Acting Rule No. 1: Don't date actors - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Acting Rule No. 1: Don’t date actors

A showmance is not a romance – I’ll say that up front.

As an actor, you watch celebrity actors get together over and over again and break up – over and over again: Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore (will she ever find happiness?!) and the example set for us is pretty clear – actors shouldn’t date other actors.

I always tell people who ask me about that, “I’m enough drama for any relationship – I don’t need more from someone else.”  But I think at the root of that I’m getting to, “I’m too egocentric for any relationship and I don’t need another actor (another egocentric attention-sucking freak) stealing my thunder.”

This, however, doesn’t mean other actors aren’t attractive and charming and that a showmance is easy to resist.

A showmance is defined as a romance between two actors that begins during a rehearsal process.  It usually begins between two actors who are also in love with each other in the actual play.

These showmances can lead to some murky waters as it brings the relationship in the world of the show – the relationship that isn’t real – and takes it into reality – the actor real world.  The question becomes: is the show’s fake romance more real when present in the real world?  Outsiders will typically answer, “Er, not really, no.”  But the dedicated actor – the actor married to their craft and “in love” with their scene partner – will cry out, “Yes!”

This is the beginning of the actor breakdown.  You thought it was drugs, but it’s showmance which leads to drugs which leads to running around half naked shrieking and crying and swearing to kill your beloved or yourself (some actors excuse this behavior by insisting they’re rehearsing a scene out of Romeo and Juliet… we don’t usually buy this excuse).

Here’s how I personally navigate the showmance experience:

When your acting coach tells you to kiss your scene partner to “stimulate the scene” – you do it if and only if  your scene partner has a girlfriend.  If your scene partner has a girlfriend, the kiss stays safely in the unreality of the scene – it lives, breathes, and dies in the scene and has no opportunity to follow you home like Moaning Myrtle’s ghost.

When your acting for the camera (film class) scene partner asks you for a hand massage to “loosen up” between takes, you give it to him if and only if he promises to give you one in return.  (Note: actors massage each other often to attain relaxed bodies and voices – perfect and prime for intense acting.  This is not a weird request).  An eye for an eye.  When he asks you for a back massage in between the next take, you give it to him (if he promises to give you one in return).  When he calls you up after the shoot and asks why you aren’t in his apartment giving him a full body massage, you hang up the phone and thank God you just finished being his scene partner.  A full body massage in your apartment?  I’m not Phoebe from Friends.  I’m not a licensed masseuse.  This is a phone call asking unreality to meet reality.  This is a breach of the code.  (Note: actors who ask other actors to come to their apartments at night aren’t looking to rehearse.  They want more than just a massage – and this is a weird request)!

When your scene partner asks you out for dinner after rehearsal and you’re friends and go get dinner all the time, you say “yes,” knowing you could use the extra time to discuss your scene.  When you’re confused about why he’s driving you to Applebee’s instead of the dining hall and offering to pay, you must know he’s being more than a good scene partner and he wants to be more than a good friend.  This is a date and you missed all the signs because you, rightfully, left unreality where it belongs.  Quickly pay your share for dinner and get him to take you home.  Then only look at him and speak to him when you’re rehearsing for your scene (you don’t want to send him anymore mixed signals).

As an obvious expert in reading showmance signs and nipping them in the bud from the get-go, I think it’s safe to conclude actors shouldn’t date other actors – it’s not against the law or the union – just against the actor-code ofbrotherly and sisterly love.  You wouldn’t kiss your sibling in real life.

If romance is written in a play, it’s written to stay there.  Don’t make Shakespeare roll over in his grave by dating your Romeo – after all, Shakespeare initially meant for two guys to play those roles and I doubt his intent was to play matchmaker or concoct a set up in writing them.

… What about Branjolina, you ask?  … Their showmance just isn’t over yet – not yet!





About the author

Jana Stambaugh

Jana (it rhymes with “banana” or “anna”) is an artist from Clarksville, Maryland. Growing up her parents always told her to “be whatever you want to be.” Seeing as she has come from three generations of doctors, she obviously became an artist. As an actor, she has performed internationally Off-Broadway, and locally to the Baltimore/DC area. Favorite roles include Juliet, Ariel, and Caliban. Jana is the Founder of Red Connect Online, a social media marketing company that creates customized advertising campaigns for small businesses. You can listen to her podcast, Confessions of a Closet Christian, on the E-Squared Media Network. You can also follow her on Twitter (@Jana_Stambaugh) and friend her on Facebook. Contact the author.
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