yet another audition nightmare from my youth
At a certain point, casting people and producers got it into their stupid heads that all I could do was act like a crazy person. Helen Sugland, my manager, and my agents at the time fought like hell to get me in for the male lead of 18 Again, one of the legion of 80’s Body Switching movies.
George Burns was attached to be the switchee or something and it was a big deal.
Helen made it clear that when I went in to read for everyone (this was back when actors would actually audition in the same room for the people hiring them) that I shouldn’t “act like a fucking weirdo” and be cool… “Be a grownup, Dean.”
Sidebar: there’s nothing worse than someone telling you that people think you’re a fucking idiot. So… thanks for the support, Helen.
The scene was some stupid piece of shit 80’s shit scene that I worked on for a couple days. It was nothing. I think back on all those crappy movies and realize that preparing was the worst thing I could’ve done. Kids: just go in and read. If it’s a movie, or t.v. show, it’s probably not anything you haven’t thought of or lived through, so just go in there and pretend. Don’t spend any time preparing other than knowing what the scene is about and what the basic gist of your lines are. Sorry, David Mamet. (If it’s David Mamet, learn the lines really well. He’s worth it. Shakespeare, too.)
I go in and am very mature. I have a red sweatshirt on over a t-shirt. I’m very casual and polite. Very mellow. I’m not “acting like a weirdo.”
(Another sidebar for you kids: if you haven’t worked in a while, your agents will start to blame you for not working. maybe they’re right, but the point is that you’re fine. you’re not a weirdo. you’re you. just go in and read.)
It’s all going very well. I’m being very suave and “leading man-ish” and reading when suddenly I feel a pain in my shoulder like I’ve never felt in my life. “Holy shit!” I yell. “Something bit me.” I see the casting person and the producer and director visibly sag. They are so disappointed. “Dean Cameron the Fucking Weirdo” has appeared and is sucking up the room.
I try to cover up the thing I just did, but screaming “HOLY SHIT SOMETHING BIT ME!” is difficult to cover up, so I keep going. Obviously, the rest of the audition sucks the ass of a dying pig and they don’t make eye contact when I finish.
“No, really..” I say after the read “…something bit me.” There are uncomfortable nods all around. “Yeah, that happens…” says some asshole. I skulk out of the room.
When I get to my car, the 1988 Toyota Celica Convertible that I bought with the Paramount Development Deal money, I take my sweatshirt off.
A dead bee falls to the pavement.
I was so pissed. I wanted to take the bee back in to the room and show them. “I’m not a fucking weirdo, you fucking weirdos, I got stung by a goddamned bee! I wasn’t lying! See!!!??” But I figure that would be the weirdest thing that anyone had ever seen in an audition room, so I just swallowed my shittiness and went about my day.
One of the worst phrases I would hear from my manager, Helen, was “Dean… tell me about what happened today.”
Later, I got a call. “Dean… tell me about what happened today.” I told her. She wasn’t amused or sympathetic. I thought about leaving the management company that day, but it took me another 20 years to split.
I’m still waiting to hear if I got the gig.