October 20th marks three years in LA. Here’s where I am and what I’ve learned:
It’s a process
“It’s a process” is my go to phrase when people ask how it’s going in LA. Process is product. Focus on the process and the results will take care of themselves.
Play the long game
A year and a half ago, I grabbed a beer at a local watering hole, the Ye Rustic Inn, and chatted with a fellow actor who hails from St. Louis. He told me it took him about six or seven years to start feeling like he was getting traction. The more I read about “making it as an actor,” the more I realize it’s a game of constant upleveling and attrition.
There’s always more to do
When I moved to LA, I thought I was a pretty good actor. The reality was I had a good foundation. I needed to improve script analysis and acting with my whole body, not just from the neck up. I’ve been in class since day one and I’ve changed dramatically as an actor.
You have to love it
In those interviews where actors say you have to love acting
Self care is critical
It’s easy to get trapped in the what ifs. That can drain your energy, it means I haven’t been sleeping particularly well. It’s also easy to get trapped in comparing yourself to others. Even keel is the way to go.
Find comfort in chaos
The only constant is change. The only way to survive LA is to accept and embrace chaos and use what routines you can (eating, sleeping, exercising, etc.) to maintain some semblance of normalcy.
There is no magic bullet
There are a lot of companies offering promises on how to take your career to the next level. The longer I’ve been here, the more I realize each person’s path is their own.
Time doesn’t exist
LA is sunny every day. It’s 80 +/- 10 degrees every day. That means I usually end up forgetting that Christmas is right around the corner.
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 grew a lot as an actor this year – more physical, playful, artistic, vocal and comfortable in chaos. I also made a big distinction toward the end of 2016 that really changed my perspective, and subsequently, my outlook for 2017: there’s a huge difference between struggling and being in the struggle. The latter includes acceptance, it’s active, and it’s empowering. Before I kick 2017’s ass, here’s a look back:
Pilot Season Prep
I took AdlerImprov Acting Studio‘s Pilot Season Prep class, taught by Rob Adler and Amie Ferrell, to kick off my 2016. By watching how other actors approached each week’s script, I realized there really is no right or wrong way. Instead, there’s your interpretation of the character and how you communicate the circumstances. There are certainly better, more active choices one can make that better serve the story, but relieving the pressure to “get it right” really changed my approach and, ultimately, freed me up to make more artistic choices.
A good friend from Chicago, Jason “The Dragon” Markoff, invited me to perform a Christopher Durang monologue in the middle of two one act plays he and another Harvard grad, Rushi Kota, were putting up to showcase their talents. Having enjoyed my experience working with Jason on episode 7 of Platoon of Power Squadron, I jumped at the chance to work with him again. I also played a cowboy in the second one act. Both characters required dramatically different physicality and vocal dynamics. I had so much fun bringing those characters to life. It reminded me why I started acting in the first place.
The second play was Bootleg Theater’s original work, The Stand-In, written by Pete Monro and Alicia Adams and directed by Ric Murphy. This was a tremendous opportunity and I’m extremely grateful I got to work with and watch some fantastic actors and see their process. I played three different characters, each with a different physicality. The beauty of Ric’s direction is that everything is measured by what it communicates to the audience. The choices aren’t necessarily good or bad, but rather communicate or don’t. Two examples in particular. As one character, I came out futzing with a belt. The action pulled my head upstage so the audience couldn’t see my face. A brief second, but it didn’t work. I scrapped it. The second was a regimented walk and turn as a soldier. A fairly standard choice. On closing night, Ric suggested I play with communicating the environment’s temperature (it was cold) rather than the regimented walk. The result – a blow of both hands to warm them up and a deep breath. A complete change of character and a heightened chilling affect on the scene.
Mike Stutz is a writer, director, actor and producer. He wrote and produced a short called Fat Lamb (directed by Rob Adler), which asked the question, “What if instead of ascending to heaven in a blaze of glory Jesus just sorta…stuck around?” In it, I played a suicide hotline operator. This was a hoot and the lines in the final cut were completely improvised.
Mistress Jane is a short written and directed by Roberto Roquer. It’s a story about a mistress who lets down her guard and falls in love with her sub. I play the sub. I’ll share the final cut with you when it’s available.
The same Mike Stutz mentioned above taught a six week writing class at AdlerImprov Acting Studio. The beauty of this writing class was that it was physical. All the writing takes place in the space, not in the head. You’re on your feet most of the time, letting distance, gesture, movement, and ultimately, your body, inform the writing.
iO West puts together a team of graduates to perform the Harold in a show called The Pool. Six weeks of rehearsal with a coach and four performances. Doug Sarine was our coach and often pushed us to keep it simple and emotionally vulnerable. And the group was extremely supportive and willing to take risks. What a great experience!
Commercial Technique Intensive
Amie Farrell is a commercial booking machine and she shared her tips and tricks with us over a weekend intensive at the AdlerImprov Acting Studio. The big takeaway from Amie’s class was camera awareness and environment, and using both to keep my face in the screen early and often.
