Actor Noel Douglas Orput Shares an Excerpt From His Book, ‘Wait, I’m The A—Hole?’

Theatre

I knew I wanted to be an actor from a very young age. And after two decades of living my dream, I’m ready to share a few of my tales; some good, some bad, all painfully hilarious.

In this first collection of comedic anecdotes, you will meet a circus of characters who are deliciously unscrupulous; there’s the maniacal, Capote-esque acting teacher who will stop at nothing to make his students cry; a slick talent agent who has a few schemes up his ketchup-stained sleeve; a seductive costumer in Columbus with a surprising fetish. There’s Dom and Sweaty Steve, a creepy duo who hold an audition that could’ve ended in a shirtless bloodbath, and you will get to spend a humiliating day on the set of a Budweiser commercial where narcissism flowed like beer. The book is available on Amazon.

One of the worst things for an actor to hear after “Next!” is “You know who you look like?” This unsolicited opinion is inevitably followed by some famous individual who looks nothing like you and you are left with the options of either intensely debating how little you actually resemble the person or flashing an agonizing smile and saying “Thank you.”

I’ve heard a slew of actors over the years. There was the older couple that I waited on at a restaurant in Center Lovell, Maine who claimed I was the spitting image of Joseph Cotton. My ignorance led me to a frantic Google search where I was relieved to learn that Joseph Cotton wasn’t a white supremacist from the Old South but rather a respectable screen actor from The Golden Age of Hollywood. There have been a few casting directors who said Jeff Goldblum; I figured mainly because we’re both pretty tall. But after meeting Jeff a couple times, while we are both of the same height, his magnetic aura stands in sharp contrast to my clumsy, social awkwardness. Also, we have vastly different shaped ears. I’ve been told I look like Norm MacDonald, Joel McHale, Rowan Atkinson, Michael Shannon, and the janitor from Scrubs. And there was the time I dressed in drag for a short film and the craft services guy excitedly told me I resembled Eileen Brennan. This was one of the few times that I actually agreed.

I once had a meeting with an agent who stared at me for an uncomfortably long time before asking, “You know who you are?” – I thought that was quite an introspective question during a meeting about what types of commercials I would be good for but I leaned into the spiritual inquiry.

“I’m more than just Noel,” I responded. “Noel is merely-“

“You’re not Brad Pitt. I mean, you’re attractive but not that attractive.”

I nodded, getting back on track with the shallowness of the conversation.

“You’re like Brad Pitt’s friend. The nice guy that the girls don’t notice because you’re standing next to Brad Pitt. But once Brad Pitt disappears, then they see you. And they’re like, “Where the heck was he all this time?”.

“Okay,” I said. “I can see that.”

I found myself imagining being Brad Pitt’s friend, forever living in the shadow of his handsomeness. I felt confident that I could eventually be okay with being second best and that we could be good friends, kicking back and swapping stories of reliable third-world adoption agencies and philanthropy.

While people’s intentions behind making such comparisons might be good, they only serve to add more anxiety to an already stressful profession. I’m sure the intention is to compare me to some famous actor in order to give me hope that I, too, can have success. However, all it does is make me scrutinize everything about the other actor’s appearance and compare it to myself. The janitor from Scrubs has a much thicker hairline than I do. That’s why he’s on a hit sitcom and I’m picking up my monthly Propecia prescription before filing my unemployment claim. It also makes me think, Great. Well if I look like that famous guy, he’s already got the gig so seat’s taken.

Sometimes I wonder what gives people the right to offer such opinions which often trigger one’s vulnerabilities and insecurities. But then I remind myself that we are all unique. No one looks like us. We are who we are. I sometimes fantasize about the shoe being on the other foot. I imagine myself walking into a meeting with the head of a big talent agency and saying, “You know who you look like? You are the spitting image of Harvey Weinstein.”

LESSONS LEARNED:
1. Only you look like you. No one else has what makes you unique. Well, unless you are an identical twin.

2. Whenever someone asks, “You know who you look like?” always answer GOD.

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