In the beginning...
I started going on a lot of cattle calls, going through backstage, and then bussing tables, and working in different restaurants. I was an intern for a private investigator for a while, but he didn’t --- pay me. And then finally, I went to the summer session for William Esper. I did a six week program, I talked to him and he said, “You know you should do the two year program with me.” I said, “Well you know, I- I’m working now, and---by working I meant like you know, Burger King commercial or like maybe, maybe a small part in a, in a film or something but, I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing. I had no real technique and he told me, “You know, it’ll go by so fast, you won’t even notice it. Two years will go by so quickly.” So I went to the two year program, it was twice a week. Twice a week sounds casual, but it was very intense because the homework time and the time to rehearse with your acting partner was really intense, and that sort of changed my life, from there I kind of understood what the responsibility of an actor was, and that it was nothing to be taken lightly. It wasn’t a hobby. Before that it might have been something that I had inherited. I had my mother and father’ acting blood, I guess, that’s a terrible way to say that but I’d inherited BLOOD.
My mother and father were actors. My father quit acting early. He’s actually gotten back into it recently, but my mother did a lot of improvisation, and a lot of downtown theatre, like Charles Ludlam-type stuff, La Mama, and Theatre for the New City. Some of my first memories were at Theatre for the New City when I was on Second Avenue and Tenth Street, cause I would visit her in the summer, and I did a play with her when I was ten, I lived in San Francisco with my father, they were separated when I was five, and so I moved around a lot with my father. I would come visit her in the summer and I ended up doing a play with her accidentally, when I was ten, and again when I was eleven the following summer. I was toying with the idea of coming here to go to the Fame School, and then I ended up not doing that, I don’t think my mom could handle that so I stayed with my father and my stepmother, I went to a high school of performing arts but it was only about thirty percent of the school. There were two thousand kids, and maybe five hundred of them were in what they call SOTA, School of the Arts. It wasn’t just performing arts, it was also painting, and everything, and I dated a dancer there and I got all, ‘actory’. I was into break-dancing before that, and then I, I took off all my break-dancing gear and went through like a transition, wanting to be Michael Jackson into wanting to be Kevin Bacon in ‘Footloose’ to wanting to be Judd Nelson in ‘Breakfast Club’
I had romanticized New York in my mind when I was a kid, because I had been around all these crazy artist types, when I was a young boy. I was exposed to like you know, marijuana, fabulous big-breasted women, homosexuals, and drag queens. My mother’s world was a very strange, bohemian kind of world. I was kind of like the Bob Fosse thing in ‘All That Jazz,’ the scene when he’s with strippers, and he’s kind he’s backstage, and he’s doing like a Vaudeville-type stand-up thing and they’re kind of groping him, I mean I didn’t get molested or anything, but I- but I was around a lot of adults as a kid, and I think it’s probably sim- a little similar to what I’ve heard Chris Walken’s background was---he was a song and dance kid, and I think when you’re around that as a kid you grow up fast, but a part of you doesn’t grow up. It’s a strange thing to be exposed to that kind of bohemia as a kid. You feel a little different than the rest of the kids, when I would go back to San Francisco and go to school, and have sort of a normal middle class life with my stepmother and my father, it was very odd, and I was a year older than all the kids cause I had gone to kindergarten twice, for some reason, I don’t know, my dad he had me go to kindergarten twice.
I didn’t take acting very seriously, when I was at the School of the Arts I was chasing girls and smoking pot. Acting was sort of like a hobby, so when I came to New York it was really more to come for adventure, and I didn’t expect to get any work. I just came to live this Jack Kerouac, young Martin Landau, James Dean kind of kind of existence. I really didn’t have any connections except Sebastian Stuart, a friend of my Mothers, and I did that at Theatre for the New City, that was my first play in New York as an adult. I had this monologue, I remember pouring coffee on my head or something, and it was about Barbara Bush. I started going through Backstage and going on these crazy cattle-calls. You go into an apartment, not even a casting office, and there’s 30 guys in a room, a living room with some casting director, and the casting office is her apartment. Finally I got recommended to an agent called Kronick and Kelly, I sang a song and I did a monologue from ‘Diner,’ the one that Mickey Rourke does, apologizing to the girl in the movie theatre for putting his dick in the popcorn box. It’s a great little monologue he has. I had done a couple of Shakespeare monologues, but I didn’t really know anything about Shakespeare. I think I did a monologue one time from ‘Raging Bull’ I mean it was like some Jake La Motta stuff, that’s when De Niro, everybody was doing impressions of De Niro and then everyone started doing impressions of Chirs Walken, but back then, you’d go to a party with like 20 year old actors and there’d be like a De Niro-Off. So we were all watching those movies, Mean Streets, and and, all those and I did a monologue from ‘Raging Bull’ in this agents office, and the agent was like, you know, you can’t do that. You gotta, get some real text, you know?