The Movie Star is Dead. Long Live the Movie Star. Part 2.

Pablo Tanguay
January 31, 2014
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I said it all week: Saturn: A different kind of company. A different kind of car. I said it to chrome, to tinted glass, to bona fide mirrors. I said it in a dozen outfits. I said it mostly to myself but also to bartenders, liquor store clerks, tourists, what friends I had left. I said it to anonymous suits on Wilshire Blvd. On Venice Beach, I yelled it to the ocean. I’d read a book on acting that said inhabit your lines, crawl inside them and set up shop. It said rehearse 24/7. The acting book said, Your part is your life. Live your life.

I’d decided, at a low point, to become a movie star (see previous post, here). Via an ad in LA Weekly, I’d gotten hold of a talent agent. The talent agent handed me a sheet of paper with some words on it. She asked me to read the words to her like I meant them. I read the words. She told me I had potential. For $300, she’d take me on. We could talk percentages, she said, reclining in her chair, hands locked behind her head, once I started earning real money. She said most stars start in commercials and then move into feature films. Look at Mel Gibson, she said. She nodded towards a framed Mel Gibson poster. While we looked at Mel Gibson, I thought, For real, Mel Gibson is one handsome dude.

The agent called some days later, after my check had cleared. She’d gotten me an audition. She gave me the address, the date and time, told me what to wear. This just might be your big break, she said. Before they made it big, she said, movie stars were just like me, actors looking for a break. She recited for me my lines: Saturn: A different kind of company. A different kind of car. I didn’t even write it down. I’ll make you proud of me, I told her. I hung up and went to the library. I checked out five or six books on acting. Pages were dogeared. Passages were highlighted and underlined. The marginalia, though mostly barely legible, made me feel part of a tribe.

The day of the audition, I drank but two or three beers all morning, nursing them through the hours. I’d shined my black shoes the night before, laid out a new blue oxford and pleated khakis. Now, I paced the apartment in black boxers and black socks, checking my hair every so often and repeating the mantra: Saturn: A different kind of company. A different kind of car. Unexpectedly nervous, I could hardly eat. I did get down some slices of ham and a few green olives, but most of that came back up, along with some beer, fifteen minutes or so before I had to leave. With little time left before driving to the audition, I brushed my teeth, splashed cold water on my face, pulled on pants and shirt, laced up shoes, and sauntered on out into the midday LA heat.

To be continued.

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