Thursday, May 29, 2014
Could you play him "shorter?"
And if you are lucky enough to get a number of roles then that works against you because the producer will say, “We’ve seen this guy in everything. Can’t we find someone fresh?” Or if you’ve been overexposed on a commercial campaign. The good news is you make a fortune for awhile; the bad news is you can’t play a neighbor mom when everyone in the audience goes “That’s Flo from Progressive Insurance.”
Often there will be two or three actors who are equally good. Any one of them could get the part. So how do you choose? There have been many times when it comes down to literally a flip of a coin. How’d you like your livelihood to depend on a coin flip?
The toughest casting decision I ever had regarding a guest actor came while on MASH. We had an episode involving a USO troop and needed an accordion player.
Seven accordion players paraded into our office. All were great. All could play “Lady of Spain.” All were able to deliver the three lines. They all looked perfect.
There’s no seven-sided coin.
Somehow we selected one and I felt terrible. I kept thinking, how often do these guys get a casting call? Once every three years? Ten? And what could they have done differently? Nothing.
Meanwhile, the lucky winner got to work two days. At SAG minimum, that’s probably less than a Polka wedding.
This is why I never hired myself to do a guest role in any show I ran. In addition to the fact that I’m not very good, I always felt I was taking work away from a legitimate actor. It’s hard enough without idiot writers sticking their mugs on TV just for kicks.
The sad thing is I’ve written a couple of characters who were essentially me and actors have played me way better than I could.
So for all the character actors out there every day fighting the good fight, just know that it’s not you. Sometimes we reject ourselves too.