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Wentworth Earl Miller III

Wentworth Earl Miller III



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wentworth Miller arrives in Tinseltown, California.

When Went arrived in Los Angeles to pursue his career he found the culture and environment very different from the East Coast. 

Went had to start from the bottom and work his way up.  He says “I spent most of the first year (in development) faxing and filing, changing light bulbs and filling the boss's fish pond and the usual Hollywood entry-level whatever. I was the one they would call on the weekends when the fire alarm would go off in the building.  Every weekend I would go in to the office because I didn't have air conditioning and it was hot, and I would hang out in the conference room and kinda set up camp (laughs) and raid the company kitchen. I would just watch all our footage that we had on video coming back from various production sites. And the juices started flowing, and I realized I still had this 'what if' question to answer, and I decided to quit.”

“It was scary. I walked into my boss' office, and I said 'You know, I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna be an actor,' and she said 'Well, I've just been hired at one of the networks as their director of motion pictures and I want you to come with me as my assistant.' And that was like forty thousand dollars a year, that was like a corporate gig, that was the brass ring, as far as I was concerned. I went back and forth. What was I gonna do, what wasn't I gonna do? It was very after-school-special. And I eventually realized that if I went and did the corporate gig, that would be great if I was successful, but I would always wonder about the acting. And if I did the acting and was successful I would never wonder about that corporate gig. So I had to tell my boss that I was not gonna come with her. And she said 'I think you're making a mistake. I think you'll live to regret it.' But I quit anyway and started temping to make ends meet.”

Went temped at Borders Bookstore "Just average minimum wage, wearing a tie and a name tag behind the counter... I value the experience I did have behind that desk because to make it in this business, you need the soul of an artist but the pulse of a bureaucrat. If you're waiting tables, waiting for your break, and you're not willing to come home every night after a long shift at the restaurant and stuff your head-shots and resumes into envelopes to send out to agents and managers, you're not going to make it. It's not going to happen for you." When he hit really low points financially Went said  “ I would look at my CD collection every month to see what I wouldn't mind hocking to pay the rent. And I realized I needed acting like I needed air and couldn't walk away from it."

 Probably Went's CD collection.

It was during this period that Went took up acting classes in L.A for about two or three years until approx. 2002, “No kind of formal training (though)." He learned through his acting classes that “Some actors will tell you that they lose themselves in their character. I think that for me, acting is about finding yourself in your character, and exploring those parts of you that you do not allow yourself to express or are not allowed by your environment to express. I think acting classes by and large are just places where middle-class kids go to get over their middle-class upbringings; a lifetime of being told what is and is not appropriate. Of course, that appeals to me because everyone wants to be inappropriate, and why not get paid for it”.

 He was able to secure paid work on TV shows such as ‘Buffy the vampire slayer’ (1998) in which he played Gage Petronzi (the captain of the swim team who turns into a sea monster in episode ‘Go Fish’). A role on ‘Time of your life’ playing Nelson followed a year later in November 1999 (episode – Time the truth was told) then unfortunately there was no work for a year.

The instability of the acting profession made him go back after six months of temping to his old intern job in development. “she had the grace not to say 'I told you so. I mean I temped for a lot of people in the entertainment industry. I spent three months writing up contracts for other actors working at a huge agency, which was tough, but I'm glad I have that perspective. There were some people who expected you to jump right in and do exactly what their assistant did, but by and large most people simply wanted you sitting there warming a chair. And so I did a lot of reading and kinda blended in with the wallpaper. That was my main quality as a temp, which was appreciated. They don't want someone in there making waves, doing cartwheels. I sometimes think I should have been online getting a law degree. I wasted all that time (laughs)."

 Went warming the seat.

Went worked for Hill/Fields Entertainment as well as other networks and companies and is credited for TV shows such as Gone in the Night (1996), Shaunessy (1996) and Vows of deception (1996). The associate / producers working on these projects were Bernadette Caulfield, Joel Fields, Ardythe Goergens, Leonard Hill and Susan Rosner who he most likely worked with as an intern.

This time he continued to look for acting work whilst he worked as an intern. After ‘Time of your life’ he continued auditioning until a few months later in 2000 he appeared in two episodes of the TV show ‘Popular’ playing Adam Rothchild Ryan. Another job on ‘Time of your life’ reprising his old role of Nelson in episode ‘The time they got e-rotic’ followed two months later. Four months later he appeared on E.R as Mike Palmieri a high school football player who is fatally tackled during a game and is rushed to hospital with a bleeding heart.  During the same year he also appeared in ‘Romeo and Julliet a feature film by British director Colin Cox who he would later continue working with on theatre productions as an associate.

 Went in "Popular"

 Went in ER.

Went also worked as a press officer for the Asian American theatre in New York. It was  good experience for him and it came in handy while promoting his film and TV projects.

2000 turned out to be a busy year for Went as he worked in a few TV shows and a film but 2001 was very quiet.  He did a short film called ‘Room 302’ directed by Erma Elzy-Jones.  He was cast as a server (waiter) to two women who spend time in a hotel room confronting their deepest fears and resentments after the shock of the O.J Simpson verdict. It appeared that he found it difficult to find a place for himself in the Hollywood system as he says “Everyday I’m defining myself for other people lest they define me...Then you come to Hollywood and the audition process and it’s, ‘Well, how do you see me? Where do I fit in?’ which kind of runs counterpoint to everywhere that I’ve come from.”

Went says that naturally his parents were concerned "When I've had my periods of unemployment, "I'll get these e-mails from my father: 'I've read that the LAPD has a reservist program. Perhaps that's something you'd be interested in taking a look at.' " But he didn’t. He kept his parents at bay by telling them "I learned how to break down a text at Princeton, which helps me break down a script – or at least that's the line I feed my parents when they start wondering where all that good money went."

While Went was working in development at the ABC network he got a break and landed a role in the ABC network mini series Dinotopia. The same network where he was working  at the time. “It all came full circle."

"They had been looking for the two brothers for about two months. And I came in and I read for the role of Karl, and they said 'we love you, we're going to call you back this afternoon.' So I went back that afternoon and it was a mix and match kind of scenario, where they had four David's and four Karl's. And they were kind of putting them together to see who had the right kind of chemistry. So I was reading Karl for most of the afternoon. And then the director, Marco (Brambilla), said, 'you know what, why don't you try David on for size.' So I went out into the hallway and looked over the part of David for literally five minutes or less, came back, and read it with Tyron (Leitso). And two days later, we both got the parts.

I’m glad it worked out that way because even though they’re both great characters, l was attracted to the David character because he gets to fly on the back of dinosaurs.”

Went in "Dinotopia"

Went said this role was quite exhausting as he did his own stunts, fortunately his experience of playing a football player, swim team coach previously, prepared him physically for this challenging role. 

He did a lot of documentaries and interviews for the show too and this gave him the experience for future promotional work he would do in the future.

Dinotopia was one of the most costly TV mini series produced ever.  It did well when it aired on ABC.  The CGI won Emmy Awards for their effort and off the back of the success of the mini series ABC then decided to commission a full series with different actors in the starring roles. Unfortunately the series did not do well and was promptly cancelled.  

Went continued auditioning and managed to secure a role as Dr Adam Lockwood in ‘Underworld’ about vampires and ware wolves fighting each other.

Went in "Underworld"

In my next blog Went gets a chance of a lifetime or does he?

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