So, the acting world is reeling from the voluntary withdrawal of one Amanda Bynes, who announced over the weekend, via twitter — the PR Agent of the new Millennium — she was retiring from acting at the ripe old age of 24, or, younger than me. Now, it would be totally within my personality to rant and rave about how this bitch doesn’t know how good she has it and what does she think she’s going to do after this, blah da blah da blah, but I won’t because, as she explained in short, 140-character bursts, “I don’t love acting anymore so I’ve stopped doing it,” and “if I don’t love something anymore I stop doing it.” These explanations sound pretty contrived and general, but that’s exactly why I believe them, and I’ll give her credit for at least being honest, although somewhat vague. Then again, she also put into interweb text: “I’ve never written the movies and tv shows I’ve been apart [sic] of I’ve only acted like the characters the producers or directors wanted me to play.” Well, sister, that is what we call acting. I’m not sure what your understanding of the profession was, but that is pretty much how it goes. However, Bynes’ twitter channel does put forth this one liner which I sincerely will accept as a good enough reason: “Being an actress isn’t as fun as it may seem.”
I’ve said it many times, but we should always give celebrities the benefit of the doubt, unless they are just certifiably rotten douchebags. The stresses and pressure of living an extremely public life, assailed by constant (almost always undeserved) scrutiny, coupled with obscene amounts of personal wealth can twist people’s minds and souls in ways that us “normals” cannot fathom, choose not to, or believe we ourselves are immune to. But as I’ve said time and time again on this blog, if you’re not an actor, and often times even if you are, you don’t know a God damn thing about this town, business or lifestyle, so anyone who really thinks they know what’s going through Amanda Bynes’ head or what’s going on in her life, should probably just shut the fuck up. Unfortunately, most people who have a misinformed opinion or weak joke about it (aside from my punnish title above), have successful entertainment industry gossip blogs. The point is, she’s got her reasons, let her have them. And, realistically, it’s one less marginally successful actress to clutter up the casting lists in the future.
I, along with the World of Hollywood, am not really reeling from this loss, but it comes at a time when I am wondering about another recent exodus from LaLa Land. A guy you don’t know, who wasn’t a name, who was essentially another one of the millions of faceless wannabes in this town, who left LA for,…well, I’ll get to that.
Bill, a college buddy, moved out to LA about the same time I did. We didn’t really know each other all that well in school, but we lived near each other in Hollywood upon arrival and hit it off more and more as we assembled an improv crew, explored the bars and eeked out existences aside from our dreams of acting, voice acting, writing and producing: I as an office drone, he as a set PA on various productions. He was an unsuspecting threat onstage; a huge hulking frame and imposing throaty voice belying some unrefined — yet truly talented — acting chops. He was a safe go-to for essentially any role you had on your mind, unscripted or on paper, yet his real strength was his writing and almost psychotic obsession with making outlandish, one-use-only props. To maintain a semblance of anonymity and respect his unofficial copyright, I can’t really tell you about his scripts or ideas, but I can say he did once construct a fully functional ejaculating dick for a scene – to be fashioned onto someone’s hand.
So, damn near X-amount of years after coming down to LA, with a steady on set job established and contacts coming to fruition, right after a mini-tour with our improv crew, and some pitch meetings for a cartoon he’s been honing since before I knew him, Bill abruptly emailed us and says he’s heading back home “for a while.” Now, not even a week after exit, he’s on the road, or back home already, and we’re all kind of flabbergasted.
Usually I’d say good riddance. Chalk up another tally on the ever-increasing list of jerkoffs who moved West for the weather and medical-grade weed, only to slink on home with sunburn and the munchies. More air, more parking spaces, less competition for the rest of us. Nice pipe dream, hombre…now it’s time to pack up and drag the Corolla back to the Central Time Zone. But this guy Bill, while not only my friend, seemed to be playing the game to a T. You never know how this business is going to pan out for you, but after surviving the frat hazing period of uncertain, PA bitch work, ascending the ladder ever so slightly to guarantee a position on a successful network television show, to have several creative projects panning out and to have competent colleagues to collaborate with…to leave that all behind…I don’t know. I can’t call it cowardice, because the guy stuck it out here through some tough times. I can’t call it giving up because he claims he’ll be back. I can’t even really call it circumstantial; it’s not like he’s got an ailing father or his apartment burned down and he doesn’t have renter’s insurance or his job is moving him abroad and he doesn’t have a passport, I just don’t know what to call it. Because I’m not in his head, I don’t understand his motivators; I just don’t get it.
Now, honestly, I have an idea why this move may have occurred. I think it’s the same reason Bill has sworn a sooner than later return. But we’ll see. When you go back for, ahem, someone, it’s the same slippery slope as if you waited or stayed home in the first place. An attempt to go back and patch things up with, ahem, someone who was living out here but moved back a while ago, hoping to sway an immovable opinion in a year’s time (at least a year, as far as leases go) just reeks of failure one way or the other. It takes a particular delusional drive, a psychotic faith and confidence to change your entire life in the name of a professional and creative pursuit. Some people, ahem, aren’t wired that way, regardless of how compatible they are otherwise. So, more likely than not, a choice — a very difficult one — is going to be made: maintain a sense of personal stability and compromise your aspirations of fame and money and coke on models’ tits (oh yeah, and art), or go for the gold as you were…and leave the hurdles in your wake. It’s one of those situations that can be misinterpreted by ignorant Midwesterners as a “sell your soul” moment: the job or the, ahem, someone. Just sign right here, and you’ll have all you ever wanted.
But this is hearsay and speculation, much like everyone’s attempts to decipher Ms. Bynes’ motives. Maybe she’s playing some angle to increase her demand; maybe she just really wants to move on, it’s happened with others before. Maybe my buddy knows what’s what, and it’s his way or the highway, he just honestly needed some time to figure things out and confront that monumental decision that he knows is ahead of him. I certainly hope that is the case. Squeeze a few more months of harmony out of it before he returns and really starts kicking down some doors. Or maybe that promise of a return was a way to let me, and us, down gently. Maybe the decision has been made, and he has decided to keep his soul. Maybe Amanda wants hers back. I don’t know, and neither do you. When someone leaves LA who probably shouldn’t be leaving, it’s hard to stand by and support the decision. It’s easier to put-down and negate the value of what lies beneath the expulsion. It’s a conflicting occurrence for all involved, even if they’re not involved. The only person who understands it is the person making the decision. Everyone else is just writing a shitty blog they have no right to be writing.
But what the fuck would I know, I’m just an actor.