“The Adventures Of Little Diego - Former Child Star” Chapter 8 - Part 5 of 5, Bad Boys, Bad Boys, What Cha Gonna Do?
So that was pretty much it. My limited drug use never really caused me to do anything that was headline worthy. It did cause me to make some bad decisions though.
I was cast in the West Coast premiere of the Broadway hit “Runaways”. The show was an original musical written and composed by Elizabeth Swados. The production received great reviews! Another one of the very talented casts I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with over the years. It’s nice to be able to say that most of them have continued to earn a living in the entertainment industry in some form or another. Not only as performers, but writers, producers, choreographers, and directors!
West Coast Premiere "Runaways" Cast Photo
Above photo pictured left to right: Amy Kirkpatrick Rosen, Jonathan Prince, Phineas Newborn, Marc Copage, Greg Kopel, Jann Goldsby, Shawn Schepps, Darren Roy, Lee Lucus, Karen Fineman, Lily Mariye, Veronique Jeanmarie, Linda Robbins, Lowell Blaustein, John Allee, Lisa Figueroa, Ron Duran, Steve Alterman.
Rain Pryor was also in the show. I can't remember why she was not included in the above cast photo. Perhaps she was sick or something. Rain was wonderful to work with! It was quite a thrill for the entire cast when her father, comedian Richard Pryor, came by to see the show one evening and warmly greeted everyone after the show. He seemed to be quite proud of her. I have no idea about the complexities of their relationship, but on that evening all was good. Rain has gone on to carve out a successful career for herself in the entertainment business as well!
Rain and Richard Pryor
"Runaways" was a pretty big deal. Nicholas Cage, Eric Stoltz, and Ally Sheedy had all auditioned for roles, but did not get cast. Their careers seemed to have turned out just fine in spite of that. I did have the opportunity of working with each one of them professionally years later.
Golden Globe Nominee Eric Stoltz From The Movie "Mask"
The play was produced by Gene Summers and cast by Sally Dennison who was one of the top casting directors at the time. She liked me a great deal and had also just cast me in a recurring role in a new network TV series. I believe Ally Sheedy was also cast in this particular series. I know I’ve worked with Ally a couple of times and I believe this was one of them. Unfortunately, the series only ran a handful of episodes.
Actress Ally Sheedy From The Movie "The Breakfast Club"
So there’s a moment in the play "Runaways" where my character roles up a joint and smokes it on stage. I thought it would be hip if I rolled up and smoked a real joint with real marijuana on stage during the live performane. Bad decision.
Sally got wind of what I had done on stage and was furious with me for it. This was a surprise to me as she had always impressed me as being quite liberal in her attitudes and opinions. I had smoked with many of the cast members socially, including the shows director, who I guess I should leave nameless, and was a very good friend of hers. My assumption was that they had even smoked together. Anyway, whether I assumed correctly or not, when Sally found out what I had done it completely tarnished our relationship. When the production was over she would have nothing to do with me. And unfortunately, the incident never even made one headline.
I probably got the best agent I’ve ever had from being cast in that production of "Runaways" when super agent Bob Preston came by to see the show one evening and immediately asked to sign me at the end of the nights performance. Bob headed the children and young adults department at one of the top agencies in town. I probably got the majority of my work as an adult actor through Bob. I’ve always looked young for my age, but eventually I just started to look too old for the roles I was being submitted for.
Another bad decision was when I decided to change my name. This was after I left Bob. Not a very good move. I was dropped by the agency immediately. I wasn't really booking much work with them so when I changed my name they dropped me like a hot potatoe. Yeah, I know. They tell you that your agent works for you? If you’re a consistently working actor they work for you.
Actor George Clooney - Consistently Working Actor
If you’re just another schmo trying to hustle up anything you can get, a Taco Bell commercial, whatever, like the 90% of unemployed actors in the union, then you work for them. You’re going to be getting most of your jobs and auditions yourself and gladly pay them a percentage for your hard work, grateful to have the representation, and their name on your resume.
Actor Marc Copage - Schmo
If you’re one of the 10% of working actors, THEN they work for you! So the agency let me go.
This was rather devastating to me at the time as I had never before been dropped by an agency. I had changed my name thinking it would bring something fresh to the table psychologically for me if nothing else. And who could blame them for dropping me? What agent wants to represent an actor that nobody knows? I had been in the industry for most of my life and I was literally throwing any name value I had earned over the years completely out the window. A bad career move. The next day I took flowers over to my former agents and thanked them for services rendered. They were quite surprised. I’m pretty sure no former client they had just dropped brought them flowers the next day. This seemed to mark the beginning of the end of my acting career.
If only I could have had just a bit of luck here or there. I’m rather envious when I watch those Lifetime Achievement award shows saluting actors who are able to look back on careers and reflect upon a body of work that spans over decades. How spectacular it must be to start something from an early age and be able to look back years later at the work you’ve done over the course of many years. The Jodi Fosters, the Drew Barrymore’s, the Jeff Bridges’s and Sean Penn's. People that were able to start from an early age and continue to build a large body of work they could favorably look back on and be proud of. I started at an early age. That could have been me! I could have been a contender! However, I realize this is an impossibility for me now. I simply don’t have enough time left. Even if my career were to magically take off tomorrow and I could work as much as I wanted, I just don’t have enough time left on the planet to build such a body of work for myself. I’ve run out of time.
And wouldn’t you know it, on a list of E Entertainments top 50 Cutest child stars an inside source told me I came in at #51. They said if they would have just done a top 100 cutest child stars list that year I would have been in! Now ain’t that a bitch! Just my kinda luck!
E Entertainment’s 50 Cutest Child Stars
Oh, well. Apparently I just wasn’t cute enough.