That Guy... Who Was in That Thing (2012) Movie Script

People are always saying to
me, "do I know you?"
I say, "Yeah, it was that bar
in Waco, remember?"
They go, "oh."
And they sort of walk away.
[upbeat music]
No, no one knows my name.
"Yeah, Jay, it's him, it's him."
They know they know me, but
they don't know from.
"We go to college?
Did you live--do you live in
I remember I was in Hawaii,
and somebody said, "do you
live in Seattle?"
I said, "well, I've spent time
in Seattle."
I'm that guy.
As my fans apparently tell me.
"Oh, mom, that guy's on again.
That's--it's that guy."
"You know that guy.
You know, that guy.
You know that guy who was in
the other movie.
He was in that TV show.
That guy."
If I never have a career like
George Clooney, the big movie
star that he is, I can live
with that.
But if I can have a career like
Tom Wilkinson who does great,
great supporting roles like
every time out, I could--
I could die a happy man.
I remember being about seven
years old and I ran downstairs,
and I went into my dad's office
where he was working away.
And I said, "dad, I know what
I want to do."
And he said, "what?"
I said, "I want to be a movie
And he laughed and just said,
"well, son, you know, that's
a--that's a pretty tough life."
I have an uncle who was an
actor, Henry Gibson, who I grew
up watching on television on
So it didn't seem like that
impossible to me.
I remember at 15 wanting to
be an actor because I watched
a lot of films with my dad,
watched a lot of the, you know,
the early "bond" films,
all of John Wayne's.
I'm a little kid.
Every time I go to the movies,
I get my popcorn, and I get
my M&M's and I dump the M&M's
in the popcorn and shake 'em up.
And I'm, you know, sitting
there alone in the dark,
you know, or I'm hanging out
with somebody, and it's like
magic is about to happen.
And I still get excited
about it.
There's all these pictures
of me playing Robin hood when
I was, like, three.
I think I pretty much never
wanted toys.
I just wanted costumes.
When I was a-a youngster,
I had a little 45 record
of Claude rains doing
"David and Goliath."
And if I ever was in a
position where I had to go to
bed and there was company,
I would do Claude rains
doing "David and Goliath."
And I'd stay up for hours.
[as Claude Rains]
"This is the story of
'David and Goliath, ' the young
Shepherd boy and the giant."
And, you know, the adults would
all fall down because it's
coming out of a kid.
It's--you know, it's just
something I could do and then
I didn't have to go to bed.
In the third grade, there--
My friend Elaine Rosen was in
a play.
She was in the fourth grade,
and she got to play the king.
And the king got to eat cream
And I'm not being facetious.
It made such an indelible
imprint on me, that this would
be really cool.
Everybody looks at you, and they
give you cream puffs.
And then it should be this
great thing when you arrive.
You know, it's like this idea
of, you know, Hollywood heaven
that you'd go into.
It's just fucking not there.
I just knew there was
nothing else that made any sense
to me.
I don't feel I made a choice.
It was--it was--I mean, I made
a choice of what school to go
to based on that, and I made a
choice of how to go about it,
but I didn't--I didn't make a
choice because there were other
There were no other options.
I don't know too much else
but acting, and a little bit of,
you know, I can read statues
in Latin.
The idea that you could learn
lines and become another
character by saying those lines
just thrilled me.
When I was a kid and I wanted
to be an actor, I wanted
And I wanted to walk down the
street and people go,
"there's that guy."
And when it actually happens,
it is a--it's--it's a weird
I always thought I was a
character actor.
And, you know, I-I think
it's one of the coolest things
that--that anyone can be called.
I didn't used to.
I was like, "a character actor?
Am I that ugly?"
I guess character actor means
you're not the one that everyone
wants to go to bed with.
I don't know what character
actor means anymore.
It used to be character actor
was like, you know, the fat guy
or the skinny guy or, you know,
the guy with the nose--
You know, like this which is not
that far from my nose.
He's--he could be the bad
He can be the good guy.
He can--normally, he's--he
motivates the story, you know.
He's the one who robs the bank
or is the, you know, the father
of the leading guy.
I move plot is my--as I
jokingly tell my wife.
You know, I'm often in a
You're watching the trailer and
you're, like, "oh, what's this?
What's this about?"
And right then I go--
[snaps fingers]
"You're bankrupt, sir."
Like, "oh, that's what the
movie's about.
Oh, I see.
It's a romantic comedy."
I like to say I'm a working
stiff actor.
People do have this
misconception that unless you
are Steven Spielberg or
Jack Nicholson or whoever,
fill-in-the-blank, that you're
If you're lucky enough,
you're going to get to make your
living somewhere in the middle
without getting too much
attention, but working enough
that you can actually make a
living at it, you know.
And it's kind of ideal in a way.
And the bottom line is,
did you get the job?
They can call you whatever they
I get recognized just enough.
It--it's like I have this really
nice low level of
recognizability where people
are only kind of gonna do it
if they have something nice
to say.
I mean, I-I can just point
at character actors I've seen
over the years who I don't know
the name of.
I'm Gregory Itzin, by the way.
They may not know my name,
they sure know my face.
"You were, you know, at the
teacher conference I just had,
Oftentimes, I'll come into
a restaurant and I sit.
Somebody will say to me, "oh."
I've never been there before.
"Oh, we haven't seen you for
a long time."
This is the one I do hate.
"So, tell me what you've been
You tell me.
I said, "I'm not gonna recite
what I've done, so you can
figure it out."
I always say that if my wife
would let me, I would wear a
t-shirt that says, "hey, I'm on
Once I see the twinkle of
recognition in someone's eye
and they start making the
beeline, it's--it--depending on
their age, if it's somebody
under 30, it's gonna be
"psych" now.
If it's a female over 30,
it's gonna be "Judging Amy."
And if they're really hip,
it'll be "deadwood."
With "mommie dearest,"
the gay crowd knew me for years.
Any kind of metalhead youngster
would know me from
"Terminator 2."
Any punk of whatever age would
know me from "Sid and Nancy."
People my age, it was
You know, "X-Men" now.
I don't like it when people
walk up to me and--like, they
know me.
I know you just saw me on TV,
but that doesn't mean we're,
like, buddies or pals.
I'm going to be nice and
cordial, but don't go punching
me in the arm or don't, you
know, ask me for my cell phone
number or anything.
Oh, the funniest one was
I was with my youngest daughter.
She was just a baby.
And I'm taking her to cedars,
to the hospital to get her
This woman comes in the
elevator, and then she looks at
me and she goes--
"Oh, my god!
You're that man.
You're that dirty man, and you
have a child?"
And my daughter's waking up.
And I'm like, "lady, for god's
sake, I'm an actor."
But the best is when you go
to a checkout counter or you go
and, you know, and they're
dealing with you and everything
is going, and as you're walking
away, I've had people say,
"thank you, Mr. President,"
or something like that.
So they let you know that they
know who you are but they
don't--they don't bother you.
So, to have people come up
and--and say they like what you
do, they like your work, you
got through them on some level--
It's the most gratifying thing
in the world.
I think you're lucky if you
are able to make a living in
Hollywood any way as an actor,
but it--I think you're very
lucky if you get a chance to
make a living doing different
characters every time.
If you look at the range of
roles I've played from,
"Elvira: Mistress of the dark,"
you know, to "Babylon 5.
That's where we're luckier than
the stars.
I've gone from weirdo,
freako psychotics to sensitive
After "longtime companion," I
had sensitive parts with dying
everybody for a while.
Now, it's evil wasps.
I'm constantly being cast as
very confident, you know,
businessman types.
I do get a little tired of it.
I'm excited to play somebody
like--well, more like me.
You know, jeans and, you know,
a porkpie hat, maybe an
attitude, earrings all three of
the holes.
I've lost work because of this.
"We need the attorney
who's gonna lose the case."
"Yeah, well, Bob joy,
he'll be a good choice."
Or "we need the axe murderer
who's gonna, you know--you know,
kill the little girl."
"Oh, that would be Bob joy,
You get typecast from the
next five years, which is great.
