Lie To Me
Guest-starring on a show is like jumping onto a moving train. You always hope there's someone on the train to help you up when your feet start dangling and it looks like you might get squashed on the tracks. A show that is up and running is like a big family. Everyone in the make-up trailer knows each other and all the camera guys and the grips and electricians know each other and have already decided which guys get kidded about what every day, and there are all kinds of inside jokes flying around and it's a bit like ... well, yeah, jumping onto a moving train. Sometimes it feels like everybody speaks Lithuanian and you don't!
The good news is that I've done this before and making one TV show is never usually that different from making another. That is, unless you're doing Friday Night Lights. (But that's a different story altogether as you know if you've read my previous blogs about that one). Chances are that I usually know one or two players on any given show. With everything I've been fortunate to do in my career, you usually know someone - camera, cast, crew, whatever. Just having that one connection can make all the difference in the world. Assuming your experience with that person was pleasant (don't burn bridges!) you now have someone to let people know that you are not going to make anyone's life miserable and might even do a decent job.
In this case, the one person I knew happened to have a little juice, seeing as it was the director of the show, Arvin Brown. Arvin had directed me in a play with Jason Robards a few years back in New Haven, and we had had a fantastic time working together.
So cut to the first day of work on Lie to Me. I'm trying to figure out where the orange juice is on the craft service wagon and I hear, "Hello, D.W. How nice to see you." I'm like, "Arvin?" And the rest was a breeze!
Arvin is one of those directors you pray that you get to work for. He comes from the stage, so he knows about rehearsal and character and motivation. You know, all the things that are supposed to go into a performance but sometimes don't when time is of the essence. A lot of directors are just worried about not getting the crew into overtime.
On another note, you would be shocked at the number of directors who are not very comfortable talking to actors. It's almost as if they're afraid if they do, the actor might break, like some kind of insane and fragile toy. Not Mr. Brown. He is a real pleasure to work with and that comes through in the quality of the program.
The other speed bump (or land mine!) that can occur when you guest on a show is that the cast of said show might be ... er ... a tad too busy? Yes, that's a good way to put it. They may be too busy to be concerned with, um, 'enhancing' your experience on said show. (Yes, I think I dodged all the appropriate bullets on that couple of sentences!) Now let me explain. This might include everything from out-and-out ignoring you to being unavailable for rehearsal to ... well, let your imagination run wild. I've got some real horror stories I could share, but we should leave those for another day.
On Lie To Me, I had the opposite experience. A welcoming cast with an extremely approachable and hard-working star (you all know Tim Roth, right?), combined with the excellent director, made for a rocking good time. Tim Roth is new to network television and I would imagine a bit cross-eyed from all the time he has to put in, but you could never tell it! He's always ready to go, enthusiastic, helpful ... you name it. He's an all-around excellent actor and scene partner. Where do I sign up? I want more gigs like this!
Well, we'll see what next comes my way. Maybe another fairy tale ... maybe a nightmare! Who knows?
Stay tuned and find out!
In the meantime, thanks for giving me a read and check out my TVGuide.com blog every week on Friday Night Lights.