Monday, August 9, 2010



Arrogance isn’t a pretty shade of lipstick. Take it off.” This is what he says to me. So I’m taking it off. I’ve excused myself to the bathroom and actually wiping this color off along with my attitude.

He’s been here for ten minutes I can’t tell what he wants exactly, but he always wants something. It’s never that deep.

While he flips through a copy of Italian Vogue he becomes a bit nostalgic and is telling me about his trip to Italy if you can call twenty-four hours of binge drinking, drugs and anonymous whores a trip. Anyway he says that there’s this mosque that I have to see… “Oh but Jemma, it’s best if you do a line first.”

This morning I woke up promptly at 7:15 am to the sounds of Spandau Ballet dancing in my head before the alarm went off. Of course it’s early… Fred said to be ready to jump into character by 11:15 am. That’s the time for my callback. It’s some flat around the corner on the fourth floor at a leased out building. Of all places, it’s probably the nicest meeting I’ve taken in a while. 

And I’ve spent this morning listening to 80s music for my 80s book. This is me calling it ‘getting into character’ when it's not really like that at all. But what else is it like? It’s all for this 80s script that my agent sent over in a flash three weeks ago along with the book. A book I haven’t read until now. I know enough dialogue to pose for the audition, but the director saw my tape and wants to meet me. I’m completely wrong for the part, but they keep telling me otherwise. Tell me how does a pasty brunette play a sun-tanned blonde? So I keep telling myself that the book is better at identifying motivation than the script. Through reading it I will understand the how’s and why’s of this person and looking in the mirror means nothing about becoming her. This is how I get into character.

Why do they make movies about books? Because people are too lazy, of course I mean too busy, to read. It’s like a public service for those who aren’t able to find the time to read.

As I wipe off the lipstick and reach into the medicine cabinet to get his coke I decide that I’m dumping it down the drain. Down, down, down while the water runs. I hum a line of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire while stopping to fix my eyes. He can wait. If this is why he really came, then there’s no reason to come back again.

“So what are you doing here?” I ask him while re-emerging with a smile.

“Jemma, you look really good, have you gotten some sun?” Always changing the subject. And of course back to where we started.

It is always an awkward conversation between awkward people who haven’t seen each other in six months. He’s thinking that I’m thinking we’re still sleeping together. I slept alone last night.

It all started when he came in. The moment when I answered the door and almost didn’t let him in. Hello’s that are forced out with an imaginary gun to the back of your head. Hugs that might feel less uncomfortable if it were a stranger. Then there’s a pause. That kind you make only for the Witnesses handing out flyers. You never let them in. No matter what. But I let him in. Smiling and laughing a cracked out grin that smells of tequila and gin at 10am with his awkward greeting.

It’s not that his story about Italian mosques wasn’t fascinating. But I find it necessary to try cutting through the red tape of the last fifteen minutes and get to the point before he starts telling me about the viewing of street art in Paris subways during the middle of April.
“Adrian to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?”
 “What?” He looks at me with irritation.
“Darling what do you want?”
“My gram.”
“It’s been six months… it’s gone.” Is he hard up? No one carries anything like that. He couldn’t have possibly come for a gram let alone remembered he left it.
“Wow Jemma, that script looks massive. Big part? Little part?” The sidestep to avoid.
“It’s a part.”

And he stops to look around before telling me about driving on Sunset last night. Telling me that there’s a faded line in the middle of the lane that causes him to feel like he has to make a choice. I tell him that’s not Sunset and that he should have just switched lanes. It sounds more like there’s another story I haven’t heard. I stop to wonder how Adrian has a car. But he interrupts me before that becomes an inquiry.

“Jemma, can I? He waves his hands up at me while pointing towards the sink.

 I nod and he heads into the newly painted kitchenette. His voice raises slightly as he rolls up the sleeves on his button-down brilliance before starting to wash his hands. “Don’t worry about the gram I have more. You don’t need? Cause I can…” With a flick of the wrist and the perfect timed punch line of a comedian he produces a small object.

“That’s quite alright Adrian.” Away it goes. Poof. Thin air.

The whole time he’s watching me try to cover my pages and hide the book. Washing and washing longer than is humanly necessary he asks me to tell him about the script and my basis for portrayal. I know he doesn’t care, but I start talking.

It isn’t long before I realized I’ve given him too much and it sounds like bragging. I wasn’t but it doesn’t matter. It’s enough.

Arrogance isn’t a pretty shade of lipstick. Even on you Jemma. Take it off.

This is where we are now.

Lines are like the things that people might say or do only they don’t but you might understand why they might say or do them.

On page 26 my character is having an existential crisis. “Who am I?” she cries in the middle of it all. Between the black characters in front of the white background she can not find herself. Today I know who I am. Arrogant and wearing the wrong shade of lipstick. At least I know it’s not me and that it’s really the bleach blonde tanned bimbo trying to find herself in between the pages while listening to really bad music.

