This is the first in a rare, exclusive, two-part series in which Tabatha finally opens up to Tabatha about what it is about acting that she finds so compelling.
What interested you in acting, Tabatha?
I’ve got a huge social problem, Tabatha. That’s mainly what interested me. I don’t know how to talk to other people. I don’t know how people are supposed to communicate. I wanted to know what life means to other people. What do conversations sound like to other humans? What do arguments look like? How big is the disparity between me and the rest of the people?
Have you found that out? How people talk to one another?
I’ve accepted that I’m not really going to learn how to communicate with other people. Not by studying scripts, anyway. The writing is just terrible, Tabatha. There’s a staggering number of terrible writers out there, and frankly, I’m in disbelief most of the time I read a script. I just can’t say these words. It just hurts. I’ve been acting for fifteen years and the worst part of it all is the lines. So many films out there are fucking incredible, like Whiplash and The Future and Synecdoche, NY and Birdman, but the odds that you won’t get a beautiful piece of writing are astronomical. I just don’t know how much longer I can go on playing CASHIER. Or auditioning for CASHIER, anyway. That’s a role I never have been successful at booking.
Why do you think that is? CASHIER was sort of your go-to side job before you became a shoemaker and writer. You’re also a liar. You were a cashier in Mother Country.
Lying is another problem of mine. I suffer from chronic hyperbolism. And I was a character in Mother Country who happened to be a cashier. I had other scenes too. The problem is that I can’t just be your cashier. I have to be your lover, too. That seems to be the trend, anyway. My stereotype.
If you got sides today for LOVER/CASHIER—
Even better odds if the role is for LOVER/CASHIER WITH EYE MAKEUP. I’d book that.
You bring up Synecdoche, NY. There’s a quote in there I know you like. It goes, “There are nearly thirteen million people in the world. None of these people is an extra. They’re all the leads of their own stories. They have to be given their due.” With that in mind, isn’t giving CASHIER, just plain old CASHIER, her due an honor?
The fact is, I’m terrible at small talk. Actually, I hate small talk. I hate engaging with people if I know I’m never going to see them again. When I make friends, I do it through a slow course of action, it usually involves months of researching an individual and slowly creeping into their lives. There are, however, a bajillion people out there who are fucking incredible at small talk. These people are amazing commercial actors, they have a lovely time as an extra, and I bet these people just bring it to those auditions. These people book those auditions. These people are likable and just, you know, just a blast on set. So kind. But these auditions, these small-talk auditions, are 97% of what I get and I just can’t go on.
You must go on.
I can’t go on. I’ll go on.
What is it that keeps you in this industry, if not necessarily the awesome linguistic opportunities?
It’s fucking weird and I crave that. It’s my addiction to watching people emotionally break down and scream at everyone, possibly me, to all the people with microphones and ten thousand rings of tape strapped to their belts. The set runs in dress rehearsal mode. I get hours of solitude in a trailer and then I step into blinding lights and pretend to live amongst strangers for a few hours. I am a professional in the state of engaged detachment. I work in a field of seemingly disconnected, nearly reckless humans who are all addicted to this industry, and at the end of this comes a story, (cohesive, more or less), that reaches out and speaks to other seemingly disconnected humans on a totally different platform. What a transducer.
Well, Tabatha, I’d love to continue this conversation with you.
Yes, Tabatha, I would too.
Part 2 of this rare, exclusive interview is coming next week, as you well know.
Yes, I do. Talk soon.