I've been a professional poker player for a while now, but as many know I pursued a couple of other passions before this one -- baseball and acting. In fact, at one point early on I had to make a choice between the two, and ended up forgoing a minor league contract in favor of pursuing an acting career.
I started out with a few small roles including some soap opera work, then eventually had my first big movie role in a horror film called Blood Rage. I thought it might be interesting to share a little bit about that experience.
This was the 1980s, right in the middle of the "slasher" period in horror films. And as you might imagine, I get killed in the movie -- macheted just as I'm about to make love to my romantic interest!
I was about 25 years old at the time and was excited to have a big part in any movie. It's hard to explain, but when the director says "Action!" there's a kind of excitement that is just as thrilling as walking in to play the Day 1 of the World Series of Poker Main Event. You feel a kind of energy that gives you goose bumps, or at least that was the case for me.
Louise Lasser (Woody Allen's first wife) was the star of Blood Rage, a fellow named John Grissmer was the writer and director, and a woman named Marianne Kanter was the producer.
Marianne was probably about 50 years old, kind of small and thin and one of those Hollywood people who puts on a smile and might not appear so imposing but is in fact hard as nails. Not that I ever had any problem with Marianne -- she was always very nice to me and I got along pretty well with her and really with everyone. On the other hand, John, the writer-director, was one of the most easy-going guys in the world.
There's a scene early in the movie in which my character and some others have a tag football game. Now I played football before, and so John asked me to look over the script and let him know if all of the dialogue in the scene sounded okay and if not to make suggestions. So I did, and in fact made a little rewrite of the scene which John liked and we went with it.
Meanwhile, Marianne was arguing with John throughout, and I guess things like doing rewrites were slowing down the production. They were on a budget and had a deadline and needed to get shots done, and we had fallen a little behind schedule. Marianne would get mad and would yell at John in front of everyone, and finally John reached a breaking point and said he quit.
So Marianne had to take over as director, and one time when I wasn't on the set she and Louise got into a big argument. Now my impression of Louise was that she was quite sweet, but what probably happened was Marianne said one too many critical things to Louise and really got under her skin. And so Louise grabbed Marianne by the neck and started banging her head against the wall!
Talk about drama!
It was at that point that Marianne ended up calling John. She apologized and begged him profusely to come back to shoot the rest of the film, promising not to interfere from that point forward. And he did and we managed to finish the film.
We started having to shoot some very long days, probably to catch up with schedule. I'm remembering the day we shot the scene where I get killed. It took place on a diving board at an indoor pool, and by the time we got to the scene we'd been working something like 18 hours that day.
The actress who played my love interest got really upset about the long day of work and started complaining to me about it. Now even though I was a young actor, I realized that in order to do the scene well she was going to have to relax and get over her frustration. So I did my best to calm her down and she eventually did and I think the scene was better as a result.
Thinking back on that experience you might call it kind of a prequel to some of the skills I've needed in my poker career. After all, unpredictable things happen all of the time in poker, and you have to remain focused amid a lot of drama sometimes in order to do your job well.
I'm not doing so much acting anymore -- except at the poker table, you might say -- but I am playing baseball now and then. At the end of January I'll be participating again in a charity baseball game in Scottsdale, Arizona involving a lot of ex-big leaguers in which we raise money to buy baseball equipment for kids who can't afford it. It's a big event and a great thrill to participate and play alongside the MLB guys.
Chad Brown is a member of Team PokerStars Pro