When casting people and agents found out I had a little brother (and that he had a good personality and was photogenic), we started getting a lot of calls to play brothers. It seemed to appeal to a lot of clients to pick “real life brothers” vs cobbling actors together and worrying about whether or not they look related. I don’t remember everything we did, but there were several Kmart commercials and at least one Kentucky Fried Chicken TV spot. Food commercials were always a kind of rough. They wanted you to hold the product a certain way, bite into it a certain way, etc. Most of the time, you picking up the sandwich and taking a bite are two completely different shots, and there’s a reason for that. They build the “perfect” sandwich for the shot where it’s in your hands – I watched them do it with toothpicks and glue. By the time it was done it looked good, but it was certainly not edible. I remember looking at that great looking sandwich and thinking about biting into toothpicks. I shuddered. Anyway, that’s the sandwich you pick up for the shot (or the one that they show the closeup of, anyway). Then – in a completely different shot – you bite the “real” sandwich – this one is, thankfully edible. The cardinal rule, at least with mom and my agent, was if they ask if you like their product you say yes – even if you don’t. Even though everyone I’ve ever encountered was a pro who understands a job is a job (even if you don’t use or like the product), you don’t want to risk offending someone. It’s just not good form to say someone’s product sucks and expect them to hire you anyway. Admittedly, though, I’ve been in a casting office with actors who blasted the product they were auditioning for. Their comments were usually really funny, but I kept my chuckles to myself and buried my head in my script.

Speaking of making the “perfect” product I once did a cereal commercial where they poured out tons of boxes to find perfect, unbroken pieces to fill a bowl with. There’s a lot that goes into a commercial that you wouldn’t even know.

I once went on an audition where I had to chug Coke. I like Coke fine, but it was rough to chug it – burned the whole way down. I had another one – I think it was for Hellmann’s mayonnaise – where they wanted you to take a bite out of a slice of bread with mayonnaise on it. I don’t remember details, but I think I was supposed to bite, smile, and say “Thanks, Mom!” or something like that. I remember having a little bit of trouble chewing it fast enough and saying my line, so the casting lady made a suggestion.

Casting Lady: Just shove it in your cheek with your tongue and say your line.

Not a bad idea, and it worked rather well. Can’t say I cared much for having a huge bite of break and mayonnaise sitting in my mouth, but them’s the breaks.

Anyway, Tim and I were doing this KFC commercial – it’s a family sitting around a table eating dinner (KFC, of course). I don’t remember if there were even any lines – I don’t think there were. I don’t know if it was a long shoot, but it certainly felt that way. We passed the bucket, took a big bite of our chicken leg, and when the director yelled “cut” we spat it out into a bucket. We did so many freakin’ takes of that. I started off feeling pretty hungry, and a little disappointed I wasn’t able to eat the chicken (I don’t remember if there was a reason we had to spit it out, but it’s what the director said to do so it’s what I did). By the end, I felt absolutely disgusting. I had been chomping on chicken legs all damn day. My hands were greasy and if I smelled any one of the Colonel’s 7 herbs and spices I was gonna spew. I had lost whatever semblance of an appetite I had. For the record, I never ate KFC again. For years, if I saw a red and white bucket I’d get nauseous. There’s a story that went around back in the day that Ronald McDonald (or rather, the actor that played him) totally flipped his shit on a commercial set. After doing however many hundreds of McDonald’s commercials, he had evidently become a militant vegetarian. He tried to keep doing the commercials even though he had grown to despise the product. Supposedly, he overturned a table, started screaming, and stormed out.

Ronald McDonald: I’M NOT PEDDLING THIS SHIT TO KIDS ANYMORE!

I will say that the mental image of Ronald McDonald blowing a gasket gives me a good laugh. Obviously, they found another actor who was more than willing to fill Ronald’s big red shoes – even though I think the actor was being pretty unprofessional,  I can empathize. I can’t even imagine how many burgers he must have chowed down on, grinned, and spit out. That’s got to make you at least a little crazy.

 

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