Headshots and Doppelgangers

I don’t believe in evil twins.

Well, let me revise that.

I don’t believe that there is a “good twin” and an “evil twin” per se among any given set of twins.

I think that both twins could be evil though.

Anyway, I got on thinking about the subject because today was the day I was supposed to get my prospective headshots back.

In casting for my film, I had to look through a lot of headshots, which prompted some emotions.

A couple were interesting. A lot were weird or odd. But, for the most part, what was so infuriating was seeing that not only did people look alike, they were distinctly trying to all look the same indistinct way.

It was a mediocrity contest like a “Race for the Common Cold” or a “Tour de Pittsburgh”.

So, when I was called upon to make a headshot, I decided I’d do something different. After all, if someone was going to cast me in something, they’d cast me for me not for the fact that with blurry eyes I might look like someone else.

A fine idea, Nicholas, I told myself and enlisted my asian jack-of-all-trades friend (a good type of friend to have) Matt Chao to come take some pictures of me cavorting around a playground.

Other than seriously frightening some children, I managed to get some shots in of me at the top of an old-school iron slide, smushed in a swing and lying belly-down in some sort of Freudian play-tube. I left that day, where I didn’t get much accomplished, self-satisfied in my own individuality.

And when I woke up the next day, I thought, wait a second, what the fuck am I doing.

Back when I was a lowly intern (not to say I won’t be one again), I was sent off on runs to the indie-film-accounting-firm known as JFA, where all the accountants sat on yoga balls listening to Sufjian Stevens and were all in post-indie bands together that played on the weekends. I remember telling Pete Hayes, the accountant I dealt with, that they were like a hipster-accountant version of The Monkees.

Anyway, over at JFA, they had something they liked to call “The Wall of Shame”. You see, JFA was an indie-film accounting firm, but some actors couldn’t tell the difference or thought they were some kind of Bat-Cave hiding film-production people, so they sent their headshots anyway. Of these superfluous headshots, most were thrown away, but the most bizarre, the most nauseating, the least likely to be chosen by anyone were enshrined on The Wall of Shame as testament to their supreme dumbness.

When I woke up that next day, I realized that while indeed it might be ballsy to go for my characteristic psycho-significant playground-headshots, they would probably end up on The Wall of Shame, rather than in the hearts and minds of casting directors as intended. But, the guy who had asked me for a headshot was supposed to meet with me that day and so I picked the best of the bunch to show him with a hope and a prayer.

“What the fuck is wrong with you? Get me a real headshot.” He said.

And that was most of the conversation. But while I was there, the topic came up of my doppelganger, who is enjoying success even as I struggle with my artistic choices in headshots.

Doppelgangers are not the “evil twins” of the original mention, but rather one’s antithesis; they are a person who upon sight you know shares enough with you to make the differences all the more significant.

A couple stories:

It was sophomore year and my alcoholic friend Jon, having gained access to the most exclusive hipsters-bars on the Lower East Side was systematically getting thrown out of all of them. The stories are different: some involve throwing glasses at unsuspecting customers, others, urinating on pinball machines and others still for attempting to pick a fight with whoever was convenient, the last of which particularly frightens as Jon couldn’t be more than 150 lbs.

One night however, he just started staring at a man in a bar who was wearing a pink bandana on his head. Why? Well, probably some of it was the whiskey, flowing as it usually did with him, but probably more of it was that Jon, a fop by nature, felt out dandy-ed by this man’s brash display of heterosexual gayness. They shot daggers across the room at each other all night as they passed by the same girls, talked to the same people, but never spoke two words.

Soon though, the pink-man took the stage and Jon discovered that he was the lead singer of a band called MGMT. His first action upon setting up was to point to my friend in his suit and ruffled blouse and to tell the bouncer to expel him. There was only room for one fop in this town.

Another story is simpler. My friend Rob Malone is a beardo from PA, an inspired filmmaker whose post-structuralist films about the Kennedy assasinations and deconstructions of media and Apatovian comedy caused his parents to give him a book on “how to get a real job” for Christmas.

One day I visited him with my other friend Beamer, the sort of reclusive-comedic genius who you’d expect either to be writing for SNL one day or else to be mugging people with a rolled up movie-poster asking “Got crack?”. Rob was at his job, a campus post in the cinema studies department and when we left we were greeted by another one of him, sitting in the hallway, discreetly.

There was the same blond-brown hair, the same facial hair, the same glasses.

“It’s him.” Beamer told me.

“Worse than that,” He said. “He’s slightly more attractive. It’s like, the guy they would get to play him on TV.”

Somehow, this stuck with me. One’s doppelganger, as they exist, mirrors ourselves but in doing so make the differences more noticeable and sometimes the flaws.

Though there are many people in my life I might envy, it’s easier then to envy one who seems so close to being you.

Maybe he would have taken a better headshot.

Or he would play me on TV.

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