My Day as an Actor

04.10.2012 | 9:05 am

An Update from Fatty: I’m no longer sitting in the airport, and this post is now done. If you’ve already read this post, though, be sure to go to the updated “Upgrade” section, which I’ve changed to include something ridiculously cool Timothy Hutton did for me that I didnt even know he had done (and, oafishly, therefore never even thanked him for).

I’m sitting in the PDX airport, which has — astonishingly to anyone who has visited a good number of airports — really fast, free wifi and cubicles with power. I’ve got two hours ’til my plane leaves. Let’s see if I can tell the story of my trip to Portland and my adventure in “acting” on Leverage during that time.

And just for the fun of it, I think I’ll continuously update as I write.


I got to Portland late Sunday afternoon. It was raining. No, just kidding. It was sunny and perfect outside. In fact, the weather was perfect. I tend to have that effect on places. Have me come by your hometown someday. I’ll bring good weather with me.

I had a couple hours before Paul Guyot (honcho at Leverage and guest blogger here) were to meet for dinner, so I took a walk, just to see Portland. The thing that struck me, in my 2-3 block radius walk, was the incredible number of parks and open space around, even though I was pretty close to the city center:



I didn’t photograph all the parks. That would have gotten repetitive. I did, however, get a picture of a statue walking home from work, with his silver laundry in tow:


After this, it was time for dinner with Paul.

We met at the hotel lobby, where he gave me a big ol’ hug, in spite of the fact that this was the first time we had met in person.

Paul, as it turns out, is just that kind of guy. As in, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, who still obviously manages to keep a big ol’ television crew humming along very smoothly.

We went to a great steak place, called Ringside. We got both onion rings and fries to go with our steaks.


Though I got a salad to offset the massive amount of food I ate. So I’d call it a calorie-neutral evening.

Since I needed to be in the hotel lobby at 6:15 the next morning and Paul had to be on the set even earlier, we did not party as if it were 1999. Even though we are both old enough to remember that song from when it came out.

I went back to my hotel room and practiced my acting. Since I was not slated to have a speaking part, I worked on conveying meaning and emotion merely using facial expressions.


Disgust! Bemusement! A call for help! I can do all these things with a raised eyebrow, a flared nostril, and compressed upper lip.

I’m that good.

The Big Day

I got a ride to the set — a pair of converted warehouses in an industrial area — with a couple guys who looked very familiar — I’ve seen them both before in TV and movies. I wondered to myself whether they were hoping I would speak to them so they could ask me for my autograph without it seeming awkward.

They did in fact begin talking, but apparently were too shy to ask for my autograph. I didn’t mind.

They started talking about Parkour. I listened for a bit and then got out my phone. “You like Parkour? You should watch a Danny Macaskill video,” I told them.

They finished the ride to the set, watching, in stunned silence.

Once we arrived, Paul found me and started showing me around. Starting, of course, with the food services tent, where we each had big ol batches of scrambled eggs with everything made for us.


Paul and I are a lot alike. Except I’m more beloved, I’m pretty sure.

Next, I got shown to my dressing room. Yes, I really had my own private dressing room, which was almost as big as half a standard prison cell.


Still, it’s more than I expected, and it’s nice to have a toilet you can call your own.

The costume director was called “Critter,” so I said, “Hi Critter, my name’s Fatty.” It was like we were secret agents with code names or something.

I showed her the suitcase full of Fat Cyclist gear I had brought along. She told me to put on the black Smartwool t-shirt, my Fat Cyclist hoodie and and cycling cap, the orange Jawbones, my Giro fingerless gloves, my MTB shoes (which would make a loud clacking sound on the concrete the whole day) and my awesome new Twin Six 3/4 pants (which I had Twin Six rush to me last week special for this part).

Self-portrait time:


Then — finally! (at least I imagine you’re saying “Finally!”) we went on the stage.

And that’s a bizarre experience.

