get the shot” trap, and compromise on performances. I hate it when that happens, but it does, from time to time.
I’m happy to report that I never felt that way on this picture. We had this amazingly dedicated cast and crew, and we were all lead by a wonderful director.
I am incredibly excited to see this finished product, and I haven’t felt that way in years.
Lots of people have asked about my back. I spent the whole morning Monday flat on same, watching
Dogtown and Z-Boys
on my iBook at the set (holy shit–what a great movie!) and I think it really helped. Lots of water to keep my muscles hydrated, focus on correct posture, lots of stretching, and Tiger Balm made the difference. I’m back to about 90% tonight.
Finally, today is my 3rd wedding anniversary (w00T!). Thank you to everyone who wished us well today. Tommorrow, I will be leaving for a weekend with my kick-ass wife, so there won’t be any updates until Monday.
Have a great weekend, everyone.

People are strange

I cried today.
A lot.
The interesting thing for me was that it was very, very easy to call forth the emotions necessary to bring this scene to life…but it was equally hard to let them go, again.
When we finished this scene, I wanted to go into my dressing room, and just sob until I got it all out of me…but there wasn’t time, and I have this little knot in my chest, just below where my sternum ends.
In a very bizarre twist of “six degrees of Anne Wheaton,” a real-life doctor, who treated her for some stomach trouble earlier this year, was playing a doctor in the movie today.
Also strange.
Tomorrow is my last day with Isaac Hayes. I’m debating whether or not I should take my “Shaft” soundtrack and my 18″ Chef plush toy and get an autograph.
Not sure if I will though…it could end up being strange.

Dramatic Lighting

The crew settles. WIL and MAUREEN take their marks. A BELL RINGS and the crew falls silent. The CAMERAMAN, a serious, artistic Spaniard in his 30s speaks.

Hold the roll, please.
(to the gaffer)
Would you please close the doors a bit on the key light?
I want to light this more dramatically.

The GAFFER begins to work. Wil gets a mischievous glint in his eye, and dramatically takes his mark, stomping his foot on the ground and presenting his hands, upturned in front of him.

Dramatically? Perhaps I could act it more dramatically!

The crew LAUGHS.

Oh, let me just do it with the light, please.

WIL and MAUREEN collapse into giggles.

Okay, everyone, very quiet please, here we go…

Day Eight

It happens sooner or later on every shoot.
The long hours, the pressure from production to finish the day and stay on time and on budget…people start to lose their patience, and they get cranky.
It happened today. We’re tired, and, we’re all trying to make a “bigger” movie than the budget will allow, so I think everyone is feeling the pressure, and cracks are beginning to show.
Fortunately, everyone seems to understand that we’re all cranky, and why we’re cranky, and we haven’t turned on each other, yet. It’s the time when “please” and “thank you” go a very long way to keep us all sane, and everyone seems to be aware of that.
It really says a lot about the cool people on this crew and in this cast, that even though we’re wiped out, and the production has set some very tough expectations for us (13 pages today!)we’re all still playing on the same team.
So even though we’re all in danger of reaching Donner Party status, the work hasn’t suffered, and everyone remains supportive of each other, which is cool. We’ve even managed to work some cannibal humor into the day to lighten the mood.
I like feeling like I’m on a team, and that I’m part of something much larger than myself. On days like today, that camaraderie is really tested. Fortunately, as far as I can tell, we’re passing the test.
The scenes today were mostly between me and Maureen, and our long personal history is adding this great extra dimension to our performances. We have this great trust in each other, and we’ve been allowed by the director to improvise a bit within the scenes, so they have this great natural, conversational quality which I hope translates into the final product.
On the way home, I pulled into my neighborhood, which is swarming with children and their parents, trick-or-treating. I drove slowly towards my house, smiling and waving at numerous Spider Men, Buzz Light Years, and a few vampires.
When I got to my house, I felt really sad…Nolan and Ryan had already carved their jack o lanterns, and they were out trick-or-treating…but my insanely cool wife hadn’t carved hers, yet…because she was waiting for me. As soon as they get back, the carving will begin.
Happy Halloween, everybody!

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.