Saturday, May 22, 2010

How Atticus led me to Tyranny.

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
- spoken by Atticus Finch, by Harper Lee, 
To Kill a Mockingbird.

I was recently reading parts of this book with an eighth grader and I was struck by Atticus' words. As was 14 year-old Bradley. And I wondered if I thought twice about them when I first read this novel. 

Because this time, when I read them -- I thought of acting. This is exactly what acting is. You can never know a person -- and in this case, a character, until you climb into his -- or her -- skin and walk around in it. 

And so, tonight when we were finishing up shooting Episode 12 of Tyranny, I thought of Atticus' words.

My dear friend of over 4 years -- and he with his autistic strain of knowing numbers intimately -- could probably tell you the exact date and time we met! (He's not really autistic, my little blades, but he does know some serious numbers) -- met me in Judy Weston's Directors & Actors Lab and after he watched a scene I did, he came up to me and said, "I wish I'd met you 3 years ago when I was shooting my movie, Tyranny.

At the time, what he said seemed like a lovely compliment -- something you put in your back pocket and move on with. Little did I know that 3 years ago we would shoot a trailer for it. And then, last year, Ashton Kutcher would fall in love with the trailer. And then, this year, would win exclusive rights to it for 6 months!

Now we are shooting a web series and I am that female lead that John had been wishing for. When he saw me perform a scene in Judy's class that one night. 

Now how does Atticus come into the picture? Well, every time I work with John, I am blown away. He is so passionate and intelligent and meticulous about this project.

Just listen to what he does for Tyranny:

1. He writes every episode.
2. He stars in every episode.
3. He holds down and full time job at NASA and works on Tyranny every evening and all weekend long.
4. He set designs every episode -- I mean real set designing -- he lives in a studio/loft space in Hollywood, which he rents (and loves in) solely so he can shoot Tyranny in it. And his set designs are stunning -- creating a bookstore in his kitchen, making a self-deprivation tank room out of a closet, a gallery opening out of his living room.
5. He edits every episode. And I mean sick editing -- combining footage from Europe and abroad with current shoots in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He's a master mind at editing. 

In fact, if you are wondering what he doesn't do -- his friend Garret Baquet is the DP who shoots every episode.

And yes -- at one time, John did that too.

Garret is super talented and has the most pleasant and patient temperament to work with. A true blessing on set. A small set clearly :)

John is natural as an actor -- sometimes he has delivered lines so naturally that he's taken me off-guard. And that's not easy to do.

So -- still you may be thinking, where does Atticus fit in?

Welp, as I have looked through John's photos of Tyranny through the years, I see how much love and time and money and hard work have gone into this passion project for him. 

And when we work on my character, Isabelle, he knows her/me sooo well that he can say cut and we will sit there as he tells me about my family and our farm and my father's enemies and my mother's neuroses, what I wore growing up, and why I see my deceased Dad in his character, Daniel.

And I get it.


John loves Tyranny as Michael Jackson loved dance. As Frank Sinatra loved song. As Michael Phelps loves the water. And Maya Angelou prays to the written word.

Tyranny is in his soul. And so, he tends to it and loves it as he would a child. 

Working with John -- whom I affectionately call Jb -- is truly what it is like to climb into the skin of a true believer. A true artist and walk around in his world.

I am grateful to be a part of Tyranny. That John's wish came true and now I am playing his lead female. And I realize that mine came true too -- just as my books are sold, my memoir is being shopped around to agents, my first commercial in years was shot this week, two voice-overs this past week, I am starring in a beautiful, intelligent, thrilling web series which one of my best friends has created with so much love and care it could bring you to tears.

So, the next time you watch Tyranny, I hope you remember this blog. And that for a moment, you climb into John's skin and walk around in there. Because this is his Rocky. This is what he believes in, Tyranny is.

And when you see the gorgeous shots and the listen to the super smart dialogue, and attempt to grasp the Lost-esque story of this RAD conspiracy theory, please do remember that two human beings are making this all happen. The lighting, the boom, the casting, everything.

And then, we -- all of us -- must remember that anything is possible.

And if you like what you see, please do pass word along to your friends about this beautiful series, John deserves to be seen. His show is truly a cut above all else out there.

He is indeed a true artist.I am beginning to understand him more and more as I work with him. And every day, I grow more and more grateful to be a star in his beautiful mind... and thus show!

Watch for Episode 12, which we shot today -- it will be up on and on Monday!!!

I send each an every one of my little beasts far away and nearby Love... Always.

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