West Wing
The Secret Life Of An Actor

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"I Drive Around L.A. and Try to Make People Like Me"

The author goes on to describe the acting backgrounds of both Jane and Brad, who met in New York in 1989. Brad is a graduate of Juilliard, and Jane's a Yalie. They did reasonably well for themselves in theatre and film, but had shied away from television somewhat. Television, however, turned out to be the jackpot for both of them: in 1999, they each landed starring roles in shows that went on to enjoy enormous success, a situation the author describes as "simultaneous career orgasm." David Whitford also describes the pandemonium as their limousine arrived at the Golden Globes, and subtly conveys Brad's comfort with the high profile he now enjoys, accepting greetings and kudos from the likes of Jack Lemmon, Julia Roberts, and Tom Hanks. Alas, as most fans already know, Brad lost the Golden Globe award to Robert Downey Jr. (and Jane lost to Sarah Jessica Parker). But it sounds like David, Brad, and Jane went off and enjoyed themselves at the post-award parties all the same.

Moving along to the meat of the article, David gets his brother talking about acting. Brad believes that "actors are basically alcoholics waiting to happen" because he feels that if one is the sort of person who thinks, upon seeing a play or film, "I should be [up] there," such a person is "in the most assertive, extroverted .022 percent of the population. That's a very assertive chord in your personality. Then the business renders you totally passive. And there is no resolution to assertive people in a passive position. It's corrosive. There's no resolution to that." The author reminds us that only about three percent of the one hundred thousand Screen Actors Guild members earn even $100,000 a year as actors. Brad has worked very steadily since graduating. One of his first juicy roles was a part in Sam Shepard's Curse of the Starving Class, a role which necessitated his appearance onstage "every night dazed, wet, and naked with a sacrificial lamb in his arms." For some nearly three hundred shows. (On The Rosie O'Donnell Show, Brad gleefully told an anecdote that involved his writing "Hi" somewhere on his nether regions, in order to mess with the composure of an actor who had to be standing behind him when he bent over, naked and wet. Such a cutup.)

David also offers up an amusing little tidbit from Richard Schiff, who's known Brad for a couple of decades. Schiff saw Curse of the Starving Class: "I saw his naked butt. He was really good. My ex-wife went twice, which got me really upset. I remember her saying, 'He's just too good to be true. He's good-looking and he's really nice and sweet and he's talented. He has to be gay, right?'" I would love to know who Richard Schiff's ex-wife is; I was stunned enough to realize that he's currently with Sheila Kelley, someone I just did not imagine to be his type. (Because I would know a lot about that.) But it sounds like she'll have to be made the honorary founder of the "harem" of women who are falling over themselves to jump on the Brad-is-sexy bandwagon.

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West Wing




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