Fred Savage Visits the School of Drama
By: Rachel Peter
Actor and director Fred Savage, best known for his lead role on the long running television show "The Wonder Years," and currently director of the TV show "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” met with School of Drama students to share his advice and experience in the entertainment industry.
Savage spoke with students in several classes and then met with a larger group for an hour-long Q&A session hosted by Andrew Tsao, professor of drama. Tsao, who invited Savage to visit the UW, met Savage ten years ago while filming the NBC show “Working,” which Tsao says was very much like “The Office” in its experimentation with camera awareness and storyline in a corporate setting.
During the discussion, Savage shared his numerous experiences in the entertainment business, emphasizing that reputation is the most important aspect of the industry. He explained that an investment banker who’s hard to work with can get one job and remain there for 30 years, but for someone in the entertainment industry to make a living, they often have to get hired ten or more times in a year.
Tsao agreed, adding that this also holds true in casting students in productions. “At the end of the day, there’s this very large category that gets larger as I get older which is called the ‘Life’s Too Short’ category,” Tsao commented, referring to the tendency to cast people that he could work with, rather than someone who could nail the part but was difficult.
Savage also offered advice about auditioning. Often, he explained, directors and writers know whether an actor will get the part before the actor even opens his or her mouth. “The audition is never about the job you’re going in for, but rather about the relationship you’re building, because the assumption is you’re not going to get the job,” he said, reminding students that the casting director could always call you back for a future audition if you make a good impression.
Asked how he continues to grow as an actor, Savage responded with inspiring advice. “You have to do something every day that makes you feel like an actor. Whether it’s seeing a play, renting a great movie, or reading a book on acting. You guys are in school, so you are obviously engaged. After school, it’s up to you to continue your growth.”