Let me start by saying that I am not sure that all actors know what being a true devoted actor means. It means taking roles, even ones that may be out of your comfort zone, and applying all your acting skills to do a great job. An actor that passes on a part because of a kissing scene, whether you are portraying straight or gay, has nothing to do with your own sexuality. That is why it’s called acting.
I did a job this week. It was SAG, traveling to a foreign country, fully paid, first class travel, as well as multiple web videos that paid approximately $2,500 per video. That is without travel days, overtime, etc. These web videos were each like little movies, so a great opportunity to use acting skills and have something of quality that could be used for your acting reel. The character I was casting was a young African American male, the adopted child of a couple from the Midwest, going on an incredible trip. The videos show more than commercial sightseeing.
When I put the breakdown out, I was asking for an actor with a great comedy background. I also needed them to have a valid passport, which every actor should have. One of the scenes takes place in a nightclub and the actor was going to have to a kiss a guy. When we put the breakdown out, we could not have been clearer about this. If the actor wanted to audition, he had to be comfortable with it. In this day and age, it should not have been an issue. Movies like Brokeback Mountain are a great example of this. Philip Seymour Hoffman did it many times. It is part of being an actor. That’s what acting means. You are playing a part and everyone should get that. Many actors have done Queer as Folk and were straight.
Anyway, this actor auditioned, knew the rules, then got a callback, reconfirmed that he was totally okay with the kissing and confirmed his appointment. The best part was I only had two actors for the callback – two guys, a 50/50 chance. The callback time came and went. The agent and manager were frantically calling him to find out why he was late, no response. At first our instinct was to worry, but when hours went by and still no response, it was not because of an accident or emergency.
After an hour passed by with no word, I guessed that he had probably changed his mind about kissing a guy. That in itself is insane because of how many times it was discussed and he said yes every single time. The thing that really pisses me off is that he was a coward. If you wake up with a panic attack or an epiphany, call your manager or agent right away. Do not disappear for the whole day. I was put in a horrible situation with my client. I had to recast for free. There is no “sorry” that will work for me. Maybe he would have stood a bit of a chance with his agent and I if he had contacted his manager or agent about this situation. That’s how “professionals” would handle themselves.
I didn’t ask his sexual orientation nor did I care. Again, this type of thing as an actor is becoming very normal in the film and TV world. This actor had a legit agent. Do you know how many 22 year olds would die to have legit representation? His agents had no idea that they signed an actor who might limit their jobs because of the things he’s not comfortable doing. You, as a young and up and coming actor, with an agent that has taken the time to put their faith in you, should have no limitations. I can’t say it enough: that is what acting is. It is not your real life. Everyone watching knows that. He was not being asked to hurt anyone or do anything illegal (or porn, for that matter). He did the audition knowing all the details and had no problem with it. He got a callback, confirmed, reconfirmed the details, and then just disappeared. He left all the people that had worked so hard for him in a very embarrassing situation.
Okay, so for some crazy reason, he woke up that morning and decided he could not do this. I guess he had issues that made him turn down a job of a lifetime and one that would have paid his rent for a year. But not communicating, leaving me hanging and looking like a fool to my client is totally unacceptable and there is no apology that will ever be acceptable to his agent or me.
Maybe this situation opened up some big issues in his personal life but you fulfill your word and then put acting on hold until your figure it out. If, and maybe if, he had handled this in a professional manner and called someone instead of disappearing, we would have tried to understand the breakdown he had over doing this.
Like I said, I do not know his issues, but I know that he is not ready to be a professional actor. As an up and comer, you are not in a position to do what he did and go against his manager’s and agent’s advice. But more importantly, he disappeared and did terrible damage to his career. He lost trust. Things happen that are out of your control but this whole situation was not only in his control, but he was so selfish that he never once thought about the people working so hard for him and that the casting director (me) was put in a position of losing a client.
He has made it so far in his early career and did not have any of the tools to handle this right. He knew there were only two callback appointments. He panicked and ran. Things happen, people are human, and sometimes you need to be talked off the ledge. Maybe there is more to what was going on with him that we will never know, but there are some lessons to be learned here.
- You take an audition, go to it; you live by your word.
- If you are having doubts, do not accept the callback and you can discuss it with your agent.
- Do not ever put a casting director in this position.
Everyone has someone to answer to, including me. You jeopardized my livelihood and that was just selfish. If actors cannot understand the big picture, they should not be doing this. There is no room in this business for dishonesty. With more supply than demand, there are no second chances. Sorry to all the actors that would have been thrilled for this job.
On a lighter note, congratulations to the LGBTQ community. Love wins!