Monday, July 06, 2015
Actors test directors
And when you're a freelance director it's like you're a substitute teacher. It can better utter chaos. You have to win their trust.
One such example for me was Peter Boyle when I first began directing EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND. Peter was a wonderful actor and a dear man, but he could be challenging.
The episode was called PET CEMETERY. This was my first day. There was a scene in the family backyard where they were burying the daughter's pet hamster. We shot it on the stage. And it was raining. Elaborate equipment had been set up to establish rain. We ultimately shot this scene in front of a live audience, rain and all.
The line producer asked if I wanted to do the rain effect while rehearsing. I said no, that wasn't necessary.
The actors reported and I began assigning their places. Peter objected to his. He wanted to stand in a different spot. I explained that he had some private lines with Doris and if he stood where he wanted he would have to say them across Ray. So he was better where I originally had put him. Nope. He wanted to stay in the new spot.
I certainly didn't want to get into a confrontation with him, nor did I want him where he was standing.
So I did this: I called out to the line producer -- "Okay, change of plans. I want it to rain, but just over Peter." He laughed, slid over to where I originally wanted him and we got along famously ever since.
My favorite though was an actress on another show I directed. I won't say her name. But she preferred the direct approach, which I appreciated. She took me aside, draped an arm around my shoulder and said, "Okay, so just who the fuck are you?" I listed my credits and she said, "Oh. Welcome. Great to have you."
I love directing... except on the first day.