‘It’s Max, Max Medina’
I’m not going to pretend that I have the first idea of what it’s like to be an actor or to try to make a living in the entertainment industry. That said, I’ve spoken to a fair number of actors, writers and directors for various projects, and the fuzzy picture I’ve been able to cobble together from those talks amazes me.
Consider for a moment what it must be like to constantly be putting yourself forward for role after role, showing up to auditions to see the same faces you saw at the last one. To be told that you’re not right for the part — too old, too fat, too thin, too ethnic, not ethnic enough — and to go through this process over and over again.
Even when you have a role, whether you find it creatively fulfilling or just something to pay the grocery bill, you’re already worrying about where the next paycheck’s coming from. Will this pilot “go” as a series? Will the network pull the plug on the show you just landed because the economy’s gone sour or there’s been a shakeup in management? And heaven help you if there’s a strike; lately, it seems, there always is a strike.
I mention all of this because I had the opportunity to speak with Scott Cohen for the book yesterday morning. The way he explained his career to me opened my eyes quite a bit to what it must be like to do all of this. While he certainly didn’t strike me as being as pliant as Max Medina, he did give me the impression that, like Max, he has the unique ability to see the bigger picture.
He seeks out roles that fulfill him in some way, questions if what he has done for so long can be considered his profession, and looks back with fondness at a time when he was a substitute teacher in a public school in a rough part of town. He also remains in his native New York when many actors have moved to the West Coast to keep their careers going. Often he enjoys what he is doing, but speaks like someone who realizes it could all go away tomorrow.
Every time I’ve spoken with an actor from Gilmore Girls, there’s been a part of me that expected them to be like their portrayal of their character — it’s unavoidable, I suppose. And while I frequently come away from the experience knowing a bit more about the show, nearly always I feel as though my real privilege has been to meet individuals who are so much more intriguing than any character ever could be.