Check it out HERE.
Check it out HERE.
I had two of the most frightening and at the same time enlightening moments of my life during the last two days of CANDiLAND. For the entire 9 weeks of the crash diet (#crashdiet, #weightloss), I honestly had it in my head I wasn’t losing any weight. The human body is remarkable at surviving. One of its coping mechanisms is the ability to repeatedly reset to a new normal. This feeling of being normal is intrinsically tied to how you visually and body sensorially identify with yourself. When you reach a new normal you occur, look, and feel like your original normal state.
This was how my weight loss would go: Firstly, to ensure I wouldn’t cheat, I set up a militant regime to my daily diet. I ate at the exact same time everyday: 9:30am, 2:00pm, & 5:00pm. 9:30am was the lemonade drink (#mastercleanse) and vitamins. 2:00pm was vitamins/electrolytes/minerals mixed with water. 5:00pm was the V8 juice (#v8juice). Lots of water throughout the day. To take the commitment to the next level, I had all the ingredients, v8 juice, and vitamins in the exact same placement and order in their respective fridge and cupboard spaces. I would remove and place all ingredients in the same order outside of their resting place and would combine/ ingest everything in the exact same order everyday. I even had an order to cleaning and how/ when I would take out measuring spoons, etc. I was a well oiled machine and after nine weeks of this, I hadn’t realized how much of an emotional anchor it had become. Saying goodbye would be hard. More on this in Part Two…
Secondly, dropping the weight was very easy. I lost a pound a day until I reached a plateau. During these weight drop periods my energy would dip and I would experience weird body sensations. It wasn’t until the second week I realized the body sensations were my body literally feeding on itself. That’s a lot to absorb. It’s creepy actually.
Every ten pounds I would hit a plateau: 170 lb., 160 lb., 150 lb., 140 lb., etc. During these plateaus, I would have an increase in energy and would feel like I had gained my full weight back! It still wouldn’t look like I lost any weight when I looked in the mirror. My fear the diet wasn’t working would only be calmed when I jumped on a scale.
The body is stubborn when it hits a plateau. That’s the point when you have to cut calories. When you do, you experience an even further loss of energy and what’s more, your body won’t lose weight! Not for about three to four days. During that time, you’re literally fighting your body to acknowledge the fact its not receiving food and it will have to yet again feed on itself. When it does, the weird body sensations kick in and the body begins to drop weight like nothing. Pound a day. Pound a day…
Fast forward to the second last day of shooting. I had reached my target weight of 132 lb. and I had just finished having my head and upper body shaved for a pivotal moment in the film. That’s when I turned and looked at myself in the mirror. I can only assume my very large, long hair had been a structurally integral card in the house of cards which represented my self-image (#selfimage). For when I saw myself in the mirror, the house of cards crumbled, and a stranger looked back at me. In a flash, my brain registered the extreme weight loss, the shaved down tooth, emaciated skull, and protruding ribs. I silently freaked out. “What had I done? I completely destroyed myself. How have I survived? How am I surviving? Can I bring myself back?” I experienced a kaleidoscope of emotion. And as quick as the fear came it transitioned to a moment of enlightenment.
In a new way, I was in awe of the capabilities of the human body and spirit. And that’s anything! I experienced the proof if a person sets any goal in front of him/herself and applies a purpose bigger than any self wants, that person will accomplish their goal. That’s not to say we don’t stumble along the way.
Two steps forward, one step back is the saying, right? The key is to continue to take the two steps. Logically speaking, the statement of taking a step proves all dreams can be accomplished. The very act literally closes the physical and mental distance of a dream. It is impossible to not draw closer to a dream with an action. How easily we can all become discouraged and stop chasing. We forgot we just need to take another step, take another action, to instantly get back on track. Crisis averted! No stress!
So, in the end, I experienced to the core of my bones a moment of inspirational enlightenment. I saw the accomplishment and it invigorated me. If I could let myself deteriorate to this level, I could certainly rebuild myself to an entirely new level. Most importantly, there is nothing special about myself, my commitment, or experience. If I can do it anyone can do it. The key ingredient was applying a purpose bigger than my own self wants. I believe in the incredible talent of our community, my family, and my friends. My goal is to create as much opportunity for the community to express their unique, individual voices. Our life is art and art is our life. Let’s champion our community’s art. It’s a legacy worth investing everything in.
