I had big plans, kid. Real big plans. And way, way back in the February of 2009 I was all set on making those dreams happen…
People who have known me for maybe the last 10 years, know that at some point during that I was pretty set on being an actress. And I was serious about making this happen. As serious as a 14-year-old can be. I joined a Youth Theatre when I was 11. I took Drama and Theatre Studies for GCSE and again for A Level and even ended up taking it for half a degree. This is where I subsequently realised somewhere along the way I had fallen out of love with acting. But let’s begin even further back than February 2009. Let’s go all the way back to December 2007 when I was 14…
Getting head shots & an agent
I don’t know how to explain this in a way that will make sense… but my Youth Theatre had set up a little agency for those of us who wanted representation and the chance to try out for roles. We all had headshots taken. Take a laugh at mine…
Christ, look at those teeth. Thank heavens for braces and the NHS, but the bad skin is pretty standard. I had labelled the first picture as ‘good’ and the second as ‘bad’ when I filed them away. Presumably because I genuinely believed that there was a discernible difference.
These would be the images that a top American casting director would see 14 months later. And would convince her that I might be worth making the star of her movie. She asked me to come down to London for a film audition with my ‘manager’ and my dad and take a day off school to audition for her. I actually couldn’t make the first date offered and they even asked me back for a different date. Wow, I was somewhat ‘sought after.’
The film audition
The movie in question? Well…
Yes, I would be directed by Joe Wright of Atonement (2007) fame. From the studio that brought you Brokeback Mountain (2005) and starring along side Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett. From what I remember, Hanna did surprisingly well with critics but didn’t blow up any box office records. It was about a girl who lived with her father in the wilderness somewhere and he was training her to ‘adapt or die’ in literally any situation. One day, with Hanna’s training complete, they decide to stop running from whatever they’re running from and face it.
From the script extract and the character notes I was given, Hanna could run like a deer and swim like a fish. She could also speak several languages. She was her own person and relied on herself only. In short, this would have been the perfect break out role for any self-respecting wannabe feminist actress looking to make a name for herself in the world.
My big break…
Since you’re not reading the musings of a semi-famous actress right now, it will come as no shock that it absolutely BOMBED. The casting director literally just kept repeating over and over again ‘No, you’re acting. No, you’re acting.’ Apparently, my background playing Ariel in The Tempest and one of three Scarecrows in a stage version of The Wizard of Oz didn’t set me up to realistically portray a screen character. Who’d have thunk?
I also massively over-exaggerated (read: blatantly lied) about the amount of sport I played. Which you can imagine would be vital for a girl who can run like a deer, etc. Apparently, I played hockey, netball, swam a lot and was generally a really active person. Therefore, I would be totally fine with the several weeks of training they had in store for the lucky winner of the title role. I could have been Eric Bana’s daughter and I could have been hunted by Cate Blanchett.
Saoirse Ronan is officially a better, more successful, version of me
Alas, it was not meant to be. Saoirse Ronan fresh from her roles in Atonement and The Lovely Bones (2009) would take the role from under my feet. Leaving me wondering how different my life would have been. Had the casting director simply been floored by my efforts to learn the different languages that were on the script extract, I would have been shipped me off to Hollywood for my rigorous training program. That I almost certainly would have thrown up during several times.
In another life…
What would my life have been like? Honestly, being the recluse I am, I probably would have hated it. I would have had way too many ‘this is way beyond my depth’ moments but I also would have gone along with it anyway. Too naively grateful for the life I had been handed. The life I should be loving. I might have loved it, but morphing from the extroverted girl to anti-social person I am today, I can’t imagine it would have been all that enjoyable. Considering, I eventually learnt to hate being looked at or noticed, I can imagine it would have destroyed me.
I did see Helen Baxendale (Ross’ British wife called Emily in Friends) at the audition and she smiled at me like we were in a kinship. Like I wasn’t a creepy fan staring at her in the street, but that we were actresses at an audition. And like we had the slightest thing in common.
And we actually do. Neither of us ended up in that film. Interestingly, the actress who got the role Helen Baxendale auditioned for was none other than Olivia Williams. She played a bridesmaid in Friends for Baxendale’s character.
Funny how things work out, isn’t it?
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