Title We'll Call You
Author Some hack, rhymes with Phoney
Word Count just under 1900
Summary "See, what you need to understand is that to be a GREAT actor you have to..." *POINTS* Cooper prepares for the MASTER CLASS lesson at McKinley High, reflecting on all of his AMAZING TALENT. *POINTS ELSEWHERE*
A/N Oh my god. This is everything wrong. ALL OF THE WRONG THINGS. Um...I may have experienced working with people like this on various commercial sets. *cough* This is unbeta'd, but I got a laugh out of flaming_muse so here we go.
WE'LL CALL YOU
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Cooper eyed himself in the mirror in his old bedroom as he dressed himself for his big day. Hmm. V-necks were tricky. Too high and you don't sell the goods. Too deep and it's slutty. The bad slutty. Cooper had finally figured out that there was a ratio of depth of V-neck to the width of his flawless jawline, and he always made a point to buy shirts that had that magic triangle.
When you knew what worked, you didn't fix it.
He had finally gotten to the point in his career where casting directors said, “We need a freecreditrating.com kind of guy.” Sure, sometimes that meant they wanted the poor man's version of him, because here was the thing: he didn't work for scale. That was how Cooper was smart; he refused to go union. He could get all kinds of work that way.
Like Spanish orthodontist ads for late night television – those paid cash at the end of taping. And he got free bleaching out of it. He was mostly sure it was the FDA approved stuff, but it worked. His smile was crazy bright. He just couldn't eat food that had any sort of noticeable temperature. Injury attorneys were another cash cow. He'd done three of those babies, so he felt like he was pretty much an expert on the complexities of stage craft by that point. Sometimes he practiced his favorite one in the mirror to remind himself of just how talented he was.
He would turn into the mirror, his eyes smoldering with pain and aggravation. “A Shipley's refrigerated truck drove over my foot last year. John Loncar got me money for pain,” he clutched at his head and looked like a migraine was coming on, “and suffering,” and he curled in on himself, clutching at his chest, because hell yeah you're going to suffer. And then cue the money shot: as he was bent over, he turns his face quickly towards the camera so it can catch a single, perfect tear that just begins to roll down his cheek.
Boom. Cut. Print. That's just what he said, too. Sometimes directors need to be told when they've got it. Otherwise it's “can you hit your mark, please” and “maybe not so big this take,” and “I don't understand why you are grabbing at your head.”
Uh, he was doing that because his character – Jonathan McGillicutty, hand model by day, animal rescuer and spy by night. It was always a good idea to back-ill a character. It gave them depth – was in pain because a freaking truck ran over him. Those directors... Always about the shot and not the emotion.
Sure there weren't a lot of international commercials coming his way any more. And no, there weren't many, or any, national commercials. He did, however, get a call back for a Chi-Chi's, so there was that. And he was an extra in a Pizza Hut ad that aired regionally for six months. Cooper rocked the bite-and-smile. That was key: you bite, then you smiled. A lot of people didn't understand that, but then, that's why they weren't Mr. Cooper “slash-savings” Anderson.
He had sat in his booth on set wearing a bright red shirt (they said on the call sheet to wear muted colors, but how would anyone see him all the way in the background if he had on some heathered blue thing the wardrobe from Principal tried to put him in?) and made love to that slice of pizza for nine hours. That meant overtime. Awesome.
That was a pretty good day, too. He'd gone onto the set and dropped a head shot with his resume stapled to the back onto every table. The crew steered clear from him, which he preferred. Big stars never talked to the crew. At first the director had moved him right behind the Principals – just some actual employees that were getting a taste of the good life – and when “Action!” was called, Cooper angled his face just so towards the camera, completely ignoring the person across from him, and held the slice of pepperoni right in front of his face, took a deep whiff, and let ecstasy roll across his features like, damn, this is good pizza.
He bit his lip and stared longingly at the slice. He let himself get lost in the character. What, go for the tip? Fold it in half and attack the side? Crust. That's what he'd do. It wasn't what was expected; that's why it was the right choice. Jonathan McGillicuty, International spy and sex symbol didn't eat pizza like some kind of socks and sandals wearing jackass. His motivation? Hunger.
“And we have over fifty locations in the greater...”
Blah blah blah. She wasn't even putting any inflections in her delivery. What an amateur. He turned the slice backwards and moaned as he took a huge bite, grinning and rolling his eyes a little as he chewed thoroughly. She should emphasize the word location. And the pronouns. Always stress pronouns.
