I auditioned for the casting director of CSI: Miami, Nan Dutton, eight times. I had also "gone to producers" about half of those times. Couldn't book for the longest time.
Now Nan is....eccentric; loud, brash, blisteringly honest, and one of the funniest broads I've had the pleasure to meet (if you've met Nan then you know the term 'broad' is both a term of endearment/respect and keenly accurate). She's nuts. In the best possible way.
I was called in to her office to read for the role of Manny Delgado a worker in a sugar cane refinery being interrogated about his involvement in a fire at the refinery. On the page the character is nervous, compliant, and scared of Horatio, the character played by David Caruso. I played it just like it read. Was put on tape by one of Nan's assistants, thanked them and left.
I got the call within a couple of days with the news that I booked it. Finally! Excited to have cracked the nut but, honestly, a little disappointed that I had to play such a pussy opposite 'Horatio Caine'. But I got over it because I BOOKED.
The day of the shoot, after makeup and wardrobe, I was escorted to the set where I met the director, the AMAZING Rod Holcomb. He came up to me and enthusiastically shook my hand and said, "Hey, Leandro! So good to see you. We're happy you could do this. Welcome!"
"Oh, thanks for having me! I'm really glad to be here. Thanks for bringing me on board," I replied, bewilderedly.
He went on to tell me that he'd been on set when I shot "Huge" and loved what I did and thought I was, "Fantastic!"
While I was still processing this wonderful moment, Rod said, "Hey, David, this is Leandro. He'll be doing this scene with you."
Up walks Mr. Caruso, almost humbly but with tremendous presence. "Great. Hi, I'm David." he said, shaking my hand.
We went into an empty office off of the bank building that stands in for the Dade County Police Dept. and sat down around a small coffee table.
"Let's read the words," Rod suggested, "and see what happens."
We went through the scene with me doing my 'whipped dog' routine and when we finished, Rod looked down, with his brow furrowed and said, "Huh. Okay..."
I was prepared to clear out my trailer and pay for the coffee that I'd gotten from craft services when he looked up at me and suggested, "How about we take it again, but this time, give him some trouble. Don't put up with his shit! Can you do that?"
"Yes. Yes, I can. Absolutely." I replied with a grin that was, in hindsight a tad too eager and altogether too evil. I love to 'play' and shake things up with someone who is not afraid to "Go There." All words mean different things when there are different intentions and colors behind them.
I LOVE THIS STUFF.
We read the script a couple more times, upping the 'asshole factor' each time. Before we adjourned to get ready for blocking, I looked to both of them and asked, "Is that okay? Is it too much?"
They looked at each other and then to me, shook their heads. Rod looked at me, and as he clapped me on the shoulder kind of chuckled and said, "Nah, man. Not at all. Just have fun."
As we settled into our spots, got mic-ed and had the last minute light, sound, and background details adjusted, I watched Mr. Caruso in his element.
David, speaking with the make-up artists, grips, 1st A.D., sound guys, showed himself to be one of the coolest, kindest, funniest, most self deprecating actors to have a whole series built around him. "How a skinny, pasty, middle-aged, red head even has a career, I'll never know," he mused as his make up woman was adjusting him during 'last looks'. He kept joking right up until we were about to roll then he got very focused and serious. As he led, so the crew followed. Fun and easy until it's time to work; then comes the focus and precision.
Running our scene, David was always ready to 'play'. He changed his tactics while maintaining his intention several times. He strayed from the script now and then, even swearing in some takes. All to get the best possible performance from both of us. In the end, I was, I believe, able to just make Manny a sweet guy who tries to hide his nervousness with antagonism because he doesn't like cops.
Or something like that.
I was just having fun!
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