In 2002, on Christmas Day, Charlie Rose sat down to interview Martin Scorsese and Daniel Day Lewis about their recent film, Gangs of New York. The whole interview is fantastic, but around the 14 minute mark, something really interesting happens. Charlie begins a line of questioning about Day Lewis' 5-year hiatus from acting and subsequent re-entry into the craft.
Lewis is a bit reluctant at first to the obvious question for a recluse. Essentially, what Charlie was asking was why this film, why this director, why now?
Eventually, he shares this:
"I really wanted to feel that if I went into this tunnel with Martin that I could be an ally for as long as he needed me - and you have to know that of yourself."
His curiosity piqued, Charlie Rose digs a bit deeper, asking him to expound on his statement of being an "ally."
"Well...everyone knows the demands you make upon yourself...that the situation makes upon you...that others make upon each other and so forth. You can go into something with all good intentions, with good will, and a certain amount of energy, but if you're not gonna stay in there, and see it through, then you're not an ally. And not really even in anyway specifically, but simply so that Martin knows that he has a core group of people around him."
Then Martin interjects with this great line:
"You want the guys, the men and women around you to say, that no matter what, if it's raining, if the costumes have been destroyed, we'll still shoot!"
Today, our team spent the entire day downtown at one of my old casting director's offices working on a new project. Instead of sitting in the waiting room like I had for nearly 10 years nervously rehearsing my lines, this time I was the one sitting across the table giving direction. This is probably only the third opportunity I've had to sit in this position and every time I learn something new about the process of auditioning -- from casting, to nerves, to the fortitude of the human spirit, frankly. Whoever would subject themselves to this repeated, yet voluntary judgement, is either deranged or more fully human than I'll ever be (or ever was, for that matter).
And so tonight I'm sitting here with a stack of 40 head shots on my desk from which to choose our cast. While there are approximately a million things to consider: height, ethnicity, talent, and the like, I find myself looking for something deeper than just looks and skill. I want want what Martin had in Daniel.
Making things is really, really, really, hard work. Hopefully you never have to do it alone.
If you have a choice and thankfully, in this case, I do, I want to cast allies. I want to hire allies. I want to work with allies. I want someone who not only has energy, good will, and good intentions, but I want someone who has my back and who knows I have theirs. I want someone who's willing to be in the trenches with me no matter what.
I want an ally and so should you.