The last two evenings, actors met with me and the crew. We sat across from them at the table, as many as six of us “judges” providing them the opportunity to audition for specific roles. It was a lot like American Idol, without the wailing or public exploitation of both good and lesser performances. Or J. Lo. We were put back, impressed, humored, deflated, inflated, and surprised. (No one was rude, which was refreshing considering how often I deal with it during the day.) The actors ranged from prepared to non-chalant, all were gracious, and we think we have some gems out of the dozens of performances.
Something that grabbed me throughout the trials–interesting I would describe them as trials–was that a substantial number of these people were inspired by the new story world that I created. As colorful and complex as the characters are in the novel, the actors brought a new dimension to them. Of course, I expected this. But I had not seen actors act out lines I had created for a while. (As anyone who has attempted–let alone succeeded–writing a novel knows, it’s a much more grueling process than writing a screenplay. It’s taken a few years to complete it.) Seeing the words, inflections, and nuances come to life was surreal. The actors that took it the most seriously–the ones that memorized lines sent to them prior to their audition–impressed me with their dedication to representing themselves to the best of their ability.
The things we heard: “I’m perfect for this role.” “I’m so nervous.” “Can I do it again?” “Can I stand?” “Can I sit?” “Oh, you’re the writer.” “I think this script is amazing.” (Right.) “How much does this pay?” “Can you tell me more about the motivations of the character?” “Do you want me to do it differently?” “I practiced in the kitchen all day with my roommate.”
A few of the actors, seasoned and aspiring ones alike, gave me chills when I saw them supercharge their performances. Enjoy the process. And no small process it is. In the end, as I picture the immense undertaking the crew faces, the auditions made me step back and realize, This is coming together.