I’m not an actor, nor have I ever had any actorish aspirations.
But yesterday on one of the swim groups, someone posted a casting call that I just couldn’t pass up.
A female swimmer, mid 30s to mid 40s, proficient in all four strokes and comfortable swimming in the ocean.
The last part was strenuously emphasized – COMFORTABLE SWIMMING IN THE OCEAN !!!!! – so I’m guessing they’ve had some issues with people telling them “sure, no problem” and then freaking out when they dropped them off the boat. Or dock, or whatever.
Luckily, I’m not afraid of the terrors that lurk in the briny deep because, I suspect, I’m not smart enough to have ever developed even a modicum of common sense.*
I figured I’d email the casting lady just for a laugh. I gave her my swimming background, sent a few pictures, and figured that I’d hear nothing back from her.
She emailed me within 10 minutes, and informed me that my ‘look’ was acceptable (whew. I was worried there for a second), and that I’d have to come in and audition.
I started to lose interest, and then I read the numbers.
For two days, they’ll pay more than I usually make in a 60 hour week. And I don’t have to be SAG because of some reason. I think because there are no lines. Just swimming.
So, I agreed to go on my first-ever audition.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I would imagine that if swimming skills were so critical they’d hold said audition in the water. Seems like it would be the sensible thing to do. “Hey, come out to the beach. Now dive through the waves and swim to that kayak out there. Mind the stingrays.”
But no. My audition was in a Hollywood casting office, where I stood in front of a video camera, did a few pushups (don’t ask me why, I don’t know) and then mimicked swim strokes for whichever deity will be making the choice. Plus, I threw in a story about the time I got stung by a jellyfish because I thought it was a plastic bag and grabbed it to clean up the ocean.
Serves me right. Not just the jellyfish, the whole fucking thing.
Everyone was really nice, but the experience was really surreal. The office is this big corral with smaller rooms off the sides. All the supplicants sit in center on uncomfortable chairs, making small talk as they wait to be called into their particular inner sanctum.
The walls are white, there are signs everywhere warning that one must mind one’s meter, and coffee is not complimentary.
Did you ever see Brazil? It’s kind of like that.
Looking around our little group, it was very easy to see who had come from the swim group and who was a professional actor.
The swimmers had broader shoulders, more sun damage, more bruises, and worse hair. Oh, our hair was terrible. I’m surprised we weren’t immediately escorted off the premises.
I do not expect I’ll get a callback.
*Although there is that one kelp mat off Venice Beach that scares the shit out of me every time I swim over it. It’s just deep enough to see the shadow, but not make out any detail.