Hollywood Is A Cruel, Lonely Place For Actors Who Can Only Play Clumsy Italian WaitersCommentary • Opinion • ISSUE 45•31 • Jul 28, 2009 By Donald Shickell When you've been in show business as long as I have, you learn a thing or two about the ins and outs of old Tinseltown. And let me tell you, it ain't all wine and roses out here. Far from it. Sure, I know people want to believe in the whole showbiz fairy tale thing, but take it from someone who knows: Hollywood can be a pretty cold place for actors who are only capable of playing the role of a clumsy Italian waiter.Believe me. I know.When I first got to Hollywood, I thought becoming a star would be a piece of cake. I grew my mustache out, I bought my first white tuxedo jacket, I honed my accent until it was just-a right-a. Hell, I can still remember walking in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre and saying to myself, "One day soon, buddy boy, you'll be stumbling your way into this here cement with a trayful of linguini."I was so young and foolish then. Covered in marinara stains and ready to take on the world.Cut to five months later, and I'm living in a roach-infested studio apartment in Burbank, still eating from that same batch of reheated prop spaghetti I stole from the set of my first acting gig two months ago. A wake-up call? You bet. But that's just how the crostini crumbles in this cutthroat town: One day you're on top of the world, the next you're waiting tables. Only you're doing it without tripping and spilling spaghetti all over yourself and several wealthy patrons, and there are no cameras around.Trust me, it takes a lot more to make it as an actor with zero range beyond playing inept Italian servers than they tell you on the Universal Studios tour. It can be hell. No one here cares anymore about making smart, thoughtful pictures featuring simple-minded Mediterranean gentlemen who have a tendency to slip on orecchiette and tumble down open dumbwaiters. It's all about the bottom line now.You should see the way some of these hotshot Hollywood directors treat actors who exclusively portray accident-prone Italian restaurant employees. It's like we're animals or something! You try to ask them a simple question, like, "Should my toupee fly into the police chief's risotto while I'm tripping over the signore's dachshund, or should I wait until Angelo walks in with the plate-a full-a the ziti?" And what do they do? They brush you off like a fly on a nice, fresh bowl of cappelletti. And casting directors. Don't even get me started on casting directors! You spend weeks perfecting a role, you shell out $18 of your own money for authentic Italian hair grease, you practice ladling Bolognese all over your crotch for hours, and what do these jerks in casting tell you? "Thanks, but we just don't think you're right for the role of the emergency room doctor." The cretins. I may not fit their cookie-cutter notion of who a nervous, plate-dropping immigrant should be, but there's no need to lie to my face.So why do I keep doing it? I'll tell you why: Because at the end of the day, this is what I love. It's who I am. I was born to tell the actress with the massive breasts that "Oh, I so a-sorry, madame, but we-a just-a ran out-a the nice-a, hot-a, fresh-a—whoops! Oh, no! A meat-a-balla went right-a between-a the signora's big-a juicy melones!" It's in my blood.Or maybe it's just the smell that keeps me here. You know the smell I'm talking about. That magical, Alfredo-sauce smell of a movie set. Brother, once you get that smell in your nostrils, it ain't coming out until the day that big director in the sky yells, "Cut! That's a wrap! Get somebody in here to mop up all these goddamned noodles."Now, how about a nice-a hot-a plate-a tortellini, signor?