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.