How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

Superman Doesn’t Exist

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I promised myself I wouldn’t write a post about the events in Aurora, Colorado. Many aspects of the shooting have been covered so eloquently and thoughtfully by others. And while I have things to say, they are probably better left to quiet conversations amongst friends.

I went to the new Batman: Dark Knight Rises film last weekend by myself. Sort of.

Seats were hard to come by so I purchased a single ticket to see a matinee. Last minute, a friend said they wanted to go, so I bought her a separate ticket in a different part of the theater. Yes, I love to go to those uppity “buy your specific seat” movie theaters. I love them. So, separated by a horde of moviegoers I sat between an overweight man and a bubble gum popping teenage girl. As the lights dimmed, I felt excitement and a slight sense of foreboding, a transient feeling of loss. I was a sea of emotions at what I knew I would see.

The first movie trailer started and it showed a man with my coloring and a scraggly beard, hitchhiking in a rural, wet place in America. The feeling worsened. I knew it was going to happen sometime.

Back in November of 2010, I had the opportunity to audition for a movie that would’ve changed the entire course of my life. Granted, it was alongside many actors who had bigger resumés than mine, and certainly it was a long shot, but I wanted the role very badly.

It was to play Superman.

The movie studio had said they were looking for someone of my type who wasn’t “a name” yet and someone who’d be able to bring a new level of gravitas to the part. When I got word of the audition, I spent the next three weeks working on it, working on myself and studying the mythos of a man from Krypton.

I added about 20 pounds of muscle to my frame, worked the dialogue of the script pages they’d sent me down to the bone; my obsession was unceasing. This was my chance. For all the bit parts I’d auditioned for and gotten, for all the time and money I’d dumped into a career where you hear “no” more than “yes”, for every opportunity I’d squandered because of distraction, for all of my sacrifice: this was one I wouldn’t let slip away.

It happened, quite eerily, that the person who I ran my lines with in the car that night before Thanksgiving of 2010 in the Warner Brothers parking lots, was the very same friend sitting in the theater with me to see Batman.

I waited weeks to hear back about my shot at playing a character I’d been impersonating since I wore pajamas with butt-flaps.

When the call finally came in, it was relegated to my voicemail. My representative told me the in-charge over casting said I didn’t do anything special. That I was ‘unremarkable and lacked any shred of star power.’ The part wasn’t mine, and it could never be, nor could it ever have been.

I thought I had finally found my place in the world, when I decided to act. I love storytelling. I love movies. I love what film can do. I’ve done some great work.

The trailer finished and I fell still. It took me two more movie previews before I realized I had eaten all of my snacks and my hands were clenched. The best part of being in an artistic field built on broadcast works is the constant reminder of having missed out.

And I’ll admit, I haven’t pursued acting nearly as hard since.

This isn’t a teachable moment. This isn’t a salient point. This is what happens when you let yourself down, when you let your dreams crash. I guess this is growing up.


40 Responses to “Superman Doesn’t Exist”

  1. krystal says:

    Do me a favor and look around. Look at this website, look at the relationships you have built, look at how you have grown. THIS is remarkable, THIS is screaming star power. You are radiating it and doing it on your terms, authentically you. This site and your stories are touching people, impacting lives and providing a distraction to the crap that is out there. While I understand that you have a profound sense of loss over that part, and who wouldn’t, you should also realize and absorb how much good you have done here. Maybe it’s just a different path than you originally imagined.

  2. Steve says:

    I feel deeply what you are writing about. It must have been so hard to sit there and watch that trailer. So, I hear you…BUT, and isn’t there always a but, you are making a positive mark in the world, right now. The fact that I am reading this blog and replying, me, a dad who is lost in a sea of information that runs as deep as my self-doubts—that speaks to your power. And, as far as I know, kryptonite doesn’t bother you. Daddy badger doesn’t give a sh*t about kryptonite, right? Thanks for being an everyday superman.

    • Lacey S says:

      I personally can’t imagine three professions that leave you as vulnerable, as open to deep and profound wounding as the three you’ve chosen – Actor, blogger and parent. Each one invites not only critiques but unrelenting critism that strikes at the very heart of who you are. Most other jobs are seperate from your self – I am a database guru by day, a novelist by night, and I can easily dismiss a bad day at work – that’s not who I am, it’s just the job. But in your professions you are sharing who you ARE. You have no secret identity, no mask to hide behind. You are so brave, and as Steve says, an everyday Superman <3

    • charlie says:

      And your reply means a great deal. DADDY BADGER DON’T GIVE A SHIT.

  3. You may not shine on the big screen, and I know that is a disappointment. But from where I sit, behind this LITTLE screen, you are a blazing star. And I’m glad to have met you. Who else could I tease half as badly?

  4. Kelly says:

    It must have been excruciating to hear that kind of criticism. It always astounds me to hear how callous Hollywood can be.

