Can a Lottery Ticket Do This?
I've heard a few agents say that going to an audition is a lot like "buying a lottery ticket", suggesting that booking a job is as likely as striking it rich. Obviously, I have a problem with this. First of all, it suggests that booking work is a random occurrence that has nothing to do with talent, skill, preparation, or any of the other myriad elements that go into working your career. This gives lazy actors the excuse to do nothing on their own behalf. And it makes proactive actors seem foolish for thinking they can effect the outcome of their endeavors through deliberate preparation.
The other day I received the call many actors both dream of and fear: The last minute, zero advance notice "This is your moment, here is your break, go to this place right now for this amazing opportunity that could change your life, so go, go now, be amazing, and whatever you do, don't blow it!" kind of phone call that only comes around so often.
The CD gave me very little time to look at the script before calling me in. After my first go, she gave me a couple of adjustments, and while I pride myself on being able to quickly assimilate direction, I didn't feel like I was nailing it. She thanked me for my time and I left her office.
Only I couldn't bring myself to leave the building. I stood in the empty vestibule silently repeating the lines over and over again. Afraid I would be caught loitering and muttering to myself, I reluctantly walked to my car where I tried the lines a few more times out loud. When I felt I'd gotten it, I decided to make a risky move to do something I never do. I was going to go inside and ask for another take. It was the end of the day and there were no other actors waiting, otherwise I'd never think of it.
Of course she could just say no, causing an awkward exchange that would mortify me. Plus, she had most likely decided whether or not I was right for the part when she first laid eyes on me. Another take of a three-line bit of dialogue wasn't going to change her mind. Nonetheless, I hadn't driven all that way to nail my audition in the car!
And a bit of an interview I'd recently read with Gretchen Mol, in Town and Country flashed into my mind about how part of her regretted always playing by the rules. Here's what she had to say:
“I wonder what would have happened if my attitude had been different and I had been more like the girl on the cover (of Vanity Fair) – like, ‘Everybody, get aside!’ My own self-doubt gave room for the animals. When I was on the Celebrity set, I was like ‘I’m not going to talk to him (Woody Allen) unless he talks to me. I was probably too much the polite girl."
Like Gretchen, I felt I had more to offer than I'd shown, and I wasn't going to let this opportunity fade away without showing it.
When I walked back in and heard the CD mutter to a co-worker, "Is someone else out there? Isn't it five o'clock yet?" I realized this wasn't the best idea I'd ever had. Nonetheless, she knew I was there waiting, so I had to either make up an excuse or go through with my plan.
"Is something wrong?" she asked.
"Uh, no. Nothing's wrong. It's just that I was getting into my car to drive back to New York, but I think I've got it now. If it's not too much trouble... could I have another take?"
She barely hesitated, "Sure, why not?"
She took a moment to set up the camera, and then I gave her the read I'd intended. She gave me a quick bit of direction and I went for another go.
"That's better." she replied.
"Great." I said. "Now I'll be able to sleep tonight."
I didn't book the job, and I'm still not sure whether it was a good idea to play it like I did. But at least I know that I did everything that I could.
And you can't do anything remotely similar to that with a lottery ticket.
(Picture is my own.)