Call Howard back and tell him I won’t do it. I don’t give a rat’s ass how much he’s offering. My body swapping days are over — it’s time for me to demonstrate my versatility as an actress. Audiences know I can play the uptight mom, and the unruly daughter who refuses to toe the line, but they’ve been conditioned to believe that I need both parts to occur within the same movie. That’s simply not true. Given the opportunity, I could easily carry a film while portraying one of these characters the entire time.
Transforming into my co-star is but one of the countless acting techniques I have at my disposal. I am a master of drama, accents, physical comedy — the list goes on. When the film calls for it, I can combine the first technique with any of the others — performing physical comedy as the slobby husband in his wife’s athletic body, for example, or adopting a dockworker’s accent to communicate that my New England trust-funder’s appearance now belies a dockworker — but the point is I am not limited to that. In college, I was cast as a plain lady dockworker.
Please, don’t bring up my talent for body swapping. That isn’t the issue here. Yes, I have many fans — people who go wild each time I hold my hands in front of my face, flip them over to convince myself that they are not my own, then catch my reflection in the mirror and scream. But this was only supposed to be one stage of my career, and it’s become clear that Hollywood will never run out of polar opposites for me to play. Like the characters in my films, I have learned my lesson. I am ready to break this spell and turn back into a conventional comic actress.
It’s been nearly seven years since I became trapped in the body swapping genre. So once I get out, will I occasionally slip and adopt my scene partner’s mannerisms? Maybe at first. Will I accidentally repeat my scene partner’s lines verbatim, mimic their intonation, and even shove them out of the way to stand in their position on camera? Probably I will do this too, as it is a common warmup among body swappers. Bad habits like these will slow me down, but they won’t stop me. I’ll practice until I feel just as comfortable playing one role as I do playing two of them.
Then I will have to face the moviegoers. They don’t expect me to play against type, and when I do they might not accept it. They’ll probably just assume that they missed the swap, or that it occurred sometime before the movie started. Even if I say in interviews that I am no longer accepting those roles, they’ll jump whenever a Chinese man’s gift shop or an old stone wishing well appears onscreen, telling themselves, “This is it.” They’ll move on soon enough, though. Let’s be honest. Body swapping movies are not the kind to have a lasting impact.
It’s like everyone says: once you’ve seen one body swapping comedy, you’ve seen them all. Part of the reason why that’s true is that I starred in most of those movies. But I think the more damning cliché is the clumsy attempt to say something uplifting. We get it: we should be happy with who we are. Isn’t there a subtler device you could use to communicate that? If you gave a six-year-old fifty million dollars and a video camera and asked him to restate the most important thing he had learned in kindergarten, he would give you a body swapping movie. I’m no six-year-old — though I pretended to switch bodies with one once — so I’m saying goodbye to this stupid genre. I swear that I will never look back.
Oops, that’s my phone. Oh, for God’s sake. It’s Howard.
No Howard, I refuse. Don’t bother telling me what the combination is — I’ve done them all before. A wealthy Southerner and her sassy black housemaid? Come on. In Day Traders I played a hardened Wall Street banker and her smart-alecky assistant, and that’s practically the same thing. Sorry Howard, but this time you’ll have to find somebody else. All this is simply beneath–
–What’s that? A double swap? You mean your protagonists swap bodies, swap back, and then swap all over again? Well, yes, I suppose that is new territory for me. Everyone will expect the first swap, but the second…
Goddammit Howard, you’re a genius.