“Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay” is a fascinating documentary about a magician in his 60s who many believe is the greatest sleight-of-hand expert on the face of this planet, and maybe a few others. He’s also a respected historian who collects rare books and artifacts from the world of magic. And if that’s not enough to impress you, Ricky Jay is also a best-selling author and an acclaimed actor. Not too shabby for a guy who likes to play with cards.
Watching the film, I was struck by his enthusiasm. It’s obvious that despite his age, the man is still in love with the art form he’s been practicing since he was a boy. You can hear it in his voice when he’s talking about performers like the great Cardini and the Giant Hungarian Schoolboy.
As for yours truly, I’ve never had much interest in magic, but I still enjoyed every moment of this documentary. Why? The answer is simple. I love passion.
Listening to someone who is genuinely passionate about something can be hypnotic, even if you don’t share the interest. It’s such an honest quality. I’m always moved when I hear it.
These types of encounters also make me look inside. I end up wondering if there’s anything in my life that makes me feel just as passionate. Luckily, several people, activities, and places fill this need quite nicely.
But what about my job? In terms of waking hours, most people spend a large part of their lives at work. So that begs the question, Am I passionate about being an agent?
You’re damn right I am.
Granted, parts of my job inspire anything but passion. For example, I don’t enjoy the endless parade of untalented actors, ego-driven agents, and ignorant managers who cross my path on a regular basis. But hey, that’s just the way it is. You can’t run through a field without stepping in some shit.
On the other hand, I’ve always been passionate about discovering talent. When I meet a brand-new actor who is genuinely gifted, I feel like I’m Christopher Columbus stepping foot in the New World.
A few weeks ago I signed a young man we’re going to call Adam. He was the star of an independent film that received a limited theatrical release. And by limited, I mean one week on three screens in two cities. Lost luggage covers more ground.
But I’m a film geek at heart, so after hearing some positive buzz I decided to catch the movie after work. It was nothing special, but Adam was terrific. Watching his performance, I could feel something stir inside the vault where I keep my passion gene.
So I set up a meeting, and the two of us hit it off. Adam could tell I was passionate about signing him. The next thing you know, we’re working together.
I believe the kid has a bright future, and I’m looking forward to helping him accomplish his goals. It should be a fun journey for both of us.
And that’s what makes me passionate.
What about you?
Looking back over my career, I’ve taken meetings with thousands of actors, but only a few have expressed any passion about acting. Their focus always seems to be on their careers. I think it would be refreshing if one of you came into my office and went on and on about the art of performing. That would be so much more inspiring than asking me how many actors I represent.