Turns out, fifth time’s the charm. Yes, I had auditioned for four different roles on the ABC hit television series “Nashville.” But it was the fifth one that clicked.
Around noon on Tuesday February 19th, my agent called: “They’d like to see you for a role on ‘Nashville.’ Can you come in this afternoon, and are you available to shoot tomorrow?”
“Absolutely.” Not sure how many other guys they asked to see.
I showed up at my agent’s office at 2:30 to be filmed delivering the lines from the short scene she had emailed. It was just like any other audition where you do what you think might work, and then leave hoping it did, but working harder to not think it about it any longer. They uploaded my audition for the casting director to check out.
Two hours later I got a call saying I’ve been placed “on hold” by the casting director. This usually means, “we kinda like you, and want to make sure you don’t book yourself on something else until we decide for sure if it’s you or the other guy we like a lot more.”
I couldn’t believe it. This is a good sign, but nothing’s for sure yet. Still, my excitement is growing. The possibility of actually getting on the show is closer than ever.
The next news came in an email from my agent, forwarded from casting:“Please send Mark Smeby’s info ASAP…he may have an 8:00 call… He has been approved by the Local Producers…we are at the Network now…should be no problem…”
Well, that sounded pretty amazing. I called my parents right away and told them the news. Still, the whole thing could fall through, you know, if the network execs think I look too much like somebody they don’t like, or some other crazy reason like that. I immediately proceeded to the workout room and got on the treadmill and stayed for the next eight hours. Actually, it was only an hour, but I wanted to feel like I at least did something to not look super fat on camera.
Now this was a special part for me. Instead of sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring, I went to my normal Tuesday night men’s group. Yes, I kept my phone in my lap, but everyone understood and shared my excitement. The meeting ended and we adjourned to our regular post-meeting Mexican restaurant. I sat and ate a taco and a few chips, trying to engage with what others were saying, all the while keeping my eyes on the phone. Yep, I was that guy.
About an hour in, I was just about to leave. I felt bad for allowing my anxiousness to make me so disengaged. To which a wise buddy replied, “So you want to go off and be anxious alone?” Touché. I sat back down and enjoyed the camaraderie.
Then the phone rang. They all heard it, and immediately stop talking, looking in my direction. I answered. Yep, it was the producer calling to congratulate me and say how she looked forward to meeting me in the morning at 8am. Unbelievable. I hung up the phone and the guys raised their glasses and broke into a huge cheer! It was a beautiful, priceless moment. So glad I wasn’t alone.
The next day was one surreal moment after another. I’ve been on shoots before, but nothing of this caliber. Nothing with this many people, or this much finely tuned organization. I was taken care of so well, and was continually thrilled at the kindness shown to me. They treated me like I was a special guest at their house, and not the schlep who just drove across the river to get to the set. Little did they know!
The day started with me getting shown to my trailer. I always wondered what it’d be like to have a trailer! I’m sure there are all different types of trailers for the different level of stars, but the basic premise is to give someone a place to change their clothes and pee in private. That’s about all you could do in this one. It was basically a doublewide porta-potty. There was a scene schedule for the day and a miniature version of the script waiting for me (something you could put in your pocket even while you were shooting). I got wardrobe approved and had a great time in the make-up chair. (The stylists are the ones with all the good stories on the set!) Then I waited.
I sat on the little bench in my doublewide and worked on my lines. Sometimes I would stand up and deliver the lines into the mirror. Then I’d pee. This process repeated about three times. Throw in a bunch of texting with friends, and you get the whole picture.
Then the knock came: “We’re ready for you on set!”