Yesterday I wrote about D and his debut in the school play when he was in fourth grade. You’ll need to read that (click here) before you go on to today’s post; that’s why I named them “Part 1” and “Part 2”, get it?
When he was in fifth grade, people were still talking about his role as the Kolokolo Bird and asking him to “KAW!” (And no, it wasn’t just ME doing that. Really: it was other people, like teachers!) He was very blase’ about the whole thing; he liked the attention but was by this time into other things, namely reading the series of children’s books called “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket. He carried those things around everywhere. Totally awesome books; if you have a kid around 10-12, you should click over to Amazon right now and order them.
Anyway, one day I received a phone call (Remember calls from one landline to another? *sigh* Those were the days.) from his fifth grade teacher. She said, “I noticed a flyer from a Chicago casting agency in my box, and thought that D might be interested in it. It’s a casting call for the movie based on the Lemony Snicket series. I know he had so much fun being a part of the school play, and…”
WHOA! How fun! I told her that I would ask him if he wanted to do it, and she sent home the flyer in an envelope for us to look at together. When I asked him about it, he was all for doing a screen test for a part in the movie.
When I called the casting agency, I was asked some general questions about D and they asked me to e-mail them a photo. After I did that, I heard back that they didn’t think his look and size “fit” the part for the Lemony Snicket movie (which would star Jim Carrey), but they wanted to see him test for another major motion picture.
Here’s where I have to break into the story for a second and go back to what I wrote in the first paragraph in my “Part 1” post. (YOU DIDN’T READ IT, DID YOU? UGH! Here’s another chance to go back: click here.) My kid really had no desire to be an actor. I had no desire to push him into it. I am not made of the kind of stuff that a stage mom is made of. He is made of lots of great things, but not really the stuff of a successful child actor. HOWEVER, when life brings you interesting opportunities, sometimes it’s just fun to take advantage of them by breaking routine a bit.
I told him that they didn’t want to see him for the movie he wanted to try for, but that they wanted him to try something else. Did he want to give it a shot?
As it turned out, he did. The casting agent told me to expect a few pages of the script via fax in the next few minutes; D was to learn the indicated lines, and the following week we were to go to their offices in the city for his screen test.
My mouth dropped open and my eyes popped out when the fax came through. The movie title? “Birth”, starring Nicole Kidman.
At the time, my kid had no idea who Nicole Kidman was, so I didn’t waste time telling him; I wanted to avoid making him nervous or putting undue pressure on him. I made sure that he practiced his lines, which was a little bit of a struggle (I TOLD you he wasn’t really made for acting!). We didn’t have enough of the scene to really “get” what it was about, but he did his best with it. The following week, we drove to the city and found the casting agency. Upon entering the office, I took notice of one wall that was completely covered in holiday cards from the children and young adults who were represented by the agency. It was surreal; every picture on every card was perfect, as if the agency would disassemble the cards after the holidays and put the photos into each actor’s file. I talked with my kid about how he just needed to do his best BUT have fun. That was the main thing: Just. Have. Fun.
He read through his lines while we waited, and finally it was his turn. I remained in the waiting area while he was led into a room down the hall, and the door was closed behind him. He was in there for a while, doing his screen test, and I desperately wanted to see how it was going. I kept hoping that he really was having fun, like I reminded him before he went back there.
And then I heard yelling. And then I became totally freaked out.
And then he came back out to the waiting room, all business, and put his coat on. The agent smiled at me and thanked us for coming in.
I waited until we were out of the building before asking him how it went. He said that the agent who was reading with him scared him very much, because the scene required her to yell at him. He didn’t really like playing against that, and he knew that he not only wasn’t going to get the part but he also didn’t want to do it.
That was when I told him how proud I was of him for trying something totally out of his comfort zone. I told him that the afternoon was not a waste of time for us at all, and that I hoped he would remember it. I told him that the star of the movie was Nicole Kidman, a very famous actress, and it wasn’t every ten-year-old that could say that he actually screen tested for a major motion picture; it was an experience he could keep in his pocket for the rest of his life. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
As it turns out, I was actually grateful that he didn’t get anywhere near being in the movie. You might recall the plot, in which he would have played a ten-year-old boy who Nicole’s character believed was her dead husband, reincarnated. There was a controversial bathtub scene, and, well, I’m happy he got the screen test and then dead-ended there. Still, it was such a great experience, and reminds me of a line in one of my all-time favorite movies, spoken by Matthew Broderick, who, unlike my son, did indeed portray Nicole Kidman’s (character’s) husband in a movie:
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)