You know, it's nice to have an
identity as long as you can
keep changing it.
I had to quit playing bad
guys for a while because I had
a casting director say to me
once, "well, let's face it.
You'll never play the nice guy
next door."
And I go, "what do you mean?
I am the nice guy next door.
Go talk to all the old ladies
down the block and ask them who
the nice guy next door is, and
I guarantee they'll all say
it's me."
I was afraid to come to
Hollywood initially because
I said, "well, I'm going to get
I'm gonna be, you know,
the bad guy or--"
"You know, the--the athlete."
I'm happy to say that I haven't
been typecast.
There's one thing worse than
being typecast, and that's not
I've lived my life for that,
I can't wait to be a type,
where people pick the phone up
and go, "that's who I want.
That's the guy we want."
I don't quite understand
people who want to play nice
guys all the time.
I think, "isn't that just
skating on the surface?"
That's so cliche.
Yeah, I play a lot of nasty
It's what I get cast to do.
I kind--I kind of look like
an asshole, so I get cast
as asshole characters.
But sometimes I would find
myself saying stuff like
Bellick would say, having the
same kind of negative attitude,
getting pissed off at people
and stuff.
Yeah, I call it character
I don't like having to go into
the--this horrible kind of
psyche of a guy like that.
He's a horrible person.
You know, if I got to play
one more nice guy, I'm gonna
cut my head off.
I got an inner demon, a
pathological nut inside me just
aching to get out.
As an actor, as a character
actor, especially you get to
play a lot of demented
You get to go places and sort
of pretend like a kid.
When we were kids, my mom
put us in talent shows.
And we were--we were so poor.
I remember we were--when we were
really young, you know, we lived
pretty much in the ghetto in
She was in the living room
one day pulling off the drapes.
And she began cutting them up.
She--she made our costumes out
of those.
I credit all my creative
instincts from her.
Well, a lot of people in the
industry come from transient
My mother and I sat down one
day, and we counted out that we
have lived in 18 different
houses by the time I was 18.
My father was a pharmacist.
My mother was a nurse.
Nobody has ever been involved
in acting.
My father was a marine for
24 years, and then he had
a whole another career as an
officer of the bank of
Burlington, Wisconsin.
He did that for 20 years.
He was the mayor of Burlington
and later a county councilman.
So he was very involved in
local politics and was not an
And as a matter of fact,
confessed to me how difficult
it was for him to do public
My father was a monk.
He left my mom and the family
and became a monk.
And we didn't hear from him for
about five years.
Well, we keep in touch, but he's
a monk, so we can't really talk
to him very much.
My father's an electronics
engineer who works in--god, help
me, I have a book of his
somewhere here.
Uh, it's, like, microwave
communications and--and solid
state circuitry.
And I get completely lost.
So I had blond, wispy hair
as a kid.
Always did till the day I was--
Entered college and almost
promptly, it went into full
My parents who've always been
very honest and candid with me
about my pursuit of acting,
were like, "well, Matt, you
know, you have a situation.
And your face and your body are,
you know, of a 19-year-old,
and your hair looks 35.
For a graduation gift, we would
like you to consider
a-a toupee."
So I'm like, "okay.
I guess--go over along route 20
in upstate New York," which is
really not the place to go
shopping for hair.
In hindsight, you see now,
but I get in there, and he's
telling me this thing, "it's
a weave, and it'll be nice,
and you'll, you know--it's
made--handmade in Haiti, and
you'll really like this."
Anyway, it turns out obviously
that baby doc Duvalier is down
there making a mess of things,
and everyone's throwing him out
on his ass and burning
everything down.
My roommates were watching it
on the news, and they'll see
like, you know, mayhem.
And, like, one guy's like, "hey,
I think that woman who's running
from that burning hut has your
toupee in her hand.
Look, yeah."
Finally, they call, it's ready.
And I go back to school, and I'm
asking people, and they're all
kind of like, "ah, yeah.
Ah, yeah, okay."
It's funny what you can talk
yourself into when you--when
you get into it, or you think,
"maybe no one will notice."
Then years later I've--I've
gotten these high-end ones that
are very--that are subtle.
It is fun.
This part of it, you know,
it does get back to what you
jumped into theater for in the
beginning was to try to become
something different, to look
in the mirror and take
a vacation from yourself.
Get a load of this, right?
It's supposed to be your
maternal grandfather is where
your hairline, your hair gene
comes from.
I won the lottery on that one.
Well, before I was an actor,
I was--I was a dancer.
I used to, uh, spin on my head,
believe it or not.
My brother and I were--were
when the break-dancing scene
came out to Hollywood when
I was 19.
It was to compete on this
TV show called "dance fever."
Now everybody knows.
When I was 19 years old,
I thought that the best thing
would--to do to be an actor
until I became a great actor,
which was going to be
when I was 35.
I would go then into medical
school, become a brain surgeon.
And by 42, I needed to be doing
brain surgery.
And then by 60, I was going to
become--I was going to run for
public office.
And that was the plan when
I was 19.
I'm a little late, especially
on becoming a great actor.
You know, it's, you know,
I'm still waiting for that,
to convince myself that
I'm that.
My dad who basically dealt
with numbers all his life--
His aunt died, and he got this
trunk that was his mother's.
And we open it, and it was full
of mementos of his, like, youth
AND 20s.
And there was a picture of him
at about 27 singing in
a night club.
And I was like, "what the fuck
is this?"
And he's like, "oh, that's--
That's me singing in the elks
club at Hinema--
In Helena, Montana.
Pull up some sheet music.
"Why is your name on the sheet
"Oh, it's a song I wrote."
My mother was English.
And I was brought up in Ireland.
It was 1939.
The war, they started bombing
England, and they shipped me
They shipped all the kids out
of London.
And they shipped me to
relatives, to my granny and to
my auntie Rita, who brought me
up in Dublin.
I went from in Yugoslavia
being, like, a very smart kid,
a very popular kid to coming
to the states and being sort of
the slightly odd kid who had,
like, long hair and bell-bottoms
and didn't fit into
a group particularly.
And the name--the name didn't
Although I changed my name.
It was the only time I went by
another name for--I think it
came from when we were first
in the states, and I was just,
like, three or four years old.
And it was just, you know,
I was too young to try to
explain my name to people.
I went by Jacob.
In Slovenian, in Serbian,
in Croatian, in all those
languages, there's actually
a letter, a separate letter,
a "z" with a little "v" on top
which is a "zhuh."
There is a little writer--
I can't remember if something--
If it actually happened
a couple times, things were
misspelled, and I wanted to try
to prevent that, so there's a
little, very officious-sounding
paragraph about the fact that
they have to spell my name
right, including the little
"v" accent over the "z."
My father was a businessman.
And like a lot of people of
that generation, they weren't
allowed to really go after
There was, you know, they were
children of the depression.
It was about making
a comfortable living for your
family, which he did.
But he--he was the best dancer
in the crowd, he had a way with
eye, with color and design, and
he had all these other talents
that men were not allowed to
pursue in those days unless you,
you know, coming from a bohemian
family or something.
Yeah, I think he played the
I mean, he was into music.
And there wasn't one Broadway
show they didn't see, and we had
the albums, and they were always
playing in the house.
And, you know, in our house,
Gershwin was a god.
And, you know, the house was
filled with those outlets.
And I think, yeah, I think under
different circumstances
he would have done something
differently, but they weren't
allowed to.
He insisted I go to college.
And when I went to Boston
university, which he paid for,
for me to be an acting major--
This is, like, not normal
behavior for Jewish families.
I think I knew when I had his
support, his encouragement,
that somebody else, who could
be a very harsh critic--
All our fathers can do that
to us--was saying, "I'm
supporting you in this."
And it was never--it was, like,
you know the expression, "and
I never looked back"?
That was it.
My dad had been a cop.
And every day he'd say, "so why
don't you get a regular job?"
And he saw me in the west end.
He actually saw me on the
equivalent of Broadway.
And he's sitting there, watching
me, on the equivalent of
Broadway, going, "well, why
don't you get a regular job?"
