One of the traps of my particular business is that often married or attached actors tend to fall in love with their leading ladies or leading men during production. More often than not though, actors tend to fall for the character in the piece, not the person playing it. But the damage, or at least the conflict, is still there. It’s tough to separate the real from the unreal. The worlds of theatre, television and film are sooooo insular during production. When actors talk about becoming a family during the run of a play or a TV series or film it has a good deal of truth to it.
When you are in the thick of it, working twelve hour days on a set, or spending endless days in rehearsals, it does become like a family. In a wonderful way, it is a good thing and is part of the appeal of the acting world. But in another way, it can be a dangerous thing because the world you are creating while in production is a false world in many respects. It comes with no responsibility outside the direct work related to it, like learning your lines, going to fittings, etc. There are no bills to pay, no runny noses to wipe, no money arguments to be had. The other actors fall into this parallel world with you and everything becomes art. Depending on the degree of passion and sex in the show, combined with your relationship status, it can become downright risky. You do a scene with someone, it goes well, egos and adrenaline are running hot and ... well, you get the picture. In the film and TV day, your only responsibilities lie between action and cut, and the rest of the day you are free to have fun, eat catered food, and bond with the new members of your showbiz family.
When I first met my husband, although his talent was clear to me, I also saw a very shy introverted person with whom I perceived to have nothing in common. Romance was not on my radar. Then. He started acting and improvising and he proceeded to blow my mind. I remember my “uh-oh” moment very clearly. He was doing a corporate gig that I had cast him in and was playing a very outgoing, aggressive, assertive boss, qualities he did not possess in real life. He was hilarious and commanding in the role. I was smitten. The real Colin was painfully shy and quiet as a mouse and certainly not like any man I had ever been attracted to. But I fell into the trap. I became a stereotype. I fell in love with his talent. Fortunately for me, there was a wonderful man behind all that talent whom I was destined to spend my life. But at that point in time, I had no way of guessing that fact. His talent had hooked me. I was reduced to a doting, obsessed fan. Which was technically not cool, as I was his boss.
Over the years we have come to the point where our admiration for each other’s talent is just a given. I won’t say we take our mutual admiration for granted, but we just take it as fact. It’s simply our skill-set which we use to make our living, just as everyone does in their various professions. But then every once in a while...
Last week I went up to see The Colin and Brad Show at CasinoRama, which is about an hour and a half north of Toronto. I don’t see the shows too often as I am very busy with my own responsibilities. But whenever I can and when the gig is close to home, I go. I had not been in a while and was happy to see that they had come up with new games and ideas, which added to my enjoyment. Before the show, we chatted as couples do about an upcoming gig we had together, a repair in our home that required attention, and car work that needed to be done. Then he grabbed his show clothes and headed down to the sound check and I kissed him and wished him “broken legs”.
A short while later I was sitting in the audience in the middle of the show. My stomach hurt from laughing and I was enthralled. My heart was pounding and I was falling in love again with my husband’s sheer talent. I was staring up at the stage in awe. I was a fan. Because we do fall in love with talent. That’s why we become fans. But as fans we usually never get to really know who these people are, outside of their talent. They could be jerks but we don’t care. Their talent is our siren song. And sometimes the siren’s call can get an actor in big trouble. But this night, it was my husband whose talent I was besotted with. And I was secure in the knowledge that after 24 years, this talented shy character was the whole package. I had nothing to fear. So I sat there laughing and pining, wishing I had an autograph book.
Barbara: Awwww. Oh my god, Deb, this was a sexy piece!
I have to admit, I am also attracted to talent. I hadn’t really connected the two, because in my mind meeting Phil was about "love at first sight". But the truth is, in our early days, there really was an awful lot of flagrant talent wielding too. We were in theatre class together at an arts college (before university) and were cast in the first play of the season as part of a modern “Greek chorus”, intermittently singing throughout the play to the dulcet tones of Phil’s guitar strumming. Yeah, it was hot. So was watching him perform, so was building sets with him (is there anything quite as powerfully sexy as a man with a tool belt and the skills to know how to use it?), so was getting to know him over covert coffees between classes.
Now, even though Phil and I rarely cross paths in the “talent arena”, I do go weak when he describes a great day at work that really made use of his skills. My ongoing respect for his talent definitely works to fuel the mystique. I never thought about it before, but I guess I am a bit of a power slut!