Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An Interview with the Quietest Thing About Transformers 2

Recently, Eric wrote a review of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, and in it he mentioned a mime. The mime in question (Ted Borodaeff) responded to the review in the comments section, and since then I've interviewed him (via e-mail) about his experience with the film. 
KK: How did you land your role as the mime in Transformers 2?

TB: I was called by the Philly casting director for Transformers 2 Heery Casting and asked to submit first off a photo of me as a mime. Then I actually went in and they took photos of me done up as a mime. Pics were taken by Jason Loftus CSA. They were then submitted to The director of Transformers 2: Revenge of The Fallen. I don’t know how many were submitted as some were in mime poses, and about a week later I was asked to work on the film.  I actually am a trained MIME. There are people in the business that actually know that. I also don’t know how many if any others were considered, but I would assume they were.

KK: How much did you know about the film and its director before showing up to work?

TB: Before showing up for the film, I knew about Michael Bay from his prior work, Transformers and Pearl Harbor and of course Bad Boys.  I also actually knew of him as he had done music videos. I am sure he knew nothing of me. I knew of him because of Meat Loaf and Tina Turner really. Then his movies. I also knew him vaguely as an actor.

As to the script I only was told I was in a scene where ultimately I would be chased away.  As I knew before and after, you get to know very little of his film before the filming begins and even in a scene you know only what you need to know, thus attempting to keep it from leaking before the release of the project.

KK: In the comments section for an earlier post on this blog, you mentioned that your part was very brief following the edit. How did you envision the scene before you saw the finished product?

TB: There actually are a number of copies of the film online, which strikes me as being odd that they were not deleted by Paramount or Dreamworks, but in this day and age they may have leaked them. But obviously someone inside did as I just watched a version where I am from 64 minutes 55 seconds to actually 66.08 seconds.

In this edit I am right in Kevin Dunn’s face and he says he will f’ing punch me and he says mimes freak me out then I go off and perform around the cafĂ©, with cameras on me I believe most all the time.  In this edit you see me a couple tables away also miming a rope from the sky so to speak as I am lowered to the ground.

In the theater Kevin Dunn said, "will you get out of here?" and Julie White said, "Mimes freak me out."

I actually thought the scene would be at least a couple minutes, as we shot lots of footage. I envisioned the maitre d' serving them lunch as he did. I envisioned me at the table taunting Mr Witwicky. I was not really taunting, but when he threatened to hit me it was like you wouldn’t do that to a mime and I stuck around until Mr. Bay said I should leave.  In this edit Kevin and I were almost touching noses. He [Kevin Dunne] emphatically told me he liked a couple of the takes very much.  As a mime we not only show facial expressions, but they do hopefully reflect the inner soul.

Then as I said I went to the next table with an incredibly beautiful woman whom I was sure would be in the final edit, therefore so would I be in more of the scene.

Next I went in front of the 4 piece orchestra who had been brought in I believe from Cleveland School of Symphony or something like that.  Rather well known school really.

There was more going on between the Witwickys before the next big scene which I don’t want to divulge for those who have not seen the film. I hope the unseen footage makes the DVD. So to answer the question succinctly, at least 1.5 minutes or so. And in this film 1.5 minutes would have been long for anyone but the robots and the main stars.

Even in the brief scene. I am rather noticeable and even more so on IMAX.

KK: In that same comment, you mentioned you were a student of Marcel Marceau's. What was it like working with such a legendary figure?

TB: I was with an acting coach in 1999 while I was still an active Certified Public Accountant and she received a call from an international businessman who needed a silent clown for his brother's wedding. Specifically, he was the best man and ultimately he told me he needed me to mime his speech to his brother and his wife. I realized I knew nothing about being a mime. I rented the film Les Enfant du Paradis from 1945 with Jean-louis Barrault and Etienne Decroux. Decroux was a teacher of Marceau. I watched and the practice of walking in place and some of the other physicality needed to be a beginner.  I had been and still was a martial artist and teacher of [martial arts]. I had studied gymnastics and had decent knowledge of my body. I performed for 250 people. That man paid me triple what I asked for as he said it was incredible. I felt like I knew nothing and needed to know more.