I was earning three times what
he was earning, but bless him,
you know, it's that old gener--
That generation.
My mom said, "you've got to
take other classes.
You got to have something to
fall back on."
I said, "if I fall back--if
I have something to fall back
on, I'll fall back on it."
I deluded myself into
thinking I could--I could do
some kind of double major with
something more rational and
practical and serious like
I'm color-blind, which explains
my only "C" in college 'cause
they bring you a tray of rocks,
and you're supposed to figure
out what they are because
they're green or brown or
whatever the hell color they
are, and I'm looking at them
like, "beats me."
We're gonna do something
different this semester.
We're gonna do a Shakespeare
If you're in the play, you don't
have to write a paper."
When I told my dad and my
mom that I wanted to be an
actor, they flipped out.
They just co--I remember my dad,
I can still hear him, you know,
he's screaming at me, you know.
"We sent, you know, we sent you
through university of Michigan.
And we paid thousands of
dollars and god damn it,
you want to be an actor?"
You know, he just flipped.
I applied for the Rhodes
scholarship, and I got it
and went to Oxford in England.
And I did two terms there, which
I really loved.
Between the second and third
semester, I got invited by some
of the people I'd done
Newfoundland traveling
theater company with to be
a part of this new sketch
comedy group they formed called
We made our rent.
We had a great time.
We were making films on the
It was a very creative time.
And I thought, "I can do this."
And so I resigned the
scholarship and sort of ran off
to join the circus.
And so from my parents, it was
that kind of thing that,
you know, "that's the worst
possible decision you could've
You, you know, resigned the
Rhodes scholarship, and you are
on a track to sort of become
something fabulous, and now
you're going to be an actor."
I started off studying to
be a doctor.
And I worked at a hospital from
the time I was about 18 until
I was 26.
I used to sing in a choir.
So I took some voice lessons
at school.
The last two years of college,
I took acting classes,
and I got a degree in acting.
I thought, "well, I'll go to
graduate school."
That way if I can't get a job
acting, I can teach.
So I went to Rutgers university
to graduate school for three
years, and within nine months
after I got out of graduate
school, I was on Broadway in
"Les Miserables."
I was a swing.
And swings understudy, like,
14 different parts.
Every time somebody went on
vacation in "Les Mis," or there
was, like, an epidemic of
the flu or some stomach virus
on the show, they would call me
in because I knew all the parts.
When I first started working
and there were lot of episodic
TV shows where they needed the
bad kid, the mixed up kid,
the junkie kid, the, you know,
the, you know, wild-eyed kid,
and--and I worked a lot of
I got my first series offer--
Was--was ten years after I left
The phone rings one day,
and it's my uncle, Henry Gibson.
He had called Robert Altman,
who was going to be shooting
a movie in the Seattle area
and told them that I, you know,
that I should call over there
and try to be a stenographer,
a non-speaking role.
Turns out that they do have
a small thing for me.
And I sit there for a month
and the last couple days,
they give me a line.
And so I get my S.A.G. Card.
It was a big deal for me.
In college, I did this thing
where I could take a fly
and then capture it.
And you throw it in a Ziploc
bag and freeze it for 40
seconds, and while it's stunned,
you can tie a note onto its leg.
You can tie a little thread
onto its back leg with a note
like--not unlike those planes
at the beach that say,
you know, "eat at Joe's"
or whatever.
Well, one of the guys, the last
day of the shoot says,
"that's--that's bullshit.
You can't."
And so we go down to craft
service and pop it in.
I have it, and Robert Altman
walks in with this camera
operator, John.
It takes off and flies up
and around the group of us.
And everyone's laughing, like,
"what the hell is this?"
And it lands right on the
French dp's zipper.
And they all fall over laughing.
And the show ends, and I go back
to driving a cab.
And I'm wondering what's going
to happen.
And a month later, the phone
rings, and it's Robert Altman
saying, you know, "I'm doing
this thing, and you should come
to New York.
And--listen, I don't know if
you can act.
But that thing you did with the
fly was so fucking funny.
I just had to have you around."
About a year after moving to
Chicago, I booked a McDonald's
I'm down for variety.
And I didn't tell my pop
about it at all.
Well, I didn't tell anybody.
I just said, "well, I'll let
people catch it as they're
watching TV."
Now, that's happening.
Mmm, mmm.
And my dad calls me, like,
that night and says, "hey,
when did you do a McDonald's
I just saw you."
And I said--I said, "well,
I started it about a month ago.
I wanted to surprise you,
you know."
He said, "hey, that's great,
You know, I'm really proud of
you, and, you know,
did they pay you yet?"
And I said, "yeah, they paid
He said, "okay, good."
It's a great showcase.
I was the only guy in the spot.
In fact, that was my demo tape,
was my commercial for, like,
about three years.
Now, that's happening.
I'm the victim of medical
malpractice at birth.
And the nurse used too strong
a solution of silver nitrate
and blinded one kid and
semi-blinded me apparently.
I had 11 operations, which
didn't really fix it properly.
And so I had what was left--
I was left with a milky eye.
So when Korea came, 1950,
I was--we were all called up
for the military.
I failed the medical because
of the eye.
So I went in the military
marine and came ashore and went
into the hospital to have a
checkup, and they said, "you
know, we can do something with
that eye now because we've
discovered this--we got this new
drug called cortisone."
So anyway, to cut a long story
short, they operated.
Um, it worked.
I saw with this eye for the
first time.
I'm seeing with both eyes and
then two weeks later, boom,
They fought for four months,
and in the end they said,
"we can't save it.
The whole thing's gone."
And it's wrecking this one.
So they took it out.
And I go into community theater.
And I get bet five pounds
I could not get into the royal
academy of dramatic art.
Got in.
But sailed in apparently.
18 months in, I was offered
a job, my first play.
I got a role in a big movie,
"mommie dearest."
I had auditioned with a nervous
breakdown scene.
Big buildup in the funeral home
waiting to go in to see--
I played the son, Christopher,
going to see the mother in her
And they'd never said good-bye,
never said I love you,
I hate you.
And I spent five months waiting
for that--that day of shooting
to come around.
Finally, they're shooting the
scene, they call me in,
and the director says, "okay.
So Christina's going to come
out from behind the curtain,
and you two are just going to
greet each other.
You haven't seen her since--
But you're just gonna go out."
And I said, "well, when do I go
behind and--"
"oh, no, that's a scrub.
No, we cut that months ago."
"What's a scrub?"
Oh, my god.
And I-I was so traumatized
by that in a way.
Well, I ended up moving to
L.A. by greyhound bus.
But I did it, man.
I-I got around without a car
for a year and a half.
Yes, it can be done.
I'm standing out on the bus,
coming home from an audition
And this young kid walks up to
me, and he says, "hey, man.
How come you didn't buy a car
with your McDonald's money?"
The problem about the pay--
The pay works like this:
It doesn't start off great.
You know, you kind of earn
your way up the ladder.
I got my first job,
and I was like, "oh, that's
I can--I can work.
I'm gonna work."
Like, don't quit your day job
because months between.
I think it's risky to be
an actor because your
livelihood is so unpredictable.
Everyone discouraged me.
I mean, everyone.
I would meet actors, and they'd
be like, "man, you shouldn't
do this.
Don't--you're never gonna make
a living.
I mean, I'm just being polite.
You're just--I wouldn't do it,
you know."
So I say to them again
and again, "is there anything
you can do that you think
would--you would find
interesting and be satisfying
to you?
And if there's anything else,
do that."
Some people can do it,
and some people can't.
And I don't know if you can
teach it or not.
I don't think you can.
I went to graduate school,
and they couldn't teach some of
those people how to act.
To this day, there are very
few people that are actually
positive and encouraging.
When I see a young actor,
all I do--
"go for it, man.
Go for it, do it."
You may suck, but it doesn't
Do it.
I mean, you got nothing else to
lose, you know, so--
What's difficult is, uh,
is getting work.
Hate it, auditions.
Sometimes when I get a call
from my agent and they say,
"we have an appointment for
you," I go, "fuck."
Literally from the time
that phone rings, like, you
have an appointment, you're
like, "oh, god."
Until it's over, it's just
Another address, another
load of lines, another
character, another room full
of sweating actors.
Auditioning is ridiculous.
It helps knowing.
If you want to see what an
actor does, watch their tape.
If they don't have a tape,
meet them and talk to them
because the audition process has
nothing to do--it does not
resemble at all what happens on
the day.
Well, you know what I look
like more or less.
And you know what I'm capable
of more or less.
Why don't you save me a lot of
trouble and just offer it to me
or not?
No disrespect to the casting
director, but they're not often
good actors.
So you've got nothing you're
working with.
So you're working in a vacuum.
Get me in a room like this
with two people who are
exhausted and are pissed off
they have to read people
when they should be scouting
a location.
It's just--it's partly my--
My difficulty of suspending
disbelief, that you're going to
walk into an office and, sitting
in a chair, pretend that you're
or wherever the hell it is and
reading for a revolution.
And suddenly, I'm having to be
reacting to a massacre that had
just happened in front of me.
And the line was like,
"oh, my god."
That was, like, the entire line
in the scene or something
like that.
Like, "are you buying this?"
'Cause I'm not.
"I guess they're saying it
this way.
Are they angry at me?"
You know, it's like acting is
What are they doing?
What are you reacting to?
Some idea of what you think
they may be doing in the scene.
The auditioning process is
really dehumanizing sometimes.
When you audition for a
pilot, you're probably one of
hundreds of people who
auditioned for this part.
Then maybe you have a callback,
and you're one of maybe 50.
Maybe you have a second callback
when you're 1 out of maybe 20.
And then, maybe they decide
to test you, so maybe you're
one out of five or six.
They'll call us, we'll do
a deal for you, so that they
know how much you'll--you'll
cost them.
And then, you will have to
test in front of the studio
And then, if you make it past
that, maybe you're one out
of three.
It's a real mental discipline
to be able to continue to have
the same kind of fun you had
at the first audition when you
finally do that thing called
the network test.
I think I first tested in
'87, and I had a friend who
told me that "it's gonna be
a hellish experience.
I just want to warn you what's
gonna happen.
There'll be people throwing up
in the halls.
It's--it's a horrible thing.
You sit in a room.
It's two minutes.
You gotta nail it.
You sign a contract for
thousands of dollars.
You see your competition."
I was, like, you know, I was,
like, a--I was, like, a mess.
You go on to the network
and hopefully, out of the three
people, you get it.
Okay, so you do the pilot.
All right, so then, the next
period comes where you hope
that they pick you up.
And then, hopefully, they'll
become a series because they've
done maybe 25 or 30 pilots, and
maybe they only have two or
three hours available to them.
And so you're lucky.
Okay, you hit the jackpot,
you get on the air.
Then you have to hope that your
show is successful, that people
actually watch your show because
other than that, the network
will cancel you.
So it's many steps, and you have
to be talented and lucky at
the same time.
You're going in there to
be judged.
You get one shot at it.
I've also failed miserably at--
At, like, network auditions,
all that pressure.
Incredible amount of--of
rejection that you go through.
There's ten other guys that are
sitting out in the hallway,
trying to do same thing you're
And they're all just as good
as you are.
Some of the happiest moments
of my life were when I was
leaving auditions.
And I didn't even care if I got
it or not.
I mean, occasionally I'd care.
I care.
If you have an ounce of--of
feeling in your body, you're
going feel like, "damn it.
I feel horrible, I feel--I--
What did I do wrong?"
I think it's hard for anybody
who wants to be an actor, but
I think it would be foolish to
think that race doesn't matter.
Most of the roles that are
written are for white actors
and actresses.
You never know why you get
a job, and you never know why
you don't.
It could be you get hired
because you remind the director
of his wife's brother.
It could be you don't get hired
because you remind the director
of his wife's brother.
Sometimes you can go into
a room, and you're having a
wonderful time with people.
And you really got a hold of it.
And other times, some guy's
looking down here saying,
"what time's lunch?
We got this--"
you're thinking, "we got this
cast already."
I remember a director, who will
remain nameless, and I went in
to audition for this movie.
And he turned to the--he turned
to the casting guy.
And he went--
So I waited for five years to
get my next audition with this
guy because I was gonna wrap
a chair around his head.
This was great.
I came in for the next job, and
it was about five years later.
I came in for the job, and
I just pulled up the chair,
and I sat, and I looked at him,
like, "okay, open your mouth.
Open your mouth, okay?
Say anything."
And he looked at me, and he
said, "you know, you have the
best face for a western I've
ever seen.
You got the blue eyes and that
anger in you.
I want you for this movie."
I went, "oh, okay."
And he got in a fistfight
with the star the next day and
was fired off the movie.
I don't think he's worked since.
And then a great director that
I had worked with before came
in and said, "no, kid--you're--
You're--I'm sorry.
You're a good actor.
You're wrong for the part."
I never got the job.
But it's funny, so you never
know how an audition is going
to turn out.
To learn the craft of
audition, first of all, you have
to be a reader in an audition,
you have to watch 50 guys walk
in and watch how 42 of 'em were
dead before they hit the chair.
They, you know, they've lost the
job before they opened
their mouth.
In this business, you just
keep going forward.
If you--if you start to worry
about it too much, you lose
your nut.
You lose your--you lose your
presence when you walk into
a room.
If you're there jonesing for
a job, and you need this job
bad, no way you'll get hired.
There's a point to which the
butterflies can really trip you
I mean, they can really chew--
Chew you up too much.
If the audition--here's how--
Is when it really hurts you.
The audition is really
important, and it's the only
audition you've had in six
months, you know what I mean?
You know what I mean?
When you go into an audition,
and you must book the job to
save your S.A.G. Insurance or
to--to pay your rent,
unfortunately, that tends to
work against you when it comes
to actually booking the part
because people feel that you're
desperate for a job, and--and
that can be off-putting.
The times that it works best
for me is when I don't care,
when I really don't care.
I mean, the last pilot I got
a few years back, I had a 103
fever, and I didn't want to be
there, and I didn't want to go.
And somebody was calling me,
"just get out of bed
and go there."
"Okay, I'm going, I'm going."
"Well, you gotta go back to
the network."
"No, I'm not."
And they'd--okay.
They hired you.
A part of me still loves to
audition because it's--it's
getting to do a performance
one time, in a--in a room.
Sometimes that's the only
chance you're gonna get to act.
This day, this week, this month,
that audition.
Usually, I don't bring
glasses to an audition because
they get in the way.
But for the part of Sid,
the scene was him examining
a cadaver.
So I brought my glasses, and at
a certain point, I put them up
and then, it just--and it helped
me get the part.
Far more often than any
compliment about my acting
in that role is compliments
about my glasses.
I think people like my glasses
more than my character.
I'm jealous of my glasses,
that's how petty I can be.
Donna calls and says,
"hey, how tall are you?"
I said, "I'm about--I don't
know, 6'2", you know.
Maybe 210 pounds."
She says, "no, you're 6'4."
And I said, "why?"
She says, "because Steven
Bochco's--you know this show
called 'Murder One'?"
I said, "yeah, yeah, yeah.
I love 'murder one.'
you know, it's a great show."
She says, "yeah, they're doing
year two, and they want--they're
looking for an actor who is
about 6'4", 6'3", 6'4"
and can convincingly look like
he plays pro basketball."
And I said, "well, I don't--
I don't play a lick of
basketball, but I can--I can
lie my ass off and say that
I can."
I wore some Skecher boots that
gave me about an inch and
a half height.
And I kind of dressed up
a little flashy, you know, for
the character because he's,
you know, $50 million NBA star.
I'm coming home on the bus on
Melrose Avenue.
I didn't have a cell phone
at the time.
I had a beeper.
Donna calls, and I was like,
"oh, my god.
This could be it."
I pull the bell on the bus and
get off at the next stop and
run to the nearest pay phone to
call Donna.
She says, "are you--are you
anywhere sitting down right
And that's all she had to say.
Dude, I'm going to start crying
right now.
And she said--she said,
"you got the job."
She said, "they loved you, and
you're going to be working
for a while."
They guaranteed him,
I believe, nine episodes, and
with that money, he got himself
a real junk of a car, but at
least it could get him around.
It got me off the bus.
To this day, out of all the
things that I've done in the
last 12 years, "murder one"
has to be the top, like,
probably the top two jobs
I've ever had.
When it was over, I was just
like, "wow, man.
I would love to stay on this
level," you know.
But, you know, being an actor
means your career is going
to go like this.
I auditioned for about a
year to--I unlearned everything
I learned in theater school
to get a job on TV.
And I-I got a job.
I would say that getting
a job is a 50/50 deal.
It's luck and skill.
Certainly, if I hadn't had
luck in certain opportunities,
I might not have survived this
I would say the fir--
The first job's luck,
the second job...
Is luck.
Third job, you gotta know what
you're doing because if you
suck, you suck.
And by the third job,
they figure that out.
[upbeat music]
We are working actors because
we work.
The job comes, and we pretty
much take it.
Okay, so a project will come
up, like "the hills have eyes."
And I read this script,
and I thought, "no."
So you say, "I'm not gonna do it
unless what I get out of it
makes a big difference, maybe
to my private life."
So it'll be tuition for
my daughter to go to NYU.
It will, you know, pay bills.
I mean, let's be practical.
One of the big sequences is
this clan member whose name
is Ruby, the same name as
my daughter, is trying to save
this baby's life.
And I'm saying I'm trying to
kill the baby to serve it up for
Just reminded me of
actually chasing my little girl
when she was a little girl
around the dining room table
saying, "I'm gonna get you."
My daughter Ruby has not seen
that movie.
I hope she never sees the movie.
I've had people saying,
"you got to be careful,
and you can't just do crap."
Then there are other people like
Anthony Quinn that says,
"son, do everything.
Do everything that's thrown
at you because you never know
what's gonna be successful
a year from now.
You'll never know what won't."
I'm a hack, I'm a prostitute.
I can't choose what my
customers are.
There's some cheesy stuff
that I would die if it was still
There are a couple of movies
I've done that really are kind
of dumb, and I-I didn't mean to
kind of send people down the
wrong Avenue.
I turned down a Tinto Brass
movie because it opens with
the--my--one of the great
quotes, which is, "the old man
stood there behind the maid,
showing us his gnarled and
wrinkled genitalia."
And I thought, "I don't think
I'm going to be doing this one."
Yeah, there's lots about
acting I don't like.
When it's not going well, when
you're working with uncreative
There's a couple of TV jobs
that I didn't like the
experience of or looked at and
said, "what am I doing here?
Oh, do I really want to do this
for a living?"
I guess I have a motto, which
is, "I'll stick around to be
insulted one more time."
Very few people achieve the
success that I think everybody
dreams of.
And so in Hollywood, there's
a lot of angry people who feel
like they'd been dealt--
If only they could have--if
they'd have been, blah, blah,
I worked with an idiot on
a film three years ago.
And she is the biggest--the
biggest diva I've ever worked
with, like a completely pampered
former television star who's
doing film, who I-I just--
Thank god a more senior actor
on set took her aside and said,
"who the fuck do you think
you are, talking to people
like this?"
Because she was impossible.
Now, I'm older and if it's--
Somebody starts messing with me,
I just tell them right off the
bat, "stop fucking with me."
I'm lucky I'm at my age, and
I get--I tend to get respect,
which is okay.
And if I don't, I'll get it.
You know, I'll punch your head
I was very reluctant to turn
a job down, and I remember
I had this great agent, and she
was like, "boy, you got to grow
some balls.
You know what?
You got to learn how to say no.
'No' is the password to the next
True or false:
All actors are crazy.
Prior to--just prior to
getting into the drama
department, I thought everyone
was gay or out of their minds.
And they are.
I'm in the latter category,
out of my mind.
I'm with your mommy,
you know that, right?
I don't think I am.
I mean, I'm a little batty.
You got to be crazy to do
You got--you got to have
a screw loose.
Why not live just an easygoing,
calm life like the average bear,
you know, and just take what
life is--throws at you and deal
with that?
No, we've got to read a play
about, you know, our parents
dying in a car accident when
they're young.
And then they grow up, and they
lose everything in a great
depression and then are reborn
by some miracle of
deus ex machina that, you know,
saves them from the fiery pit
in the end, and then, you know,
you go out to your applause.
[futuristic music]
Everybody does "Star Trek."
Some of us more than once.
I've done four "star treks."
"Next generation..."
"Voyager," two movies.
I've been a ferengi.
I've had foam cheeks of ass
glued to my forehead.
I've done a number of
"star treks."
"Star Trek" was always
about--to me, it's almost
You have to be able to
handle the language, which is,
you know, a little stilted,
a little theatrical, a little
larger than life.
I think my first job in
L.A. was "Star Trek: Voyager,"
and I played a robot.
Oh, I did "Star Trek: Voyager."
This time I was human.
The last "Star Trek" series,
"Star Trek: Enterprise,"
my guy is a sloth...
So he'd look a lot like
To this day, I say it's one of
the best jobs any actor could
For me to take a bunch of
words that on the paper looked
like something out of an
encyclopedia and convincing the
viewership that this is a real
person saying some really
interesting stuff--
I know how to do that.
I often play lawyers and
doctors, and I have a great deal
of difficulty with legalese
or medical technology because
I don't--it doesn't mean
I don't even know what it--
What I'm talking about.
You know, you read these things.
You go, "what are you talking
No one sounds like a human
You know when you have a
mouth full of horseshit to say,
you just got to get all out of
your mouth.
Save it there, and you can be
anywhere you want until the
last word.
In TV, you got to know it
fast and you got it--because
you can get offered a job today
and start shooting tomorrow.
They booked me at 11:30
at night.
The script never arrived there
till 1:30.
And I had to be there at 6:30.
I was actually going to
literally walk into costume
because I had to get all my
suits coming in, learning the
stuff, trying to learn it,
trying to learn it, trying to
learn it.
There isn't one part of what
I do that I don't like.
From the minute they say,
"we're ready for you in hair
and makeup.
What would you like for
Can we get a rehearsal?
Your wardrobe is ready."
I like every part of it.
You know what, I've never
had a bad experience.
I've got to be honest with you.
I've never not wanted to go
to work.
I've always loved the
environment of the film
business, you know what I mean?
But my best ever job overall
for the whole experience was,
I think, "cliffhanger."
To get off that plane and all of
a sudden, find myself within
my own dream, but it was real.
I used to pinch myself every
"I'm in a Hollywood action movie
with Sylvester Stallone."
It was constant.
And you know what?
At the end of the day, it was
a tiny part.
And still now when it's on,
because it's on every other day,
just seeing your name on
the screen with that music, and
it's a huge buzz.
I do have an action figure.
For "24," I'm very proud of it.
That's one of my greatest
All right, can you get
a close-up?
Hang on.
Remarkably accurate.
Can you see the hairline there?
This actually has more hair
that I do now.
I don't want to open it just
because, you know, 20 years from
now, I have to sell it on eBay.
That's so cool.
Sometimes I think, you know,
"jeez, I did pretty well,
you know."
They'll say, "jeez, I just--
I just really hope you can
make it someday, you know."
[laughing] SO--
But it's not enough.
I want to be star.
We'd all love to be up there.
I mean, any actor who says he
don't is lying.
It's like, you know, we'd all
like to be more successful than
where we actually are.
You know, I definitely do.
One of my favorite scenes
ever on film is from "damages,"
and it partly comes from--
I was a series regular for
the first time in my life.
And the difference between
being even recurring and
certainly between being--
Doing a guest job and being
a series regular, there's
a huge psychological difference.
Guest starring is--it is
one of the toughest ways to make
a living in this business.
You don't know these other
actors, you don't know the crew,
you don't know the dynamic.
[snaps fingers]
And you got to hit there,
and it's got to feel like the
reg--like, it's got to be
absolutely cohesive and it's--
It can be really hard.
