Great Actors and the Actor

So, I shot this short film over the weekend. The short film was written and directed by my friend Frank Stokes, and a couple of the people who work behind-the-scenes on my web series were also working on it. Frank is always fun to work with, so despite the fact that I was working for free and not spending time with my family on their three-day weekend, I wanted to do it. I was one of two leads. I signed on to do the project before Frank had a second actor. The other part was written for a man.

But then another friend of mine suggested to Frank that he cast Rusty Schwimmer, a character actress currently based in Chicago, to play the part. He loved the idea and flew her out to Los Angeles for the weekend. I’ve met her before, a number of times, because we’ve both worked on the same projects and shared some representation. She was always a lot of fun to talk to, and super sweet and energetic (despite the parts she plays, usually rough and tumble and serious even when she’s doing comedy.) But we had never actually been in a scene together. I was of course very excited for the chance to work with her, and she became this wonderful revelation in doing the project.

Rusty has been acting since the eighties, and has all these incredible show biz stories, and she has an arsenal of accents and characters that she slips in and out of when you hang out with her. I’ll admit that this trait can be annoying in some actors, but in her case she is so damn funny you just want to hang out with her and let her go. So she’s too much fun behind the scenes, and fills up all the down time with this party funny-times atmosphere. When we were actually working, she was amazing. She’s not just an incredibly talented and precise actress, but she is super supportive and not even remotely competitive. She’s a team player. Through all our joking around and giggling in between takes we came up with all these great moments that I think will add a lot to the short.

The reason I felt compelled to write about Rusty is the simple lesson in her way of being on set. She’s a giver and a laugher and a lover of the process. Her presence elevated everyone’s spirit, and made what was a grueling shoot with the Valley heat (we shot entirely outdoors) a good time for everybody. People like Rusty are the difference between a tough working environment and a wonderful one. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have had fun with the short if she hadn’t been there, but she made it a dream, you know?

I am going to take that with me. I may not be the force of wonderfulness that she is, but I certainly can do my best to make a work environment wonderful just by putting my best positive foot forward.

Also, if you even get a chance to work with Rusty, you simply must. If you are really lucky, you’ll find yourself sitting next to her and giggling hysterically because you are both ludicrously punch drunk. I was actually talking to an orange as if it was human just to get her laughing.

You haven’t lived until you’ve been punch drunk with Rusty Schwimmer.

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