I love watching movies. I always have. I clearly remember pressing favourite VHS tapes into the player and flopping down on the floor or the couch to watch them over and over. I loved live-action more than cartoons, and I understood that the people were actors, but it still fascinated me. When I was around 4, I auditioned for a part in a movie. Not long after, I was on the set in the early morning, in front of lots of people and cameras. And my shoes were too small. But I was determined. I ran down the same boardwalk so many times, trying to get it just right. I think I did a pretty good job, and watching it now, I can’t believe how tiny I was. I remember all of it and it still makes me smile. (You can watch a crumby quality video of it here. I don’t come in until part 3, but it is a really excellent movie!)
I did a few other small movies and some commercials. I loved it! Everyone was so nice and wanted to sign my autograph book. My mom and I often had a whole trailer to ourselves to get dressed and hang out. There were tables and tables and tables full of food and fruit and bubblegum. I felt important and I took it seriously, memorizing my lines and being professional. The only sour part of the whole experience was when people in my town found out about the acting and made a big deal about it. It sounds weird to say I was shy, but I was. I am. I didn’t want to be famous, I just wanted to do what I loved!
When I was 9 I got to play Clint Eastwood’s daughter in Unforgiven which made my parents incredibly excited as they were big fans of his. The part was small, just a few short scenes near the beginning of the movie. There was an ending sequence as well, but that was cut. As a child, I was only allowed to watch my own portion of the movie, as the rest of it is pretty gory. I finally watched the whole thing a few years ago and I really enjoyed it.
Although I loved acting, it’s a tough industry. And as I became a teenager and an adult, I knew I couldn’t keep up with the pros. I’m so glad for the experience, but I never wanted to be famous.
As a teenager I worked at a movie theatre for my first real job. Everyone else was around my age too, so there were lots of people to talk to and time went by quickly. I met some great friends there! One of the perks was early admission to that week’s biggest release, on the Thursday night before it opened. I also got piles of free passes too other movies, two at a time, so I could bring a friend. Some days we would spend the whole day there, watching 3-4 movies, back to back. On my breaks, I would sneak into the already darkened cinema and watch portions of whatever happened to be on, eating free popcorn from a little paper bag.
And I still love the movies. I love sitting in a dark theatre with a sticky floor. I know my favourite places to sit depending on the type of cinema. I sit close enough to the screen so I can forget that there are other people there around me. I ask the concession staff to ‘layer’ the butter in my bag of popcorn so it’s not just on the first inch of kernels. And I still get goosebumps when the trailers end and the movie begins. For a couple of hours, I get to be somewhere else; I am swept away.
On Sunday, it rained. I microwaved a bag of popcorn and poured it into a bowl. I closed the curtains and shut out the lights. I crawled under a blanket, turned on our projector, and began a movie. And, for the first time, Maya watched with me.
Maya was excited for her first taste of popcorn, savouring each piece. She shouted at the screen, squealed with glee and surprise, and every once in a while her eyes would widen and her mouth would form a little O as she watched. And I watched her be swept away into the movie. And I loved every minute.