And you're walking in, and
you're waiting for the first
person to say hello in
a friendly way, you know.
And the difference between
people saying, "hi, I'm so glad
you're here," and people
saying, "hey."
I mean, I've sat in trailers
so many times in makeup chairs,
and the regulars just pass by.
Don't even acknowledge that
you're there.
If you want to be part of
the party, you're in trouble.
So what you do is you learn
your lines, you hit your marks,
and you stay out of everybody's
You don't get paid, you know,
anything like you get paid
as a series regular.
You do get--something they
don't teach--career curves,
ups and down.
You--you're gonna get them
when you get used up.
I did 10 televisions in one
year, and in the next, I didn't
work for 18 months.
I think I've been fired
twice, which I love actually.
I love getting fired.
And the way they did it--they
were all so mean and weird.
But they didn't like what I was
doing, so that's cool.
You're nobody in this town
until you've been fired.
And when it happens, I don't
care how long I've been working,
I will be shattered.
I will cry like a little girl.
Well, there are times when,
you know, I didn't get that job,
and they hired that asshole,
and it sucks.
And I'm glad.
And sink.
But then lots of times, that's
a big hit.
So the joke's on me.
Maybe they were right.
Do I have to answer that?
Yeah, and that's the really bad
part of me, you know.
That's the part that I keep
in the corner with the dunce
hat on.
Yeah, I know exactly what
you mean, yeah.
He's incredibly honest,
I mean, I am--I'm not
I mean, that's not true.
"How did you get that?
What did you do to get that?"
"I auditioned, I spoke some
words, they liked me, and I got
You know, when you go to
the movies and see your friends
in leading roles and--
Or you turn on the TV and,
you know, you see your pals,
you know, doing some great work,
you know, week in and week out,
and, you know, you're still
waiting for the cell phone
to ring, it does kind of hurt.
I never felt like someone
else's getting something would
take away from anything you
would ever get.
No, I don't agree with Vidal
because that's bitchy.
He's a good writer, but it's
Now, if I'm in a series,
I wish everybody success.
But you know, what happened
to the actors too, which is
a great thing, this kind of
a club, and we see each other
in an airport or in a plane
or in somewhere.
And then--and you fall in, like
you had just--like you are all
campers, you know.
The time--or you were like
alcoholics, I think is better.
But for instance, I mean
just to give you an example,
I'm friends with John Slattery,
who was in my category in the--
Up for the Emmys.
Slattery came up to me during
the show at one point and,
you know, and congratulated me,
and he was very sweet about it.
And I was kind of tongue-tied
because--because I knew how
I would feel.
In that moment I'd feel like,
"well, that's very nice for
my friend," but on the other
hand, I'd rather be him right
I-I was more consumed with
that when I was young.
I--everybody was my competition.
It didn't matter.
It's a lot of wasted energy.
I mean, there are some who
are--you know, who are dicks,
who are egomaniacs, who are so
wrapped up in themselves.
I know I'm fairly wrapped up in
I had a friend I remember
when I was young, and I used to
go on and on and on and tell
her everything.
And then she would say,
"I'm good too."
And I'd--I had no idea what
she meant.
[thunder rumbles]
The business is so difficult.
You'll get that from all of your
Don't take it from your friends,
for god's sake.
Just be supportive as you can.
I sound like I'm, like, really
I'm, like, as creepy and as
awful as the rest of them.
I never thought it was a
viable way to make a living.
I-I gotta tell you, I still
don't think I can make a living
doing it.
Well, as an actor in the
screen actors guild--what is
99.4% of the screen actors guild
is unemployed on any given day.
I mean, the screen actors
guild is filled with people
who've worked one job and keep
paying their dues.
The biggest challenge to
being an actor is how to get
through the, you know,
The best thing about being
an actor is you have a lot of
time off.
And the worst thing about being
an actor is you have a lot of
time off.
The dry spells are a part
of the business.
I remember sitting with
Henry Fonda.
And he said, "well, there's
only one job this year, and
it's gonna go probably
to Stewart."
They all--they say in
New York that you know you're
a successful actor when you can
claim your unemployment
That means you have to work,
like, 14 weeks.
If you can work 14 weeks
as an actor, then you get, like,
26 weeks of unemployment.
And for a long time, I would
design my lifestyle so that
I could live on unemployment.
Everybody hits their peaks
and valleys.
And, um, we've had people who
were hot, hot, hot.
Everybody wanted them at the
same time and then perhaps
they get on a television show
that's not successful.
And so what happens is that
suddenly they're cold.
I'd worked as an actor for
several years, and then it just
went dry.
It's always like--
[groans nervously]
"Okay, next."
[groans nervously]
There--there's nothing
better than--than to be
a working actor.
There is nothing worse to be
a not working actor.
I used to write bad checks
for pizza.
And I would buy, like, two or
three pizzas and put them
in the refrigerator because
I didn't have any cash.
I couldn't go to the grocery
So then I would end up spending
half of my next check paying
off the--you know, the 20 bucks
check for the pizza plus the
20-buck return check fee
because it bounced.
So I was in bad shape then.
The guy said, "I have to
read the meter.
You owe, like, $9,000 on this
I said, "oh, really?"
I said, "where is the meter?"
Because the meter was, like, on
that tree, and I would go over
underneath this thing, down
underneath over by there,
and there'd be a little trap,
which really went to nowhere,
and I'd lift it, and I'd say,
"it's down in there.
But I gotta tell you, there's
a lot of vermin down in there."
I used the word "vermin."
That sounded like someone a
little surer, "a lot of vermin
down in there."
And I lift it up.
He said, "oh, fuck it."
Then he left.
I'm sorry, I-I'll make sure to
pay those electrical bills if
they're still due."
You know, I did the jobs you
did, you know, as a waiter or
telephone surveys or, you know,
all those jobs that you could
have off hours.
I worked at the door at
For four or five years,
I was--you know, I worked
asphalting, tarring roofs,
I had a job for three months
in a law firm stapling.
I drove a cab.
I dealt Blackjack.
I got a massage license.
I've done contracting.
I've been a wine salesman.
I've done training.
I do all--a wide variety of
things to keep food on the
table, keep the mortgage paid,
keep the kids in the school.
I have driven limos, which
contained certain people that
you would not normally meet
during the day.
And they would ask for me
because I was very well spoken.
I never hit on them, and I could
make an awful lot of money on
a Saturday night.
Found this job watering
plants in Chicago.
You know, I had, like, 2,300
plants on my route.
Downtown loop area of Chicago.
It gave me the freedom to put
my buckets down in the utility
closet, which I had the key for
in various buildings, and go
I met someone.
This incredible woman when
I was in college, and we got
married, you know, five years
after I was in acting school.
And we just--she made it
possible, really, for me.
It was really her.
She supported me for the first
five years of our--of really
being in New York and trying
to--she was slaving it away.
She wanted to be an actress too.
She dropped out, and she was
working in some corporate
offices while I was goofing
around onstage.
I always like the idea of
this vagabond loner guy who
kind of didn't want to be
committed into one place.
I-it's partly selfish, you
know, to--selfishness of youth.
That kind of lifestyle
doesn't lend itself to having
a girlfriend, much less
a family.
I had a dog though with me for
the--all of those years.
I had a big, white Samoyed
named Sam.
He was, like, 100 pounds, and
he went everywhere with me.
You know, as long as
I'm in show business, you got
someone to scratch your ass.
You hear me?
But when I met Lisa, my wife,
Lisa Giobbi, who was a
Everything sort of fell into
place, and I was--you're right.
I was just turning 40.
I was 39 years old, and I
thought "this--I think it's time
for me to be with this person."
Well, I was here in L.A.
Trying to, you know, do film
and television, and I'd already
bought a house by then.
And I met my wife.
She came to rent a room at my
house, but it was too expensive
for her, so she turned it down.
But we ended up going to a party
and hooking up anyway.
Now, she stays for free.
I married a woman who had
studied acting, had given it
a bit of a go in New York,
came out here, went on one
too many "Baywatch" auditions
and just said, "fuck this shit."
