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I Took The Red Pill: Life Inside the Rabbit Hole

Reid Gormly
Reid Gormly. Not a doctor, but he has played one on TV. No, we're serious. He has.

Everyone, give a warm welcome to Reid Gormly. Reid’s a working actor trying to Make It in Hollywood and I thought that those of us who don’t have that particular madness might be interested in the stories of somebody who has it. So we’ll hopefully get some updates from him as things progress. Let’s all live vicariously through Reid, shall we?

All right, before we really even begin, rest assured that this blog post has nothing to do with the upcoming release of Tim Burton‘s take on Alice in Wonderland. Don’t get me wrong, I would kill to have been cast as Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum (or even better yet, both), but this is a story about the life of a man with a dream to be an Actor. This actor took the proverbial Red Pill that Morpheus so generously offered when it came time to decide what to do after graduating college in ’04. Longing to see just how deep the rabbit hole of lifelong cinematic dreams would go, this actor–me, specifically–landed in Hollywood not knowing a soul, homeless, and broke.

That was then, and this is now. I recently shot my first co-star spot on the Fox hit drama, House, with the ever-charming Hugh Laurie. Now, if you’ve done the math, my first substantial break came five years into this freefall of excitement. This begs some obvious questions. “Why did it take so long? Why didn’t you give up? Was it worth it? Was it everything you thought it would be?”

[ad#longpost]Okay, let’s be honest, I would have loved to hit it big on Day 1. I mean, after all, who really wants to have a college degree that cost $100,000 and be relegated to slinging food as a twenty-eight-year-old waiter who’s struggling to make a living? To make matters even more interesting, I never dreamed I would have to dress up as a dog for a Bon Jovi music video audition, nor stand in my underwear with baby heads taped to my body while tons of hot Bud Light girls looked on as I waited to audition for an ESPN college basketball spot. But these first five years and the completely emasculating auditions I have endured have all taught me one thing- it’s all about the journey.

You are probably thinking, “Oh God, this guy is so cliché!” Please rest assured that I am far from cliché. I merely am here to recount my experiences of what it is like to have a career in entertainment. I am sure that at one point, or another, we all had dreams of being an actor, a musician, a sports star, or an entertainer of some sort…but for one reason or another we chose take the blue pill and stay in the safe land of our hometown, or our stable jobs.

Believe you me, there have been many instances in which stability looks really nice from where I sit, dealing with more rejections than affirmations. But this is where my journey has brought me and I couldn’t be happier with the arc that I am on as I write this. So with this glimpse into the rabbit hole, we begin our relationship and I only ask that you laugh with me at the absurdity of my auditions, and celebrate the little victories that will (hopefully) ultimately add up to a career that we can only dream of.

Rather than start this relationship belaboring about lame statistics of how you can only expect to book one out of every hundred auditions you go on in the beginning, I’ll just begin with a quote from the great (and sadly former) host of NBC’s Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien: “If you work really hard, and you are kind, amazing things will happen…. I’m telling you amazing things will happen for you.” How ironic that this quote came the same week I worked on House.

I practically had to pinch myself throughout the entire process I went through to get the part, and I still felt like I was dreaming sitting next to Hugh in the make-up trailer talking about the day’s work. I could hardly believe that a mere minute and a half in the audition room could lead to validity in this town. And the real icing on the cake came when I found out that Hugh was actually directing the show for the first time. This also means he was the final say in casting me for the Under 5 (line) co-star role of… DOCTOR #2.

Perhaps the best way to describe the day of the shoot is SURREAL. I truly felt like I had fallen into a fairytale. From the moment I stepped onto the Fox Lot to the time I left my private trailer, I felt humbled that I was able to exist in the world of Princeton Plainsboro Hospital…and if anyone from House is reading this, I would be thrilled to work with any of you again. (And I can explain the bit about the baby heads.)

Before I go to prepare for a Heineken commercial callback with music video director, Mark Romanek (he brought you the video for Nine Inch Nails‘ “Closer”), I can offer you some advice based on real world experience–and I’m sure this holds true in acting or any profession– you never know who you meet in your life that years down the road will be influential in your career. Three years ago, while hustling the restaurant world, I was hired to work some private catering gigs at the home of a now Emmy-Award winning Director, who is also now an Executive Producer on House. The fact that I hit it off with he and his wife and have been acquaintances since may have helped the cause- but at this point, if picking up party trash, and cocktailing drinks to Hollywood Elite had anything to do with my promotion to DOCTOR #2, I say bring on more tray-passed hors d’ouevres.

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