Teeth and the Actor

I just got back from the dentist. A friend texted me while I was there and said, “You go to the dentist too much.”

I agree. I do. I have been to the dentist once a month since I cracked a tooth and had it pulled last November. Getting a tooth replaced is a long process. But more recently, and for me rather disturbingly, I went to the dentist completely voluntarily. To have my teeth whitened. This is something people do all the time. And they aren’t necessarily in the entertainment industry, they just want to look good. Because all the people in the magazines and in the movies and on album covers have really white teeth. White, straight teeth are indicative of youth and health and above all, wealth. If you have a good dental plan, you are doing okay. You are successful if you have all your teeth filled with white stuff instead of silver stuff.

Now, I would look like someone out of Duck Dynasty if I wasn’t an actor, I imagine. (I would be nothing like those assholes, but I would look like them.) Because I am naturally lazy and not that into my own appearance. It’s a hassle, looking good. And I’m not some sex symbol type dude, so the character look gets me work. Would I like to be super handsome and sexy? Sure, I guess. I like that kind of attention. (You know, the sex kind of attention.) But at the same time, I’m not a vain kind of a guy despite the profession I chose. I don’t mind aging. Except for the pain, it doesn’t bother me all that much. Wrinkles are the echoes of laughter and living. But then, sometimes I have to and that’s all there is to it.

I have a recurring role on an upcoming TV comedy. It’s called “You’re the Worst” and will be on FX over the summer. The part I play will pop up from time to time, and the character is an extremely funny one. When  an actor is in my shoes, he quite often has to bend his creative impulses to fit a show or commercial or movie or whatever. It’s not often that I get something that makes perfect sense, that is aligned exactly with my comic sensibilities. This character, the project as a whole really, is that rare opportunity. So I want to do it just right. I’m not so worried about getting the performance on point. I like the other actors, they are a fun bunch, so the chemistry is easy to find. And I’m certainly good at taking direction. But what about the look?

Funny thing is, getting on the clothes and the shoes and make-up informs so much. I find so much in those elements. It isn’t vanity. It’s character work. So when the head of the make-up department on the show suggested a teeth whitening, which I’ve never done before, I realized she was right. This guy is the type to get his teeth whitened all the time. (You’ll see why when you watch the show. I assume you would if you are one of the few who reads this silly blog.) The show doesn’t have the kind of budget to pay for this kind of procedure for some guest star, so I forked over the three hundred bucks myself. Because I want the character to be right and serve the show as best I can. It’s worth it. A great character is always worth it.

So I gave them the money and sat in a chair for two hours with all this stuff in my face and a giant weird machine jammed in my mouth and it was kind of scary. They kept telling me all the potential pain I might experience. No pain came. None at all. I at first thought that was because this teeth whitening for this gig was just meant to be; it’s what the universe wanted. I then realized in retrospect it is because I brush with sensitivity toothpaste and that greatly reduces the pain in these kind of procedures (why didn’t the dentists tell me to start brushing with it beforehand? It was just lucky that I did. I had no idea.) Either way, my teeth are white. Maybe the character choice was suggested to me because really my teeth are disgustingly yellow and it was a gentle way of pushing me in this direction. But who cares? I buy the character choice. And secretly I hated how yellow my teeth have gotten over the years, but I stubbornly refused to give in to societal pressures about looks. (And now I’m thinking about getting a tummy tuck and getting hair plugs and a penis enlargement.)

(Not really on that last thing.)

I am staying away from coffee, tea, red wine, and anything else that might yellow me up before the shoot. Which kind of sucks. I like red wine. But it’s worth it.

Because I have found a new character to run with.

And vodka is okay, too.


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