I think because you
understand each other, you
understand the lifestyle
you understand what is--
You have to go on location--
I do get obsessed the minute
I get a job.
And my wife is wonderful
because she says, "okay, he's
He's at the Ramada inn even
if he's upstairs.
He's--he's gone."
Because I need that 24-hour
focus on that character in that
I'm very lucky that my wife
is 100% behind me.
I've spent a lot of time away
from home.
Yeah, no.
My--my wife is a model.
And my--my brothers were
always very supportive.
You know, when I'd be broke and
I wouldn't, you know,
necessarily even ask them
to borrow money but they'd--
There would be check in the
mail for a few hundred bucks.
I'd be like, "oh, thank god.
Hey, I made my rent."
It helps to have a brother
who's a dentist, and you can
call up and say, "can you float
me a loan?" Which I always
paid back, but, I mean, I had
a safety net.
I did.
I'd worked with this one
producer, and he used to tell
young actors, when they would
ask him, he would say--and they
would say, "what's the most
important thing for a young
actor to have?"
And he would say,
"rich parents."
In my mind, it's always about
keeping your nut low.
I mean, I drive--I drive
a 14-year-old Honda accord.
You know, my wife and I
live like hippies.
We have no television.
We have no dining room set.
We don't eat at a table.
People can usually figure
out the economics, you know,
with way--you know,
jobs--temporary jobs or
something or borrowing money
or, you know, running up their
credit cards or something.
But it's the mental thing that
trips you up.
Sometimes I don't deal with
it very well, to be honest with
You know, that's when drugs
and alcohol will get involved
too, you know, people
self-medicate just to survive
the day-to-day rejection.
I used to, every night--the
night would be spent sitting
in front of a TV and smoking
and having a drink or two
until I sought the bed.
"Perhaps I'm abusing," is what
I thought.
I didn't really know, but I
thought, "if you're sitting and
getting, you know, fucked up
every night after--late into
the night, is that healthy?"
I think it's always a mistake
to try to find happiness in
your work or to define your
happiness through your work.
Plant a garden, fall in love,
have a pet, have a hobby.
I took up martial arts when
I was 40.
You gotta do something
where--where you're interested
in it and you're having a good
time even if you're not happy.
[indistinct chatter]
Basketball's been a real
good thing for me.
You know, it's therapy.
Four, two, right?
And it made me think that
everything we do on the
basketball court is kind of
related to acting, you know.
Like, you learn to commit
to whatever move you're making.
I think that one of the nice
things about acting even though
it's a grind, and it's highly
competitive, that you have time
to be with your family, and you
have time to be in your life.
We generally skate once--once
every month, I guess.
At least once a month.
I mean, I'd like to get him
involved in hockey, which is--
I don't want to do hockey.
You don't want to do that?
[indistinct chatter]
[gentle piano music]
I wasn't the yoga guy.
Long ago, I was a gym rat,
My wife got into yoga and for
years tried to lure me in.
She'd say, "oh, you really
should come try it.
It's really great."
And, "no, listen, you do your
thing, I'll do mine."
I was totally rude about it.
And she finally got me when she
said, "oh, don't worry, it
would just kick your ass
And I never went in the gym
It's really--it literally
changed my life, I mean, from
having, like, multiple knee
operations, foot operations,
things that really hampered my
ability to move.
I've been, like, pain-free with
my knees for years now.
The focus it's giving me in
terms of acting is amazing.
It's made me a calmer person.
My wife won't agree, but it's
made me a better dad, better
I-I do yoga every day.
[gong hits]
Someone told me once that
yoga is natural Viagra.
[upbeat music]
So, Ian, like I was telling
you, in this line of work,
you need hobbies because if
you're sitting around, waiting
for a job, you'll go insane.
I'm lucky enough that I work on
a show that brings me to the
beautiful northwest, except I'm
in Canada, B.C., so that's the--
What is that?
That'd be the southwest.
To take advantage of being
on a beautiful location and do
something really cool like
fly-fishing even though I'm not
very good at it.
Props, props.
Props, can we get a fish
I like to read.
I play a lot of musical
to green.
The prettiest eyes I've seen.
Anytime you're out of work,
you're not sure how long that
period will be.
Well, I know actors who
don't work for three years
a stint, or two years.
I didn't get any auditions
for about six months,
and I was on unemployment.
I had a house, a brand-new
baby girl.
She was only, like, six or nine
months old, and I totally
flipped out at that point.
How many people in the country
have a budget where they don't
have to work for six months?
I'm pretty good with the
dough because when I get it,
I keep it, and I know it could
be a dry spell for a long
period of time.
I had friends who were on
shows, who were regulars on
shows making it, to me, a great
paycheck, and they just pissed
it all away.
I was always cheap, so
I saved my money.
Because you know, it is a
roller coaster ride, and it
plummets as high as it climbs
And especially, as a character
actor, you really, you know,
the ship doesn't always come in
to hold you above water for--
For more than a few weeks.
I did have a rough patch
about, I'll be guessing now,
but probably about four or five
years in, I didn't work for
a year.
That was sobering but not--it
didn't derail me.
It didn't--it didn't make me
have to wonder, "oh, my god,
what happens when everything
comes to a grinding halt?"
Right after 9/11, that was
one of the hardest times for me.
And, uh, I just wasn't getting
offered any work.
Not only that, I wasn't
auditioning a lot.
The pain of that started really
taking its toll on me.
And I fell into just the--
I don't know how else to say it,
I fell into the abyss.
I couldn't sleep.
I was smoking like a chimney.
I was just drinking a lot.
I was depressed.
I noticed the bills stacking up.
I wasn't able to--to take care
of them for the first time
And I started getting scared,
you know, and I had a car note,
you know, I had an apartment,
I had this, I had that.
I said, "well, what am I going
to do?"
So I said, "well, first thing
I'll do is maybe sell
everything that I have."
And or, you know, just--I need
to get all this out of here--
Furniture that I have, and so
I did that.
I sold what I could sell or
what people--and I didn't really
get anything for it, not as--not
as much as I wanted.
I had this big, huge TV that was
sitting in--in fact, in my
living room.
And I said--I said, "well,
I think I'm going to sell it,
but you know what?
Instead of selling it, I think
I'm going to--I'm going to--I'm
going to destroy it."
I went, got out my toolbox and
a hammer and a couple of other
things, and I began, like,
destroying it.
I just went up to it and just
started beating the shit out of
And I destroyed--glass
everywhere and everything and
all across the living room
floor, and, like, I killed my
I think I was really killing--
And this sounds kind of maybe
bizarre, I was--it was just
symbolic to me of everything
I had achieved.
But it was--it was betraying me
at the time.
I wrapped it up in this blanket,
and I dragged it.
It was heavy, so I dragged it
down to the garbage bin
downstairs, and I dumped it.
So I said, "all right,
got rid of that."
And the last thing that was
really left was my car,
you know.
And I kept getting phone calls
from the auto finance company
because I was late on my car.
I ended up turning my car in.
And there I was again, right
where I was from the beginning,
back on the bus.
I didn't decide to--to, you
know, kill myself or anything.
I didn't decide to kind of do
away with it all, but I said,
"well" --I think I thought about
it though.
You know, I thought about kind
of just, "well, maybe it's
time for me check out."
I remember I was on the Melrose
bus, and I got off--I remember
I got off and called Donna,
and I just broke down.
I was--I lost it, you know.
And I wasn't mad at her,
I was just mad, and you know,
I just said to her, you know,
"I'm back on the bus again,
you know, this wasn't supposed
to be like this," you know.
And she said, "look, let me call
somebody, you know.
I know someone at
'general hospital.'"
just came at the right time.
It came at the right time.
So I rode my bike over to the--
To "General Hospital" set.
When you ride a bike to a
studio, the security guards
look at you like--like you're
"Are you delivering something,
or are you on a wrong--do you
need--are you lost?"
"No, I'm here to go to work."
"You're--for what show?"
"'General hospital.'"
"you're--you're on the show?"
"Yeah, I'm on the show."
"Okay, you can lock your bike
over there by the coke machine,"
you know.
