Oh, and did I mention that the episode was being directed by Eric Stoltz?
Eric Stoltz, whom I grew up with in films like Some Kind of Wonderful and Mask stood opposite me at my audition and read the scene with me - which, admittedly was a little odd since I did the bulk of the audition in Mandarin, and then in Cantonese, and then in English - for a part in the same episode for which I was admittedly too young. (At that moment, I had an instant flashback to an equally bizarre audition I had with Mary Stuart Masterson who was directing a feature film at the time quite a few years back. Nothing came of that audition but at this rate, I'm expecting Lea Thompson to be crossing paths with me soon). Mark Saks, who was casting, had the inspired idea for me to try for the part of the teacher instead and it seemed right, even though chiding Eric Stoltz at the audition in Mandarin still seemed a little odd to me. I guess that's why Mark Saks gets paid the big bucks to do the stuff he does. The guy has imagination.
Meanwhile, Mr Stoltz seemed more interested in chatting me up about my experience at the Donmar. His energy seemed boundless and he still betrayed no sign of having aged since his days as a teen icon, except perhaps for the beard he was sporting. While at the airport, it was clear he was an actors' director - patient, collaborative and always taking the time to explain a shot and what he was trying to achieve. He even took me aside to explain how the shot was going to be framed so I could tailor the 'size' of my performance accordingly. What an invaluable moment, to be coached by an experienced film actor as Eric Stoltz! Sure the shoot took about four hours non-stop, but it was like four hours of pure hands-on mentorship to me. Because of his generosity of spirit, I learned about angles, framing and size of performance, improvisation, providing variations to choose from, simplicity simplicity simplicity. I learned about different styles in directing, what mattered to him, and what should rightly matter less (like continuity - editors are magicians these days).
And yes, it was indeed, some kind of wonderful.