My Life as an Actor Who Exclusively Plays Corpses on TV
by Jordy Greenblatt
It’s good to be on top, even if that means lying lifelessly on top of a sewer grate. Half of the big police procedural stars have stood over me at some point or another, shook their heads, and said something like, “Time of death 2:53 AM.” And you can bet your ass the other half wishes they had. If you’ve ever seen Dexter or Law & Order, you’ve probably seen my mangled body splayed out on a coroner’s table and let me tell you, life is good as TV’s favorite rotting pile of flesh.
Aside from the thrill of seeing yourself on TV, there are lots of perks to the job. I’ll walk into bar and someone I’ve never met will come up to me and say, “Aren’t you the guy who was found dead in his pool on CSI: Miami last week?” And I’ll give him a knowing smile and he’ll call his friends over and ask me to play dead for them. I’ll pretend to be shy but I love the attention and before you know it I’m flopped down on the bar so convincingly that the bartender starts to call 911.
Or sometimes a woman will come up to me and say, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” I’ll respond, “Does this look familiar?” and fall to the ground in a heap. 9 out of 10 times I end up going home with her. Best of all, I never have to search around at the last minute for a Halloween costume!
People always want to know my method. The key is to keep in mind how the character died. If he was strangled to death, maybe you want to put your hands up to your throat as if you were trying to stop the strangler. If he was hit by a car, don’t lie stiff as a board; throw your limbs around in every direction. If it was a slow death like a bludgeoning or a torture case then show some pain on your face. If you’re really serious about the role, you may even want to get into a bar fight the night before to make it look authentic and to understand the pain of being clobbered to the ground.
Also, try not to move or breathe too much.
Do I consider myself an artist? Well, I’m no Ron Goldstein (probably better known to you as “Guy With Ice Pick in Head” in Episode 103 of NYPD Blue). But I think that I am an inspiration to other corpse actors and, when you’ve got more dead bodies on your resume than a New Jersey reservoir, it sure as hell pays the rent.
That said, I didn’t get into it for the money. I do it because I love it. I do it because I’m damn good at it. Most of all, I do it because, when people see a corpse on TV, they shouldn’t think to themselves, “Oh that’s just some guy lying down in a pool of red dye.” They should think, “Wow, there is no doubt in my mind that this guy is dead. I’ve seen living people, and they do not look like that. That is one very dead man.”
To be a good actor, you have to be committed. You’ve gotta love it. Sure it’s a glamorous lifestyle, but it’s not a walk in the park. It’s not easy to day in and day out get up, go to work, lie down, not move, get back up, go home, and lie down again. It’s not for everyone, but I for one couldn’t imagine living a better life or dying better deaths than I do every single day.