We filmed until 330 this morning, and when I finally got home a little after 4am, it was all I could do to convince myself to wash off my makeup and go to sleep. I woke up at 1230 this afternoon in the same position I fell asleep, and I probably could have easily slept another 3 hours or more. When I wrap (I'm writing this from the set) in a few hours, I go straight to the airport, fly up to Vancouver, drive two hours to location, and start work on Eureka at 655 tomorrow morning.
Ever since I woke up, I've felt like I'm wrapped in this warm blanket of happy exhaustion, and I'm so grateful that I'm only in 4/8 of a page tomorrow, so by the time I really hit the wall tomorrow afternoon, I'll be able to fall into bed and stay there.
It's a lot to do, and it's as exhausting as it sounds ... but it's also a lot of fun. This has been my life to varying degrees for the last several months, and though it's overwhelming at times, and I don't have a lot of free time, all I have to do is look at the times I had as much free time as I wanted (from about 2001 to 2007) and everything falls into a wonderful perspective. I keep saying that I hope I don't wake up from this wonderful dream, and I mean it more today than ever.
Last night, we shot on the back lot at Warners. It was a night shoot, with about a hundred extras and all kinds of atmosphere - cars driving and lights changing - and I felt like I was really in the movies, more than I usually do. When we got to my scene, it took me several takes to find Evil Wil Wheaton, and I started to feel like I was screwing up and causing everyone to think twice about bringing me back for more episodes. After the second take where I just felt off, the director came over to me and told me to have more fun, don't be so controlled, and remember [SPOILER] and [SPOILER]. A few things clicked into place, and we shot a few really funny and truthful takes. I couldn't put my finger on exactly why, but Evil Wil Wheaton came to life, and I couldn’t believe that, even for a second, I hadn’t been able to produce him out of snarky air.
Earlier today, before we began shooting, I walked over to Mark, our director, and said, “I just wanted to thank you for helping me find Evil Wil Wheaton last night. Your notes made all the difference for me.”
He said I was welcome, and told me that the scene was really funny, and looked great, too.
“I always have such a good time when I’m here,” I began, and I then I knew exactly why I was having so much trouble finding Evil Wil Wheaton. “And I just realized why I was having so much trouble last night.”
“Oh?” Mark cocked his head a little bit to one side and waited for me to continue.
“Yeah. I was so exited to be working outside, at night, on the backlot, and so overjoyed to just be back on this show, it got in between me and Evil Wil Wheaton. My very real joy and happiness was so overwhelming, it informed my performance and pushed it in the wrong direction. When you told me [SPOILER], it brought me out of that nerdy joy enough to focus me back on finding the truth in the scene and the character.”
“I saw that happen,” Mark said.
“Usually, I have four days of rehearsals and run throughs to get that giddiness out of the way -- and I honestly feel like a real freakin’ noob to not have realized this right away -- but I only had the one rehearsal and the one run through on Friday, and then … well, there we were.”
Mark nodded slowly and smiled at me. “Well, you were great.”
“Thanks, man,” I said. “I feel so silly, because it’s not like this is my first rodeo, you know?”
Mark nodded, and was called away to do director stuff, so I came up to my dressing room to write this post, while the memory was fresh in my mind.
I’ve been an actor for just over 30 years. I’ve worked in nearly every environment possible, on all kinds of productions, in all kinds of roles. If I wasn’t playing an evil version of myself, I would have remembered that I was playing a character who is snarky and evil and lies about his grandmother and breaks couples up to win at bowling … but that blurring of the line between me and the character I play of the same name is something that is relatively new to me. I’m grateful that I had a fantastic director like Mark to help me find and define the line between me and Evil Me again.
Added long after we wrapped: Seconds after I finished writing this, I was called to the set to work, and then I got in a car to come straight to the airport. I’m waiting to board my plane back to Vancouver now, and I have a moment to edit and post this. Before I get on my plane and instantly fall asleep, I want to add that had a wonderful time on the show, like I always do, and I just want to take a moment to once again thank the cast, crew, writers and producers for making me feel so welcome. My episode airs on November 11 on CBS. I really hope you’ll tune in, and tell your friends to watch.