An episode I did of Major Crimes airs tomorrow Dec 2nd at 9pm. Here’s why it was more than just another job.
For reasons I’m not going to expand on, this last summer was the single worst period of my life. In the middle of this I got an audition for Major Crimes, which in itself felt like a miracle because so much bad news was coming at me for so many months. The role was a really nice one and it was something I could really have fun doing, and as I reread it I decided that although it wasn’t necessarily scripted that way, it had room for me to use all the bad news of the last 6 months to my advantage and really, really live this part out. I decided that the Dad I was playing would be completely off his hinges when asking the police how they could fail at their jobs.
In the audition I sat down and there were easily 7 people in the room including Michael Robin the show runner and director of this episode. The scene they chose was of course the “big” scene for this role and I held nothing back, I did what we’ve all been taught, I used all the frustration and anger and rage about what life had dealt me and…it felt great. I did feel a bit guilty that these folks thought they were seeing a Dad who wasn’t going to go easy on the police for letting a bad person out of jail, when they were really seeing a Dad who was simply unloading 6 months of pent up feelings. The scene ended and I knew when I made this plan reactions to my choice could go either way, but I also knew that the safe choice wouldn’t challenge me as an actor. Michael Robin spoke, “That was F*#!& brilliant.” Now, usually when you hear big complements in auditions it’s your consolation prize, it means you won’t be getting the job and it’s a bittersweet moment. I sat there totally fulfilled that I executed my plan exactly the way I wanted and I knew my work was good, it was also therapeutic.
Now, had this been a sitcom audition, surely I wouldn’t have gone this way, but that’s also part of my message here; to get an audition that can use exactly what’s going on in me at a time when I needed the job, but moreover I really needed the confirmation that should still be trying to get work as an actor, to get an audition where I could really use what I had…it simply felt like the acting gods stepped in and sent me some much needed good news.
Michael Robin then asked me to make two adjustments and do it again…and all I could think was “It’s too good to be true…I get to unload all this crap I have in me again? Ha-le-lu-yah!” And I did. I was hoarse by the time it ended and it felt great. Michael Robin again complemented me and I left wearing the first real smile I’d had for many months.
It took a few days but word came that I got the role and I’d be going to work the next week. I was quite fragile but when you get a job, you put on your actor chops and go to work with the knowledge that you’re the guest and the set doesn’t work to make you fit in, you fit in to the set. I say this because I have been a guest star on many shows and it’s not always a nice experience, but at an impossibly difficult time in my life…I really, really needed the job to take care of me. It’s a lot to ask, but I did. So, the acting gods sent me Michael Robin, GW Bailey, Tony Denison and Clare Carey. GW and Tony are old friends and they immediately embraced me and made the days fun and warm and easy, but Michael and Clare were new to me. Michael Robin is just the best of the best that I have met doing this for as long as I have. His manner is easy and inclusive and appreciative and skilled and above all, he loves the work. I never felt like he was simply “making the day” as so many directors in TV do. He thanked me constantly for every little choice or change I made and asked if I wanted anything else in the scene and never blankly turned down an idea from anyone about anything. On the day when Clare and I had to do the explosive audition scene, we talked about how fun it is to get these jobs and then how hard it is to be that emotional for 8 hours. She too handled me with the care of a saint. Then, at about 6 pm I sat down between takes and Michael Robin came over to me and said “I bet your throat is sore, can I get you some ice cream?” The director/show runner was waiting on me. I said yes and he returned a few minutes later, handed me the ice cream and said, “I appreciate you going where you have to go for this role.” That…just doesn’t happen.
I used what I had and I got what I needed. It can happen. Perhaps it’s a sign of better things on the way, perhaps it’s just news that Michael Robin is the best boss of all time, either way I am so grateful for all of it. If you watch perhaps you’ll send along a review. I’m curious how it will turn out and how it will be perceived.