Who do you resemble? Who do you remind people of? If you’ve taken any of the myriad of marketing workshops for actors, you’ve inevitably tried to answer the previous questions. The goal is to narrow down who you resemble in a snapshot so you can communicate it to agents, managers and, ultimately, casting directors, producers and directors, to give them an idea of your character type and a hint of your personality. Small businesses do this all the time using already established brands – the Tiffany of candies, the AirBNB for dogs, the Uber for X. Here are the five actors people say I resemble/remind them of:
5. Justin Timberlake
I was crossing Chicago’s Michigan Ave. to grab a bite for lunch back in 2002 or 2003 when a middle aged gentleman stopped me in the crosswalk and said, “You look just like Justin Timberlake.” I was flattered. A compliment for sure. I’ve always been a fan of JT’s music, even when he was with NSYNC. In fact, I used to take hip hop classes at the Lou Conte Dance Studio and I still recall a routine to JT’s, “Like I Love You.” As an actor, I really enjoyed his performance in Black Snake Moan.
4. Andy Buckley
Casting Director Chris Game said I reminded him of Andy Buckley, who played David Wallace in the US version of The Office. If I had to guess, it’s because I often play the straight man in an absurdist world. Incidentally, having worked in corporate America for more than a decade, the clip below of The Interview rings oh so true.
3. Richard Kind
One of the takeaways from the Lesly Kahn Comedy Intensive is a logline to help casting directors understand the type of character you typically play. Mine is a young Jack Lemmon meets Richard Kind as Chandler. I loved Richard’s guest spots on Scrubs. I have a slight resemblance to Richard, but after watching some video, I think my vocal tone and mannerisms are what cause people to see the resemblance. Interestingly enough, my father and Richard’s father were both in the jewelry business.
When I was in college, my cross country friends told me I needed to watch “Friends” because “You’re Chandler!” During my summer job at the Osco Distribution Center in Elk Grove Village, Pete, a long time veteran who spent most of his day trying to complete the New York Times crossword, said, “I’m going to call you Chandler.” I was at the Network + Interop tradeshow in Atlanta working my client’s booth as a publicist and, after the second day, a gentleman from two booths over came over and said, “I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this, but you remind me of Chandler.” I’ve reminded people of Chandler Bing For a long time. Early on, it was because of my sarcasm, dry sense of humor and, dare I say it, a bit of anger. I’ve always appreciated the resemblance. If Matthew Perry ever needs a younger brother to fill a role, I’m jumping at the opportunity.
Special thanks to Rob Adler and the studio for coming to the conclusion I resemble Jack Lemmon. As a kid, I remember watching Some Like it Hot and absolutely loving it. The last scene, in particular, is Lemmon gold. I love watching his facial expressions as he moves from one tactic to the next to explain why they can’t get married. I love him in Grumpy Old Men. His comedic timing is delicious and, again, his facial expressions speak volumes. In Glengarry Glen Ross, his character is so dynamic – sad, desperate, angry, hopeless. It’s a beautiful performance.
If you watch Alec Baldwin’s second Inside the Actor’s Studio interview (8:22 mark), he talks about working with Lemmon and describing him as “the great reactor.” He said Lemmon would let you affect him. Walter Mathau, in AFI’s Jack Lemmon salute, said, “He allows us to see the tragedy and the comedy of the world through the eyes of someone we know, someone, he hints we may even be, because, in the words of the poet and philosopher Billy Wilder, ‘Most actors can show you one of two things and theye’ve emptied their shelves. Jack Lemmon is Macy’s, and Tiffany’s, and Sears Roebuck, catalogue and all.'”
My name is Rob Lynch. I’m a young Jack Lemmon meets Richard Kind as Chandler.
I recently had an opportunity to operate a camera for a television show audition. It was an eye opening experience to work on the other side of the lens. Highly recommend if you get the opportunity. Things I learned:
Show up on time. If you’re late for an audition, the casting director is already skeptical you’ll show up to set on time. Traffic is not an excuse. And don’t show up late, then ask for two minutes to review your lines and then shuffle papers while trying to find the correct scene in the room.
Listen and respond. Casting director Chris Game says the best audition scenes are the ones where you’re listening. Rob Adler often says reacting in the scene gives the editor so much to play with in post. I saw a lot of actors waiting to deliver their next line instead of being in the scene.
Move if it’s motivated. Standing up and sitting down can derail the scene, especially if the movement is for the sake of moving vs. moving with intention. I also saw shifting and twisting, which can show up as nerves instead of motivated action.
Don’t call cut on yourself. In Rob Adler‘s on camera scene study class, he often says to keep acting through “cut.” Some of the best moments happen at the end of scenes. I didn’t cut right at the end of the last line of the scene. I gave it a second to breathe. I could see when actors were still in the scene and those that were already out.
Elevate the writing. Some scripts suck. You have an opportunity to shine if you can elevate the writing.
Consistency of character. The audition involved three short scenes. The first two were related. The third scene was a time jump. In some of the auditions, I saw the same character in the first two scenes and a completely different character in the third scene. Show a fully formed character using different motivations in each scene.
