Making Fast Friends on Set and Then Saying Goodbye

Hello, I Must be Going

A few nights ago I was in a bathroom stall, snorting coke off a half-naked hooker’s breasts between wild, savage kisses.

I thought that might grab your attention. No, I’m not publicly confessing to some secret, depraved, off-duty debauchery. I was actually working, filming a scene for a new cable series. The coke was fake, the bathroom had cameramen in it, and I’d just met the very nice woman playing the hooker that afternoon. And at the end of the night, we shook hands cordially, with warm professionalism, expressing our hope to work together again. And that was that.

That vivid illustration got me to thinking about the strange sudden intimacies and subsequent partings of ways that we show folk experience again and again in our profession. Office workers can labor side by side for years and barely know each other. But when actors work together, especially in theater, we often develop a kind of family-like closeness. I remember when I first started out how permanent these new friendships sometimes felt, and how surprised and disappointed I was when the co-workers to whom I’d felt so close moved on, never keeping in touch or making plans to hang out. These days I’m on the other side of that equation, finding that young actors with whom I’ve spent time working in a production sometimes expect we’ll be lifelong pals, and maybe they feel tricked when that doesn’t happen.

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