Spoiler Alert: I'm about to out my real age. Don't read any further if you still want to think of me as the little brat who lived down the hall from Felicity.
About two years ago, I turned 40. It was a traumatic milestone for a guy who regularly gets carded. I'm the perennial little brother. How could this be? Physically, I felt mid 30s, tops. Emotionally, I'm working at around 25. I can't be 40. Forty is what dads look like. Forty is Ward Cleaver. But I still relate to the Beav!
Around the same time, my talent manager of 10 years unceremoniously dropped me. Another client of his had skyrocketed to fame and he decided to sail it to the stars, solo style. It's something that happens a lot in my line of work but it was a long relationship that I had taken for granted and I took it hard. I felt dumped. Broken up with.
So there I was, a 40-year-old 30-year-old, trolling the market for new management.
Needless to say I fell into a bit of a funk. I started thinking, you know what? I'll just up and quit acting altogether. That'll show em! OK, great. Good plan. But then what? What do I do? If not this, then... what?
It hit me like a wet blanket. It's not that I couldn't find happiness in another line of work. I'm not qualified to do any other kind of work. My degree is in theater for godsakes. I'd have to go back to school -- and even then, no one's hiring graduates in their forties. Plus, I'd have to study again. All that reading -- I can barely finish an article in Rolling Stone. My god, I thought. I'm trapped!
It is at these low points that sometimes you get the most creative spark. Ironically for me, it was in a moment of wanting to get out of the creative business, that the most profound creative idea struck me.
I started thinking about another questionable profession -- the Superhero sidekick. And I began applying it as an allegory for what I was going through. What happens to Robin at 40? Batman at least can age gracefully behind the suit, plus he's you know, Batman. But Robin, barely has a mask to hide behind -- and his most impressive power is the ability to tell Batman to "look out"! The same could be said for the Green Hornet's sidekick, Kato. Super powers: agility, stealth. What happens when he starts to lose his step? Same with the others -- Bucky (Captain America), Jimmy Olsen (Superman), Sancho Panza (Don Quixote) ... where do good Sidekicks go to retire?
So began the screenplay idea for The Sidekick. I sat down to write it with no endgame in mind. It was just a character I needed to embody and a story that I needed to tell: the aging sidekick who gets let go and has to figure out what his true purpose is. I decided to set it in a world where being a superhero was just another profession -- like accountant, plumber, or... actor.
The writing process was thrilling -- I knew I was on to something. But what was unexpected was that it was also therapeutic. I was able to express myself in this script, and in doing so, find inspiration and a renewed sense of self.
Michael Weithorn and I became friends when he directed me in a really sweet little movie called A Little Help. We were having coffee a year ago and I was explaining to him this journey I was on. He asked to read it, called me later that afternoon and said, "we have to make this."
What happened next was a bit of a whirlwind. Many friends that I've worked with through the years stepped up and helped me see this project through. I felt like Jimmy Stewart at the end of It's a Wonderful Life. Cinematographer Steve Lubensky jumped on board. We got Ron Livingston, Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr and Jason Ritter. Jordan Peele, Ike Barinholtz and Josh Meyers are old buddies of mine. They joined in. Richard Speight Jr, Sam McMurray, Fred Stoller and Laura Silverman agreed to make cameos. It was a dream cast for any movie.
And later this month, about a year and a half after I sat down to write it, we're getting a premiere and a panel at Comic-Con. After that, we are looking into adapting the project into a full series -- there are plenty more stories to tell. Not only do I feel grateful for the experience, I once again have a purpose. I know who I am. I know what my powers are -- and how to use them. Hey Batman -- look out!
The Sidekick will premiere at Comic-Con on July 18th at 3pm in the Indigo Ballroom at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel, followed by a cast and creator Q&A.