On the Set

When you enter the warehouse, it’s dark. Cold. And fog-generator foggy. Like you’re on the set of X-Files or something.

I had about four hours to wait before it was time for my scenes (I was to be in two), so I settled in and watched.

There was a lot to be amazed by.

First, it was pretty amazing to step into one of the sets. Suddenly, instead of a dark warehouse, you’re in a nice brewpub.


Except, of course, the brewpub has a ceiling made of scaffolding and wires and whatnot.

And there are cameras everywhere. And people and monitors. And lights. Above all else, lights everywhere.

Next, it was

incredible how many people were there. I don’t have the foggiest idea what they were all doing, but they were all amazingly busy. But it wasn’t so much that there were a lot of people there, or that they were all busy.

What was amazing and fun to watch was how well everyone was working together. Perhaps some sets are full of freak-outs and high drama and emergencies, but — and of course I just had one perspective on one day — everyone at Leverage seemed happy and engaged in their jobs and amazingly friendly. From the actors to the sound guys to the props guys to “The Oracle” (the woman in the bottom left of the photo above, whose job it is to ensure shot continuity and to make sure all scenes are shot in all appropriate ways), everyone was great.

The next thing that caught me off-guard was how quietly all the actors spoke. For no good reason, I just assumed they would be projecting, like stage actors. But no. They use their indoor voices, talking totally normally. Maybe even more quietly than normal. From 15 feet away, watching from behind the cameras and monitors, you could not hear them at all unless you had a headset on.

Paul, transformed from goofball to grown-up producer-man.

My Turn

After a couple scenes, it was almost time for my scenes. First, I got made up:


Obviously, she took the grey out of my beard. She also filled in my eyebrows (because I keep them trimmed extra short — otherwise they grow into crazy mad scientist eyebrows that get into my peripheral vision) and covered up the circles under my eyes, and de-shinified my face in general.

No eyeliner or anything though. And — sadly — no vampire teeth or gaping wounds. I would’ve loved to get a part that would give me a gaping wound.

My job was — as a bike messenger — to deliver a package. Check me out, getting all directed by the director and stuff:


And here’s how I looked on the monitor, looking over the cameraman’s shoulder:


Again and Again and Again

Here’s the part that stood out from the day above pretty much everything else: how many takes they do of every scene, and from how many angles.

For every one-minute scene (including mine), there would be rehearsals.

Then the crew would set up one big shot where they filmed everyone.

Then the crew would move things around and train the cameras on just one or two people. Then moe things around and do the same scene, trained on the other people. Then the same scenes, with cameras trained on just one person’s face.

It’s an incredibly labor-intensive process, and pretty eye-opening to observe how much work goes into the making of a TV show.

And in short, I delivered that package a lot of times.

Then they moved things around, I went and changed into a different jersey (because I was supposed to be delivering another package on a different day), and we did it all again, some more:

Nice gut, Fatty. I am going to be mad at myself forever for not having lost the weight I needed to before this show.

They sprayed non-glare stuff on my Oakleys before filming, rendering them both non-shiny and non-useful.

Interacting With the Actors

I am — as you know — quite beloved and famous in my own right. Still, I was curious what it would be like to be around other famous people.


Unfortunately I didn’t get to talk with Beth Riesgraf, the actor who plays Parker on the series. And my interaction with Gina Bellman was pretty much limited to terrifying her and making her look around for security when I came from nowhere and told her how awesome she was in Coupling.

But I did get to talk with Aldis Hodge (Hardison), Christian Kane (Eliot), and Timothy Hutton (Nathan).

Aldis is an amazingly funny person, and a remarkable improvisational actor. He’d deliver his lines perfectly each time, then go on to add some hilarious additional lines of his own. Funny and different, every single take. I looked forward to every take, just to hear what he would say.

