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Catherine Keener says there are no small roles

Being an actor is so very strange.

I’ve been working a lot lately. At the level I am at, every role feels hard won. Every one. And people know this. I booked a role on a tv show for TNT called Major Crimes in the fall. The casting director was THRILLED for me (she’s such an amazing casting director). I was invited to the table read. The producers, the regulars were all so welcoming. So many people in production and cast expressed congratulations. Warm and fuzzy feelings about all that.

The show aired this week. My mother-in-law said I wasn’t on the show. My friend, Marijane, said “you must be on next week”. Nope. I was there. That was my episode. You just couldn’t see my face the way we shot the scene.

A while back I booked a really great role on the NBC show Parenthood. Two really great scenes as part of a wonderful story line. We shot the first scene in long single takes, on the regulars and on me. Of course, I don’t need to tell you which take they used because this was the story of those characters, not mine. The director was truly excellent and it meant a lot to me how he complimented my work, though. I was brought back the next season.

Of the six jobs I booked since October of 2013, I’ll be lucky if I can use 3 on my reel. The roles just don’t show what I’m capable of. It’s just the facts. (Not complaining here, by the way) My point is that old saying that there REALLY are no small roles. Small roles are incredibly important. The story needs someone to deliver this piece of information at this time in this way. Maybe it’s one or two lines. OR even a word. Or a look! Guess what? It matters.

So, actors who are not well known fight hard for these roles. And we have to prove that we can in one scene or even one line give them what their story needs. Or they need someone who can hold their own opposite a big name star. The tv show that I was on but my mother-in-law said I was not? (She later found me after my husband told her where to look for me.) Well, I auditioned in a room with the director/producer, the writer, two casting people and there were other actresses there that day for that role. THAT is how challenging the pursuit can be. At least a dozen women (probably more) auditioned for the one line role I shot today for an ABC show. But everyone knows what a challenge it is. The stars and the director were, again, incredibly gracious. More warm and fuzzy feelings today, too.

You’ll be happy to know that one of my roles was pretty kick-ass. Again, great direction and nice a juicy scene I’ve now put on my reel. I press on.

I watched Captain Phillips the other night. Well made. Not really for me overall. But Catherine Keener plays Tom Hank’s wife in what is essentially one scene. I was confused by this. That’s Catherine Keener. She came down the stairs, there was the scene in the car and then she kisses her husband goodbye. That’s it. We never see her again. They needed a well known actress like Keener for this? But… her hair looked crazy and she is a woman who effortlessly pulls off being the wife of a guy who spends months at sea. They needed her. She worked on that movie maybe a day, is my guess (they MIGHT have rehearsed on a separate day).

So really, one could interpret that I’m on the same level of Catherine Keener from all this, right?? (I publicly apologize to Catherine Keener for insulting her career with this joke. I’m a huge fan.)

No small parts, my friends. Not a single one. Catherine Keener says so.

Happy New Year, lovers and friends.

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