“To brush or not to brush, that is the question,” the actor recited his lines for the commercial. The actor stopped. His face said, “What is my motivation?” But he was afraid of the director. He had heard that many an actor had been fired because he spoke up.
“Cut,” the director screamed. “You are not a method actor. Just say the lines.”
The actor came back, “But— “
“No ifs, ands or buts. You’re not Pacino or Brando. You’re just a half awake guy who has no purpose in his life but brushing his teeth. Get it.”
“I guess.” Disappointment was in the actor’s voice. He wanted this to be a great work of art, his part in this commercial.
Here this director was demanding him to be a robot. He was not a robot. He had ambition. He was going to be the next Jack Nicholson or Dustin Hoffman. This commercial was beneath him but his agent told him to take it. Because his career was going nowhere. If he blew this commercial, the agent threatened to quit him. So here he stood on the set of the commercial with a tube of toothpaste and a brush.
He took a deep breath and waited.
The director said, “Action.”
The actor looked into the lens of the camera. He stared at the brush, then at the toothpaste. Then he said, “To brush or not to brush. That is the question.” The words came out as Donald Duck-speak.
The director yelled, “Cut.”
He stood up and walked over to the actor. He put his arm around the actor and said, “That’s more like it.”