They tell me (and by “they” I mean the voices in my head) that the key to acting is reacting. To be fair, these voices also tell me that Earth is not a planet but an alien space-station waiting for an inter-galactic cargo ship to return with a 6 billion year supply of “yuratominon”, whatever that is. One of these statements is obviously something these voices in my head just made up, but since I’m not sure which one I’m just going to assume for now they’re telling the truth about acting. I’m assuming this because, well, for the most part I find it to be 100% completely correct, and I’ve come to find that only very recently.
Contrary to what you may think after watching any one of my hypnotic and stellar performances, I have no formal acting training. “Surely you jest, Mark”, you’re saying to yourself right now, but surely I do not. I attend performance classes not in the lecture centers of Carnegie Mellon or the acting workshops at UCLA, but in the halls and drama school of Life University. Recently, my drama professor (let’s call him Dr. Inmyhead) began a lesson that would present my greatest challenge at Life yet.
As you all know (or all should know), Super Knocked Up went through a major casting change. Two episodes were shot and in the can when Jocelynn Joy Murphy, who played Darkstar, was replaced by Natalie Bain. Director Jeff Burns made the difficult decision to not only replace the lead actress, but to also shoot both episodes over again. After my initial reaction of wanting to beat Jeff over the head with a dead wet chicken, I realized that Dr. Inmyhead was offering me a great opportunity to experiment in his Acting 001 class.
Last weekend, Natalie, Jeff, and I rehearsed the two scenes, and I have to say that being able to approach the material from a different angle with someone new was a learning experience I’ll never forget. Both Jocelynn and Natalie are tremendous talents, and both are wonderful for bouncing ideas off of. I found myself trying different things with Natalie that I had not tried with Jocelynn, and at the same time wondering if I could do the things I was doing with Natalie with Jocelynn. (And yes, I absolutely stole that last line from a Penthouse letter.) While Natalie is playing the same character, obviously she’s adding different shades to Darkstar that Jocelynn did not (and Jocelynn added shades that Natalie is not), and it’s very interesting to be working with the same scripts and situations, but have my reactions and performance feel new and different. I’m anxious to get the episodes completed with Natalie, and then compare and contrast the two works. Few film actors get the chance to rework something they’ve already done with someone completely new (hey, me and Christopher Lloyd have something in common! Chris – call me!), and, to be honest, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity.
So my initial thought that re-shooting the two episodes would be inane and unexciting was completely wrong. I think the experience has turned out to be Dr. Inmyhead’s greatest lesson yet. And it turns out the voices in my head were definitely right about acting and reacting. Although, I do think we’re still waiting for that yuratominon…