Stars’ secrets to success
Even Hollywood celebrities need a little help to make headway in their careers.
FEW of us get through life without a little help along the way. It may come from a mentor, a friend or a perfect stranger. Actors are no different.
> Debra Messing ( Will And Grace) owes her debt of gratitude to a casting director. “I kept auditioning and kept losing the job to two different women. I would see them and say: ‘This time, I’m going to be the one.’ And it didn’t happen, and I was really depressed about it. Then this casting director called my agent. I think I owe this woman my career because I was auditioning for her quite a bit. But she called my agent and said: ‘Debra is sabotaging herself because she is wearing so much makeup that it’s like kabuki. And she looks 10 years older than she really is. They’d see the tape and say, ‘She’s too old.’ Or they call her out, and say: ‘She’s way too young for this. She needs to go and learn how to put makeup on.’ ” I was putting stage makeup on, that’s all I knew. So between that and being forced to colour my head red – all of a sudden everything changed.”
> Ben Affleck ( The Town) says it was filmmaker Kevin Smith who helped him. “Kevin is the reason Good Will Hunting got made,” says Affleck of the film he and Matt Damon wrote and starred in.
“Kevin is the reason I have a career and am playing meatier roles and not being stalked by obnoxious bad guys, bullies,” says Affleck.
“Kevin believed in me. When we were doing Chasing Amy he told Miramax – who’d already passed on Good Will Hunting initially – that they should read the script. And that’s the reason we got it made. He’s always been a big believer in me. I owe the guy a big part of my career, if not the whole thing ...”
> Mary McCormack ( In Plain Sight) credits executive producer Steven Bochco ( NYPD Blue) when she was cast in his Murder One. “I remember the first episode after the pilot was me, my trial, so there were these huge speeches, like closing arguments that were pages long, that they would rewrite the day before. I had no experience. I worked hard and I think I pulled if off enough to keep my job. I remember going to Steven Bochco and telling him: ‘You have to bear with me. I’m completely over my head, but I’ll work hard and my learning curve will be sharp, but you have to look away for a while it’s not going to be pretty.’ He said: ‘That’s all I ask.’ He was wonderful, really great and wrote more and more for me. It was a great way for me to learn.”
> Scott Bakula ( Men Of A Certain Age) recalls a fellow actor who helped steer him through his initial days in New York. “I had this guy I’d worked with a lot in St Louis and he’d been to New York and knew some of the ins and outs of New York and he said: ‘ When you get to New York, you’ve got to get this paper, Backstage. It has all the auditions and everything that’s going on.’ I didn’t have an agent, wasn’t in a union, wasn’t in Equity, didn’t know anything ... I got there on Wednesday, bought a Backstage. Auditioned on Friday for a tiny dinner theatre in North Carolina and was hired by that night.” > For Cybill Sheperd ( The L Word), it was her father. “I was the athletic one of the three children, I got (my dad’s) broad shoulders, so he was cool with that. He went out there and threw the football with me in the front yard. I feel I owe my father a lot. I felt he carried me on top of those
Grateful: Debra Messing credits a casting director with giving her her big break.