Hey, man, aren't you…?
That's the ice breaker that is my life. Just the other day I walked into a liquor store on San Fernando Boulevard and was recognized by the Armenian clerk. I have a beard the length of most Arctic snowshoers and also had a hat on, and still this guy jumped over the counter and announced to his friends, “Holy shit! This is the guy! I saw this guy last night with my girlfriend! We love your movie!”
My name is Todd Duffey, and I'm an actor. I'm 38, I'm happily single, and my mother in Colorado and my father in Washington, D.C., are happy for me as well. Because I had a movie. “My movie.” An odd assessment, but I'll take it. As well as the beer the clerk gave me free of charge. That's one of the perks of being in cult films. Believe me, other cult actors (at knock-off Comic-Cons) who are in the same boat agree: the one thing you're sure to get out of being in a cult film/TV show is alcohol. Usually from drunk guys (not a girl yet), who approach as though they have a number of creative things to say, but wind up only being able to quote me back the lines I did in the movie Office Space some fifteen years ago.
But this isn't a critique — I love it. These are my fans, and I am a fan of this.
I played the annoying waiter with 37 pieces of flair everyone loves to hate. Best compliment ever: “Oh my god, you're that guy! I hated you so much I wanted to punch you! Great work, man!” And it was — it was awesome! I'm so proud to have that on my resume. Some work, you can forget. In fact, most of it. That isn't one of them. From that, I can honestly say, came the rest of my career. I did six months in prosthetics on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as the druid minion Murk from that.
Office Space helped typecast me, sure — I've been asked to play that guy many times. I've been in dramatic auditions where I brought tears to the room, but then was asked to try doing it more as the waiter guy. I've seen breakdowns come in where they were “looking for the “flair” waiter,” but my agents didn't know that was me so the work went to someone else. I've been myself for Halloween!
Being “that guy” also factors into non-acting jobs. When I'm catering the 2004 Academy Awards pre-show meal, and I get recognized by a B-list producer who wants to talk to me, and my boss comes over and asks me to leave because I'm being disruptive (rule #1 in catering: do NOT talk to the guests), can you see the irony? Same thing for every place I've applied to wait tables — they don't get how me being “that guy” could bring customers in. No, I need a three page resume showing how much I “care” about making minimum wage and kow-towing to the entitlement of the general public.
This town is hard. And there's no rhyme or reason to it. Am I doing better or worse now? The best answer to that is, I'm still doing it; that, in itself, is the reward. I could tell you about Buffy, or ER or That '70s Show. I could whine that I'm not getting seen for one thing or the other (and believe me, I do that in spades). But honestly, now I'm waiting for a student film I just finished to get into some festivals (see topoftherockmovie.com). And a horror film is coming up.
I'm also writing food and drink articles for thedailymeal.com, and have just finished two books and a pilot, which are being polished before going to the people who buy things like that. And I just signed with representation for my acting work that actually gets how to parlay the work I've done into work in the future.
Life throws curve balls. I swing when I can. Am I a celebrity? No. Am I a working actor? IMDB says so, but my bank account does not. One cannot see success in such terms, specifically when you're talking about the entertainment industry.
Look, I've been favored with a cockroach-like existence. Life keeps helping me in the weirdest ways. I've been able to go crazy several times contemplating my own navel while waiting for work to come in. And it always comes. I am rewarded by those who remember me. I realize how lucky I am to have such shining moments, even if they are only moments. I am graced by those who call me up to help me continue to work. I will always be “that guy.” But as the Bard himself kind of wrote, I will also “be.”