Rachel Vice lies topless, relaxing on the side of the pool soaking up the summer Italian sun, basking in her beauty: confident, pretty and unfazed by her nude body in the brilliant, sultry Bertolucci film, Stealing Beauty. Kate Winslet lies nude on a floral daybed as Leonardo DiCaprio sketches her curves on a large white canvas. She relaxes back into the soft pillows and falls deeply in love as he sketches her, missing nothing as the moments pass in James Cameron’s Titanic. Maria Schneider gallivants topless around the barren antique flat with Marlon Brando. She props herself up on the cold blue tiled sink uninhibited by her natural beauty and helps Brando shave his beard while they share subconscious moments of deep intimacy — even love — in my favorite Bertolucci film, Last Tango in Paris.
I have dreamed and still dream of playing roles like this, of making art.
Somehow I’ve ended up auditioning for a slew of films that are the diametrical polar opposite of the art I’ve just referenced. They have names like Slumber Massacre Sleeping Party, where I’m to play Nadia, a “dancer” who says lines like, “Sup guys, wanna party?” and “Totally awesome.” Or how about the movie for Cinemax, a psychosexual thriller where I’m to play a nineteen year old gymnast who says things like, “Tubular, dude. I know just the thing that’ll get you into shape big guy.” Upon reading the script I realize this is like…a slightly less revealing adult film?
And then there’s the movies void of subtext where the dialogue is literally saying what it means. Here’s an example.
KATE: So Mike, how about you walk towards the fridge and get out some peanut butter and jelly, then grab the plates from the cabinet and use a knife…and make me a sandwich.
MIKE: That’s great, Kate. What an idea. I think I’m hungry, too. I’ll start walking over now.
Mike heads towards fridge and opens it.
MIKE: Lots of food in here.
KATE: Totally, Mike. I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Kate takes a large bite. She’s happy.
As an actress I’m left with nothing to do but…say the lines. This just isn’t what I had in mind as I played Viola in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at Oxford University, dressed up like the male page Cesario, falling in love with the handsome Duke Orsino and doing everything in my power to avoid Olivia’s love for me!
So I’ve decided a couple things.
- Only audition for quality films
- Make my own movies and submit to festivals
Feeling like a desperate hamster rolling around in that plastic ball banging into things going on meaningless audition after subtext void audition after B movie audition, it’s time I make some changes and start valuing myself as a real actress. Starting now.
Alice can be reached at AliceActress@yahoo.com.