Christian is an amazingly nice guy, and went out of his way to talk with me, offer helpful suggestions, and just chat. Then, when it was time to act, he’d suddenly turn on this pissed-off stare, and it’s like he’s a totally different person.

And Timothy Hutton, when I told him what a fan my sister Jodi is of his work, looked up her site, then let me get a photo of him holding up a photo of her.


Jodi said it was the best birthday present ever. And it certainly was the least expensive, so that’s doubly awesome.

And as it turns out, without my knowing it — because I was dealing with sensory overload at about twelve different levels — Timothy had given me a present, too.

Upgrade [UPDATED]

Originally, I was slated for a non-speaking role. I delivered a package and left. Which is way cooler than any other acting experiences I’ve ever had (i.e., none) before, but still, you know, non-speaking.

But — due to a case of coolness I can’t even describe (and failed to thank him for because I wasn’t even aware he was the one who effected this change), Timothy Hutton made some calls and used his own real-world kind of leverage to get me upgraded to having a couple of lines in the show. Paul and Aldis then came up with a couple lines for me (one straight line, one funny line).

Having a speaking line meant I had to sign a bunch of places on a surprisingly thick contract. And it meant some new (kind of strange) guidelines.

Mainly, it meant that I could no longer stand on my “mark” (the place where I was to be filmed) while the camera and light crews set up the shot, but instead had to have a stand-in stand there for me.

Union rules or something.

But it’s not like I had anything better to do, so I just stood there right by my stand-in, talking to him.

And rehearsed, over in over, the four words I had to remember. And how I would say them.

Wrapping Up

Here’s how much of a wimp I am. I wasn’t able to make it through the whole day. At around 7:00pm — at which point I had been there for 12 hours — I told Paul that I had to get to the airport early, and I headed back to my hotel.

They were still working when I left, and probably would be for another couple hours.

What an amazing day.


PS: The show will air sometime in August, I believe.

PPS: Time to fly!


  1. Comment by lynn e | 04.10.2012 | 9:24 am

    Posting a picture of fries is just so unfair!

  2. Comment by AKChick55 | 04.10.2012 | 9:24 am

    Wait, there is a whole section missing! No! You are going to break it up in sections!!! :) I’m just kidding, I don’t mind. Not that it’s about me.

    Still sad we never met up with Paul in Austin (stupid food poisoning). Saw pictures on Twitter. Whenever I watch Leverage, I can’t help but think of Christian Kane as Lindsey (Susan would know what character I’m referring to though he wasn’t on Buffy). He’s VERY cute. I’m sure he was very impressed with your quads and wanted to know how he could get a pair like them. :)

    Can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

  3. Comment by GenghisKhan | 04.10.2012 | 9:44 am

    I can’t help but wonder if the folks at Leverage are seeing spike in viewership lately.

    P.S. How did the onion rings compare to JCW’s onion ring?

  4. Comment by Jeff Bike | 04.10.2012 | 10:06 am

    Gee you looked so much like a real bike messenger.

  5. Comment by AKChick55 | 04.10.2012 | 10:20 am

    Doh! Coworker told me that you’re live blogging. :) Came back to read. Too cool! It would be fun for them to do a Leverage episode surrounding one of the LIVESTRONG challenges. Something happens with a Team Fatty member and the Leverage folks are called in to assist. :)

  6. Comment by ClydeinKS | 04.10.2012 | 10:21 am

    Glad to see YOU had the fries and rings so close to the Challenge end. Hope you weren’t in the back of the warehouse training for 100 MoN and burning off that meal :)

    Jeff D

  7. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 04.10.2012 | 10:42 am

    Portland and no VooDoo Donuts? Maybe we’ll see them in the Food Service Buffet at Lunch.

    Thanks for the Danny link. Just showed it to my 8 yr old son and forbade him to ever try that. He said “what part” I answered, “any of it!” That man can ride!

    Lastly makeup: So you were ‘Fatty’, the makeup person was ‘Critter’. What did y’all name that ‘pet’ on your chin? ….and did they darken it???

