Never Trust an Actor…Or Why I Write Novels Instead of Screenplays!

I used to joke about how I used to cheer myself up by phoning all of my actor friends whenever I was feeling down about how HARD it can be to make a living off of writing. Acting is just one of those sort of gigs where you can a lot of money over a month or two – and then spend the rest of the year auditioning for voice-overs for Raid commercials.

In that way they are a little like writers. I make a good chunk of change twice a year when my traditional publishing royalties come in. I also make a bit of money from the occasional public appearance or short story. I also make a bit of money every month from my independently published works – but none of it is very predictable.

Neither are actors.

Just when you think you have got them figured out they go and do something that you didn’t expect them to do.

Like Mandy Patinkin.

You see – it really peeved me off when Mandy bailed on CRIMINAL MINDS.

Now Joe Mantegna has done a heck of a job taking over from him as has Thomas Gibson. I’m not going to mention Shemar Moore because – although he’s a pretty good actor he has the unforgivable distinction of being way too hunky, or at least so my wife says, for me to acknowledge him in public.

No – I’m not jealous of Shemar – I’ve just got certain standards to uphold is all.

Mandy Patinkin apparently had creative differences with the producers. Maybe he also had money disputes with them. He told folks that he did not wish to be typecast and wanted to move on with his theatrical appearances. He also was deeply bothered by the prevalence of violence in television.

Well, maybe so – but as a fan of the series I kind of wanted to see a little bit more of the character – Gideon – that he played. I guess he knew what he was doing. He has done fairly well on Broadway. I even hear that he can even sing a little…

He’s not the first actor to do this to we television-viewers.

Remember Radar?

Or Adam Cartwright?

Or Chris Eccleston’s Dr. Who?

Actors will do that to you – because actors are people. And people are ANYTHING but predictable.

My latest actor let-down occurred when Jim Carter – the actor who plays the butler Carson from Downton Abbey dressed up as a depressed Santa Claus and told the kids in the Youtube-viewing audience that Christmas was in jeopardy of being cancelled due to global warming.

I don’t know about you folks but I felt kind of cheesed-off that Greenpeace had taken such a blatant cheap shot at Christmas and all of those kids out there who still believe in Santa Claus. I’m not going to talk about whether or not global warming is real. I’m fifty-five years old and I’ve seen how badly screwed up the weather is these days. We’ve definitely broken something out there – BUT SCREWING CHRISTMAS UP FOR THE KIDS IS NOT GOING TO UNSCREW THE WEATHER!!!

Whoops.

Who put this soapbox under my feet?

(grin)

The important thing to remember is that actors will mess with you when you least expect to be messed with.

Which is why I write novels instead of screenplays.

In a novel your character does EXACTLY what you tell them to do – right?

In a novel the author is in COMPLETE control – right???

Well – I’m not so sure about that either. I’ve had characters turn around and do something amazing or wonderful – right out of the blue.

I’ve also had at least THREE characters in three separate works of fiction up and die on me.

I remember the first time that happened – a character in my novel DEVIL TREE up and died on me in the third chapter. One moment she was there – the next she was gone.

Same thing happened in LONG HORN, BIG SHAGGY.

Same things happened in TATTERDEMON.

Characters will do that to you when you least expect it.

Have YOU ever had a character decide to do something all on their own?

I’d love to hear about it.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

One response to “Never Trust an Actor…Or Why I Write Novels Instead of Screenplays!

  1. Not only do I prefer writing novels over screenplays, but I also mordantly against any attempt to film any of my books.

    Like

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