Hollywood is a land of fast friendships and quicker abandonment. The movie industry is rife with those who glad-hand for a quick buck today, and forget names and faces tomorrow.
But every now and then, you come across a story of friends that stand by each other, who are truly loyal. They are worthy of admiration. The Matt and Bens who come to L.A. as young men with dreams and hang tight and forge careers.
I came across a friendship like that last week, as a guy was excitedly talking in the locker room about the premiere of his movie. He was sharing the story of how the movie took 4 _ years to make and how the writer/director had walked away from “Studio Money” when they wanted to re-cast.
This was a tale I had to know more about.
I chatted with Eddie McGee at the Loews Hotel bar this past Sunday, getting the skinny on him and his acting career. Turns out that Eddie McGee and Paul Hough met in 2005 on a music video that Hough was directing where he needed an actor to be suicidal. Eddie got the part and a great friendship was formed.
They next worked together on a short film called The Angel, available on YouTube.com and I highly recommend it. It was written and directed by Hough specifically to showcase the Hong Kong wire skills of McGee, which it does beautifully. The short movie is a dark tale and though McGee has only one line, it‚Äôs a powerful line.
McGee‚Äôs admiration for Hough came through when he said, “I can‚Äôt express the gratitude I feel for having Paul not only write and tailor roles to me, but to be loyal. He once told me I could be a great actor. That was the best and worst day of my life.” I knew exactly what Eddie meant. To be told you have great potential is both a blessing and a curse, because now you have to live up to it.
The pair‚Äôs latest production is called The Human Race. It is showing this week at the Arena Cinema in Hollywood. It‚Äôs a thriller about 80 people who get ripped from their lives and told they must race until they die, only one will survive. McGee describes it as “majorly inspired by Run Lola Run and Battle Royale.”¬† I haven‚Äôt seen it yet, but the trailer makes me want to.
Here‚Äôs the back story that I found so interesting: Paul had written the story, had cast Eddie McGee and a studio was interested to the point of ready to fund the movie, but they wanted a different actor to play Eddie‚Äôs role. Paul stuck with his friend and walked away from the studio funding. Now I ask you, how often does that happen in this town? Not often.
But Paul had written the part for Eddie and saw him as integral to the story. I suppose I should mention that Eddie has only one leg, which makes the race for your life a bit more interesting, although, if the movie is anything like real life, you quickly get lost in the man, and forget about the “disability.”
Chatting with Eddie he makes you see him not as a guy with “a disability” but an actor who can play believably the roles he‚Äôs asked to play. I asked him about the difficulties in making the movie, not the physical limitations but the process of making an independent movie over the course of 4 _ years with no big funding source. He said, “we‚Äôd work for a bit, scrape together enough cash to shoot for a weekend and go back to work our day jobs for a couple of months till we could do it again. That was hard because actors would get busy, disappear, or have a new life. One guy works in insurance but had a Mohawk in the movie. He‚Äôd shave his head on Friday into a mohawk, we‚Äôd shoot all weekend, and then he‚Äôd go in to work bald.”
Like many an independent movie, the actors contribute more than their time, for Eddie it was also his Chevelle. Not just as a vehicle in the movie, but as a source of funding. He sold it to get cash for post-production work. It‚Äôs that kind of dedication that makes for a good story both on and off the screen.
“Paul refuses to pigeonhole me as an actor.” Said McGee. I expect that with this type of dedication from Paul Hough to this actor, and the dedication of Eddie McGee to this writer/director, there will be many great future productions, and I look forward to them.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father‚Äôs and Men‚Äôs Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist.¬† He welcomes your questions and comments.¬† He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra