There's nothing better than getting the call saying, "You got the part." Unless it's the call saying you can have your choice of two parts.
Jessica Gordon first saw the notice for the role of Amy in Sam Best's independent feature "Down the Chain" in her daily email of casting notices from Back Stage, and was particularly attracted by the sweet story. After receiving her submission for Amy, writer-director Best says he was eyeing Gordon for a different role. "So I kind of snuck in both auditions," he says. "I said, 'Read for Robin, and I'll consider it an audition for Amy.' " Because Best was not in L.A., he had Gordon put her audition on tape at home and send it to him.
When Best saw Gordon's audition tape, he knew she was perfect for Robin. "She read exactly the way I imagined the character, very natural with a hint of mystery," he says. "She was miles beyond any other audition." Best says he had to let Gordon know he wanted her for the part of Robin. So he gave her the option of either role.
"There was something very reassuring on a professional and a personal level too of being offered two very different roles and having the full confidence that I could do it," she recalls, calling the moment of the offer "jaw-dropping." But she still wasn't sure she wanted Robin. "I knew that I could do Amy and I could do Amy well, but Robin was kind of the great unknown, and I hadn't yet explored that." Gordon ultimately opted for the role that went against her standard girlfriend type—the role that seemed scarier to her. And the actor is glad she challenged herself. She says she had a lot of fun on the two-day shoot in San Diego, but the most important thing she learned was that she could play a challenging role, and now she hopes to take on more of those.
Gordon knew she wanted to be an actor after seeing "Jurassic Park" as a child. After seeing it many times, she decided to write Steven Spielberg for advice on getting her acting career started. She got a practical response telling her to get an agent, but she keeps it framed on her wall because it reminds her of the naïveté she had as a child. "It's like you want something and you do it," she says. "I think you lose that when you become an adult. You become very logical and you start thinking, "What if they never read it or what if I sound stupid?" You become very critical and kind of doubting, and I think kids have this pure desire and they follow that."
Gordon loves living in Los Angeles. "I feel so lucky to be able to pursue this—to know that every day I get to wake up and pursue something," she says. And if she forgets, she always has her letter from Spielberg for inspiration.
For more info on "Down the Chain," visit http://downthechain.tumblr.com/.
Jessica Gordon is SAG-eligible and is represented theatrically by RPM Talent Agency (Lisa Smith). Her website is http://jessicagordon.net.