True story: two weeks later I was studying with Marcel Marceau in New York City and then in Ann Arbor Michigan, then with two of his incredible students, Greg Goldston and Victoria La Balme. Marcel Marceau was the living master really. In private conversation he as well as I believe there is a much higher master. He was one of the most endearing, giving and funniest men I have ever met, both to myself and everyone else. I learned much from him, but I also learned something I had to break through and that at first was almost preventing me from performing. Then I realized he was my teacher. I am not Marceau. I am also a dancer. I was asked a week ago if I could dance like Michael Jackson. I had to say, "Michael was really beyond words to me but I am not Michael." Marceau was a genius in many many ways. To myself a real giver of light. I had seen him 50 years ago when he was first on The Red Skelton Show if you know who he is. 

I would never in a million years have thought I would study with Marceau or be a Mime in a Hollywood film or perform as a mime like character at The Blobfest in Phoenixville, Pa celebrating the movie The Blob or be working on a new silent show. I also went to the UK and studied what we call corporeal mime with two disciples so to speak, the last two assistants to Etienne Decroux. Marceau always said, I can teach you technique or try to, but I can not teach you how to act. That does come from us."

KK: How did Michael Bay behave on set?

TB: Michael Bay was rather focused on his work, and not to be out of line, but I bet he was focused on a few of the extras, as was I. He was rather to the point with me. He referred to me as Mr. Mime, which is my name in the script. He very succinctly told me what he expected of me in the scene, talked more at length with Kevin and Julie then let the cameras roll. After the first take he gave me an adjustment, was rather easy with it and had nothing more to say for the next number of takes.  Kevin Dunn gave me a little direction of his own as I am right in his face. Almost touching. He also let me know he liked what I did, especially in one of the takes. It had to do with the internal being expressed in my face. Julie White was rather quiet doing her job. It is my interpretation, but there was a piece of clothing Judy Witwicky shows her husband in the scene. It does not make the cut. Michael Bay did comment on whether or not it exceeded the budget. Is that an astute businessman or is it a penny pincher on a mega million dollar project? I haven't the answer. But since I have yet to be upgraded, I have my prejudices. All in all he seems to be rather focused on the order of the day. He has a lot to keep together. It was really rather cool to work that close with him.

KK: What do you think of the film as a whole?

TB: The film was mindless. The film was action packed. The film had way too much US military. The film went on way too long about pot brownies. The film really had nothing to say to me. All is cured because Megan said the L Word. Damn most of the world hasn't a clue what love is anyway. It's just another 4 letter word. I need, I want, It's mine, you're mine. I want to f you, there are many more for it. Things like the soldier in football paint...weird. BUT BUT BUT I have a short attention span and I did see it twice. Once on IMAX once on the regular screen. THE FILM HELD MY ATTENTION>> MADE ME FORGET ABOUT LIFE>> I DID NOT JUDGE IT WHILE IT WAS ON>>IT REALLY ENTERTAINED ME>  IT DID ITS JOB>  WAS the acting good? Great? I think that answers itself.  Some special effects could have gone further really. But this is retrospective critique. I could actually watch it again. It definitely is no Gone with The Wind, MIRACLE IN MILAN:(WATCH IT IF YOU HAVE NOT>ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITES) It was not Fellini or Bergman nor could Michael Bay Ever Ever be. He is no Scorcese, He is no Tim Burton. I'd still see it again on DVD on A big screen TV.

KK: Do you have any upcoming projects we should look out for?

TB: I am working on a silent show, Dance Mime Silent Clown. 

1 comment:

  1. That was lovely. I really like how at the end he EMPHASIZED RANDOM SECTIONS WITH CAPITALIZATION and >>arrows>> with no real EXPLANATION FOR why he did.

    That was >GREAT>.