EVERYTHING HAPPENS THE WAY IT’S SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN
So, I was a working observer at the Actors Studio. It had always been a big deal for me to become a part of the Actors Studio because of it’s history. Especially Pacino’s association with it. The moderator at the time was a guy named Clyde Ventura. I had auditioned for the studio with a scene from, Lou Gehrig Did Not Die Of Cancer, by Jason Miller. It was a play I loved and had done on stage a couple of different times. I worked out at the Studio all the time and I loved being a part of it. One day, they were having auditions for a reading of the new Lyle Kessler play called, Robbers. Lyle is a member of the studio and I loved his play, Orphans. Anyway, I auditioned and I got the role of Vinny. Also cast was Warren Beatty, Matthew Modine and other actors I had heard of. I was the unknown. I never got to meet Beatty because something had happened and he wasn’t going to be able to do it and a very good actor named Lane Smith, did his role. Anyway we did the reading at the Actors Studio and it went terrific. I had worked very hard on the role and it was the first time I had gotten a lot of attention for my acting, and I got embarrassed and left out the side door.
The following week Lyle asked me if I had heard that they were going to be putting the play up, to look for backers to take it to NY. I told him that I hadn’t heard and asked him if it would be the same cast, and he told me some people would be different, but not me… I would be Vinny. I was then invited into the Writers/Directors unit that he ran and I would do improvisations on the character. We worked on it a long time and all of a sudden, that summer my agent found my phone number and was calling me up to audition for plays and I explained that I couldn’t because I would me doing the new Lyle Kessler play, Robbers. Months passed and I was Vinny for months. I grew my goatee, I wore my Italian horn, my earring, my sleeveless tee-shirt. I was ready.
They were scheduling auditions for the other roles and I got a call from my agent, telling me that I had an audition for the new Lyle Kessler play, Robbers. I asked them what the were talking about and reminded them that I was already in that play. They told me the didn’t know and that they received a call for me to audition. I got to the Studio early and saw Lyle walking up the driveway towards me. He asked me what I was doing there and I told him that I received a call from my agent to audition. He was surprised and told me, that I was Vinny, that he wanted me for Vinny, but while I was there, to come in and meet the director. I did and read something from the play for him. Lyle gave me the thumbs up sign. That evening I got a call from my agent telling me that they really liked me, but they went with another actor, Jimmy Medina and did I know him? “No!” I told them I never heard of him. I got some “liquid courage” and called Lyle at his home to find out what had happened. He told me that Jimmy Medina was hot off some movie and that the director and he were friends and that he wanted him for the role. I asked Lyle if he had told the director, that I would be doing the role? That I was Vinny!” He gave me some bullshit story that wasn’t satisfactory to me, I said a few choice words and hung up. I didn’t know this Jimmy Medina, but I hated him. He already had a career, why was he getting what was supposed to be mine? I was pissed.
A couple of weeks later I was on a commercial audition and as I was signing in I noticed that the second name above mine was, Jimmy Medina. As I was walking down the hallway to take a seat I heard, “Yeah, I’m in the new Lyle Kessler play, we’re going to do it at the Actors Studio and then take it to New York…” I wanted to smack him.
I didn’t tell anybody but I went to see the play and I hated it, I hated him. Truth is, he may have been good but I just couldn’t get past the anger that I had for him, the play, Lyle… A couple of years passed and a friend of mine who had a TV series, set me up with a meeting with her agent. I met with them, did a couple of monologues, read a scene and they loved me. They told me that they thought I was a terrific actor but I conflicted with one of their clients, and did I know, Jimmy Medina? What the hell was going on. After all this time, how had he come back to haunt me. Why? A couple of years go by and another friend of mine who had a different TV show set me up with their agent. Everything went well and they really liked me but, I conflicted with one of their clients, and did I know Jimmy Medina? I was pissed off at God… the Universe… Whatever. I didn’t understand why this, Jimmy Medina was getting what was supposed to be mine. I hated him. Maybe a year passes and I’m reading the Hollywood Reporter and I read, “Jimmy Medina Dies of Aids.” I was in shock, I broke down… I wasn’t wishing I was Jimmy Medina anymore. I realized then, that, that role was never meant to be for me. Jimmy was going to have a limited time on earth. He was only 33 years old. On further investigation I read that he was a Pisces like me. He was born March 2nd and I was born March 11th (not the same year) Years later, I was telling my son Matthew the story of Jimmy Medina and I looked him up on IMDB.. I was shocked.. I passed away Oct. 16th. Matthew was born Oct. 16th (not the same year, but still) It was then I realized that, Everything Happens The Way It’s Supposed To Happen.
This is a wonderful, albeit, wrenching story of frustration and regret. I recently did an audition for a truck driver role (because I was freshly retired after 3 million miles of over the road driving; I was a real truck driver)! I crushed the monolog but I didn’t get the part. I went to a guy who looked like a stereotypical truck driver; somewhat overweight, balding with a beard! I was disappointed but wasn’t sufficiently familiar with the drill of the arbitrary selection of actors (and the actor’s place in the hierarchy). I had attended a recent weekend workshop by Patti Kalles, who had been in the industry for a million years and she gave me the lowdown on the illogical nature of selection. This is why I try to attend as many workshops as I can afford. You’ll see me again, Anthony! Because of you, I’m learning how to put my regrets in a row, like ducks, to create a meaningful palate’