I watched the re-released film My Big Break last night. For anyone interested in the Hollywood Dream and “making it” in the Business it’s a must see. Remember Wes Bentley, the camera guy from American Beauty? Or how about Chad Lindberg from The Fast and the Furious and October Sky? Or maybe you recall Brad Rowe, who starred opposite Sean Hayes in Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss? These were the hot young actors, and they were going places!
You might ask, “What happened to those guys?” The answer is not pretty. Filmed over ten years, director Tony Zierra, captures four struggling actors in Los Angeles as they attempt to break into the industry, auditioning, screen testing, and goofing around at their apartment in Miracle Mile. Amazingly, Rowe is given his big break in the film Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss. Lindberg and Bentley are quick to follow with October Sky and the Academy Award winning American Beauty. The fourth roommate, Greg Fawcett, jealously looks on as his roommates are driven in limos and flown to sets around the world. He breaks down in the climax of the film, screaming and running around naked in an open field. He is a man alone, chasing an unrealized dream.
The illusion and fame slowly fades for the three movie stars. Brad Rowe orders Zierra to turn the camera off him after his subsequent films fail to match the success of his first movie and Wes Bentley starts to become increasingly aloof and existential about the meaning of fame and reality. Chad becomes so obsessed with being a leading man that he attempts to have plastic surgery to alter his chin and nose. And that’s only the beginning. We’re left to watch as these three actors fall as quickly as they’ve risen.
My Big Break is an excellent documentary. The film joins the ranks of other great Hollywood myth shattering classics: What Makes Sammy Run, All About Eve, and Day of the Locust. Zierra is to be applauded for having the gumption to get this film made and have it distributed after failing to find a backer in LA. As for the actors, I won’t ruin it by telling you how Bentley, Lindberg, and Rowe end up. The funny thing is, you wouldn’t believe any of this story if it wasn’t real. The pull of the dream is so strong. But as they say, “that’s Hollywood.”