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"Don't give them what they want, give them what you are..."

From Veterans in Film & Television's Business of Acting Q & A with David BrandonLinc HandMax Martini, Adam Farabee and Jack Kennedy earlier this week. By David Tenenbaum

"Don't give them what they want, give them what you are..."

Moments before a candid Q&A with four talented actors begins, Max Martini tells me he has no interest in sitting on stage in the already and beautifully laid out directors chairs with his colleagues. 

Hmm. 

I mention he'll have to tussle with the Jason Statham doppleganger and 6' 2" mass of Army veteran and VFT Director of Programs Jack Kennedy to sort it out. Laughs ensue.

But this is Max, Max Martini, the American-Canadian-Euro citizen who has had held some of the most dominant roles in combat films like Saving Private Ryan, Colombiana, Captain Philips, Pacific Rim, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi and Spectral. No one argued. Did I mention he's also boxed for the past 12 years or so?

An intimate and up-close quartet of intense masculinity and inspiring talent take to the stairs at the base of the stage...Max Martini, David Meadows, Adam Farabee, and Linc Hand before a near platoon's worth of VFT actors. The air is foggy, literally, a few beers are cracked, the mics are abandoned and the evening begins.

There's one message that has to be shared more than any other...these guys are the real deal. They're honest, they're revealing, they're insightful and they embody what's important in a professional actor - being cool. I consider myself more than fortunate to be part of it.

The lessons to be learned were plenty. Hone your skill, develop your craft, be certain, be confident, be clear, be simple, take the steps to command a room, realize your 'type' and embrace it, get a manager, use your strengths, be a good friend, be professional, be flexible, and most importantly, be cool. 

The advice was ubiquitous. Ever rehearsed sides endlessly only to give the room what you think they want? Nuh-uh, cut it out. 

Linc's southern charm and reassuring drawl made it clear, "Don't give them what they want, give them what you are." And lest you second guess your audition, "What you bring in is what you bring in, you don't need to apologize." There's something terribly attractive in delivering a truthful audition.

Max follows suit. "Show a little of what makes you...you, someone who the casting folks want to hang out with." If the reader reads their lines flat, fine, use your imagination, create your character. 

And lest you be a novice, realize that you need not act out any specific gestures. The golden egg? Consider that giving less is really giving more. Think Sanford Meisner and his technique.

VFT regular and Navy SEAL Dave Meadows offered some gems. "Actors who consistently work, it's about being fun and good to work with. Be a cool person on set...shit is gonna go wrong, but be flexible, accept it and succeed." 

And about being cool? "Don't be a suck up, the industry can spot it, be cool and friendly. Be friends first and worry about success later."

Juliard trained Adam Farabee and Adam Ruins Everything star understands well the doubt and incessant questioning an actor can deal with after an audition, his thoughts..."doubting yourself is such a poison." 

The floor is open for questions, it was bound to happen, the question of non vets being in veteran roles, Dave clarifies, "Be an actor first and a veteran second. Don't be entitled, don't lead with veteran status, lead as an actor first." Amen Dave, amen brother.

As for the daily hustle, seemingly no one is immune. Max..."You can do all the right things, but not land gigs. There is a right place, right time. Not a day goes by that I don't spend half the day working on my career, always reaching out and networking." 

He doesn't take roles to move laterally or backwards, only where he wants to go.

It's last looks, final thoughts, Dave tells an incredible story of chance and serendipity and how he was cast for Captain Philips. The lesson? You never know who knows whom, so be cool to everyone.

Linc recounts breaking into his own car, smashing a window, turning an hour and a half drive into a 45 minute one and making an audition with just two minutes to spare. Still bleeding from his hand and face and explaining it all, he tells the casting director he didn't want to be late. He got the role, his very first.

The sum of it all? Be a consummate actor, treat your career with as much respect and training as you did your military profession, dedicate yourself fully to the craft and be cool.

Look for these four in the upcoming films, Wilson, Living Dead, Listen and Fifty Shades Darker.

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Post Date: Saturday January 28, 2017