Being a record of my journey as I undertake a new role that, unlike many others I have played, fills me with a sense of immense challenge and a promise of growth, both as an actor and a seeker.
Some have suggested that I not worry too much about the movement of the character, pointing out that I will be wearing a very heavy prosthetic suit. My thinking, however, is that it would be a mistake to let the suit do all the work. Certainly it will help. But without exploring the issues these people face, I will simply be moving the way a healthy 175 pound man moves while wearing a prosthetic that weighs somewhere around 50 or 60 pounds. I need to incorporate many other elements. I don’t know all the questions that need to be asked around this issue, but I do know that I need to ask what do my hips, knees, ankles feel like? Why is the gait somewhat stiff legged? I am assuming right now that it is because the musculature can’t support the weight if the knee is bent. These are the issues I need to start exploring, and I know that these details are crucial to a portrait that will have depth and honesty.
On a more humorous note, I received an email from a composer friend, the estimable Michael Roth, who will be working on The Whale. Michael and I have worked together a couple of times, most notably on Dinner With Friends, and now he had this to say: “… my first challenge for the show, far less formidable than yours, but a challenge nonetheless, was to find gay porn sounds for your laptop. Well, a boy has to do what a boy has to do, so to speak. So I have the sounds, ain’t they something, and if it would be useful to you to have an endless loop of it to just play and play over and over again all the time (while reading MOBY DICK for example, as I recall it’s a long book), just let me know — consider it a slightly belated Hanukah gift/early xmas gift. Just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you in my own unique way.”
Ah, the things you never thought you’d be listening to. I got together with Michael a few days after hearing from him, and we went to a movie (the new Bond film — get your mind out of the gutter). Afterwards we went back to his studio, where he played me the two tracks he had selected, as well as a third he had created by mixing the first two together. After all the kidding around, I did ask him to burn me a CD of the three tracks. I need to spend some time listening to them, and I’ll explain why.
I happen to be straight. I have had the opportunity a couple of times to play someone of a different sexual orientation than my own, and it has not been difficult to make the adjustment. Playing Charles Busch’s boyfriend in hisYou Should Be So Lucky, or the confirmed bachelor Uncle Paul in A. R. Gurney’s Indian Blood did not require huge leaps. But I do have to admit that playing a scene in which I am listening to, and aroused by, a sexual soundtrack that will have only male voices, grunts, groans and slaps — that will require some extra focus and substitution for me. We are attracted to and aroused by the things we are attracted to and aroused by, and I do not pass judgment on whatever that might be, for myself or anyone else. But to find ways of being aroused by the things that don’t normally engender that response, that is where the work comes in. Having the audio tracks ahead of time, listening to them and allowing myself to acclimate to them will help me make that substitution. This is a curios profession. You get to do many things you never thought you’d get to do.