Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Not Cary Grant But Something Weirder

Like most of us, I have spent my life playing hide-and-seek with my own shadow, forever catching glimpses and looking away from those things about me I'd rather not exist at all. But now, I'm a film actor, and there it is on screen: me. All of me. The back of my head and the shadow that it casts. Aspects of my persona from which I've always flinched are right there, framed and lit, turned into someone else--a character--of course, by selection and fore-grounding, but from the raw material of my Self.

The experience of seeing my own shadow on film would be entirely nauseating except for one thing: it's acting gold. Authentic behavior, far stranger and potentially more compelling to watch than anything that I would have imagined bringing to the screen, when I just thought about being an actor, but wasn't one yet. So, I feel both self-hatred and elation when I see myself work. And, I know I'm going to be tempted to rent a booth outside the first movie theater in which I'm seen to remind people that's not actually ME on screen--David Millstone--but a character--who happens to manifest from the raw material of David Millstone, may God have mercy on his soul.

The bad news is I don't get to be Cary Grant. The good news is, I do get to be someone weirder and truer, even if I do find it hard to look at him.

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