Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Actress

Dad worked in film and television.  He filmed actors.  The bottom of our kitchen cupboard was full of onions, potatoes and piles and piles of old scripts.  We used them to draw on.  It was only in high school that I first turned the sheets over and actually looked at the writing.

EXT. NIGHTCLUB - DAY

Marlowe exits, left arm dripping with blood. He follows Susan to the car and grabs grabs her by the hair.

MARLOWE
Just gimme the fucken money

SUSAN
I don't know where it is!

He pushes her into the back seat of the van, grasping at her buttocks, fumbling to find the package.

It was something like that.  I just made that scene up, but I remember what I read was sexy and violent and I got very excited.  So from then on I took to secretly reading dad's old scripts with all his scribbles on them instead of Nancy Drew.  It wasn't a secret just because of the sexy bits, it was also the words he'd drilled into me since I was young:

"Whatever you do, DON'T be an actor.  Find a nice, stable career.  An actor's life is frought with difficulty.  You don't want that do you?"

"No daddy."

"Be a lawyer instead.  Then you can perform every day, and be paid for it."

"Yes daddy."

So I kept doing legal studies but I also kept reading the scripts and fantasizing more and more every day what it might like to be a Susan or a Bea or a sweet Felicity or a nasty Edna.  Or all of them at once.  And then when I grew up I became an actor.  Dad said,

"Ok then, be an actor.  But whatever you do, don't be an extra."

But the only way to get your union card was to be an extra so I became that.  Dad said,

"Ok then, be an extra in order to be an actor.  But whatever you do, get some sort of education so you can support yourself.  Otherwise, believe me, you won't eat.  Did you know that the most successful actors in Australia only work three, maybe four months-

"Ok daddy."

So I went to University and when I came out, I got my union card and began to be an actor.  I did lots of awful plays and heaps of terrible auditions for all sorts of wrong parts and many, many embarrassing things in commercials and on tv.  People came to the awful plays, some of which were subtitled or completely silent or involved long-winded passages from characters behind ridiculous masks and they clapped and sent little posies of flowers backstage with little notes attached to them and even went out for drinks afterwards and patted me on the back.

There were highs.  But when I look back on my acting career thus far, nothing sums it up better than this:

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