The Scott Shaw Blog

Be Positive

The Roles I Didn’t Take

I was bouncing around the channels over the weekend and I noticed the Denzel Washington movie, Ricochet on HBO or something. It was released in 1991 and I kinda forgot if I had even seen it or not. So, I called it up On Demand and decided to watch it for a few to see if I/we had seen it. Amazingly I hadn’t. That’s kind of funny because it came out at a time when I was going to the movies all the time and seeing all the big releases. But, that’s not the story…

The movie was pretty good and still presents a very watchable experience. But again, that’s not the story… The story is, I actually was offered a part in that film. A part I turned down.

To tell the tale, I was new to the film industry. I had my SAG Card and a pretty good agent who was breaking me into the game by putting me in the position where I could get a lot of small, yet noticeable roles. Post a meet and greet with the casting director I was told a few weeks later that I had been cast and when I was to be on the set. I was excited, as this was to be one of Russell Mulcahy’s first films. He had really made a name for himself by directing tons and tons of celebrated Music Videos in the 1980s.

Anyway, I showed up on the set. I knew it was to be a nightclub scene but that was all my agent told me. I get there, checked in, and get directed to wardrobe. The only problem was, they wanted me to put on a dress. Hell no! No one told me anything about that. They wanted me to play a guy in drag.

Now, first off all, in this age of politically correctness, I’m not trying to step on anyone’s toes or their life choices. But, that just was not/is not for me. I thought it would hurt my evolving career.

First the wardrobe person began giving me shit. Then they called in Mulcahy, himself, who got all testy with me. “Nobody ever told me anything about this or I would not have even showed up!” Finally, I just walked.

Back in the day, I’ve been told; I was somewhat self-destructive towards my career. I mean, it was a Day Player gig which would have equaled about four hundred and twenty dollars back then. Now, Day Players get paid well over two thousand. But, I had to stand firm in the who I am.

In fact, I imagine I was a terrible client for my agent back then. If I didn’t like the character in the audition, I wouldn’t show up. In one case, I got the Call Back, as they wanted me for a relatively high budget martial art flick. They only problem was, my character was to fight a girl. …As relatively famous as that actress was at the time; I knew her and liked her, but I am simply against that style of behavior, even if it is only a scene in a movie. So, I totally threw the audition. …Did it as badly as I could. They didn’t hire me. Hooray!

Of course, then there was, Batman Forever. I turned down the role of what became, Gang Leader. The thing was, when I was offered the part, there was no dialogue associated with it. To me, the part just read like a stuntman. I didn’t want to be a stuntman. So, much to the chagrin of my agent, I said, “No.”

I don’t know… Maybe it’s all my fault? Isn’t that always the case? Isn’t everything: good or bad that happens in our life actually and ultimately our own fault?

Anyway, I watched the movie, Ricochet. And yes, walking through the scene was the part I turned down; a dude in drag. Would that part have hurt my career? Probably not. But also, I doubt the four hundred and twenty dollars I would have earned would not have made that much of a difference either. At least I kept to my own standards. And, isn’t that all any of us have in life?

In life, we each are presented with choices everyday. So, many of those choices involve other people. So many of those choices are defined by other people. But, what it comes down to is, the only one truly affected is ourselves. Because of this fact, who else should be allowed to make our decisions for ourselves but ourselves?

You gotta do what you gotta do. But then, you gotta live with the consequences.

Anyway, by the time Ricochet originally came out, I was doing the Roller Blade Seven. And, the rest is Zen Filmmaking history. I guess I made my choice. Good or bad; right or wrong, that’s the choice I made.