Clark Gregg took time out from his schedule of appearing in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to film Trust Me, a movie he wrote, directed, and starred in about Howard, a luckless Hollywood agent for child actors who seems to finally have hit his stroke of luck with a young actress. Though the Marvel films have made Gregg a fan favorite, Gregg took some time during the Tribeca Film Festival to speak with The Huffington Post about how his personal experiences with being rejected from roles helped him create Trust Me.
Gregg points out that despite not being much like Howard, he felt connected to the character — and knew no one else would think of him to play that type of role. He explains, “I’ve met people like this. When I read it back, one of the things I thought was, ‘God, this is now something I feel tremendously connected to, this character.’ I wasn’t going to play him, but I thought, ‘No one is ever going to write anything like this for me.’ I also felt that anyone who is in Hollywood long enough, you go through some period of kind of feeling like that untouchable loser who can’t get a break.”
In fact, Gregg points out that auditioning isn’t like interviewing for a job because you have to get emotionally invested in an audition before you even have a chance at getting the role — and oftentimes the people watching you know immediately that they don’t want you. He says, “I feel like people in other kinds of jobs try to get a job and get crushed. But there’s a level of emotional investment that you have to do to even do a good audition. And then you see them, and sometimes, the minute you walk in, you can just tell that they’re not interested. You have to do it anyway and put your heart out there. I don’t feel like everybody knows exactly how brutal that is.”
Later he says that he’s seen his fair share of rejections, adding, “I spent so many years on the other side of this. I’ve gone to so many great movies and had to sit there when the part I read for came on and think, ‘That guy really killed it, no wonder he got it’ or ‘Bastard, I could have done that.'” When asked to provide an example, he says, “I had a couple of callbacks for a role in The Untouchables. I was a student in Chicago doing theater and it felt close. And I wanted to be part of it so bad — it was written by David Mamet, who was actually my acting teacher at the time, and it would have been a great surprise for him, you know? Then I didn’t get it and I went and watched it, and it was a huge hit and it was a great movie. There was another movie that I won’t say the name of that was an indie — it was one of the first things that I ever auditioned for, for a young director. And they said, ‘It’s really between you and one other guy … it looks like you’re going to get it.'”
However, you can probably guess how that “looks like” turned out, right? He continues, “But I didn’t get it, but every now and then it would come on. And I remember sitting there with a girlfriend watching it, going, ‘I almost got that part.’ And she was like, ‘Sure you did, honey.’ Like, ‘It’s so sad that you really think that.’ And then I was at some thing, many years later, and I bumped into the director and he goes, ‘Do you remember me?’ And I was like, ‘I remember you. Do you remember me?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, you almost got that part.’ I’m like, ‘So there’s a girl I want you to call to tell her. Please call this girl. I’m broken up with her, but I want her to know that.’ But I knew I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t handle it. At that age, I was such a mess.”