Sunday, 16 November 2014

The Toughest Things About Being An Actor

Being an actor is tough. Career instability, financial insecurity and constant scrutiny about how you look. Makes you wonder why anyone would do it for a living. But those aren't the truly difficult things. Oh no. Here are just a few of the things that are far worse...

Spotting THAT person you went to drama school with in a ‘Check Out These Amazing Next Big Things Who Are The Stars Of The Future And Are So Much Better Than You And We’re Featuring Them Even Though They’ve Got Plenty Of Work And There Are So Many Other Hardworking People Would Could Benefit From This Kind Of Coverage’ type article.

Look at them, all lovely with their hair done all nice while you’re sat in a pair of pyjamas that you haven’t removed for the last 3 days. Hang on, did that stain just MOVE?

Your favourite pyjamas being in the wash.

You know the ones – comfy enough to fall asleep in at 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon, warm enough so you can avoid putting the heating on even though the mould on the walls has formed frost and respectable enough to answer the door in without the postman looking too horrified.

Pacing a free bar entirely wrong.

You’ve been invited to a thing. You don’t want to go because, well, your favourite pyjamas are clean and you’ve got the flat to yourself and RuPaul’s Drag Race is calling…

“There’s a free bar.”

You turn up horrifically early, hoping to get in on the free bar action. Now, generally the rest of the night will go one of only two ways:

Every photo of the night features you clutching three glasses of wine with your boozy gaze only able to focus on any available snacks


You decide to be sensible and not make a fool of yourself. Maybe you’ll brace yourself and do some much-needed networking. You average a glass of wine every 45 minutes only to discover the free bar was only for the first hour. You slink off home at 8pm and pick up a sausage roll and a bottle of Lambrini on the way home.

Social networking

‘OMG. Just been offered the most AMAZEBALLS job. All top-secret right now though! ARGH! #soblessed’

‘Need me my own PA! Soooooo busy today! 3 castings, 1 voiceover, 1 meeting with top director AND a costume fitting!!!! #WhatAmILike?!?!?!?!’

‘Oh NOOOOOOOO. Been offered a totes AMAZING film role but it clashes with the most DIVINE theatre role. SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT I SHOULD DO! #hatemylife’

We all have these. You’re flicking through trying to see which of your old school mates now has the worst hair (hey now, mullets with a copper sheen are very popular in more rural areas) and one of those status updates pops up. You know you should be pleased for them but all you do is scream at the screen and become even more determined to live-tweet Homes Under The Hammer.

Questions about your career.

  • Oh of course, I totally know when you’re going to see me in EastEnders. Let me just let the Casting Department know that I’m booking myself in for the 2015 Christmas storyline…
  • I do all types of acting. No, not porn.
  • Yes, I have been in something you might have seen. Your mum.

These are your stock answers to the stock questions that you will always get. They will usually come from well-meaning folk who, to be fair, have no idea what to say to someone who has willingly chosen to pretend to be a tree for a living.

Seeing friends in plays

Personally I think ‘seeing a friend’s play’ should be the new term for anything that should be discussed behind closed doors and after a thorough check for bugging devices has been carried out.

There is a lot of pressure as an actor when you go to see a friend in something. Firstly, WHY THE HELL DIDN’T YOU GET SEEN FOR THIS? Oh, I mean, I’m really pleased that my friend is getting this wonderful opportunity. But you will be overly critical. You’ll spend most of your time trying to work out which is the annoying one in the cast (there’s always at least one) and the rest of the time either being insanely jealous (if you liked it) or wishing you’d sat nearer the exit (if you didn’t.)

And then there’s the time in the foyer/bar/street after, especially if you didn’t enjoy it. What do you say? Do you lie? OF COURSE YOU DO…

“OH MY GOD! Well done you! You must be exhausted! How long did it take you to learn all those lines?!”

And, of course, you then realise that you’ve heard those lines before. HANG ON A MINUTE – people said that to YOU the last time YOU were in something. The Circle of Acting Life, friends.

(DISCLAIMER – if you’re a friend and are reading this, I totally loved YOUR play. It must’ve been so hard being on stage that long.)

Shakespeare questions at pub quizzes

  • Complete the title: Romeo & ________
  • What is Shakespeare’s first name?
  • Name any character in Antony & Cleopatra.

Shakespeare is tough and of course you’re going to pretend that you’ve read every single one of his plays and understood it and loved it (“My, Shakespeare! It must’ve taken you so long to write that!) So it’s no surprise that when the inevitable question comes up at the pub quiz, all eyes turn to you. When in doubt, either pretend to have not heard the question, quote the Oxfordian theory that Shakespeare didn’t write the plays anyway so the question is invalid or just answer ‘Leonardo DiCaprio’ and hope for the best.

Playing Charades

Actually, mime and the type of acting you do are two very different things so no, it’s not your fault that it took your nan three hours to work out that you were doing ‘I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.’ Those 3 years at drama school were definitely worth it and the fact you now can’t feel your hands does not bring your acting talent into question.

Not being able to use any other photo apart from your headshot as your profile picture

Guys, this is TOUGH. It’s alright for everyone else, they all have fun photos of them wearing a silly hat at the work Christmas party that they can use. Sure, you’ve got photos like that too but how can you possibly use that when there’s a photo of your airbrushed within an inch of your life? IF YOU DON’T USE THAT THEN HOW ELSE WILL PEOPLE REALISE THAT YOU’RE AN ACTOR AND IT’S THEREFORE OK THAT YOU HAVE FACEBOOK CHAT OPEN ALL DAY?

Daytime TV.

Learning the day’s viewing schedule is very demanding and has meant that you’ve forgotten many important things like why you wanted to be an actor in the first place and the last time you washed your hair. But how else are you meant to know when to have your fifth cup of tea (it’s when you fly for the remote to switch off Loose Women.)

But still, at least we get to do our food shopping on a weekday, eh?