Do the work. Be so good they can’t ignore you. Some actors weren’t off book and it prevented them from being present in the scene. Two thoughts. First, many of us just want an opportunity to audition, and when we get it, we have the opportunity to blow the room away. So do it. Blow the room away. Know your lines. Be present. Listen and respond. Live moment to moment. Second, casting directors really do want you to succeed. Provide a solution to their problem. Most casting directors want to avoid adding another casting day because they haven’t found the right person. It’s a time suck and stressor for them.
Back in December, Hollywood Reporter compiled a guide of all the pilots each network was producing. Nearly 100, not including Netflix, Amazon, HULU, etc. Pilot Season is the reason many actors visit Hollywood for the first quarter of the year hoping to kickstart their career. That rhymed. Twice. Nice.
For the past six weeks, I’ve been taking the Pilot Season Prep class at AdlerImprov Acting Studio with Rob Adler and Amie Farrell. The class simulates a pilot season audition. Sides and scripts are sent the day before. You sign up for your audition slot when you arrive to the studio. You audition. You may or may not get a redirect, especially in the first couple classes. And then you head back out to the hallway. After everyone auditions, you head into the studio to watch each person’s audition. If you’re unaccustomed to watching yourself on screen, it can be a bit unnerving, but the camera doesn’t lie. What you see is what the casting director sees. It’s extremely useful.
Aside from tips and tricks Rob and Amie shared, this pilot season class taught me a lot about my audition process, including what works and what doesn’t. Things I learned:
Small things make a big difference – a tilt of the head, a look away and back, body position, etc. all communicate something and can set you apart on the screen.
What’s your role, both as a character and in telling the story?
Who’s producing it, what have they produced in the past and what assumptions can you make as a result?
Lesly’s Comedy Intensive paid off in spades with comedy scripts. By knowing the map of the scene, including builds and reversals, heightened emotions in multicam vs. single cam, and pace, etc., those auditions sang.
The WHERE game Rob Adler teaches (among many other tools) makes staying present in the audition room much, much easier.
A couple weeks ago, Larry Bates came to the AdlerImprov Acting Studio to share some insight regarding his process. You may not know who he is, but my guess is that’s going to change because he has some very exciting projects in the works. One of the things he discussed was making choices in his auditions. He said he rarely reads the character breakdown first because he doesn’t want it to inform his initial choices. He goes through the script and figures out the story that needs to be told. Then he starts making his choices – the choices that tickle him or engage him. He shapes the space, figuring out what’s in the room so he’s comfortable when he walks into the audition. And then he might go back and review the breakdown. That’s particularly important insight because I think there’s a prevailing mindset among actors to give the producers and directors what you think they want vs. the best of you and your interpretation of the character.
That small piece of advice changed my approach. It reminded me of something Bryan Cranston said at the Oscars a couple years ago. He said your job as an actor is to create a compelling, interesting character that serves the text, present it in the audition environment and walk away. The rest is out of your hands.
Wise words. One of the tenants of Rob Adler’s teaching is you’re the artist. You get to decide which tools and colors you paint with on the canvas. Now I’m figuring out what tickles me and causes me to light up. I’m choosing MY colors and painting MY pictures. I’m making stronger, more playful choices for me. And the results are pretty damn awesome.
We had a guest casting director for the final class (Veronica Mars, Smallville, Switched at Birth) and she said my audition was callback worthy and could see me cast me in the role, depending on the look the directors and producers were looking for. She also discussed what goes on behind the scenes, what actors can and can’t control and, most importantly, how casting is rooting for us in the room. In other words, focus on process, not product. More wise words.
Aside from offering pilot season tips and tricks, Rob and Amie are very supportive and warm teachers. Highly recommend the class.
For pilot season tips, click here. For more information on AdlerImprov Acting Studio’s Pilot Season Prep class, contact Rob Adler.
If I didn’t speak to it, I didn’t see it. It wasn’t there. It wasn’t real. I have to say it. And the more specific the detail and subsequently the stronger emotional response to it, the more it’s in my body and the easier it is to play.
-Robert A. Lynch
The quote above is a note I wrote after an Advanced AdlerImprov class a couple weeks ago. It refers to putting imaginary circumstances in my body.
The game we was this – two people sit in a chair and narrate a scene in specific detail. Then they act out the scene they just narrated. When players were specific in the details they narrated, the more fully present they were in their bodies. The places where they generalized, so too were the performances.
I was reminded of my early days Meisner classes and imaginary circumstances for scene set ups. My teachers, Ted Hoerl and Eileen Vorbach, would ask a series of probing questions to gauge how prepared we were. They could tell when the imagined circumstances were specific and when it was general. They could tell we were prepared when they could see whether or not it was in our bodies.
Ted, in particular, always talked about how specific was specific enough. He said you couldn’t just walk into your room and catch your best friend/brother/father “having an affair” with your wife/girlfriend. You had to see the winking asshole.
Similarly, Susan Messing teaches in her Annoyance improv class to use all your senses – taste it, touch it, hear it, smell it, feel it, fuck it.
Mad Men was very specific about its props. The stacks of papers were real typewritten papers. That’s the exception to the rule though. More and more TV shows and movies are shot on green screens these days. Our job is to make those imaginary circumstances real so they’re believable for the audience. And, just like you need to say your lines out loud in rehearsal, the same goes for your imaginary circumstances – say them out loud. What do you see, feel, touch, taste, hear?