    You tried, and worked so hard-to me that’s not failing.

    • charlie says:

      Thanks. It’s tough to see the distinction between the end of a road and where a new one starts sometimes. Perhaps, it should be based not on effort or time, but on when I think it’s done? Still working with that concept.

  5. Chrissy says:

    I have never tried so hard to fail before I got into a creative field. It is a typical experience that I believe most artistic types don’t like to talk about because it’s hard to admit even your best efforts may not be good enough.

    As to the role, Henry Cavill is “a name” imo. So it seems like they told you one thing and did another. Also typical for creative types.

  6. DorkDad says:

    I know a little person to whom you are a *REAL* superhero.

    • ddywgn says:

      We are all SUPERMAN to our little ones. We just have to work hard to stay that way as they get older.

      Go put your cape on and go fly with your little ones!

  7. You take verbal lashings like a super hero, friend. So there’s that.

    All jokes aside, I can’t imagine hearing those words, especially for something that you are clearly passionate about (and very good at – as much as I tease you).

    Kudos to you for continuing to pursue your dream (as cheesy as that sounds). There’s something to be said about that. Actually, there’s a lot.

  8. Just think about all the big-name actors who have done some truly craptacular work in movies. Remember how many other factors come into play besides talent when it comes to getting parts.

    And remember all the various ways you’re contributing something valuable to the world. Can Cavill say the same? No. (Well… maybe he can. I don’t know what he does with his free time. But I’m deciding that when he’s not delivering sub-par performances in films, he’s wasting time doing blow off hookers’ asses and contributiing NOTHING to the culture. So there. You WIN.)

    Is this helping at all?

  9. You know what jumps out at me in this post? It’s not the apparent lamenting the loss of a dream you admittedly didn’t pursue much harder after that… or the ignoring that growing up and life happens while you’re busy making other plans… And some folks handle it all fairly well. (As some have said, look around you Holmes.)

    No. None of that. What jumps out at me…

    “pajamas with butt-flaps” 🙂

    Nice post. “Mother is the word for God on the lips and hearts of all children.” -Eric Draven “Dad is the word for Superman.” -Concretin Nik

  10. irishtrash5 says:

    Honestly Charlie, as someone who isn’t in the industry, i’ve seen several of your films and commercials and seen Henry Cavill’s and I have to say I’d pick you over him any day and just because the calloused, cynical casting-whatever says you are unremarkable means nothing. Henry’s acting is certainly no more remarkable than anyone else I’ve ever seen, much less yours. Never give up on your dream, you’ll make it.

    • Acting is a business. Henry Cavill ultimately made the cut because he was deemed more marketable by a subjective group with their eye on profits. There are countless talented actors who get shot down every day for business reasons rather than their level of talent, etc. So chin up Charlie. I think it was wise of you to regroup and take a hiatus. You’ll find the love of Acting again. And in the meantime, you and Andy have built a great community here on the site. Not everyone’s path is a straight line from A to B.

      And BTW, for me, it was Edward Norton that stole my big break when he was cast in Final Fear. But that’s another long story. 🙂

      Vincent |

  11. Dude. Don’t doubt your awesomeness. You & Andy insire me every week to keep busting my ass to create a killer blog for Sports Dads. (I’m trying.) You guys are total role models for other bloggers, but more important…for other dads. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  12. Talking gut says:

    This is indeed a teachable moment, learning to handle disappointment with honesty and grace are skills we all need.well done teach/dad!

  13. I just want to give you a hug right now.

  14. James S. says:

    Charlie… my fellow father…and actor.

    In a similar sense, I’ll never forget when my first agent in NYC told me–upon my asking him for the opportunity to audition for more film and TV–“James, you’re a fine actor. I think you’re really talented. You’re just not the type who is ever going to be on the cover of GQ.”

  15. Fomm says:

    Those bastards.

  16. beta dad says:

    That movie looks wack. Screw it. Anyway, just imagine how much Tanis and Kristin would have teased you had you gotten the role. Wouldn’t have been worth it.

  17. Loved reading all these comments Charlie! You are a freaking superman in so many ways – to your family, in the blogosphere, and for putting yourself out there, pursuing your dreams despite the chance of having some ignorant person through shit in your face. I agree with the commenters before me, being in a creative field can be emotional torture.

    And yes — I must say, “pajamas w butt flaps” will stay me forever. THAT is the impact you have man. I mean that is some serious impact. I will never see kid pajamas again without your words ringing.

  18. And that would be throw not through. It is late man. And I am supposed to be packing. Give me a typo break. 😉

  19. the muskrat says:

    None of our sorry asses even got to audition. At least you were in the arena instead of the grandstands.

  20. Dirk says:

    As Krystal and others have said, what you have right here is AWESOME. I have a dad blog myself and when I look at yours I think why would anyone ever read mine when there are blogs like this around.
    Just keep doing what you’re doing.

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