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Secret Agent Man

How Actors Unknowingly Hurt Their Careers

How Actors Unknowingly Hurt Their Careers
Photo Source: Jonathan Bartlett

I met Lucifer in a bar the other night, and he confessed that he likes to put bad ideas in the heads of smart actors. Curious, I asked why he did this. The author of all sin smiled. “Creative people annoy me. Just look at the so-called great works of art that claim to capture my image. You would be upset too.”

Lucifer had a point. The man in front of me wasn’t a horned monster with a red tail. He actually looked a little like Jeremy Irons.

We ordered another round. My new friend went on to explain that actors are especially open to suggestion because they’re such desperate beings. “Convincing them to get in their own way requires little more than a whisper in their ears.”

I was stunned. Actors are always cutting their own throats for no apparent reason. Could the devil himself be the root of all that self-destructive behavior?

Just last week, a client shocked me by ruining an opportunity I created at her request. Clara, an established actor in her 40s, had been begging me to get her in the room for one of her favorite TV shows. So when the right part crossed my desk, I convinced the casting director to give her a shot.

The show’s office was on the Universal lot, up in the Valley. Since it was hard to find, casting sent me a detailed map with parking directions. I told Clara to leave early, just to be safe.

After the audition, she was in a state of shock. Everything went wrong, and it was all her fault.

Here’s what happened. Clara barely glanced at the map before leaving her home. She just assumed it would all make sense when she got there. Well, it didn’t. Clara couldn’t find the right parking structure so she left her car in the wrong place, a spot which was half a mile away from the casting office. And this was on a summer afternoon when it gets past 100 degrees in the Valley.

So she arrived at the audition 20 minutes late, covered in sweat. There was no time to waste because the director had to leave, so casting rushed her into the office. Naturally, the audition didn’t go well, and now it’s going to be a hundred times harder for me to get her back in the room.

When I asked Clara why she had behaved in such an unprofessional manner, she wasn’t able to give me an honest answer.

I finished my drink and turned to Lucifer.

“Was that you?”

He grinned.

My mind started to race. I remembered the time I had to drop a young client because he was badmouthing me in public. The idiot had been at a workshop, waiting for his scene partner, when he decided to talk some trash. A passing casting assistant heard him and called me in the morning.

Then there was the time an actor followed me into a restaurant, interrupted my dinner, and begged me for a meeting.

And what about those clients who passed on auditions because they didn’t think they were right for the parts? Why wouldn’t they allow the casting director to make that decision? 

Or worst of all, how about all the actors who write in to Backstage, begging for a meeting with Secret Agent Man when they don’t even know who I am or where I work?

Lucifer stood up. It was time to move on. He explained that Hollywood was keeping him busy.

I had to ask.

“Will I see you again?”


As the Prince of Darkness strolled off into the night, I made a mental note to pick up some holy water and a few crosses on my way home.

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