Sunday, January 19, 2003

Dayton native has fun working with Clooney

Dayton native J. Todd Anderson made his on-screen debut as a murder victim in the Coen brothers' movie Fargo while working as the film's storyboard artist, a craft he has practiced for 15 years.

He landed his second movie role - as a nameless Dating Game contestant in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind - in pretty much the same way. George Clooney met him on the Coens' O Brother Where Art Thou?, and invited him to draw for Confessions, Mr. Clooney's directing debut.

"I was working with him every day on storyboarding," Mr. Clooney said of Mr. Anderson, "and the more I worked with him, the more I sort of kept thinking, `This guy is perfect for this part.' ... Isn't he great in it? He's going to get a lot of acting jobs from it."

Mr. Anderson puts it this way: "I guess George felt I could be a fat bachelor." (The role now appears in the credits as "stud bachelor.")

Mr. Anderson said acting in Confessions was "terrifying."

"I have never done anything with that kind of breadth before," he said. "I had to memorize a lot of dialogue, and I had to be on my mark. I knew all that stuff because I had been on the other side of the camera" as co-writer and director of the independent feature The Naked Man, "but I was always wondering whether I was going to give George what he wanted. When you work for George, you really want to do a good job.

"He's not like other directors. He's ... always pushing that envelope to get the absolute best. He forces you to work beyond your potential. ... You really had to dial in and give it the best you had.

"He was always on time, I never saw him stressed out, never once. I just remember how when we were doing The Naked Man I was a piece of meat with eyes. I never saw that glaze in George's eyes.

"Every day it was a lot of fun. ... This set never got heavy, never once. I've never seen anybody with such immaculate people skills. You can tell that he's just been around the block quite a few times in this business."

Margaret A. McGurk

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