October 29, 2002
US Army Shoot
I'm going to start this journal entry with the most trite opening phrase of the past year or so. It will make you cringe. It will make you want to stop reading. It will make you want to eat pounds of ice cream in a self-destructive rampage. But just get past the first couple lines, cuz most of the entry has nothing to do with the first paragraph or so. Here goes:
After Sept 11, I'm sure many of us thought to ourselves, "man, what I'm doing with my life is so meaningless compared to the heroic acts of some other people! What is the point? I want to do something worthwhile, and not just shop, as our vaunted
president has suggested." I kinda felt foolish auditioning for commercials, and musicals about dancing gangsters, but I kept on, knowing that, well, it's pretty much all I know how to do. But last week, I actually got to serve my country, and
using my acting skills no less! I played the part of an Army translator in a training film for the US Army!
It was so cool! There were all these military people on set, including national guardsmen who played all the extras (and who called me "sir" even off-camera!), an Army research psychologist who studies leadership, and our head consultant, a veteran of Middle East conflicts, who's served in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other places probably too. He was AWESOME. Although, it is kind of freaky when a 50-yr-old white guy knows WAY more about Persian culture than me. I remember him telling some story, and going, "That's how it always is in Iran, right?" and me totally bluffing and going "Oh YEAH." So, when I went in for the auditions, I (big surprise) read for the Afghanis. But, when they got the sense that I really have more of an American sensibility, they had me read for Sgt Finn, and that's the part I got!
The script calls him "a bit of a cowboy." SWEET! It was awesome, cuz I had the whole desert-camo fatigue thing goin on, plus a big ol flak jacket, pistol, helmet, desert goggles, and canteen. The best scene was one in which my CO (that's army talk for commanding officer. AWESOME!) is trying to break up a melee between 2 Afghan warlords. They're yelling at him and each other, he's yelling back. And I'm yelling translations, and we're both getting kind of swept up. The crazy thing is, I got the script for that scene 5 minutes before we shot it. I was like, I have HOW MANY lines? and mostly IN PERSIAN? I freaked. I thought there was no way I could memorize it all. and you know what? There wasn't. I gave up on trying to memorize, and instead, just listened to everyone and tried my best to translate for them. It ended up being the best scene I shot.
The director was Chuck Bowman, who has appeared in classic dramas like Riptide, Adam-12, and Dragnet 1967. He's also directed an ass-load of TV, from the A-Team to The Pretender. He was awesome. An old school Hollywood cowboy kind of guy. So that's my life lately. Later Y'all.