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
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Local theater's latest power plays
In 'Confessions,' Clooney 'stole' the best scenes
Reality succeeds with drama
Reality 2003: The lineup grows
DEMALINE: The Arts
CSO adopts diversity, inclusion policy
Memorial to honor Richard Fields
Sorg Opera has clear vision for the future
Paltrow nominated for Olivier award for role in 'Proof'
Actor in original 'Sounder' directs remake for ABC
Bookstore owner keeps the city's history alive
KENDRICK: Alive and well
Mirror collection reflects years of world travels
After 800 miles, walker will put her feet up
Dayton native has fun working with Clooney
Get to it!
Take these out to ballpark
Tousey House pairings all in good taste
Serve it this week: Lentils