Don’t count your chickens before they hatch … but at least get paid for them: Getting cast on Veep, Part 1 of 3.
I booked a part on Veep, the emmy winning HBO show with an amazing cast and of course, one of my favorite women in comedy, Julia Louis Dreyfus. I was booked for three days as the part of the “Child Wrangler”. When I heard three days I was amazed I thought that perhaps I might have more than one line this time. I might actually get to do more than tell someone their wife was on the phone – not that that wasn’t exhilarating but with three days surely I would be doing more than delivering phone messages. After signing and faxing the non-disclosure agreement I was sent the script. I opened the document and ctrl f’d “Child Wrangler” searching for my lines and there it was. It was one line but at least it was a longer line this time… kind of a run on sentence if you will.
Is there such thing as being type cast as a one line wonder? Perhaps if I work very hard one day my obituary will read, “She never performed more than one line but damned if it wasn’t one of the most tremendous lines you’d ever see performed.”
I had my own trailer again, very nice. I act cool and nonchalant as I’m shown to my trailer and given the key, but inside I’m busting. Getting a trailer is always a magnificent bonus to me; I should go to castings with a sign that says, “Will work for trailer”. Whenever I’m walking down the street in New York and they are filming a movie or TV show and all those Hadaad’s trailers, (http://www.haddadsinc.com they have an awesome jingle), are set up along the street I’m always so curious and envious of whoever is inside and today it’s me. I’m inside. I love having my own private space on a set. A space designated just for me with my characters name written on tape and stuck on the door, it makes me feel special, almost like a real movie star. I decided to spend a lot of my down time on set though. Unlike House of Cards the mood on Veep was a little more relaxed and I really enjoyed just watching everything happen and being in the heart of the action. Anna Chlumsky, who plays Amy, was very nice and I had the pleasure of chatting with her for a while.
I was to report to “base camp”, which is what they call the check in location and sort of center of operations, at 10am for my costume fitting and be ready and on set by 12pm. As I was changing into my costume I was told there was some script changes and given a new script. Script changes? How much changing could there be for one line? Maybe they corrected the run on sentence? Could they have given me more lines? Oh lord of lords please let there be more lines! I opened the new script and turned to my scene … nope, still one line … but a totally different one and just a little bit longer. Great! I’ll take it. I quickly memorized that and went over to set. When I got to set I was told there was another script change and given another script. More lines? Nope. Same amount of words just different ones. I quickly memorized the new line and waited to be called into the scene. I was sitting there running over my line in my head and waiting when another production assistant came up to me “We’ve got another change…” she handed me the new script “they aren’t sure which line they want so just be ready with all of them.” At this point I had a nice collection of lines to memorize, enough to make up a nice chunk of a scene. I guess when I called on the Lord to let there be more lines I was taken very literally. Lesson learned – be more specific in your prayers.
I was called to set and I did my blocking – start at “one“ (which is the point where you start the scene, for me this was a point off camera), enter and cross to actor playing the stage manager, deliver line. The writers were standing off camera with me at “one” and would direct me as to which line to do each time. I did it once for each of the lines they had given me, then the writers started throwing me new lines on the spot to try each time they yelled action. I probably tried four or five different versions, a few times for each and then they yelled “that’s a wrap” and everyone went to lunch. The whole thing was a whirlwind of excitement – I actually enjoyed having lines thrown at me and delivering them on a moments notice. As crazy and nerve wracking as it might seem it was very invigorating and I felt like I was really a part of the creative process.
At lunch I saw the writers sitting with each other and I was a little intimidated but I decided to put my big girl pants on and go over and say hello and thank you to them. They were very gracious and complementary. They thanked me for being flexible and one of them said I was “genuinely funny”. “Wow – if he meant that…” I thought to myself “that is an amazing compliment”
Once my three days on the set of Veep were over I got that all too familiar bittersweet sting in my chest. I was elated to have had the opportunity but I didn’t want to go home yet. It’s kind of like that feeling when your mom shows up to pick you up from your friend Grace’s house right as the two of you were just getting started on an amazing lip synch/dance performance of I’ve Had The Time of My Life from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack and you can’t believe the best time of your life is over when it was only just beginning. It would be six months until the episode would be released and I couldn’t wait to see how it would turn out and which line they would use.