It was on location in an Eastern Europen country that must remain nameless, where cooking was either boiled or fried. I got paid rather badly and the work's appearance in the annals of cinematographic art was most unlikely.
But I knew the answer to why I did it. I always do. Beyond the delight in being asked to work in the first place, I am acutely aware of the usefulness of knowing why! I did my first job in the West End because that was what I had always dreamt of. I played the Donmar because I wanted to work in the best playing space in London, probably the country.
But having your own reason for doing a job brings a surprising benefit. Protection! Many refuse to read reviews, they consider the critics superfluous and in many ways they are right. But for some it is simple fear, we don't want to be hurt. We risk all and yet are terrified of what that brings.
BUT knowing why you took the job puts you beyond the reach of hurt. I know why I did a job and I remain happily unaffected by critics.
If you take the trouble to scan the NT archives for some of the worst reviews they've ever had, you'll find a play in which I made my
belated debut there. Why the play was wholly derided is not important, it was unimportant to me at the time, but what is important, is that I knew why I did the job, I had my reasons! Many in the cast took the drubbing very badly, I was unaffected. I had agreed to do the play because I wanted to know if I could play ‘an ineffectual man'. I had set my course and no slings or arrows could trouble or throw me off.
Your reason for accepting a job will be as unique and personal as the talent and skill that got you it in the first place.
Your reason for accepting a job will be as unique and personal as the talent and skill that got you it in the first place. You might want to work with the director, in that space, with that company, in a piece you have long admired, with another actor, get the nudity over and done with, tackle the classics, see if your singing voice works, try on your dancing feet… The why's abound!.
AND if you know why you accepted the work, then no matter the barbs and comments from critics, friends, family even, or public, they will fall away as so many used ticket stubs and leave no mark, scratch or hurt.
I have made films for their exotic locations, the film has vanished without a trace but memories of Thailand linger. I have done a job for the money but rarely any of that lingers. The longer I remain at the mill the more I respond to the adventure of good writing and exciting ideas.
But I am specific in my ‘why'. Not just the good writing but what it is to me, and the particular ‘learning road' I am on. This business is lonely, so much of our ‘showbiz family' falls away during holidays, and ultimately we are all treading a unique and lone path. Knowing why you do what you do each time, adds to your fulfilment, empowerment and happiness.
So why did I go to Eastern Europe? The disaster was all the more amusing for my reason: I went because I wanted to see if things had
improved since my first visit back in 1994. Perhaps somewhat trivial, but as the production fell about our ears, I remained sanguine, a point of Zen-like calm in the Balkan mayhem, and, was considered the
mightier actor for it! ●