As a child, like all children, I went through phases of obsessing over what I’d like to be when I grow up (still waiting for that to happen by the way). Between the ages of seven and nine was the period when I had the highest number of career changes. I read around 30 Goosebumps books and even subscribed to the official magazine. Thus I decided to become a horror writer like R.L. Stine and spend my days weaving spooky stories in a big log cabin on a lake in the woods, I even wrote a short story called The Dull back then (I still have a copy!).
At the age of 8 I became obsessed with The Beatles. I listened to their entire singles and b-sides collection every day for around 5 months (I was home schooled at this point). I didn’t want to play music, no I wanted to be John Lennon and Ringo combined. I grew my hair and pestered my parents for a pair of rose tinted, round shades.
Then I wanted to be an investigative journalist, I have no idea where I got that notion, but it didn’t last long. I wanted to be a dare devil, I dubbed myself “Risk-Taker Rohan” (cringe) and spent countless nights lying awake envisioning my death defying feats. Of course I later found out I have a fear of heights, spiders, clowns, most people and just about anything dangerous. And so Risk-Taker Rohan never quite took off.
Finally I settled on becoming an actor. That was the career for me, and so I convinced my folks to sign me up for actors equity and any other casting directories I could get into. Of course the months passed and I was no doubt onto something else; pro video gamer, Kung Fu master or super soldier, my dreams to be the next Laurence Olivier, swept away by yet another “this time for sure” career choice.
But then one day we got the call. I was in my room playing around with Lego (I’m an architect now) when my mother burst into the room.
“You’ve been asked to audition for the lead role in the new Star Wars movie!”
And without blinking an eye I was, once again, an actor. My half build Lego masterpiece would forever remain unfinished. The days leading up to the audition passed slowly, with many a sleepless night. I remember visiting my friend a few days before the big one. I can still recall the jealousy in his eyes, and the arrogance in mine. And I’ll never forget what my friend’s ignorant mother said to me as I left with my mum.
“Maybe you’ll get to kiss Princess Leia!”
Of course this made absolutely no sense. I’m no Star Wars scholar but I know that Leia is Darth Vader’s daughter, and that I would be playing the role of a young Anakin Skywalker. How on Earth I would be kissing my own unborn child was a mystery to me, let alone the fact that Hollywood wasn’t about to allow a steamy make out session between Carrie Fisher and a 10 year old kid (so explain that Mrs. O’Connor!). Still, it didn’t stop me from fantasizing. All I thought about for the next couple of days was getting to kiss some silver screen starlet. I can’t tell you how many times I ran that imaginary kissing scene over in my mind during the lead up to the audition. Yes I was an early bloomer where affairs of the heart were concerned, however I really should have been more focused on the whole acting part.
Finally the big day came. I sat in a waiting room filled with my rivals and their parents. I started to think about just how many kids must be going for this role. They must have held auditions in every English Speaking country in the world if they had bothered to hold auditions in Dublin, Ireland. But then again Ireland has a proud history of actors and thespians so if one were to scour the globe for the perfect Anakin Skywalker it seems reasonable to stop by the Emerald Isle just in case he’s hiding here.
After an excruciating wait that felt like hours, though it couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes, my name was called and I was whisked into the auditioning room. I entered alone, leaving my parents in the waiting room, and was greeted by three well dressed and very important looking adults holding clipboards and pens. This was serious stuff! There were two men and a lady, the men remained silent, scrutinizing my every phrase and movement, the woman asked the questions.
“Hi, what’s your name?” asked the young lady.
“I’m Rohan.” I smiled.
She handed me a piece of paper with a couple of lines written on it. I can’t remember the exact words but they were something to the effect of,
“Wait, please, don’t go!” I said as theatrically as I could.
“That’s great, now try it in an American accent.”
No problem, I often played around with my voice doing various accents and impersonations.
“Wait, please, don’t go!” I said sounding like a 9 year old Bill from Bill and Ted.
“Perfect, now try the line with more anger.”
I obliged as best I could.
“And now with more sadness.”
I repeated the line with a deliberate quiver in my voice. All the while the two expressionless men jotted down notes feverishly, the only sound from them being the scratching of blue biro on paper.
“Thank you Rohan, you did very well,” the lady beamed “We’ll let you know if you get the part.”
I bowed slightly, thanked them and left the room. What a rush, I felt like a real pro, and of course I knew I had it sown up. From that day my head was filled with travel plans, kissing actresses and what I’d spend all the money on. I woke up every day hoping for the inevitable phone call that would simply serve to confirm what I already knew, that it was I, Rohan Healy, that would be putting the star in the next Star Wars film.
The days turned to weeks, and the weeks turned to months. I eventually began to come to terms with the fact that it was not meant to be, being a kid though I wasn’t too bothered, I was onto the next thing. I didn’t give up on the acting though, when my family moved to Australia the next year I attended a number of reputable drama schools and appeared in a couple of plays. My dream was to be the next James Bond (way too many hours spent playing Goldeneye on the N64). When I was 16 I quit drama to play music full time but I haven’t forgotten about my acting, it’s still there for the day that another audition comes along and I once again get lost in the allure of playing tonsil hockey with Emma Watson.
It’s not so crazy a dream, to act again, after all this year I wrote my first Science Fiction/Horror novel. My little 8 year old self would be so proud, there’s a log cabin on a lake somewhere out there with my name on it!
I later found out that my parents were praying I didn’t get the part of young Anakin. They supported me and my dreams to the hilt, but knowing what so often becomes of child actors, and the whirlwind of Hollywood, my folks were silently glad that were able to enjoy a quiet and modest life. Missing out on being in Star Wars doesn’t bother me one bit, not at all, in fact I never even mention it or think about it, EVER. Also I just thought I should point out that Jake Lloyd, who did get the part, has been in one film since Episode I, a movie about speed boat racing made in 2005. That’s right, the pod racer scene has landed him one part, as a boat racer. That makes me smile.
Yep I’m glad I didn’t get the part, of course it’s not a matter of sour grapes, or being bitter or anything, I just like the fact that the highlight of my career is not a conversation with Jar Jar Binks.
(*sniff* Please can I go back in time and get the part!! I’ll do anything you want!!)