Sunday, August 23, 2009

Playing games with Peter and Vera on the set of Orphan

I have a small role in the movie Orphan starring Peter Saarsgard and Vera Farmiga as the ICU doctor trying to save their little boy's life.

When I arrived on set in Montreal I reminded Peter that we'd acted together in a movie 9 years earlier, with me also playing a doctor. He didn't remember me--despite having lunch with him and Oscar-winner Estelle Parsons on set one day--but he thought it hilarious that I show up in his life 9 years later to play another doctor. Type casting. Sigh...

I told Peter and Vera about hearing a story from Liza Minelli at her appearance at the Canadian Film Centre years ago. Apparently on "New York, New York" whenever De Niro and she were doing a scene, and shooting her coverage, he would not feed her the next line until, as she put it, "he heard the truth." At first Peter was appalled at De Niro's apparent arrogance, but as we talked about it, we decided it might be kind of fun. So we proposed it to the director, an intense young Spanish whiz kid, who agreed to let us--well really them--do this and so that's how we played our scenes. We altered the game somewhat in that we weren't really waiting to "hear the truth" but just repeating lines so the other actor had another run at theirs. It was kind of fun and I really enjoyed being able to work on the same level as the stars of the movie. (I've found that once they are past the PR and the entourage, the star making machinery, stars are often like Peter and Vera, very willing to be actors, rather than movie stars with the day players like myself.)

Check out the movie and see if our acting game worked.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Neat story. Why am I not surprised that Sarsgaard doesn't remember people? There's a certain aloofness to many of his characters, perhaps it's a thread of typecasting? Still, it's cool he was up for trying something new, he seems like the sort of actor (as opposed to 'star') who cares about his craft. Nice anecdote, thanks for sharing!