Tag Archives: acting

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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188. The human face is a wondrous tool

“The human face is a wondrous tool,” the actress told a class full of drama students. “If you know how to use it, that is.”

And she knew.

Faye Astor had been the most bankable movie star for three years running, her comedies delighting crowds all over the world, her drama roles tugging heartstrings from the East coast to the West. She was that rare actor who not only spoke to the casual moviegoer but to the film critics as well: charming yet profound, down-to-earth yet mysterious.

Her face was more recognisable than that of the president of the United States, they said. And though it was that elfin face with the piercing blue eye and the curly blonde locks that had catapulted her to Hollywood stardom, it was her mastery of facial expressions that had made her endure.

That had lured hundreds of drama students to the faculty’s on-campus theatre on a dark, wintery evening. They not only wanted to meet her, they desperately wanted to be like her.

“You must not be afraid of grandeur,” Faye Astor told the students. “As long as you don’t forget the subtleties. It might be the elegant gowns, the sumptuous hairdos the audience first noticed, but it’s the twinkle in the eye or the slightly raised eyebrow they’ll remember. Your face is a muscle. Exercise it. Every day. Your acting will be all the better for it.”

Standing in line at the movies the next day, Gillian and May-Ann, two aspiring actresses themselves, were still talking about it.

“What an actress,” Gillian said.

“What a woman,” Mary-Ann added. “And who knew she was German?”

“Yeah, pretty thick accent too. But what an actress.”

“What an actress…”

The box office window opened.

“Two tickets for The Jazz Singer, please.”

 

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Did you enjoy this story? Then why not try the 101 stories in 300 words or less in YOU’RE GETTING SLEEPY, THE HYPNOTIST’S APPRENTICE YAWNED.

Available at the Createspace Store, at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or any other Amazon store in your territory.  E-book is also available.

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