March 3, 2003
In Pursuit of a Pilot
FYI, this is a long one, but the best one, I think.
I found out a month ago about a pilot in preproduction called Homeland Security. I knew from the title I'd be right for it. I snapped into action.
Secure in that my agent'd submit my headshot to the Casting Director, I sent fancy little postcards to the Executive Producer and Writer. I also sent them to the CDs: to Stephanie Corsalini (handling the smaller parts), to Robert Ulrich (doing the regulars), and Robert's asst Matt Skrobalak. I even sent one to the Robert's partner Eric, (we've met before; he likes me), asking him to mention my name. For one of the producers, I even sent a cropped version of my headshot, so that it was a little different from the postcards and even from my regular headshot.
Then, my good friend Navid told me they're casting a new role, a sharp young translator. Well duh! I just played one of those. I called my agent and said, please pitch me hard -- I'm perfect! Navid said, "I'm going to see Eric on Monday, I'll see if I can give your headshot to Robert." Cool.
Navid calls: "While I was talking to Eric, Robert came out of the office and said 'hey Navid, come read for the translator tonight' so I couldn't give him your headshot, it woulda been too weird". Darn.
But, now I know that they're auditioning tonight. I call my agent. "Do something. they're tonight." No good. But she does call to say Corsalini wants me to audition tomorrow for a small terrorist part. Sweet, I'll take that!
Still, I'm way more about a translator who's gonna be in every episode than a terrorist that gets killed in the first one. But what can I do, I have rehearsal til 6 and class at 6:30, I couldn't make it to the auditions if I tried.
But then rehearsal lets out at 5. Is someone trying to tell me something? I rush home, change from rehearsal sweats into translator clothes, and hightail it to the valley. In the waiting room I run into Navid. "Amir! You got an appointment?"
"No, I'm here to get one."
Someone else: "Dude, just sneak in. Put yourself on the list."
"No way. They HATE that." I go up to the counter. "Hi, I'm here about the translator."
"Sign in right here."
"Here's the thing. I'm not trying to sneak in or crash, but I don't actually have an appointment. I just know that I'm very right for this part, and if you guys have 5 minutes, I'd love to show you my work. I don't think it'd be a waste of your time."
He goes and talks to Matt the asst, who's not having it.
"Sorry, we're too busy."
OK, but at least I tried everything I could.
I get a voicemail from Navid: "I auditioned, it went really well, and before I left the room, I gave Robert your headshot, sang your praises, and told him he wouldn't be sorry if he saw you for the role. He looked at me like I was crazy, but he said he'd see what he could do. I kept my promise man, we'll keep our fingers crossed." WHAT A FRIEND!!!
I called my agent to let her know what he did, and she said, "Well it worked. Robert wants to see you tomorrow before you go to Corsalini's."
I spend the night getting ready for the 2 scenes.
I go to the valley, and I nail it. When I'm done with the scene he goes "Oh, you're so good! Has Eric met you? You'd be great for his show. We have to have you back in here, even for non-terrorist roles (he didn't say it like that). I've seen a lot of great guys for this part, so we'll see." That end part tells me that alhough he likes me a lot, I'm not exactly right for it. Fine, but at least I got to show him my stuff. And he's big time for other projects too, so word up.
Over to Corsalini's. I walk in like I own the place. I just auditioned for a regular! I can do a one-scene terrorist in my sleep! When I walk in, I notice the headshot she has for me is the cropped one I sent to the producer! He passed it down to her! So, I do the scene, and she (not in so many words) says it's all wrong. The character is not desperate, he's slimy. OK. I do it slimy, and find out a couple hours later I have a producers callback for slimy terrorist.
I go in, and because I already know who the players are, I'm not the least bit intimidated by 6 strangers judging me. I say "I have a couple ways of doing this, in case you want to see anything different." They stare blankly and say, uh, ok. I nail it (the slimy way). The Exec Producer goes "very nice." The director: "I'm curious, you said you had... ANOTHER way to do it? I'm curious. What would that be?" He can't believe there's another way. "Well, I think this character might be a little more desperate. I think he's scared." "OK, let's see that way." Again, I nail it. I leave.
Agent calls: "Producers want to see you again. For a different part, an even smaller one, 'Bob from Nepal'." Sweet! They want me back, that means they like me.
I go again. In the waiting room are Counselor Troi from Star Trek, Babu from Seinfeld, and The Profiler (she was crazy). I'm sure those people all have names, but not to me. I go in again. "Hey Amir! Good to see you!" Enthusiastic handshakes! Allright! Wow, this is a different vibe, cool.
I do the part. The director, not in so many words, "No. He's not happy, he's focused." OK. I nail it. "Great! Fantastic adjustment!"
Exec Producer: "Well thanks Amir, we really like you, that why we brought you back, we're trying to find something for you."
Awesome, this is great. And then, I did something that actors who live in fear (most of them) never do. "Hey uh, have you cast the translator yet?"
stunned silence. Is this an actor with the guts to ask for what he wants? Exec: "Uh, no, not yet."
"Well... Can I read for it?"
"Uh, well, sure."
Corsalini: "I don't know if I have that scene" (cuz she works on the smaller parts)
Me: "I do." I come prepared.
"I'm not really familiar with that scene."
"Oh. Well, you can have my copy." The others in the room are starting to smile broadly.
Exec: "I know the scene, I'll read it." We read, I nail it. "That was great, and so different from 'Bob'".
Director: "Can you do the part you did yesterday? Do you have that scene?"
"Yup." Now they really know -- this kid has his shit together. "Do you want it slimy or desperate?"
I nail it.
Exec: "Well, thank you so much Amir. You've given us a LOT to think about. We really appreciate your versatility and your enthusiasm."
And out. It was one of the greatest days of my life in LA.
I got the part of Bob from Nepal. It's not the brass ring of the series regular, but hey, it's a cool part in a pilot, and I'm really excited. It's the first scene in the show. Keep your fingers crossed that it gets picked up.
Kevin and Paulo at the Actors' Network always say, you should always be willing to ask for what you want. But, if you get what you want, make sure that you're able to bring the goods.
What can I say, I brought it good.