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Secret Agent Man

The Casting Process Was Worse in 1998

The Casting Process Was Worse in 1998
Photo Source: Steve Weigl

I love movies about time travel. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big-budget production like “Looper” or a tiny film like “Primer.” If the story involves a character jumping through time, this guy is in.

That’s why I’m so excited. You see, I’m staring at a time machine. It’s right on my desk. And I’m getting ready to use it.

Let me explain how I got here… 

As an agent, I’m constantly surrounded by the business and all the nonsense that comes with it. I manage to stay sane by finding friends who don’t work in the entertainment industry. That’s how I keep it real. And that’s how I met a brilliant scientist named Hari. 

It was about four years ago. Hari was an invited guest at an Indian film festival. I was there trying to pick up chicks who look like Freida Pinto. The two of us met at the bar, and we bonded over our love of the “Back to the Future” trilogy.

Since then, I’ve been bugging Hari to build me a time machine. In response, he always sighs and goes on and on about the limitations of string theory and something called quantum gravity. (I know. Some guys are just lazy.)

That’s why I was surprised when I received a mysterious package this morning. Inside was a modified smartphone with all kinds of gizmos attached to it. The instructions explained that instead of punching in a phone number, I should try using a date. Can you believe that? Hari did it! The little bastard made me a time machine! (I have to remember to get him a birthday present next year.)

So after much thought, I’ve decided to visit 1998, the year I became an agent. I’ll write everything down so you can be right there with me. Ready? Here we go… 

Entry 1: I’m punching in the date. I wonder how this thing works. Guess there’s only one way to find out. I’m pressing “send.”

Entry 2: Wow! I’m actually traveling through time and I can see everything. “The Artist” just won best picture. All the writers are on strike. “24” is the hottest show on TV. Everyone’s in love with their TiVo. Robert Downey Jr. has been arrested. And here we are! 1998.

Entry 3: I met myself in the agency parking lot. We got along well, but the young me seemed a little upset about the weight gain and hair loss. To make that right, I told him to put all his money in a stock called Apple. 

Entry 4: This is unbelievable! I’m actually hanging out in my first office with my younger self. He told everyone that I’m his older brother, and they’re buying it. (Boy, I was confident back then. I could sell Japanese lanterns to miners in South Dakota.)

Entry 5: I forgot that agency conditions in 1998 were prehistoric. A casting director just requested a client’s reel. I’m watching in horror as young me hires a messenger to race over, pick up the clunky VHS tape, and deliver it to the casting office. The whole process will take over three hours!

Entry 6: My younger self did a spit take when I told him about all the money I’ve made writing Secret Agent Man.

Entry 7: The mailman just dumped 48 envelopes on our desk. I forgot how those used to pour in every day. Back in the future, hard copy submissions are rare. They’re mostly emails.

Entry 8: Yikes! The office is spending a fortune making copies of scripts for clients to pick up in person.  

Entry 9: That’s it—I’m done. It’s time to go home. The past is too weird. My younger self and I wish each other a safe journey.   

Entry 10: I’m back. Next time, I’ll try going forward. Who knows? I might learn actors have been replaced by holograms. Wouldn’t that be sweet? 

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