Deb Barylski is an Emmy award winning casting director with monster comedy credits on her resume: Arrested Development, The Middle, Home Improvement, Just Shoot Me! This workshop offered insight on type and worked several scenes. Deb champions actors and pushes them to offer the best versions of themselves in auditions. She is specific with her feedback and generous with her time. Highly recommend taking her workshop if you have the opportunity. Unfortunately, she’s a St. Louis Cardinals fan, but I digress.
My previous commercial agent and I parted ways and I signed with DPM Talent just before the holidays. Daniel has been a commercial agent for almost two decades and tells it the way he sees it. He’s a no bullshit guy. Unfortunately, he’s a White Sox fan, but I digress. I’m looking forward to this partnership.
At the tail end of the year, I had the opportunity to work with 30 or so up and coming directors in the American Film Institute‘s directing program. The teacher, Rob Spera, an accomplished director, studied with Sanford Meisner and teaches the Meisner Technique to his students to help them craft deeper emotional stories and better understand the process actor’s go through to deliver their performances. He invites a handful of actors to demonstrate the technique and share their experiences with the students. I’ve participated in this program twice and loved every second of it. Special thanks to my friend and talented actor, Katie Adler, for sharing this opportunity with me.
I continued studying with with Rob Adler, Ric Murphy and Amie Ferrell at the AdlerImprov Acting Studio throughout 2016, taking the Sunday Advanced AdlerImprov and On Camera Scene Study classes. It is my artistic home and I continue to cherish the time I spend there and the work I create there. The space has enriched my work and the artists who work there continue to challenge, inspire and motivate me to achieve and do more.
At the end of 2015, I wasn’t in great physical shape and it affected me emotionally. I stopped working out for the last quarter of the year and, as a result, I was depressed. I felt sluggish. After stepping on the scale at my mom’s house for the holiday break, I knew I needed to make a change. Since then, I’ve worked out at least four times per week. I weigh about the same as I did last year, but it’s muscle. And as a result, I feel more vibrant.
I started seeing a therapist to figure out my blocks and the behavioral patterns holding me back. I’m an analytical person and I tend to focus on hypothetical outcomes, which ends up draining a lot of mental energy and creating a lot of unnecessary worry. I also tend to avoid. After two months, I’m already seeing the benefits. I started making more active choices. I started using my words. I talk to myself in a more positive, healthy way. And I’m less stressed. I look forward to reaping the fruits in 2017.
I took more breaks in 2016. I went for walks. I hiked. I napped. Taking a break freed me up to brainstorm and ponder. Naps recharged me. It’s easy to get caught up in the grind of LA and the idea that constant motion is necessary. That’s draining. And to quote a popular line in The Princess Bride, “Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.” In 2017, I want to chew my food literally and metaphorically by enjoying the world around me.
That was my 2016. I have aggressive plans for 2017. But I’ll share those in a different post. Wishing you continued success on your path and health and happiness in your life. Embrace the struggle.
THE STAND-IN at Bootleg Theater looks behind the scenes of “Double Indemnity,” an iconic title of the Film Noir canon. Two WW2 exiles – Billy Wilder, the picture’s director, and Kasia, an enigmatic young woman – struggle for identity as foreigners while the film is written, shot, and premiered in a strange new land: Los Angeles 1944. Appearing like some sort of siren, Kasia washes onto a beach, only to be rescued by the cinematographer Max. The two quickly fall into an affair as he hires Kasia to work on set. While their passion is genuine, Kasia’s ambitions in Hollywood challenge the strength of their relationship. Meanwhile, Billy Wilder acts as ring-leader, guiding everyone on set in an effort to create one of the greatest films ever made.
Cast: Alicia Adams, McCready Baker, Fayelyn Bilodeau, Katie DeVoe-Peterson, Paul Dillon, Michael Dunn, Charlie Forray, Amy Gonzales, Rob Lynch, Jeremy Mitchell, Chris Schultz, and Stephen Simon
Scenic Design: David Offner
Lighting Design: Dan Weingarten
Costume Design: Kerry Hennessy
Projection Design: Hana Sooyeun Kim
Sound Design: Aaron Lyons
Stage Manager: Katherine Hoevers
Producer: Jessica Hanna
Assoc. Producers: Nina Bowers, Katie DeVoe-Peterson & Lisa Harris
Artwork: David James
Director: Ric Murphy
Runs Thursday, Fridays & Saturdays at 7p through November 5.
Sunday Matinees, October 23 & 30 at 2p
A surfer. A salsa dancer. A cancer survivor support group organizer. A yogi. A MA theatre studies grad. A personality test aficionado. A dog walker. And a publicist. That’s who played in the second round of iO West’s “The Pool”, a show that features graduates of the iO West and iO Chicago improv training program.
Like “The A Team,” we were a special forces unit hand selected to perform a “Harold” on iO West’s mainstage. We had a four week run at 7 PM on Tuesday nights. We opened for various Harold teams.
If you’ve ever performed a Harold, you know how challenging it can be when eight strangers get together to try and create group mind, especially in just six weeks. Veteran improviser and our coach, Douglas Sarine, pushed us early and often to come from a place of truth. Aside from grounding our performances and creating a shared, relatable experience with the audience, it helped to simplify our approach to performances, i.e. less need to manufacture.
This was an extremely positive experience. The only bummer was that I felt like we were just starting to hit our stride in our fourth and final performance.