244. On page 87 of the screenplay the actor died

On page 87 of the screenplay the actor died. Again.

He had been in 37 feature movies but he had survived none of them. In ‘Reminiscence of rape’, his first role, he had been ‘second victim’ and killed off before the opening credits rolled. His stature as an actor had steadily grown since, but one through-thread remained. Whatever role he played, he didn’t make it to the fade-out. Even in the Academy Award winning  ‘The word not uttered’ he died of cancer.

That in itself had been a respite of sorts, since usually he would be beheaded, drowned, stabbed, shot, strangled, poisoned, or – in one instance – kicked to death by a zombie horse. As an actor he was always on the lookout for versatility, but as he’d discovered, there are only so many ways in which one can shuffle off a mortal coil.

“Listen,” he therefore pleaded the director, “this role is amazing. Some of the best writing I’ve ever seen. There’s just one problem. I die.”

“That’s why I hired you,” the director said. “Nobody croaks the way you do. It’s your calling card. Your one defining feature. The way you slumped over and writhed in agony in ‘Text M for Murder’ still haunts me.”

The actor pleaded some more, but to no avail. He seemed burdened with death for the rest of his career. He’d never made his peace with that. But he did now. He died. Magnificently. And he’d die again, in another 53 features. He’d become an internet meme and only once, as a stunning twist, he’d make it, only to be killed in a post-credits tag anyway.

But when he died, for real, the papers did not go with ‘actor, dead at 72’. His obituary instead read: ‘actor’s legacy will live on.’



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5 thoughts on “244. On page 87 of the screenplay the actor died

  1. Bruce Goodman says:

    Two things: I had an actor die for real on stage when he was meant (as an actor) to die on stage. Secondly, I never know what to do for the curtain call if a character dies during the course of the play. Do they take a bow? All of this is a bit (perhaps) frivolous for this posting but it brought it back to me!

  2. jimmie g says:

    Love this. For Bruce Goodman. ALWAYS let the actors take a bow, for many it is their only payment. I was in a production of R & J in which all characters that died were not a part of curtain call. Very unsatisfying for actors and audience. Its a play after all. The audience must at some point come back to reality. Why not to applaud all the actors?

  3. Great job. I really enjoyed it

  4. russtowne says:

    I love the punch line.

  5. Ruth2Day says:

    very good, last line was a cracker

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