I have to admit that one of the things I love about acting is that it can take you to places most normal people try to avoid. Pain, suffering, insanity, heartbreak, Armageddon, worldwide invasion by little green men... it doesn't matter. It's all fair game in Hollywood. I have yet to officially decide if working on characters is living something that is outside of yourself... or just finding whatever it is within you. (Hmmm?) One of the most interesting ways to explore this question is to audition for a character who is possessed by a demon... which I did today.
Allow me to set the stage.
This very reputable indie film casting office had been on my radar since last fall and I'd been laying some marketing groundwork trying to get their attention. All this time, I wondered if it would ever pay off. I found out it did this week when they called me in for a lead in a SAG modified low budget feature. Getting that email felt like finding the one friend who calls you back after you've gone through your phone book looking for someone to drive you to the airport. "Oh, thank GOD you called. I was starting to worry that I didn't have any real friends."
Anyway, they sent me the sides... holy shit. This is the most technically difficult scene I have ever had to prepare. It required seduction, screaming (or more precisely, an "inhuman howl") sobbing, hurricane force winds and murder. After I read through it the first time, I just stared at the pages for probably fives straight minutes. How the hell am I going to pull this off in an office without props (besides my paper and a chair), no scene partner (aside from the reader, who I can't touch) and pages of ridiculous physical action like attacking multiple people, a room basically being torn apart around me by the wind and oh yeah... in parts I'm possessed with a fucking devil spirit. My coach always says, "Judgement kills creativity," so I decide to just go for it. (I've mentioned to you before how important commitment is.)
So I did. I worked on it with my coach this morning (and after we laughed about the absurdity of it) we got down to business and made a very real audition that was grounded and honest. (Well, as honest as you can be when you're pretending to bite the flesh off of someone else's body.)
So I'm in the room, giving it everything I have. Howling "inhumanly", basically tearing the chair apart, sobbing with fear. I'm not quite sure if I was actually acting or just being insane. (Is there any difference?) When it was over, I couldn't help but laugh and the casting director said, "No, that's great. Thanks!"
I really have no idea what the hell I did in that room. And by the looks on the faces of the other actors in the waiting room on my way out... neither did they.