Here we have an excerpt from, “Mr. & Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request”, or, as my friends would come to call it: “the infamous Cupcake scene”… (truth be told they called me cupcake for a while afterward, but I didn’t mind – after all, I was the one on TV ) Scroll down for the story of how I landed the job.
The Sopranos was my first noteworthy role on TV after having moved to the Big city, and was the fruit of networking, multiple auditions, a table read with the entire cast (where Paulie “Walnuts” nearly murdered the guy sitting next to me), and a day of filming at a bar in Jersey – all that for about a minute and a half of screen time… ahh cinema.
The story begins with a very young, very green version of myself, working a typical day at Outback steakhouse on 56th and 3rd in NYC. I remember that I was in a good mood; being still full to the brim with that unrelenting positivity of youth, with a dash of cocky charm thrown in for good measure.
What did I care about humility – I was 21.
The uneventful day had been much the same as all the others before it; tourists came in, ate their food, left NO tip (someone needs to send an E-Mail to all of Europe explaining that servers on this side of the pond don’t get paid a lot, we depend on tips to pay rent. And, while we’re at it, we should add that liver with onions, as well as poor oral hygiene, are both horrid ideas in practice…), and took off with their fannie-packs over to times square: the bastards.
Then, one of our usual customers came into the restaurant, took a seat at the bar, and ordered his customary white wine. One of my good server friends leaned in (knowing that I was an aspiring actor), and told me that this person was an agent… but whatever I do, he said, don’t talk to him – he’ll hate that.
Being youthful, cocky, and full of piss and vinegar, what did he really expect?
Just as soon as I could come up with a opener that seemed appropriate, I sauntered on over to his spot at the bar, and whispered – as conspiratorially as I could muster with a straight face and a serious tone,
“So… I hear you’re a secret agent. What’s that like?”
Yea – stupid I know – but, as fate would have it, this agent was looking for stupid that day, and he laughed at my ridiculous approach, and took down my information.
Cut now to a month later.
I had already gone on a few auditions for this “Mystery Agent”, with some encouraging results. I was being called back (for those of you who don’t know what that is; when you audition, it’s the first “try out”, which is soon followed up with a second [a call-back], that has fewer people, and sometimes even a third, which has even fewer…) on over half of what he sent me out for, and had even – in the meantime – booked a role for a HBO pilot presentation as one of the leads; Young Vinnie.
Being a rising star (in my own mind more-so than in his, as time would prove) I was elated when I got the call to audition for the quintessential Italian show, “The Sopranos”. Being Italian was the only evidence I needed to prove that I was perfect for the character, so I graciously accepted, and ran over to my computer to look over my lines.
Nine words… What the hell? I’m a star baby, I don’t get out of bed in the morning for nine measly words, call me back when you have something that will win me an Oscar.
Ahh I love the arrogance of youth, wish I had some of it back too.
Heedless of my own self assured superiority, I nonetheless studied those nine lines until they no longer had any meaning. When they had been reduced to a slurry of muted vowels, and no more than a heightened exertion of my lungs in an effort to pass extra air over my vocal chords, I knew i was ready. I was supposed to play a mobster – perfect!
The night before the big day, I looked into the casting director online (after listening to the bleeps and bloops of my telephone modem signing me on to AOL), and found out that her name was Georgianne Walken… wait a minute, i thought. Christopher Walken, Georgianne Walken… something sounds familiar here. A quick check of the net (after some more bleeps-n-bloops; someone had answered the phone), confirmed my rough hypothesis: the two are married, and have been for many years. I decided right then and there, evidently knowing nothing of personal boundaries or professionalism, that bringing it up in my audition would be a splendid idea, which would undoubtedly galvanize what i had worked up in my imagination to be a long-lasting friendship with the couple; full of slow motion, high glassed toasts of champagne, bubbling over the rim of crystalline ruby encrusted flute glasses, that we would be regularly be drinking at a myriad of celebrity functions and homespun bar-b-ques.
I’ve always had a vivid imagination.
I got to the waiting room of the building early, and found it to be filled with a spattering of colorful paisanos; muscle-bound, skinny, tall, short – humpback: it was obvious to me that they hadn’t made up their minds as to the look of the character
Well, they’ll know what he looks like when they meet me I thought.
I walked in the room with confidence; shoulders back, head held high, waist sucked in, and promptly proffered a hand (across Georgianne’s fold up table in the corner) to shake as an introduction – a grave mistake, I now know, right off the bat (Casting directors meet hundreds of people every day, and if they shake all those hands A) they would have mitts like Lou Ferrigno, and B) they would be far too sick from all those unavoidable germs to do their job with any accuracy – watery eyes are no good in an industry of looks.). Georgianne simply smiled demurely, and asked my name as she gestured over to a metal collapsible chair (expertly avoiding my outstretched hand) that was situated in front of a camera.
Headed to the chair I answered, “Jared”.
“Jared” she said, “is that like Madonna? Or can I have a last name?” Then, a trifle annoyed, added, “Do you have a headshot?” Mid sitting down, with cheeks already grazing the metal beneath me, I quickly stood up, and then jumped startled – catching some air – when my bag (which I had been holding to my lap) fell to the floor with the headshots in it. I spun around twice – probably looking like a dog before he lies down to take a nap – as I tried to piece together what had just happened, and why all my things were on the floor.
The audition was quickly turning on me. So much for those lofty champagne toasts…
Finally working out the simplistic mechanics behind merely picking up one of my headshot’s from the floor, handing it to Georgianne, and siting back down with the small modicum of respect that I had left, Georgianne said, far before I was prepared, “Ready, and go”
“Go… What?” I said.
“Oh.” (It still hadn’t meant a thing to me) “Ohhhhhhhhh…” I said, finally catching on… what a maroon… “Wait, wait, wait,” I added, coupling it with an all too Italian sounding, “Woh, woh woh – I wasn’t ready.”
She simply smiled.
“Tell me when you are.”
Shaking out the cobwebs, and squeezing my stomach; in hopes to halt the jack-hammers of the newly undertaken mining operation in there, i eventually told her, “Ok, I’m ready.”
Long story short (If you people want the “Long story” let me know in the comments, and I’ll add more to this thread… has to be 10 or more of you ), She said only, “Thank you” – which in my mind might as well had been “Please get out of here” – but, against all odds, I got the callback, and eventually landed the role.
So there you have it, (or most of it, the extended version has some cool details, but this was the most pertinent to my own personal growth as an actor and professional), I met Christopher Walken’s wife, she put me in my place, and she was pretty cool. Oh, and I secured my SAG card too.
The hit show: The Sopranos, what more could an Italian boy from Long Island ask for?