American Dreams

Amos Crawley has been acting since he was four years old. From what he describes as vague memories of being hot under the lights at one of his mother’s auditions to his current study at New York City’s famed Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theater, the young man has done quite well for himself. Originally from Ontario, Amos currently resides in Manhattan and was kind enough to chat with me about his career and opportunities.

Amos’ is not yet a household name, but he has worked constantly since he was a child, in television, theater and movies. He has worked with some luminaries of modern-day Hollywood, including Adam Sandler and Leslie Nielson. Nielson even punctuated their introduction with a whoopee cushion gag, if you can imagine. He has appeared in movies such as Billy Madison and The Virgin Suicides, and has had reoccurring roles on Ready or Not and Traders. He is also the salt of the earth, one of the nicest people I have ever met.
I was interested to see what advantages come from working and living in the United States, what his goals were and, from his perspective, why certain celebrities seem to find difficulty handling the pressure of fame. On this last point, Amos was quick to point out that while he has been fortunate enough to play roles that get him recognized from time to time, he has not had to deal with the complexities of fame to any large degree (yet, I reminded him). Also, he has been able to avoid the pitfalls that sometimes come with having been a child actor.

“I was fortunate as a child to have parents who were not only actors but also intelligent and sensitive people who taught me early on that acting was a job (perhaps with more fringe benefits) and that it should be treated as such.”

At this point, my questions about the world of celebrity began to seem uninformed, but I pressed on. Asked whether his goal is to be, as the cliché goes, a rich and famous movie star, he quite matter-of-factly responded that his goal, one that he has achieved to a great extent, is just to work on a regular basis, and learn. Albeit he still dreams of the wild success and fame that all of us have imagined from time to time, while somehow keeping his feet on the ground. He again attributes this to his solid upbringing and continued education.

“The dream to get to do what you really want to do on a regular basis and get paid for it is, I think, worth it to a ridiculous extent.”

Currently, Amos is consumed by his work with the theater school, one of his main reasons for moving to NYC. The ‘Playhouse’ boasts graduates and fellows such as Gregory Peck, Diane Keaton, Christopher Lloyd, and Sydney Pollack. By his own admission, Amos admits he is very fortunate to be able to ‘slot’ himself into such a prestigious circle, as well as to be able to learn a workmanlike approach to acting that has been taught according to the teachings of Mr. Sanford Meisner since 1935. The ‘Meisner Technique’ is designed to give an actor a set of tools he or she can draw upon throughout their career.

Asked what the difference is that pulled him south to pursue his career, he admitted that there is simply more work in the States, and in New York in particular. He also admitted that in his opinion, sadly, it still takes success in the USA to be considered successful in Canada. It has to do with exposure, population, and prestige. Ideally, he would like to enjoy the same level of success on both sides of the border, and to an extent he has achieved that.

With regard to living and working in New York to pursue his dream, Amos feels quite comfortable. As he says, NYC has become a part of our consciousness as consumers of media. There is a feeling of familiarity that is extraordinary. The city “can’t help but adopt you.”

He’s also been lucky. ” I’ve luckily never really run into any seriously bad shit in the industry. You hear gossip I suppose, but firsthand I haven’t seen any train-wrecks or anything.”
A highly competitive but rewarding way to earn a living, a lovely beginning to what should be a long career, a Canadian in the wilds of Manhattan (amongst the fourth-largest Canadian population outside our borders, he tells me).

Amos, we are all jealous of your success, even though it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. We hope you end up drug-addled in a hotel room, loving life till the end, just like a real live movie star.

(Canadians and their wacky sense of humour)