What would Daniel Day-Lewis do?…

5 08 2008

I’m a giant slut.

Seriously. Do with me whatever you please. Dress me in funny outfits. Make me wear a long, pony-tailed wig. Slap me, slam me to the ground, make me flat-jump a three foot desk. Pour fake blood on me. Make me grow facial hair. Tell me to cut my hair, or grow my hair, or shave my hair right off. Make me sing, make me dance, make me kiss. Kill me. The important thing is that I can never, ever, EVER, say no to you. To anybody. Because I am a giant…theater…slut.

My problem is one of perception. You see, when a director calls me, asking me to please do them a favor and do this role they just couldn’t fill at auditions, what I hear in my brain is this:

Tim, you are an amazing, dynamic actor who no one else can compare to, and I just can’t possibly imagine anyone else doing this part in my play but you.

When in reality, what they are really saying is this:

Tim, I’m desperate because nobody auditioned for my play, and I need a scrawny, pale Norwegian looking motherfucker to fill this role, and I know you will not say no to me because you are a slut. That’s right you slut, take it. Take it! Say my name you slut! I’m gonna direct you all night long, then give you acting notes all over your face…

Well, as long as you respect me in the morning.


Me, at an “audition.” Don’t laugh, I hear this is how Schwarzenegger got his start.

So this is how I find myself doing a small role in Lakeshore Players upcoming production of “Axel and His Dog,” a semi-biographical account of well known Minnesota television personality Clellan Card, star of the hit children’s show of the same name in the early 50s. I’m playing Michael Card, Clellan’s only surviving son.

The interesting thing about this (or “interesting” if you aren’t that interested) is that this means I am, for the first time I am aware of, playing someone who actually exists. I knew this going in, but it wasn’t really a point I gave much thought to until I arrived at the theater for the first read-through and was handed a slip of paper with Michael Card’s phone number on it, in case I wanted to…um…call him? Apparently he still lives in this area. Do I want to call him? What do I say? “Hi, Michael Card, this is Tim. I’m playing you in this show, and, erm, I was wondering if you could basically summarize for me what makes you, you. You know, your goals, ambitions, beliefs, physical mannerisms, vocal tendencies…everything I will need to accurately portray the real you for the three to four minutes I am on stage in this show. Oh, and if you could do it in the next ten minutes that would be great, cause I got a Hot Pocket in the ‘wave and, heh, you know…that sucker isn’t going to eat itself.”

Whenever I’m faced with a difficult acting dilemma, I always like to ask myself, “What would Daniel Day-Lewis do?” I feel like doing whatever DDL would do will lead me to the closest thing that could be considered a “perfect” choice, since he never seems to do anything less than spectacular, acting wise. So, what would DDL do here? Well, I think it would break down like this:

  1. DDL would use the phone number given to him to call up Michael Card, asking him all sorts of pertinent information about his life and personality.
  2. During this phone call, DDL also inconspicuously gets Michael’s address, which he then uses to stalk Michael for 3 months, observing him 20 hours a day, stopping only to eat, defecate, and sleep, which he does hanging upside down in a tree branch with his eyes open.
  3. Having learned all of Michael’s mannerisms, and now able to imitate him perfectly, DDL kidnaps Michael Card, holds him prisoner in an underground parking garage he has rented for just this purpose, and uses his almost supernatural stage make-up abilities to transform himself into an exact physical duplicate of Michael.
  4. DDL now, in make-up, begins living Michaels life in his place. He goes to Michael’s job, hangs out with his friends, makes love to his wife, and nobody can tell the difference, because DDL’s acting skills are so fucking off the charts. He is now ready for the performance.
  5. The night of the performance, DDL takes off all the Michael Card make-up, grows a giant handlebar mustache, and screams and growls all of Michael’s lines, with much spittle spraying from his mouth. He ends every scene he is in by yelling, “I…drink…your…milkshake! I drink it up!” The audience thinks it is the best thing they have ever seen, and DDL wins a Tony Award, dedicates it to Heath Ledger, bangs your mom, and disappears back to France or Spain or wherever he hides out, and makes wooden shoes.

Daniel Day-Lewis in “Gangs of New York.” Or he might be playing Abraham Lincoln. Or he might be playing Tom Selleck playing Abraham Lincoln. Whoever he’s playing, someone’s milkshake is getting drank.

I don’t think I’m ready for that sort of commitment yet.

In the meantime, I still have this guy’s number, with no idea if I should call him, or what I would say if I did call him. So for the time being, I get to drive 45 minutes to White Bear Lake twice a week so I can do a three minute scene where I (poorly) attempt to impersonate a 15 year old boy from the 1950s.

At least I don’t have to wear a wig.



3 responses

5 08 2008

I need eye bleach.

5 08 2008
Joe H.

wait-wait-wait-wait-wait… a 15 year old?
I didn’t think it was possible, but the median age of the roles you play is actually decreasing?

Sorry – I didn’t mean to focus on that line – it just caught me by surprise.

Aside from that, I had to keep looking over my shoulder as I read this entry to make sure no one at my work was watching me laugh uncontrollably.

8 08 2008

you had me at “giant slut.”

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