I surprised myself with my initial reaction to the IMDB lawsuit. I thought “Ugh, some actors like to complain more than they like to act.” And while I do still believe that, I’m also a very boyish 40, and have lost parts due to my age – but only after rocking my audition.
A couple of years ago, a fat, aging poorly actor decided he was going to write himself a pilot. He did, and the network wanted to shoot it, but ONLY if he wasn’t in it. According to the network, he was too old for the part he had written for himself. He grumbled, but acquiesced, and they started auditioning other actors. I went in, and if I do say so, had a very strong audition, and they decided they were going to ‘test’ me for the role – a rigorous process where you and three to five other actors audition for the head of the studio and then the head of the network. Fat Guy thought I was great – until he found out I was older than he was. “Wait a second,” he said. “If I can’t be in this show at my age, John can’t be in it at his. Sure, I’m not taking care of myself and, though I’m 3 years his junior I look like his uncle, but still. Waaaaaaah.” And so the test deal evaporated. Now MIND YOU – I’m not actually as bitter as I sound, the show never went anywhere, and the Fat Guy and I are cordial. But he’d never have been the wiser had it not been for The Internet Movie Database.
IMDB can’t hide behind “honesty.” Honesty is not what acting is all about. We all strive for truth in our work, sure, and we want to recreate as Mike Nichols says “What this is really like,” but the fact of the matter is I am not a PhD in physics with a speech impediment (well, actually, I have a sibilant S, but that’s not the speech impediment I’m paid to have on Big Bang Theory). Russell Crowe is neither a gladiator nor a schizophrenic mathematician. (Yeah, that was a pretty big jump from me to Russell Crowe, but I’m making a point). Ian McKellen? Not a wizard. If this actress, whoever she is, doesn’t read 40 yet, then it’s none of my business unless I’m her insurance adjuster (and I’m not, although I’ve played one. Haven’t I? I played a con man once. I don’t remember. Must be my age).