  8. Comment by ScottR | 04.10.2012 | 10:50 am

    Totally awesome – can’t wait to see the episode. :-)

  9. Comment by Fat Cathy | 04.10.2012 | 10:57 am

    Wow. That is all I can say, just WOW. ;-)

  10. Comment by Dan.weise | 04.10.2012 | 10:59 am

    Awesome! Its amazing how much work goes into making an hour of entertainment for us!

    A speaking part! That means you’ll be listed in the credits and everything! Too cool!

  11. Comment by Fatty | 04.10.2012 | 11:04 am

    Note to self: add a section about my most embarrassing moment of the day.

  12. Comment by GenghisKhan | 04.10.2012 | 11:09 am

    Very interesting. Not to focus on the picayune, but those dudes look huge in the last pic–or did Fatty get shrunk?! ;o)

  13. Comment by Meredith S | 04.10.2012 | 11:29 am

    What I would like to be privy to is what the blue piece of tape with writing over the toilet says…. Sounds like an awesome day!

  14. Comment by centurion | 04.10.2012 | 11:38 am

    So, what was it they had you say?

  15. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 04.10.2012 | 11:40 am

    That looked like a total blast. I love it when life gives these little gems.

  16. Comment by Dicky | 04.10.2012 | 11:50 am

    And the Golden Globe for Best Dressed Messenger in a Drama or Variety Show goes to….

  17. Comment by Susie H | 04.10.2012 | 11:58 am

    super fun!

  18. Comment by MattC | 04.10.2012 | 12:28 pm

    Ahh man…Fatty, I am SO JEALOUS! Man…pic of YOU on the set…hanging out w/ some pretty famous people like you belong there…so, are you going to keep your four words a secret? I think you should…make us wait till it airs! THAT would be some serious suspense for sure! And FATTY gear on a network TV series…how cool is THAT!!

    Kinda sad that you didn’t get to spend any time with Beth tho…I was kind’a hoping you’d have nicked her sock or something (to auction off or include as a prize in one of your upcoming contests). Wife#1 might go crazy for Chris Horners socks…but uhm, hey…I’d have tossed in a few buckaroos for a chance at THAT! Not that I’m a stalker or anything…yet.

  19. Comment by Liz | 04.10.2012 | 12:37 pm

    Fantastic! Thanks for the awesome summary; felt like you brought us all along.

    You look just like the messengers that hang out near my building. How shall I put this — they don’t look like they have given a lot of thought to weight loss in a while. So it’s not a gut, it’s verisimilitude.

  20. Comment by AKChick55 | 04.10.2012 | 12:50 pm

    August? I can’t wait until August! :) Okay, I guess I have to wait until August. However, I can’t wait until August to see it!!! Thanks to Paul and the folks at Leverage for having you on AND letting you wear Fatcyclist gear! :)

    Also, what is up that TwinSix doesn’t have those pants for women????

  21. Comment by Jeff Bike | 04.10.2012 | 12:54 pm

    Gee now you look like two bike messengers or at least on another day. How can they shoot what happens on a different day? Do they have a time machine?

  22. Comment by Jodi | 04.10.2012 | 12:57 pm

    Timothy Hutton is holding a picture of ME. Timothy Hutton is holding a picture of ME. Timothy Hutton is holding a picture of ME. Timothy Hutton is holding a picture of ME. Timothy Hutton is holding a picture of ME. Timothy Hutton is holding a picture of ME. Timothy Hutton is holding a picture of ME. Timothy Hutton is holding a picture of ME. Timothy Hutton is holding a picture of ME. Timothy Hutton is holding a picture of ME.

    Seriously cool brother-o! I think that I can tell from his eyes that he likes me a lot. (I promise not to get any creepier so I don’t embarrass you in front of your friends.)

