I went to an audition last week with a McDonald’s French fry behind my ear. I got a callback. Is this a fluke or is Glenn Morshower onto something?
So much of what Morshower said in his Salt Lake City workshop is still ringing between my ears. The evening was more self-help than acting. We came for audition tips and techniques and left considering where exactly the bologna would fit in our pants. Literally and figuratively.
His raves took a multitude of tangents but the message grounded back to the same epitaph. Believe in yourself and your talent and you will succeed. Is this the actor’s version of The Secret? “I’m going to will 2013 to be the best financial year ever,” he says. “Now, hoist the boat and see your problem. You have a collection of rust and barnacles. You can’t will anything if you’re clogged with belief systems that don’t work.”
Fixing the problem is not cosmetic. Remember the sperm analogy? Glenn asks us to look in the mirror and tell ourselves- ‘I’m a winner.’ It’s not about your talent. Talent is the seventh most important quality for an actor, he says. It’s not #3 or #4. We all swim in a pool with those gifted in being “real.” What we do is not impressive; it’s just what we do- like a football player that tackles. It’s what he does. The impressive part is what we bring into the room with us. That is, if we’re emotionally healthy.
“Your life is a boat that needs to get up out of the water so you can see what’s going on with it. Don’t grotesquely underlive your life,” Glenn vocalizes as he paces from side to side in the auditorium at Broadview U.
He suddenly starts to makes a Richard Nixon shadow puppet on the wall behind him. Is this a grown man with too much time on his hands? Or someone who knows how to not to take himself too seriously.
“Experience another day?” Glenn says, “No, experience a new day. Quit having sex every Saturday at 4. Do something to mix it up. Don’t get into a place where people can anticipate your next move. Find a way to be in the now. Be new; be in the present. And stop trying to prove yourself.” That’s a lot to take in for one evening.
The reason actors don’t work is because of the “unhealed shit underneath” he reasons. The barnacles. Those actors arrive at a casting session for validation. They want to earn good opinions of themselves. The thought is that if you get hired you become a person of worth. “You are a person of worth the minute you open your eyes,” Glenn says and it’s like he’s reached out and stroked your head for comfort. I see people tearing up!
Does everyone in here have a lousy opinion of themselves deep down?
Apparently, the average artist was not raised in a happy, healthy well-adjusted home. If we were,does that mean we wouldn’t want to be actors? Hmmm. My home life as a kid certainly wasn’t a picnic but we were relatively happy, clean and overeducated- I’ve got three degrees including a Masters from USC and a JD from the University of Utah. I had dogs, cats, birds and Mercedes Gullwing to sneak out of the garage when the rents were out (which they were quite often). Oh yeah, and there was that thing about refusing to let me audition or be in plays because it meant them having to “chauffeur” me everywhere. So, yeah, my potential was squashed on a regular basis. But that’s the past and I’m doing something about it now…in a huge way.
Glenn talks about a childhood filled with parental addiction and abuse but refers to that as if he’s learned how NOT to live. You can choose to be defined by the shit in your life or you can choose to swear it off. “Why poison relationships with whatever your thing is? Life is acting in our own movie. Why would you cast yourself as the shitty father, the smoking dude, the drinker, the cheater?” Get over it, is the bottomline.
He practices gratitude daily. “I wake up and say ‘thanks’ for another day.”
“You get into a whole new groove when you access a new tone or modality,” he says. “Boost your level of compassion. We are all creatures of our environment. There’s no point in going to war with a guy who’s being an ass. He’s always going to be like that. Time is our greatest gift. Are you going to waste it on that guy? You won’t get it back.” We all nod. Later, I decide to walk away from a total ass just moments after our workshop. There might be something to this.
Glenn finally jumps to some actual acting tips and I get excited: Know who the character is and where they come from. Have a backstory. Give them legs, tasetbuds, know your lines, be in the parking lot a half hour before the audition. But above all, HAVE FUN. This is a lesson Jim teaches weekly in his class. If you believe you are enough you can step back and just enjoy the moment. Whether it’s on a rollercoaster or in a casting session. He gave examples of punked-ish pranks he pulled that helped nurture his fun side. Like pretending to return milk to an Autozone. This was part of listening to your inner ‘whisper’.
After several years of meetings, Glenn heard a “whisper” in him. Something (his gut?) was telling him to mix things up. He walked into the next casting session with syrup in his shoes. No one else could see or know what was going on between his toes but the squishy feeling gave him a little secret. “Maybe you don’t put syrup in your shoes or bologna in your pants but do something that day if you have a ‘meeting’ to keep that joy lingering,” he explains. Of course, do your homework so you know the part but then do something that you have never done before so when you walk in, these people are meeting someone who’s “free.”
What are you thinking? What are your thoughts? Come in with the right attitude. The façade, the bullshit; that’s the hitch in your giddyup. Telling yourself that a casting director will never like you becomes what Glenn recently coined as the “milk in the margarita”. I.e. milk screws up a perfectly delicious marg. I’ll go further and say add a little habanera instead. Or maybe a French fry.