Today, I got a phone call from a casting director named E.R. asking me to audition for a Columbia film student’s thesis project.
I wouldn’t find this so unusual except for the fact that the one and only time I have appeared on screen was at the tender age of five, in a commercial for the local chapter of the ASPCA. They took me through the pound and asked me to pick out some dogs I wanted to play with for the commercial. At the time, I was about one inch tall and absolutely terrified of dogs, so I picked all the dogs that were both tiny and asleep. The ASPCA people, figuring rightly that a commercial featuring me surrounded by dogs in comas wouldn’t really further their cause, ignored my selections and found the four biggest, rowdiest dogs in the place. Then they led me to a tree stump, where I sat, paralyzed with fear, while the four dogs frolicked around me. The ASPCA people kept telling me to play with the dogs, but I really thought that if I attempted this I would die. Luckily, the camera was far enough away that the grimace of agony frozen on my face could pass, in those pre-cable-enhanced-reception days, for joy and happiness. Nevertheless, this experience put an end to any dreams I might have harbored of a lucrative career as a child actor, or, indeed, an actor of any sort. I appeared in various dramatic productions in college and am currently performing in my own show (which opened quite successfully last night, thank you), but the screen has not been a part of my dreams for over 25 years.
So imagine my surprise when I got a phone call today asking me to come in and audition for this film. I was completely baffledwhy would somebody I didn’t know from Adam (well, Eve, to be precise) want me to be in a movie?
The mystery was partially cleared up when E.R. told me who’d given her my name and what the part was. A cousin of mine is a very successful casting director in Hollywoodshe cast, among other things, The Amazing Spider-Man (in production), Pretty Woman, Witness, On Golden Pond, and the original Star Warsand is working at the moment in a New York casting office. She overheard E.R. talking about needing to find somebody to play a drag queen for free in a student film, and said, “Oh, you should call my cousin Faustus.”
The thing is, she’s never met me.
What stories could possibly be circulating about me in my non-nuclear family that my cousin who cast Star Wars thought instantly of me for the part of a drag queen?
As long as nobody talks to the tabloids when I win my best actor Oscar, I figure I’ll be okay.