Thursday, January 28, 2010

Look what I found in New Brunswick!

Every once in a while I come across someone who has It.

I don't know what It is, but I know It when I see It, which isn't very often. This time, it was in New Brunswick, shooting this last job, casting for the role of the daughter.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Marie Michele Vienneau.

She's fifteen years old and until a couple of weeks ago, had never been on a set. And I'll tell you right now she's got what it takes to make it big.

Sure, she's adorable. But what she has goes beyond adorableness. She has a magical combination of confidence and innocence, awkwardness and grace. Mostly, she has a natural ability to make the camera fall in love with her.

I've seen this before. I've cast other people who have It, some of whom have gone on to success. And some who haven't.

Danny Fehsenfeld, the actor who played the lead in 'Burning Passion' has gobs of It –– although his It is more like Kevin Spacey's, an ease on screen that makes you wonder whether he's actually acting. What's weird is that Danny will tell you acting is pretending. And yet with him, I swear acting is being.

Ruthann Lentz has It, too, and I'm not just saying this because she's my wife. In fact, it's kind of the other way around: I fell in love with her because she has It. She hasn't gone on to fame and fortune either, but that's probably my fault for getting her knocked up twice and taking her out of the game for four years.

Which brings me to reality.

People can have It and not make it big. There are other factors. It takes skill and determination and luck and opportunity and timing and connections and hard work on top of It to find success in a business as brutal as film.

When we wrapped, I took Marie Michele aside and gave her some advice. Here's what I told her:
  • Learn to speak English like an American. That's where the opportunities are.
  • Don't ever do anything that makes you uneasy. If you're okay doing a sex scene or comfortable with nudity, fine, but it must be your choice.
  • Don't ever get a boob job. Gwyneth Paltrow and Charleze Theron didn't get to where they are with fake boobs.
  • Move to New York or LA if you feel you need to, but don't do it because you feel you're supposed to.
  • Find a teacher you connect with and work hard at your craft. Aptitude is not enough. You have to develop your skill.
  • Do the acting because you love it, not because you want to get famous or rich.
What I didn't tell her, but wish I did, is that success is hard. Extremely hard.

I sometimes wish I had the power to confer success on people like Marie Michele, Danny, and Ruthann, but to be honest, it wouldn't be fair to them if I could. Success is earned. When it's not –– I'm convinced –– you end up with Lindsay Lohan, who I've never met in person but I'm sure is utterly dripping with It.

I'll be keeping my eye out for Marie Michele. I'd love for her to make it big. And not just because I'd be able to say I found her first.