I may have written about this sometime in the past, or maybe I just thought about writing it and didn't.
A long time ago I was doing location casting, and this kid comes in to read for a part. Location casting basically means you're in a town or city where your production is filming, and you hire locals for the smaller roles. Sometimes even larger roles can go to actors hired on location.
In fact, anyone who watches the new Battlestar Galactica will know that the character of Helo played by Tahmoh Penikett was originally a local hire. He was supposed to be in the original mini series, and then that was it. But his character was so popular that he was hired as a series regular.
Anyhow, this kid comes in to read for a part, he can't be more than 18 years old. And he reads and just nails this one scene. It isn't that the scene was so difficult, but there were nuances to it that I honestly didn't expect from someone with no acting experience.
We read a few more people, but I couldn't help but judge everyone by this one kid. I was an assistant on the project, doing the "pre-read' and decided to include him on the tape that would go to the head casting director and ultimately the director.
Well they were equally blown away, and he was cast.
As circumstance would have it, almost half a year later, I was working on another film, again with location casting, and, oddly enough, in the same region of the country as before and a role was available for someone in the age range of my young discovery.
I called him in for a read, and while the character was different than the first, again he just nailed it. Like before, I ended up judging every actor by this one performance. And, like before, different casting director, different director, but we all agreed, and this kid got the part.
This was a long shoot, and about a month later he comes into the office, his scene already having been filmed, and said he wanted to ask me a question.
He got some mail from SAG asking him to join. Of course I told him that since he had two parts in two major motion pictures, if he wanted to make this a career, he should certainly consider it.
He didn't hesitate a moment in telling me he thought that he HAD to join and was a little relieved that he didn't necessarily have to. Of course I pointed out that he could work on non union projects from now on, but if acting was a career choice for him, he's have to join up if he wanted to work on any more major union features.
He looked to me a little perplexed. And, as before, with almost no hesitation he said he didn't plan to act again. He did this as a lark and a way to earn some extra money. His real passion was engineering and he was in college for a degree in that field.
I think I smiled, I hope I didn't laugh. It's just that dealing with so many actors who would give their eye teeth to be cast in a major motion picture and just as much to join SAG, it was funny that this guy had what so many wanted, and couldn't have cared less.
For whatever reason it hadn't occurred to me that acting wasn't his life. That he came to audition not because he was hoping for his big break, but because he could use the money just struck me as funny.
This young man was talented, very talented. I'm not sure what he's doing now, I hope it's something he loves because I have no doubt that whatever it is he wants in life, he'll have little trouble getting it.
As fate would have it, his part in the first movie was reduced to just a few seconds, and his second part was deleted all together.
But, to this day, I still remember him, his face, his manners and his talent. And I hope his destiny is of his making, not what someone wants for him.