Not Falling From Grace

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From what I’ve seen, an actor’s job is pretty tricky. Like the rest of the crew, they work all kinds of crazy hours. Their craft requires them to dig deep into the well of their emotions, sometimes revealing their inner truths in very vulnerable ways. Actors always have to be mindful of their appearance, and, depending on the role, be willing to run the gamut from glam to raw. Much of the time they have to be childlike in their creative expression, without coming off as childish or insecure. As celebrities, actors have to live in the fishbowl of our paparazzi obsessed culture. We treat famous actors like royalty because in our imaginations, they are. We put them up on pedestals, which can make for some lovely special treatment at times, but on the flip side, our culture seems to relish the doses of Schadenfreude we get from their misfortunes. It’s a tricky tightrope indeed. Sometimes when actors appear to be acting like divas, they’re really just being specific about getting what they need in order to do their job correctly. Sometimes, of course, they’re just being divas because, well, they can. In short, it’s no easy deal to be an actor and come off with grace.

Happily, I’ve had the good fortune to work with a few people who’ve certainly earned the right to act like divas, but choose good grace instead. Edie Falco is the most down to earth, team player one could ever hope to work with. She’s completely real and in character as Nurse Jackie when the camera is on her, then in between setups, she’s calm and relaxed, taking leisurely walks around the studio with her dog Marley. Ted Danson has been a big star for many years, and yet he somehow maintains an almost childlike wonderment about the whole filmmaking process, as well as a keen appreciation of everyone’s participation in it. Jason Schwartzman is so playful and rambunctious in between takes, I always marvel at the way he’s able to sustain his energy throughout so many long nights of shooting. In our first few weeks of filming Season 2 of “Bored To Death,” we’ve had him running around the city of New York in full leather gear, complete with hood, and tonight we’re going to hang him upside down over the Gowanus Canal. Now that’s a good sport able to take difficult tasks with good grace!

Maybe it would be nice to get a little of the diva treatment every once in a while, but most of us rarely get that opportunity. The best we should hope for is to learn from those among us who could be divas, but choose grace instead.

About The Author

I was raised in the Des Moines, Iowa, and had the good fortune to come out during my early days at Stanford University, which meant that I came of age in the San Francisco Bay Area, circa 1978! (That deserves two - !! ) I was thrilled to finally understand that piece of myself, and found many inspiring members within the gay community that helped me feel great about who I was. After college I moved out to New York to pursue a career as an actor. My 20's were fairly eventful (it was the 80's in New York, mind you) but by the end of that period in my life, I was looking for a more satisfying way to work and live. When my agent and manager both started moving clients to LA, I went, happily. Eventually I found my way into Renaissance Pictures, the production company run by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, where I worked on "Hercules" and "Xena." After several very cool years with them, I headed back to New York, motivated by a possible position on a gay cable network (that never happened) and a new love (that most definitely did!). 13 years later I find myself happily married to my husband Chris, working on two cool shows ("Nurse Jackie" and "Bored To Death"), and living in Chelsea with our golden retriever Jezebel. During the summer we're lucky enough to balance our time between the Pines on Fire Island, and Ptown on Cape Cod. During those visits, Jezebel loves nothing more than to jump the waves after a ball, or chase seagulls along the beach. She's a good role model on how best to enjoy the simple pleasures, and as easy a child to raise and love as ever there was! (She is a golden, after all!) You can reach Brad at carpenterbrad@me.com.

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