Not all actors are crazy. Far from it. Many are productive members of society. When you’re a writer, working with actors on a TV show, or on a film set, however, you might find that some actors can be extremely difficult, if not neurotic or just plain crazy. Nothing can really prepare you for this experience, but I’ll try to shed some light on it in this blog.
Many actors have long been thought to be self-absorbed, and to possess narcissistic personality traits. A lot of actors, good and bad, appear to have an inordinate need for attention. That’s not to say all actors are crazy.
However, if your screenwriting career gets off the ground, you will witness what appears to be insane behavior from performers. You will need to be prepared. Your career may depend on it.
Google “crazy actors” and dozens of famous names will come up in posts and blogs. Some of the better known actors who will come up in your Google search are Joaquin Phoenix, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Nick Nolte, Lindsay Lohan and Courtney Love.
I’ve never worked with any of them, so I don’t feel I know enough to comment on their state of mind. However, there are some actors I’ve worked with who definitely fit this category. I don’t want to name names, here for legal reasons, and because they’re unpredictable, and who knows what they’ll do if they hear about this.
I worked with an actor; let’s call him Mr. Orange.
We worked together on a very successful TV show. However, he appeared to be have the occasional sudden mood swing.. He was extremely talented, and for my money he was a comic genius. Everyone on the show seemed to get along with him pretty well most of the time.
However, on one episode of the show we (the writing staff) wrote a line for his character. Mr. Orange thought his character would never say that to another character. He threw an impressive tantrum, and then locked himself in his dressing room for the rest of the day, which meant rehearsal was cancelled and a day was wasted.
Mr. Orange also punched a hole in the wall. At some point he called a cab and took off. The next day, this actor sent the writing staff a case of Dom Perignon. All the writers took a bottle home. The actor went ahead with his rehearsals, said his lines, as if nothing had happened.
It came out later, after the show was off the air, that he might have had a drug problem. Photos were published in the tabloids of him with a group of homeless men, allegedly using drugs together.
Ms. Blue; when the star acts out.
My partners and I created a show with for a stand up comic. Ms. Blue, the star of the show was a very funny person, and often contributed great ad-libs during our first season. When I say first season, what I really mean is our only season.
A big factor in our show lasting only one year was Ms. Blue’s tendency to odd behaviors. I’m not sure what exactly was going on with her, but I imagined some mood instability might be involved.
I made an effort to stay close to Ms. Blue. I even traveled to Mexico with her and her boyfriend over a vacation break. I thought it was a good idea to stay on her good side. After a while, however, things changed.
One incident involved her hair stylist. Ms. Blue had long black dreadlocks. The hair people decided to give her a different look, which she seemed to like. They dyed every other row of dreads blonde.
So, it was black and white, in stripes. It actually looked great. However, when she saw the show that aired that week, it looked to her like hairdo was “strobing” on TV.
Nobody else I knew noticed this, but she appeared to have decided other people on the show were plotting against her. At the next table reading, she gave a speech to everybody, the other actors, the writers, the director, and even the studio and production company executives.
Ms. Blue appeared to imply that everybody was conspiring against her. She said she was especially disappointed in the actors, who she assumed had sided against her. One of the supporting players who had a long a career on Saturday Night Live, put his face in his hands and just shook his head.
Then there was the time she decided she talked about wanting a microwave in her dressing room. All she had to do was ask us, the Executive Producers, or even one of the production assistants. Actually, she could have asked anybody on the show. We would have put one in there right away.
Instead, she allegedly sent emails to everyone at Warner Brothers, starting with the heads of the studio, on down to Vice Presidents, and other executives.
It appeared her eccentric behavior did not go unnoticed by the decision makers at the production company and studio levels. The show’s ratings were good and the reviews were fantastic.
The sad ending; our show didn’t get picked up for a second season. Ms. Blue appeared to bounce back, and had roles in many films after the show was canceled.
Both actors were extremely talented, yet appeared to be eccentric. Those eccentricities can affect your writing career, unless you’re careful, as they seemed to affect ours.