My life as an actor, part one
By Simon Barget
The crushing crushing disappointment.
You see I keep saying the same thing, I keep repeating myself, and if this was a book, it would be exactly the type of thing I shouldn’t do, but I’ll say it again, the fact that I’m pretty good is a mixed blessing. It keeps me doing it. It keeps me in the loop, because I know, I mean I don’t know, but I just know, you know how it feels when you just know, well I just know that I’ll succeed one day, and that fact that I keep getting decent roles and decent reviews just makes me want to carry on -- I was in three films last year, all of which came out in the cinema and that’s the best I’ve done in my career so far -- I’m on the up, and I’m getting the right sort of attention, and then sometimes there are times when I think, no this is what it is, there are times when I think about it, I think about my situation, and I can’t imagine feeling the real failure, feeling, really feeling what it is to fail, not just having the thought but feeling the feeling afterwards in my body, you know that awful drop in your gut, and if I was more aware perhaps, I mean I’m hyper-aware in character, oh I don’t know what I’m even saying here, I think that if I was to really get that punch in the guts I wouldn’t know how to deal with it and so I’ve got to keep on working, giving my all because the alternative is too hard to bear, the alternative being that I’m just an ordinary guy like the rest of all you non-actors, and then the problem is I’ve spent so much time as an actor, cast in so many parts so much other work I’ve done which cement me as that actor, that I’ve got no idea what it’s like to not be me. Does that make any sense? And all these parts that I’ve played that make up me as an actor, they homogenise as one single identity, well I wouldn’t want to fail that’s all.
Incidentally I said my father was an actor, well all my family were and are, but my father was a special case, and he was so close to making it, some of you might have even heard of him, at least his acting name which isn’t his real name, John Sanders?, and I saw the struggle he had with all the demands, all the roles he juggled and he just took one after the other, and I knew every time that the only reason he took them was fame, FAME, fucking vanity, he wanted to be famous, that was all, I mean to hell with the acting, and he was a bloody good actor, the thing was, they dangled a carrot and he ran like a little baby, jumping at that carrot, and I shouldn’t be too harsh because that’s what they’re all like and I saw it with my father first-hand, and I said to myself, I will never be like this, I will not jump at carrots my whole life, give me anything for peace of mind, I’ll take the garbage out, I’ll plumb sewers, I’ll do whatever, I’ll jump off cliffs, but I don’t want to be beholden to this dangling carrot, and look at me now, I’m the same as my father, and though I like to think of myself as more aware than he was, I’m not, I’m in exactly the same boat and sometimes I wish I’d done something else. Can you believe I’m saying this?
I just wanted to say before I go, well that’s if it’s not clear enough from what I’ve already said, well you know people say, therapists say, you tell them about something in your life that you don’t like, say you tell them you have low self-esteem, I’m trying to think of a good example, you tell your therapist that you hate the director you’re working with or you don’t get along with the cast and you think that they don’t treat you properly, something like that – I don’t have a therapist so don’t really know how it works – and you say that whenever you’re in rehearsal or even at home going through the part, you feel shit because it reminds you of being at work and you don’t sleep very well because you’re worried, but you’re not really sure why you’re worried and you just think constantly about things that you need to do the next day or something even a week off and you can’t help thinking about it, it just buzzes about your head non-fucking-stop, and then the therapist has the gall to tell you that you want to feel shit when you’re trying so so hard to get along with people, trying so so hard not to let things get to you, and then he deftly throws in before you can respond, in anger, it’s not that you want it consciously Martin, it’s just that you’re so used to feeling a certain way that you bring it about, you cause it, well I think this is true with the disappointments in acting, there’s like an addiction to them and though my eye is firmly on the prize, if I’m really being honest, then I get this buzz from failing, this jolt of excitement runs through my body and I’m not saying the excitement is pleasant far from it, it’s definitely something unpleasant, something horrid, I really don’t want it, I wonder if I’m somehow addicted to it, desperately trying to avoid the feeling but at the same time subliminally trying to bring it on, well why, because the cliché is true, that we all like to suffer.