The Actor's Life
16 August 2010
I suppose I thought I knew how hard it was to be an actor. I’ve auditioned many thousands of actors in my time with BSC, I have scores of friends at different ends of the business, I’ve watched careers rise and fall over the years. But it was sitting on the steps of the American Church with nine other actors waiting for my five minutes with the casting director for the programme HUSTLE, that the scale of the nightmare that makes for an actor’s life sank in. This is hard. Very, very hard.
Why was I auditioning? I decided earlier this year that I would like to put myself out there again as a freelance actor, something I haven’t done for eighteen years since I started up the BSC. A role in a fringe production of THE DICE HOUSE last year reminded me how good it was to be amongst a group of actors where you weren’t the boss. Quite perversely, given it’s a regular complaint for most actors, I have revelled in the lack of power I’ve enjoyed at the four auditions I’ve attended as an actor. No responsibility, no decisions to be taken, no-one looking to me for anything other than a performance. It has been very refreshing.
I knew it was going to be hard, particularly with television. I have no TV on my CV – my only experience being a small role twenty years ago on MAKING NEWS with Bill Nighy (who held my hand throughout rehearsal and introduced me to all the crew). But the actual reality of attending those auditions; seeing everyone else waiting outside (who always look much better for the part than you do) and leaving the audition room without a clue of what they actually thought of what you did: yes, these are the situations that make you wonder how anyone survives the trade.
Anyway, I got the job on HUSTLE. A small part, but nothing could be too small to dampen my pleasure and amazement at getting through the system and onto the set to deliver a few (well written) lines. And I suppose it’s this success, despite the heartache and the trauma of going through the system, that keeps everyone in the game. Because when you get it, being an actor is the best job in the world.
Back to Blog