Traveling was always my favorite part about working as an actor. I went to fascinating places and lived there for several months at a time. I got to immerse myself in the culture and go beyond the tourist things. I got to learn languages and make friends with bellmen. I will always be grateful for the variety of experiences I had because I was an actor.
Some projects were worth doing for the location alone. Vendetta II, which filmed in Rome, was one such example.
It was a mini-series in which I was playing a blind girl. I was not blind throughout the whole film but rather, my character went blind after a mobster threw her off the side of a mountain in an attempt to hurt her mother, a nun, who was played by the supermodel Carol Alt. So, for half of the mini-series, I was blind until a trip through the Italian countryside restored my site. As beautiful views are prone to do.
As I said, it was mostly about the cool location.
Any self-respecting mafia film requires a healthy dose of religious pageantry. Before my character went blind, she was supposed to take Communion, as one assumes all daughters of nuns would do.
In the scene, I wore a white miniature wedding dress with a veil, and walked down the church aisle with all the dark wood and dark music that one would expect of a Catholic church in the Italian countryside. Having been raised without any religious influence whatsoever, I was clueless as to the procedure involved in this rite of passage. So during rehearsal, I just followed the other girls who seemed to know how to kneel and open their mouths for the Communion wafers.
And then I heard the priest murmur something about the body of Christ.
I had been a strict vegetarian since the age of four, so this totally freaked me out. What the hell was he putting in my mouth?? Eating Christ sounded super gross. During the first take, I took the wafer in my mouth and poked at it with my tongue while trying not to gag.
It didn’t feel like flesh but it certainly didn’t feel like food, either.
What was this stuff?
Was it some sort of pressed chicken Jesus-taste-alike?
Was it plastic prop food?
I had made the mistake of trying to eat prop food before, much to the amusement of the rest of the cast and crew, and was not eager to replicate that experience. Admitting my lack of religious knowledge to the real Italian priest who had been hired to play the role of the priest would have been humiliating. The church was full of about 100 extras who didn’t speak much English. Since everyone else seemed to know what was going on, I felt too shy to ask the director or anyone else on the crew. My mom was around somewhere, but I wasn’t confident that she would know what this thing was anymore than I did.
I was all alone in a crowd.
And my job was to eat the body of a deity.
I decided to shove the wafer to the roof of my mouth without chewing it. The wafer fit snugly within the half circle of my upper teeth. Then we did another take. And another. There was little time in between, so I just kept shoving the body of Jesus onto the roof of my mouth, getting more and more nervous as I started to lose space on my tongue for the next take’s wafer. Whatever this thing was, it was absorbing all the saliva in my mouth, turning into a sticky clump and making the whole experience rather uncomfortable.
Finally, after almost ten takes, we got the shot and I was able to step outside and get enough privacy to peel the layers of the Lord off the roof of my mouth and chuck it into a nearby courtyard full of birds.
They seemingly had no qualms about the nature of the wafer.
When I went back to the hotel that night after work, I crawled into bed and thought about how lucky I was and what an amazing day I had — I actually got to feed some pigeons.
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