Yesterday, I had what was undoubtedly the most satisfying day of work in my nearly twenty years as a professional actor.
I’m working on a film called CHEAP THRILLS directed by Evan Katz and also featuring the great Ethan Embry, David Koechner and Sara Paxton.
The first scene we shot(without revealing spoilers) involved intense physical pain and suffering to be inflicted upon me. Almost an unbearable amount. Of course, I’m not really being harmed. It’s all play-pretend. But the audience must believe that I am. The emotions have to be real. I could go into all sorts of things about my ‘method’ and how I got there but it’s not really the point. It mostly involves intense script analysis and fully committing yourself to the work.
And in this moment of enacting intense physical pain before the cameras, I let out an ungodly howl the likes of which I have never seen or heard from myself. I shocked and surprised myself. I then began to weep uncontrollably. It was as if every demon and awful thing experienced across the span of my lifetime was being released into the atmosphere. I collapsed in a heap.
The average person, even many of the crew members, thought that must be an incredibly painful experience for me. But while I experienced some minor physical pain, the experience was exhilarating. A release. A tap I didn’t know was closed was opened all the way and all this metaphysical goo came pouring out. I felt released from self-imposed chains that a lifetime of work and ten plus years of psychoanalysis could not even pull out of me. It was as if everything that had come before led up to that moment.
And the best part is: the tap remains open. A scene I had to play later which was much, much more muted but required an emotional intensity and complexity came with ease, and felt just as satisfying.
This is acting, or being an artist, to me. This is its height, the possibility of all that it can be. The complete convergence of mental, physical and emotional thoughts and feelings with a lifetime of experience and training. A lifetime of work, both on the self and the craft to which you dedicate yourself to.
I wish for any of you who create to experience such a thing. Writers, painters, musicians, comedians, dancers, etc. etc.
Or just as a human. We are all creators of something. Once in a while, life gives us the opportunity to express what we hold inside. To reveal something we may be afraid to show to the rest of the world and be able to do so in a safe environment. This is what I wish for you all. I know we can’t always be in this state. It’s unrealistic to think so. But I’m going to seek these experiences out more. I’m not afraid anymore to look into the abyss. There’s nothing to be afraid of. There’s exhilaration and joy there. And if you should have the opportunity to find like-minded people who foster and encourage this in you, you are truly blessed.
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