Tom Heard



On my first day of shooting "True Rights" (and my first starring role in a feature film) I made a B-line for writer/director Meg Thayer and trumpeted "I'll never be late again.  I am a professional.  Really.  I'll never be late again." She was so cool and easy going that I never, ever worried about her response when I was late again.

Looking back I'm amazed at how unflustered I was filming a lead role in a movie.  I have to say that Meg Thayer is almost totally responsible for that.  No power plays.  No head games.  Just great concentration on getting the job done, with lots of laughs along the way.  How could there not be laughs with that script?  Thankfully we had four weeks of rehearsal to work the giggles out so that we could perform this brilliantly funny material without breaking up.

In addition to Meg, producers Andy Trapani and Leon Gladstone were on hand every day to lend great support and encouragement.  As far as the actors were concerned, this was a very happy set.  I looked forward to every day and was totally bummed upon wrapping.  I couldn't wait for pick-ups and looping just so we could all get together again. 

I fell in love with my co-stars Claudia Christian and Richard Lee Jackson.  I felt completely safe as an actor with them and learned by watching them both.  Their approaches were very different and the contrast was fascinating to observe, and works so well for the film.  Their character's moral conflict and standoff is enhanced by their individual acting styles.  I was just trying to keep up.

We also had a fantastic group of supporting actors who steal almost every scene they're in.  It reminds me of the cast of "What's Up Doc?" where every part was perfectly cast and performed.  This group in "True Rights" would make one hell of an actor's repertory.

Finally, there's Drew Stein.  How did I approach this role?  The same way I approach a sumptuous feast - with relish.  I savored every moment and sank my teeth into the most delicious role I've ever had.  Playing Drew was like riding a wild Mustang. There's no way you're going to tame him, you just try to hang on and have the time of your life.

Drew's scene with the bathroom mirror is very long and required a great deal of concentration because of the camera angle and "phone acting" business.  We shot it about six times and between each take Meg was there to stroke me and spur me on.  But she didn't need to.  The scene she had written was the scene I'd been waiting for since I was fifteen years old.  Thanks Meg.


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