Sunday, February 2, 2014

What I'll Never Forget

I was an extra on the set of The Master.  If you've see the show Extras or done extra work or known someone who has, then you already know that extra work is not glamorous, it is depressing and is never a career move for aspiring actors or filmmakers, and it's rarely fun.  I was almost gone, moving away for what I thought would be forever, and had no interest in the gig.  Also, I had no transportation and the shoot was up north.  When you get a call for one of these gigs you have to ask what the film is about and who is making it.  Out of curiosity I asked.  When I was told that it was P.T. Anderson's new film, staring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Laura Dern, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and that I had been selected for my "classic look," the compliment went to my head and I became full of fantastic ideas about my all but sure discovery by my favorite American director as his protégé.  Long story short, I was having an awful time being on set and seeing the professionals just feet away, yet divided from us by an impenetrable glass wall.  The day I quit was a 16hr day and most of it was spent trying not to smoke the prop cigarettes and avoiding the LA actors that seemed to have a grudge against the Bay Area, save for one that continuously propositioned me to join them in a dark hallway for "some blow and...whatever."  During the scene where Hoffman sings a sea shanty to a group of followers the camera broke, one of only two in the US available at the time.  While waiting for the second to be helicoptered in, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams passed the time singing Neil Diamond songs to one another.  Now if you know me, you know that I thought my whole life that Neil and I shared a birthday (turned out to be the other Neil), love his songs, and sing Brother Loves Traveling Salvation Show in the shower almost everyday.  I was positioned about two feet from them.  And Amy Adams had to remain naked cuz that weird fake pregnant belly was attached specifically for the naked scene (she wore a robe during this story).  It was hour 16 or more and I was an emotional wreck.  Hearing them sing my Solitary Man songs like bff's sent me over the edge.  I was asked what was wrong by my admirer and explained that all the smoke and the long hours were making my eyes water (nope. I lied.  straight crying y'all).  When the scene was finally finished we all filed out a narrow passageway to get out of the house.  I was behind Hoffman and without a thought I pulled out my phone, loaded up Sweet Caroline and tapped ma man on the shoulder.  He politely turned to a stammering, bloodshot eyed fan.  All I could do was hold my phone up to his face for him to hear and stutter out, "remember?  From before?"  Hoffman seemed puzzled for a sec and then it dawned on him.  He replied, "oh yeah," and resumed walking out down the corridor.   When I finally got home I drew a bath and cried a bit more.  I don't know a thing about the man and can't speak on his personality.  But anyone who shares my love is someone I love and I love me some Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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