Whatever Happened to #TomHulce?

Co-stars F. Murray Abraham & Tom Hulce reunite for an Oscar screening of “Amadeus” in 2007.

As a producer, he won a Tony for Spring Awakening  and helped bring Green Day’s American Idiot to Broadway.  As an actor, he voiced Quasimodo in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame where he belted “Out There,” and he was nominated for an Oscar  for playing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1984’s Amadeus. It’s been nearly 30 years since the success of Milos Forman’s biopic, and Tom Hulce seems to have kept busy. Although he hasn’t appeared onscreen since bit parts in Jumper (2008) and Stranger Than Fiction (2006,) people know him most for playing the piano upside down, and giving Mozart one of the most iconic laughs in film history.

Taking Advantage of a “Career Lull”: Using My Words

What do I have in common with Steve Martin, Tina Fey, James Franco, and Andrew McCarthy? We’re actors who are also writers. You read that correctly, Andrew McCarthy is, in fact, a writer. He’s an award-winning travel writer. Check out some of his stuff on National Geographic Traveler. Now, I’m not talking about actors who all of the sudden want to “write” their memoirs, and get a ghost writer to do it for them. I’m talking about people with actual skills, who do their own writing. As a matter of fact, Tina Fey and Steve Martin actually STARTED OUT as WRITERS. I’m guessing they did it while they were pursuing acting as well, due to the fact that they are in both realms of the industry. Granted, there are those actors who have also written screenplays or stage plays, and blogs,  but that’s a different type of article all together.

I started acting when I was around the age of 8, maybe 9.  But I started making up stories as soon as I could talk. I even had an imaginary friend when I was 5 who I would tell my stories to. Her name was Jinglelyn, and again, I was 5. When I actually learned to read and write, writing took a back seat to performing onstage. I had found my passion for storytelling on stage. And I loved it. It’s my first love. Telling stories, no matter what shape or form, is what I love.

What I find funny now, is the fact that my parents kept giving me journals on my birthdays or Christmas, and I never really used them. I wasn’t really a “dear diary” type of girl anyways. It seemed sort of silly to recount my day on paper. I started writing short stories and plays, and when I got to high school, I helped start up the creative writing club at my all-girls, Catholic high school. I wrote stories, parts of novels I was working on, and seriously wanted to become a writer and an actor when I grew up. I was involved in anything creative. I sang in choirs, acted in the school plays and wrote stories. My English teacher even gave me a writing award my junior year of high school.  When I got to college, I majored in English because I love the element of story-telling, plot and characters. I thought it would help in the acting realm because I was able to learn about the different things that make up a good story. It was sort of like four years of script-analysis. I acted throughout college, even directed. My senior year of college, I got my first headshots and auditioned at my first major theater convention, which led to moving to NYC to study at Circle in the Square Theater School.

Within these past six years, I have been acting and putting writing on the back burner. I got my union cards and even pursued stand-up.  The closest I came to writing, before starting this blog, was stand-up comedy, which I still love because you can create your own material.  I started this blog because I wanted to get back into writing, and I wanted to write something from the perspective of an actor who was going through the ups and downs in their career. Not someone who is washed-up and giving advice. I’m still in the trenches and being in a  career “lull,” I have been writing about what I love. Movies I love, movies I loathe, anything and everything that has to do with the industry, with a unique perspective. It seems like I’m in good company of those who came before me. If you use all of your talents, it can lead to something. What that is, I don’t know. But I am pursuing my writing and my acting. So I guess I can add a back-slash to my job description. I’m a writer/actor. And I’m so glad you are reading my blog. Thanks.

Whatever Happened to: Billy Zane?

Billy Zane as Caledon “Cal” Hockley in James Cameron’s “Titanic” (1997)

What do you do if you’ve been in the most successful film of all time? If you’re Kate Winslet, you go on to win both the supporting and the lead Golden Globes for two different performances in the same year, AND the Oscar for Best Actress. If you’re Leonardo DiCaprio, you go onto to produce, act and be a global activist, all while maintaining superstar status and talent for the craft. If you’re Victor Garber, you’ve been in countless hit movies, television shows and stage productions, most recently appearing in this year’s Best Picture winner, Argo. If you’re Billy Zane…you…wait, whatever happened to Billy Zane??

He was in the most successful movie…EVER. So, what happened? Maybe it’s because he played an asshole. Whenever you play a douchebag character as an actor, beware. You might slip under the radar because people might actually believe you’re the character. Either that, or you’re just an asshole. Anyways, Billy Zane appeared in Back to the Future, and spent most of Dead Calm (also on a boat) with his shirt off. Women swooned. Men were envious. Apparently, he was cast in Titanic after James Cameron saw him in the Phantom (Yeah. Really…) But, where the heck is he? Isn’t it sort of a given that if you’re in the highest grossing movie of all-time that you have a successful career? I mean, that’s how it works.

Oh, no no no my friends. As actors, oftentimes, we have to start all over—go back to the start of the game, and rebuild things. An actor’s biggest fear, ask anyone from an Oscar winner to someone like me who is slowly building a career, is that we’ll never work again. Believe me, I’ve talked  about this with Piper Laurie, Patricia Clarkson, and Jessica Chastain. We all fear the same thing: Obscurity. We, as actors, want to always keep going. We always need to keep working to keep our senses sharp, our instruments up to date and our names relevant. It’s a constant struggle. If it’s hard for people who are established (i.e., have agents, managers and recognizable credits,) it’s about a million times harder for those of us trying to build a network of people (i.e. get an agent, manager, and recognizable credit.) Everyone starts somewhere. But we might just end up back where we started.

The case with Billy Zane is not that he’s out of work. Far from it. He’s working. It’s just that very few people are taking notice anymore. Most recently, he appeared in the Single White Female rip-off, The Roommate, playing a professor. He’s also done minor projects, guest spots, and even owns a production company. It might not be of the same status as DiCaprio or Winslet, but guess what? That means he’s your everyday working actor. And that’s not a bad thing.