Actor For Hire is the story of a struggling actor, Jesse (Jesse O’Neill), looking for that first big break as an actor in Hollywood. But in a world that rewards the handsome and insanely gorgeous, Jessie knows he’s not going to make it as a bald actor. After losing yet another role, our hero breaks down and dons a cheap wig to become an entirely different actor.
Well, a wig can only take you so far. Jessie earns a bit part on a surfer TV show, but gets fired on set and immediately replaced by someone with a “better look.” While wandering the set dejected, Jessie seizes the opportunity to “network” by knocking on the door of the show’s star, Joel (Joel Hogan). Hiding the fact that he’s been canned, the two become fast friends, and thus opening the door of Hollywood opportunity to Jessie.
Now Jessie starts to meet powerful and influential muckity-mucks, his agent now likes him, and a newfound confidence comes over our protagonist. But this fast road to success means our hero has to continue to hide his bald head, his low-paying server job, and his crew of crazy actor friends.
Actor For Hire is a subtle satire on life as an unknown actor pounding the pavement on Hollywood Boulevard and the lengths actors, like him, go to catch any break. They bounce from one audition to the next. They embellish their work to pad their IMDB and audition for people who don’t know what they want, except that they don’t want you.
“…our hero breaks down and dons a cheap wig to become an entirely different actor.”
Our tale is not an original one. We’ve seen plenty of movies about struggling actors, but Actor For Hire’s appeal is that it is a low budget indie that follows the advice told to every up-and-coming filmmaker today—MAKE A MOVIE! Grab your phone and make one—though Mizelle’s film was made in 2016 just before camera-phones were a thing. Make a movie!
Writer/director Marcus Mizelle takes a Bowfinger approach to Actor for Hire—cast your friends (in fact, just use their names in the script). Hide your camera to avoid the need for filming permits. Get a wide shot of the entrance to a Hollywood movie studio and film him sneaking in and out. Sometimes you just have to MacGyver your movie.
I was not blown away by Actor for Hire. The story is solid and moves at a good pace, though the energy was too low for my taste, and the production values are cheap. Take the good with the bad. Most laugh-out performances come from the film’s supporting actors, particularly Greg Perrow as Jesse’s bodybuilder actor and Jandres Burgos, who manages to go way too deep into character. In the end, you get the sense that Actor For Hire is a labor of love for filmmaker Mizelle.
Walking away from Actor for Hire, I felt more admiration for the film, than amazement. I admire the filmmaker, cast, and crew for their hard work to achieve their dream of completing the film. It’s also important to be resourceful when it comes to making a movie with nothing. If you’re an actor in Hollywood, you’re going to feel right at home. Kudos to Mizelle for getting his vision on screen and producing a solid film.
"…sometimes you just have to MacGyver your movie."