Not to sound redundant but: Anything is possible if you don’t straddle the line of life. Place both feet firmly on the side of commitment, dive in fully, and don’t look back. You will arrive.
I had one more big moment and this happened when we officially wrapped. More on this in a couple days…
Today has been hard. I officially weigh 139 pounds and it’s the first time I feel an intense dip in energy. That’s not to say I don’t feel good. I actually feel great. I’m also cognitively as sharp as ever. Though, as someone who takes pride in his inexhaustible energy, it was a blow to only make it five blocks on my morning walk.
Having lost 43 pounds, in the last 7 weeks, on a 300 calorie liquid diet of lemonade and V8 juice, the body is finally telling me to slow down and conserve energy. I’m totally fine spending more time on the couch right now because…
We are officially five days away from our last shooting block on CANDiLAND.
A lot of you are probably wondering how the heck I’m doing it. To be quite honest, it’s been very hard. Losing the weight is the easy part. Once you begin restricting your calories the body naturally sheds the weight. It’s the mental aspect that’s excruciating. You don’t realize how large a part food is to your schedule, conversation, and identity until you stop eating.
Don’t worry; I’m taking a plethora of vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and lots of water as well. And I’ve been taking note of all the #weightloss #weightgain #cleaneating #healthy (the list could go on!) advice that experts have to offer for when I start eating again.
During this time, I’ve taken a lot of comfort listening to Matthew McConaughey and Michael Fassbender’s weight loss experiences. Both reached a weight of 135lbs for their respective films Dallas Buyers Club and Hunger which I will match for CANDiLAND. There are countless interviews on their experiences and everything they relate is exactly what I’m going through. I feel like a brother to them now in a funny way. And I completely agree with their accounts of fasting being very spiritual. It is.
The experience has been extremely informative for Peter’s state of mind but has also been an invaluable learning experience for myself personally. I will write more on that later, but for now here are a couple great links to interviews on the subject with Mr. McConaughey ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEY59GltVjw) and Mr. Fassbender (http://www.tribute.ca/interviews/michael-fassbender-hunger/star/33695/)
My goal as an actor is to completely transform myself every time I play a character. My acting heroes are Gary Oldman, Cate Blanchett, Samantha Morton, Daniel Day Lewis, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Robert De Niro to name a few. These actors fully commit to the truth of their characters and story by transforming their physicality.
Like the aforementioned actors, I pay particular attention to the physical behaviour of the character. I’ve discovered it is an essential tool to inform emotional truth and convincingly tell the story from a visual perspective. There are a variety of physical techniques I use and my base exercise is always the ‘Animal Exercise.’
I first learned of the ‘Animal Exercise’ while studying with Lori Triolo in the early 2000’s (Anyone who hasn’t studied with her, you’re seriously missing out. She was trained by Sanford Meisner and currently resides in Vancouver, Canada. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0873021/). Essentially, the exercise consist of researching every aspect of an animal you feel is appropriate to your character. After this research is done, you set up a fictional ecosystem and physically act out every aspect/scenario of that animal’s life. I like to set up the different stations in my apartment and work through them like a circuit. As I work through the exercise, I slowly begin to humanize the animal behaviour I feel will translate/inform the character.
This is how I began to build Peter in CANDiLAND. Peter has a Peter Pan complex. He’s very playful, impulsive, mischievous, and joyfully sexual. He’s also physically maimed. Because of this, I always visualized him as a wounded rabbit. As his character changes through the course of the film, so does my physical interpretation of the rabbit. By keeping this ever evolving animal behaviour in mind, the character’s behaviour naturally colors my own and a character is born.
Some notable examples of ‘Animal Work’ are: Marlon Brando’s ‘Ape’ in Streetcar Named Desire, De Niro’s ‘Crab’ in Taxi Driver, and Dustin Hoffman’s ‘Parrot’ in Rainman.
I also highly recommend Larry Moss’ explanation in his fantastic book ‘The Intent To Live.’ http://larrymoss.org/acting-coach-larry-moss-book-author.
Here’s another cool little article I found to further explain by Jane Robbins: http://www.janemarlarobbins.com/bookexcerpt2.htm
I will delve deeper into the Rabbit specifics I used for Peter later this month.