  23. Comment by Dan in Sac | 04.10.2012 | 1:05 pm

    DUDE! FRiGGIN’ Awesome!

  24. Comment by Clydesteve | 04.10.2012 | 1:11 pm

    @Meridith – ‘privy’ and ‘toilet’ in the same sentence – well played.

    @Fatty – Is this mini-you in the pic with the three male cast members?

  25. Comment by Clydesteve | 04.10.2012 | 1:14 pm

    Do your Oakleys clean up, or did they have to take a hit for the home team?

  26. Comment by Dave | 04.10.2012 | 1:23 pm

    So Fatty did you hook up with Snobbie! Or were you two ships passing in the PDX night?

  27. Comment by Kukui | 04.10.2012 | 1:25 pm

    That is too cool, Fatty! What were the four words?? =)

  28. Comment by rich | 04.10.2012 | 2:32 pm

    Pretty freakin awesome Fatty! Thanks for letting us share your adventure…that was the most fun I’ve had all week!!!

  29. Comment by leroy | 04.10.2012 | 3:45 pm

    “On television Mr. President, you look much smaller.”

  30. Comment by MJ | 04.10.2012 | 4:36 pm

    SO. FREAKIN’. UNBELIEVABLY. AWESOME. CanNOT wait to see the episode and hear the voice of Fatty. Super kudos to all who made this happen (and wow, Timothy Hutton, way to go, salute to the cool and kind) Kudos to Paul for making this happen.

    Tell TwinSix to get ready for big hits to their site and extra requests for the Fatty items you’re wearing!

    Will there be a red-carpet premiere? Ooh, you could make it a Team Fatty fundraiser somewhere by you – get a big TV in a restaurant or something, have similar events all over. (I’m sure you’ve already thought of this actually) Virtual viewing parties!

    Bowing before the awesomeness…..(which actually existed before this, just now more folks will see it and have revealed their own)

    I was a Fatty and Leverage fan before, and the two combined – it’s like fries and bacon!

  31. Comment by YEAT boy | 04.10.2012 | 5:08 pm

    Way to go Fatty! Can’t wait until August. In the meantime, can you deliver this package to…

  32. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 04.10.2012 | 5:11 pm

    Very, very cool! So… when do you get a page for yourself on IMDB? :-)

  33. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 04.10.2012 | 5:27 pm

    So I nominate @Jodi for BEST COMMENT! Had me laughing at ‘ME’

  34. Comment by Christy S. Lube | 04.10.2012 | 6:16 pm

    OMGoodness you got to meet the Falcon!!!!! /dies

    I’m glad you ate all that stuff, ’cause I would hate to have to give you another $25 after you met the Falcon and I didn’t =P
    (Jodi, you are the luckiest evar!!)

  35. Comment by Nurse Betsy | 04.10.2012 | 7:11 pm

    So Cool Fatty! How much fun was that! Glad you had a great time. Sorry you didn’t make it to VooDoo doughnuts or Powells. Next time.

  36. Comment by Mark | 04.10.2012 | 8:51 pm

    Fun! Saw your note-to-self comment about adding an embarrasing moment – did I miss it? Or are we going to have to wait until August for that, too?

  37. Comment by Jeremy | 04.10.2012 | 10:20 pm

    That’s fantastic! The Ringside was one of my earliest dates with my wife. How was the steak?

  38. Comment by Colorado mama | 04.11.2012 | 12:05 am

    Well done. Will you get a copy of finished product?

  39. Comment by Andrew | 04.11.2012 | 1:34 am


    I know you are now a tv celeb and are living the lifestyle. Well done it looks like you had fun, and I’ve not a clue what the show is about.

    An issue though, I just scanned the weight loss challenges and can not find your entry for week three! Time to join us mortals again and let us know how you’re progressing.

    Cheers. Andrew

  40. Comment by Dave M | 04.11.2012 | 9:09 am

    That’s just way too cool. Glad your role wasn’t to get punched in the throat by Eliot. That might have put a damper on your day.

