So I’m standing on a bridge in St. Petersburg, Russia – the camera is rolling, it’s about 30 degrees, we’re losing the light, my frozen co-star and I are improvising dialogue for a new plot point that was just added to the script, and the director has a death grip on my jacket sleeve to keep it out of the shot (it’s a tight close-up)…oh, and by the way – it’s a love scene.
And by the way….I’m having the time of my life.
Click the pic below to watch the full episode:
Working on FINAL WITNESS was one of my favorite jobs (ever.) There were a lot of firsts for me:
- First time playing a real-life character in a true story (I play convicted murderer Hans Reiser)
- First time playing the bad guy (the many lawyers I’ve played don’t count)
- First time shooting in Russia (first time out of the country, as a matter of fact)
- First time that I can say I’m starring in a network TV show (not just as a guest)
And first audition via Skype! The talented team of Director Rudy Bednar and Producer Lee Beckett work for ABC in New York, so I did my audition and callback “long distance” in the office of casting director Scott David, improvising dialogue with the lovely Zuzana Lova who would also win the role of my wife.
This was the first time, also, that I had to do a lot of research before the audition and then a lot more leading up to the shoot (videos, audio files, court transcripts, etc.)
A silent film with sound
The style of shooting was a first for me, too, and was especially meaningful because I’ve always been a huge silent film fan (wayyyyy before The Artist won the Oscar.) We shot mostly “on the fly”, the way they did back in the silent days (though we had sound, of course), shooting multiple scenes with quick set-ups on sidewalks, in streets, on bridges, in doorways – the actual real-life locations where the story took place (St. Petersburg, Russia where the couple met and Berkeley, California, where they lived afterward, and where the tragedy took place.)
Everything worked out beautifully in all the locations, even in Hermitage Square where our papers were examined by an army of armed soldiers.
It’s an anthology series and I’ve been watching the other episodes which have already aired – the photography and editing is just something you don’t see in most shows: a stylish hybrid of drama, documentary and cinema verite.
Credit goes to an incredible crew, one of the best I’ve ever worked with.
Oh and one more “first” – this is my first blog post.
Leave me a comment after you’ve seen the show – I’d love to know your thoughts.