“Have you seen Alex?”
“Alex? Isn’t he up in San Francisco? You must see him more than me.”
“No. He’s here in town. We’re supposed to catch up. I just thought…”
“Adrian. How long have you been here?”
“15 minutes.”
“It’s been more like 25, but I meant in town. How long?”
“I don’t know. How long have you been a superficial stuck-up starlet faking tans with lines to read?” He smiles and laughs. This is the part where I’m supposed to have a sense of humor and smile.  But I just can’t today.

I put my hands through my hair with a feeling of overwhelming frustration. There’s got to be a point to his damage, I just can’t figure it out. I think I’m going to be late and there are still 15 pages left.  I want to get angry and scream at him when he does this. I want to scream aloud and tell him that I may be a superficial starlet but at least I’m really being me. I want to scream and tell him that he’s a poor man’s shadow, excuse for someone who used to be real, someone who is faking their way through everything. But I don’t. Cause I wouldn’t mean it.

“You don’t mind?” He looks at me with his eyes bugged out and waves a pocket mirror. Adrian is always prepared in a crisis. I wonder what he’d do in the event of a water landing. Take it chilled or on the rocks?

I just shake my head. He knows I don’t care. And I’m supposed to be the arrogant one.

He does lines, like I learn them. With the exception that sometimes his escapades land him in the bath room of a cherry colored bar doing lines of blow off a naked stripper’s bare breasts whereas my performance might land me a part in the next big picture from the next big hot-shot director.

 “Let’s do lines together!” He announces. To this I can smile and giggle.

He does a line. I read a line. He does a line. I read a line. Then another. And another. Until I decide… “I can’t do this.”

“Come on, Jemma. What’s wrong? Want something? It’ll make you feel better. Loosen you up.”
“I’m good. I just can’t. Not now. I have to go to this callback and I think I’m going to be late.”
“Cattle callback?”
I laugh and tell him, “Why yes, with other superficial stuck-up starlets whose teeth and mouths are too wide.”
”Why? What? When?”
“In like 20 minutes.”
“Oh fuck. Let me call the driver. I can have you there in 10.”
“It’s only just around the corner. You can come if you want.”

Adrian is too pretentious sometimes. All morning he’s been riding around in a town car with a driver called Chaz calling it a stretch. The driver barely speaks English and prefers to call us for directions instead of talking or turning around. Adrian has already taken out his mirror to offer the driver a line after telling him about it on the phone. I’m more surprised when the guy doesn’t take it. I keep reading lines. I must look pissed. He won’t make eye contact and now he’s taking out that small object again. Shit. We’re going to pass the place. I’m getting out even though the car is still moving.

On page 27 my character has a breakthrough moment. A door opens and she walks through it. This is the scene the director wants me to read. I keep thinking back to Spandau Ballet and how the only reason this is a movie is because someone wrote a book. Playing my part as a public servant. Helping make the population literate.

This is ‘The Director’ a million girls want to work with and will accommodate in anyway. I should have done the line. But I didn’t. I understand why I said no and may have wanted to. ‘The Director’ likes my face. He told my agent this. This man that a million girls want to work with likes my face. I want him to like my acting. Take me seriously for this part. Because this is why I’m here. Instead my face got me here.

All of this is me ‘getting into character’ while I’m trying to remember my lines. Remembering those things that I might say or do only don’t so that they might understand why they are said or done.

We’re in a stretch. Although it isn’t. This is what they call a stretch in the city; here it’s a town car. It’s almost 11:00 and the driver keeps calling my cell for directions.  I’ve made this arrangement with the driver and offered him something for the road.  He declines. Jemma looks pissed, but I can’t help that she’s in a bad mood today. I offered her some candy. It’s too bad she doesn’t want to play. She’s so much more fun when she falls in the water. Maybe she will after this cattle audition for mindless blonde bimbos with superficial tans and weekend Daddy’s to pay their bills. Jemma is too good for this. I wonder if she still thinks we are sleeping together. I’m thinking of taking another hit as she opens the door. The stretch hasn’t quite stopped. This is what I’m thinking… I’m going to call Alex again.

Lines. Walking. Doing. Reading. This is new. Decided to lean in and give something new. It’s progression forward. I can’t say much more about it right now. Did something very different on this one and not sure what that means. I’m thinking… perspective. Who knows? Welcome to the unknown. A bit overwhelmed, but it’s a good thing. Mostly nervous, perhaps a little scared, although that could be the jitters. Not enough to let it be a hindrance. Ready for it. Although it came up very quickly. Quicker than I thought. Some things just do. anyhow hopefully  everything is well with everyone else. kisses for those you love. enjoy. m.

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