The line-up was long, but I was determined to get inside. After plunking down $6 for a ticket, drink and popcorn, I bobbed and weaved through the crowd and, in a stroke of good luck, found a perfect spot in the balcony. An isle seat, six rows back. A moment later the lights went out and, accompanied by a blast of glorious horns, trumpets and strings, this appeared on the screen:
By the time Darth Vader’s Imperial Star Destroyer had finished its long, rumbling trek overhead, in pursuit of Princess Leia’s ship as she raced toward Tatooine, I knew my life had changed forever.
“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”
For those two action-packed hours, I was immersed in another world, another galaxy, far, far away. The laser gun shoot-outs, the totally awesome Mos Eisley Cantina, the riveting Death Star trench battle…it was almost too much for this 9 year old’s brain to absorb. And when it was over, and the last of the closing credits had faded from the screen, I left the theatre with a renewed sense of purpose. I was going to be a star!
“I don’t know where you get your delusions, laser brains.”
Before the script for The Empire Strikes Back had even been written, I was already reading books on how to become an actor (character study, voice projection, getting an agent etc.). My friends and I would dress up as various characters and act out scenes from the movie. They were all doing it for fun, but I was practicing my “craft” in order to improve my performance level.
“You can waste time with your friends later.”
I remember one time in particular, me, my older cousin, Melody, and a neighbourhood boy, whose name I have forgotten, were acting out a particularly emotional scene in the front yard of my cousin’s house. The one where Governor Tarkin tries to compel Princess Leia to give up the location of the secret rebel base, under threat of blowing up her home planet of Alderaan. I, with my long blonde locks twisted into that famous cinnamon bun hairdo, played the scene to the hilt, fighting back tears, all regal and defiant in the face of such insidious Evil. And then, right at the moment where Tarkin (aka neighbourhood boy) nonchalantly orders his henchmen to proceed with the Death Star’s weapons firing “test” on Alderaan, I yelled “What?!” just as some dude in a truck passed by. My impassioned plea scared the shit out of the poor guy and he lost control of the wheel for a moment. Thankfully, there was no other traffic on the road or things could have turned out very differently.
“Watch your mouth, kid, or you’re gonna
find yourself floating home!”
As the years passed, and two more blow-my-mind sequels had come and gone, I maintained my passion for acting but, alas, two years of high-school drama class and various roles in live theatre had not helped to quell my debilitating stage fright (i.e. vomiting, migraines & nightmares for several days leading up to a performance, and then forgetting my lines, missing marks – and occasionally passing out – while onstage). After barely squeaking by with a passing grade in my second year, my drama teacher quietly suggested that perhaps I might consider a different line of work in the entertainment industry.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
By the time I’d graduated high school at age 17 I had pretty much decided to abandon acting and work toward a career as a special effects make-up artist – with hopes of one day getting a really cool job in the creature shop at George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic. I got part-time work at a salon/day spa, doing fantasy make-up for people going to costume parties, and models for high-fashion photo shoots and such. But just before I was to move to Montreal to begin my professional training in special effects make-up artistry, family/personal issues forced me to stay put and devote all of my income towards taking care of things on the domestic front.
“Do, or do not. There is no try.”
So, then, in the early '90s, after I’d established myself as an internationally recognized voice-over artist and live radio personality, I got another brilliant idea. I was going to become a fiction writer, along the same lines as Stephen King and Anne Rice. While I never quite made a name for myself as a novelist, I'm still having fun exploring the world of fiction as a screenwriter and comic book writer. Who knows? Five years from now I could be the executive producer and head writer on a hit TV series.
“The Force will be with you, always.”