    Good job. Can’t wait to watch it. Seriously fun stuff.

  41. Comment by MattC | 04.11.2012 | 9:13 am

    Oh man…the update! How utterly amazing and awesome of T.H. to do that for you Fatty! Gosh…I liked him before…but what a great guy to go out of his way to do this for someone he doesn’t even know! And also I failed to say in my comment yesterday how cool it was that you got to not just MEET, but hang-out and chit-chat with Aldis, Christian AND T.H….and how unbelievably nice they all were to a total outsider.

    What a day Fatty…and I must say, thinking back just a few years, what a great run of amazing day’s you’ve had. Way to go! (and thanks Paul for making this happen for ALL of us in Fattydom!) I’ll be waiting w/ baited breath for the episode to air. DO NOT TELL us what your line was…keep the surprise alive until then! That’s my vote!

  42. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 04.11.2012 | 9:49 am

    I’m with MattC on the ‘Four Words’ Let’s wait till August!

    So, now that you have your own private ‘Entourage’, did you invite them to come riding with the Team? Davis, maybe? That would certainly spike the participation level.

    I also agree, with the special shout out for Paul, way to go! Maybe a guest post on Fatty’s Day from Paul’s perspective.

  43. Comment by Dan in Sac | 04.11.2012 | 10:16 am

    Fatty, I think you are eligible for a SAG card and can become “bike-messenger-guy” for every tv series out there. Maybe you already have a SAG card after signing all the docs and adhering to union standards.

  44. Comment by roan | 04.11.2012 | 11:07 am

    Nice, VERY NICE ! A debut and a stand-in double to boot, Awesome ! Nice of T.H. with Jodi pic, Fatty that alone places you far above normal sibling status.

  45. Comment by Tommysmo | 04.11.2012 | 12:04 pm

    I was an extra in a commercial once. My job was to sit at a bar and ‘talk’ to the guy next to me. We were background. My bald head starred in teh commercial for all of 0.00042 seconds. After hearing the 30 second commercial over and over and over and over.. my ‘bar buddy’ and I just started using it as our conversation.

    Got yelled at near the end. D’oh.

    Oh. I did learn that the extra role is quite boring and I intend to avoid it all costs!

  46. Comment by Jacob | 04.11.2012 | 12:08 pm

    Wait. Aren’t actors supposed to be tiny people? Or is that just Tom Cruise?

    How small of a man are you? That last photo makes you look 5′ even at best.

  47. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 04.11.2012 | 1:22 pm

    Perspective and camera lenses, it’s all just smoke and mirrors.

    Fatty is a Bigger Man than any of us!

  48. Comment by Haven-KT | 04.11.2012 | 2:53 pm

    Fatty, please come back to Portland. We want the nice weather back.

    Congrats on your awesome day– sometimes, they film scenes out in my brother’s neck of the woods, which is always interesting.

    Keep us posted as to what the name of the episode is, or when it will air so we don’t miss it! :)

  49. Comment by mary e. brewer | 04.11.2012 | 6:42 pm

    wow! what a day that must have been! lucky you!

  50. Comment by Andrew | 04.11.2012 | 7:19 pm

    Oh man, you were like a block from my work. We could have totally hung out. You know…you and, uh…me..the guy who sometimes reads your blog. BFFs.

  51. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 04.11.2012 | 11:17 pm

    What a fun day! Can’t wait to see the show.

  52. Comment by KanyonKris | 04.12.2012 | 9:56 am

    What cool experience. Glad you had it.

  53. Comment by Bill | 04.12.2012 | 4:09 pm

    Fantastic coverage and I can’t think of a better star to be on one of my favorite shows! Looking forward to our next in-person meeting to get the details you didn’t have time to add in the blog.

  54. Comment by Mamasue123 | 04.13.2012 | 10:57 pm

    And that is just one cool day!!!


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