I hope--I hope it doesn't happen
again, but if it does, I think
I'm better prepared to deal
with it, you know, than before.
There are more and more
actors out of work not be--not
necessarily because there are
more actors, although I suspect
there are.
But it's the consolidation
of a business.
There are just fewer films
being made.
There's much more reality
And the pay goes down because
they keep paying less, and they
say, "hey, they still show up.
We pay them less, and they still
show up."
It is very, very difficult
for a character actor to make
a living doing film now when
you're paid scale ten.
So you got to--you got to
support a kid and maybe a wife,
and you're being paid, I don't
know, whatever.
You know, 2,750 bucks a week,
come on.
When you were paid 20 years
ago, it was, like, 10,000 bucks
a week.
What's going on?
When I first came here, I
went off to do a TV movie,
I was making 40 grand a week.
Now you're lucky to get
$6,000, $7,000.
And they don't give a fuck
who you are or what you've
done because they're like,
"there's somebody else."
You know, it's that whole thing,
there's 10,000 guys behind you
that will take the job.
And sometimes you have to just
go, "all right, go fuck
yourself then.
No, thank you."
One of my clients was--was
offered a job for an episodic
television show, major network.
He found out after he booked
the job that they only wanted
him for a day, that they would
need him two days early for
prosthetic work because he's
shot and killed.
Um, and it included a weekend.
So he would be getting paid
$3,000 before commissions,
before taxes to work for five
days, and when they said that
he also wouldn't get a single
card billing, which is something
that's pretty important,
especially when you're not
getting paid well, he held out,
and they recast the role.
But there's just something
sobering about seeing how much
this present business
does not actually need you.
It just needs to fill the slot.
And the slot is eminently
fill-able with 4 million people
in line right behind you.
The one-day guest star,
they take all your scenes,
shoot them in one location,
so they only have to work you
for a day, a 15-hour day,
but it's a day, and they'll go,
"well, here's $1,500."
I mean, a lot people think
that we all make a ton of money,
that we all make a load of
"Oh, you're rich."
And, you know, if you're--
If you're a guest-starring
actor, you--I felt that I was,
you know, I think you're more
than fortunate if you get one
job a month because it takes
two weeks to shoot an episode,
more or less, so it's like, to
get one job a month is--
It's great.
You can't live on one job
a month.
When the money comes, it
comes, but it doesn't--you
know, I suppose to your average
American, it looks like a lot
because on paper it is.
But if you get a big chunk here
and then you go two months
without, and then you get a big
chunk here--
Many actors have many people
involved in their careers.
So when someone gets a
paycheck, we are allowed to
collect 10%.
Often, they have a manager who
can collect 10% to 15%.
They might have an attorney
involved as well.
Normally they take 5%.
So we're talking maybe 25%
taken off the top minus whatever
taxes you're paying to the
government and perhaps
a publicist, who also takes
a set fee per month.
I used to see some checks
coming in for clients that
they maybe saw 1/4 of what that
check was.
You don't go into acting
for financial security.
You go into it because you
enjoy it.
For me, really deeply
fulfilling to get to do what
you love to do and get paid
for it.
But when you're making money,
and the gods of Thespis and
the world and economy are
smiling on you, you think,
"I've arrived."
You get a TV series,
and it's like, you know,
you know, it's like backing up
into an ATM.
It's terrific.
Most of us have never made
that kind of money before.
I never made that kind of money
before I got on "prison break."
And I didn't even make a lot
of money on "prison break"
I'd been out here.
I was 15 grand into a credit
card in debt, just paying
groceries and rent and stuff.
I did a movie, "in the company
of men," where I went to
Indiana and shot it in 11 days
for $24,000.
We literally ran out of film.
I borrowed money from my
brother, so I'm an executive
producer on that.
And I went from really not
being able to get in on pilots,
you know, or auditions to,
"oh, the guy from that."
A friend of mine has a
furniture moving company,
he's like, "fuck, I'll give you
70 bucks a day or something
like that."
I was like, "all right."
I would schlep furniture into
rich people's houses.
And the next day, literally,
I got "Xena."
Two days later, I'm in new
Zealand, and that was sort of
the beginning of the role.
It came the day after I went,
"all right.
Manual labor.
Here's my pride, take it.
I need a paycheck."
What I have achieved is an
enormous success that, if
I were a lawyer, I may not be
F. Lee Bailey, but I could be
a really successful lawyer,
and everyone doesn't have to
necessarily know my name.
If we were in any other field,
there would be no doubt about
It's just that because Hollywood
has this self-adoration thing
that we only revere that top
0.10% that we forget there's
a whole community of solid
working professionals who also
help to keep this industry
And I think I'm one of them.
It's like when you go to
acting school, they're only--the
only roles they ever give you to
work on are the starring roles
in the most dramatic emotional
scenes among those in that play.
Nobody ever gives--nobody
ever seems to go to work on, how
do you help tell the story?
What's this character do to
help tell the story?
You know, I didn't think
I was leading man material.
I didn't think I was romantic
lead material, but I thought
there were plenty of parts
that were interesting out there
for me.
I don't--I'm not a, you
know, handsome guy, and I'm not
a, you know, I don't have--I'm
a journeyman actor.
I'm a character guy.
And, you know, probably I'm
never going to, you know,
have a big movie career or
you know, get the lead on some
big TV show.
It's just not who I am.
You do this kind of work
because you love it.
But to be honest, it's what
I do.
It's what I said I was going
to do since I was a kid.
Nothing ever happened that
was so devastating that made me
say, "screw this."
If you give up, then I've
given up not only for me but
for all those other, you know,
poor kids who look like me and
haven't--haven't come here yet.
You know, people I've--some
of the best letters I've
received fan mail-wise are
from kids in--all over the
country who say, "you know, Mr.
Worthy, I'm 8 years old.
I'm 9 years old.
I'm 12 years old.
I just saw you on so and so's
One day I would love to be an
actor like you," you know.
And to me, that means more than
what any critic could write
about anything I've ever done
because it means I've affected--
Reached--connected with some
kid who has dreams.
I have a line that I often
thought would be perfect
when I get some award someday,
which would be, "I'd like to
thank all the people who said
You made me try so much harder."
If I got out of business
tomorrow, everything I've--I've
tried to accomplish, I've done.
I'm a little kid.
Every time I go to the movies,
I get my popcorn, and I get my
the popcorn, and then shake 'em
Well, I wish I had a little
bungalow out in L.A.,
and I could make a living doing,
you know, pop-ups on TV shows
and occasionally be in a great
Oh, that's what I have.
It's fantastic, and I laugh
my ass off all day long,
so much so that I'm afraid I'm
gonna get fired.
If I had to pick a category,
that's what I would've picked
in the first place 'cause
that was going to have
the best shot of seeing you
through a life.
I have a great family life
and a lot of time to myself
to do whatever I want and be
with my family, and then I get
to work every once in a while.
I'm lucky.
I'm 75 sitting here, and I'm
still alive.
And working.
I was working yesterday morning.
This is what I do pretty
well, and I only have so many--
So much time on the planet,
my job is to give it away.
I don't need a big ego.
And actually it doesn't help me.
I think maybe if it helped me,
if I needed it, I could--I
could find one.
In the morning, you're an
In the afternoon, you're a
In the evening, you know, you
get some sundown syndrome,
and you're a really dark
character, but in the morning,
you wake up, and you're the
optimist again, you know.
When acting is going well,
it's certainly a buzz, man.
It's a--it's a rush, you know,
if it's going well.
Often it's not but--then, you
know, you're in hell.
You can play the villain.
You can play the victim.
You can play the doctor,
the lawyer, the Indian chief.
You don't have to carry a
picture, and you can raise a
family in this town.
I always wanted to emulate
Moliere because he died onstage.
That happened to me, it would be
I hope I tell a really
good joke and then die.
It's just now coming to me
that, "yeah, this is something
that I've done my whole life,
40 years almost now, coming up
Just--I don't even want to
think about anything.
I just go and be that guy.
[upbeat music]
[indistinct chatter]
Hey, man.
Good to see you.