Cooper turned his head to the side and spit out the bite of pizza crust onto the floor next to his booth, waiting for the scene to be reset. The director walked over to him and eyed the mess on the floor. Good – now he knew that Cooper wasn't some idiot that didn't know you weren't supposed to swallow. Now he knew Cooper was a real pro. The director was probably trying to build up courage to ask him to step in and take over for the pizza girl. He started running her lines in his head, just in case.
They switched Cooper and some moderately attractive blonde guy so that now Cooper was sideways to the camera. He did have an amazing profile, so he got it. The girl that was supposed to be his “date” looked like she could be his mom. What was she, thirty? Woman-thirty was TV-forty. He decided that he needed a new angle: college son home on holiday, having a slice of pizza with his mom. She was sitting right under a lamp, too. What an idiot. It helped sell her age, though. Overhead lighting was nobody's friend.
Okay, so he was Chad Bridgeport, Communications Major, getting tail left and right, good fraternity. He stood up, cracked his neck side to side and shook out his arms. He blew a long raspberry while rolling his shoulders. Ready. He shot finger guns at the director when he took his seat again, to let him know Cooper Anderson was ready to sell some god damn pizza. Chad was probably a tip biter. His motivation: ignoring his mother blather on about college tuition by eating the hell out of some delicious pizza.
And so what - he pulled focus. He took that as a compliment, and couldn't understand how it wasn't one. Either way, him being in the front or walking in the background (and it was important to really emphasize each step and move your arms back and forth with visible motion) he was still getting paid.
When they wrapped he stood and made a show of loudly clapping at each of the cast and crew, nodding his head and saying, “Good work, everyone.” He put his hands together in a prayer, and shook them in front, his eyes closed, and said, “Thanks for a great shoot. Namaste.” That had been a good shoot.
Not as fun as the Choctaw Casino & Bingo commercial where he'd gotten to drink real bourbon – it had been key to his character, Royce Hendershaw, cattle rancher and oil baron with a mistress that was a hellcat in the sack. And it wasn't like he'd actually needed to know how to play poker, he just needed to hold the cards right and say “Hit me.” Royce Hendershaw sizzled when he asked for cards. Royce dared them to give him a card. Man, he looked good in a black hat.
He stared in the mirror at his parent's house, adjusting his shirt just so. It was a proper V-neck, so he figured it would be best to put a jacket on, too. Hey, they were high school girls, and he did not need that kind of trouble again. He knew all too well the magnetism he carried in his perfect cheekbones and icy blue eyes. Chicks went nuts for it. Guys too, and hey, that was cool. It was flattering, like that's just how handsome he was.
He couldn't decide if he wanted to just improv that whole Master Class thing at Blainey's school and let it be fluid and natural, or if he should do some prep work... “WWSD,” he murmured, lost in thought for a moment. A sign would be good. He could put a bunch of his head shots on it. Mm, smart. Always work a room. You never know who could be in the audience. That's why he usually left head shots along with a tip when dining out and folded them up with his utility bill before he mailed it off. He'd heard that a lot of those data processing types were wanna-be indie film directors.
He found a project of Blaine's that was in their parents' office – some kind of biology thing that probably had a good grade on it, whatever. But it was poster board, and the back was perfectly clear. He wrote “Now Starring!” in black marker and left room to find some of his head shots to frame it out. He liked to get new ones every month, and you had to buy them in lots of 50 so there were quite a few spares lying around.
“Okay, pointing, emoting for sure, focus... good. Good.” He tried to think of everything people did wrong on his shoots. If it was wrong, then the opposite was right. That just made sense. Oh, he needed to make sure they knew to be late to an audition, like, an hour at least. That made the casting director know that you're important. And be sure to say that you've just come from another set, so they'd know that they would be lucky to have you in their pilot for the CW.
Cooper thought that he better add that when you start an audition, make sure the casting directors see you slip into the character. Take your time, they'll appreciate how dedicated you are to the craft. And always shake their hands – make it personal. It was about connecting – to the character, to the director, to the audience. Cooper was awesome at connecting.
He made a few adjustments to his jacket to make it hang just right, fluffed his hair back, and turned into a pose at the full-length mirror in his old bedroom. Perfect. He gathered up his keys and poster board and his briefcase that was dedicated to holding all of his different head shots; those kids were about to get truth bombed by Cooper Anderson: Acting Mentor and Coach.
He made a mental note to add “Acting Mentor and Coach” to his resume's list of special abilities (before ear wiggling and juggling, but after Meisner graduate. He'd read the book, after all) and hummed under his breath as he shut the front door, “And if Coop shines he'll really show them all he can...”
*WWSD: What Would Stanislavski Do, natch.