If you missed pt 1 of this blog, you can catch it here.
If you missed pt 2 of this blog, you can catch it here.
Welcome to pt 3 of Being a Christian in Hollywood. By now we’ve covered perception and why it’s hard to put a public label on your beliefs as an actor, as well as the history of my self-imposed limitations on roles. So, now that we have a framework/introduction, and a past, let’s move into the present.
Presently, I do mostly commercials. And commercials are almost never in the territory of nudity/sex scenes/foul language. So for my day to day job, it’s a non-issue. When I did improv, my teams were almost always composed of fellow believers, so the comedy rarely went blue. This is actually a hard thing to find. I have sat through more excruciating time slots of teams detailing blow jobs than I care to remember. Blue humor is cheap and easy, but rarely satisfying.
Like most actors, however, I didn’t come to Hollywood with the dream of selling products on TV. Though it’s my bread and butter, doing commercials is not exactly creatively fulfilling for me. I long to be doing films. I’ve worked on a few, I’ve procured a couple of credits, but once you get to the narrative film corner of the industry, you have to be more careful. I am very choosy about the projects I work on. Not that I have offers flung at me from every angle, but it’s important to me to vet a script before I get to any serious stage of casting.
What does this mean? A few years back I loosened up on the language requirement after realizing that in certain instances, those words held more power than the non-profane. In the movie ‘Saved’ (interesting watch) at one point the lead walks up to a statue of Jesus and tumbles out a string of curse words to try and make sense of her relationship with God and what that meant. Those words had purpose. It wasn’t foul because the writers couldn’t come up with anything more descriptive to say, it had a point. When I did ‘The Last 5 Years’, in the song ‘See I’m Smiling’, I was surprised to notice that when I sang ‘You could stay with your wife on her FUCKING birthday’ instead of editing it out, it put my emoting to a completely different place and level. That had meaning. So I said it. That’s where I’m at with language. I still don’t say GD. Because, come on. Yikes.
I was up for a really interesting, complex role on a film about a mixed race couple dealing with their family fall-out. I enjoyed getting to improvise with several of the guys up for the lead at the callbacks and felt really good about this one. I told them up front that insinuated sex scenes were ok, but I was not comfortable with the nudity/sex scenes that were scripted. They called me while I was on set of a commercial to try and talk me into it and see if I would budge. I wouldn’t. They cast someone else.
Last year a casting director I knew sent me an audition for a film he was very excited about. Not only was the script horribly depressing, it also left a bad taste in my mouth after reading it with all the violent sex scenes and foul language. This was the first audition he had offered me, so I hated having to turn it down, but I did. After sending him an email letting him know why I wouldn’t be able to audition for a role who’s few scenes included giving a BJ to the lead (ew), he made sure to put me in my place by saying “since you have very few film credits, I can’t tell, so you tell me, what type of film is it that you want to do?” Firstly, thanks for belittling me, but secondly, how about redeeming films? How about ones that make you want to be a better person when you’re through watching it? That make you more hopeful about life? There’s enough depression and awfulness in this world.
These are not infrequent situations I encounter being a Christian in Hollywood. It most definitely limits what I want to work on, and my chances to work. Next week, tune in to part 4- the future.