CW: sexual assault
When I saw That Guy… Who Was In That Thing, I watched it at something of a curiosity. The documentary was all about getting to know the actors whose faces you would recognize from bit parts in movies and TV shows but whose names you couldn’t come up with if your life depended on it. It was a fun watch and it provided a bit of insight into what it’s like to be a character actor, whose job is essentially to not be all that famous but to be everywhere as much as possible.
So when I saw that That Gal… Who Was In That Thing was on Netflix, I expected more of the same. There’s no doubt what it’s a sequel to, considering how awkward the title sounds (to say nothing of the tacky subtitle “That Guy 2“) but putting aside the terrible title (who says “gal?”), That Gal is less about the novelty of discovering these actors and more of an eye-opening look at what it means to be a woman in Hollywood.
I honestly don’t remember how That Guy was edited but That Gal has a much smaller cast (8 actors and one agent compared to That Guy‘s 16 actors), which means you get more time with each woman as the film flows through various topics. Each section is broken up with a handy title card to let you know that we’re going to be talking about typecasting, auditioning, sexism, etc. The topics themselves also tend to be more interesting as That Guy‘s topics were more “universal” but the questions that were asked of the women in That Gal deal with the specific challenges of making it as a female actor.
There are few topics that are discussed for which all of the women are in agreement. Some of those interviewed prefer to be called “actors,” while others prefer “actress,” and some couldn’t seem to care less. Most of the women could agree that auditioning sucks but then here comes Alicia Coppola saying that she loves the chance to make connections and try to sell herself for a role. And, again, there’s a middleground, like Christine Rose who says that it’s just a part of the job.
It’s Incredibly Honest
I hardly have any authority to judge who’s being genuine and who’s not but there’s something about this lower level of celebrity that seems to free people up to be genuine about how they actually feel. It makes sense then that not everything you hear makes your hear soar. It’s difficult to hear Jayne Atkinson talk about being told to lose 10 pounds off of a body she self-describes as “beautiful.” It breaks your heart to hear Roxanne Hart talk about the inevitable end of all of their careers as they get older.
Among the most powerful moments of the documentary is hearing L. Scott Caldwell talk about her decision to separate from her family in order to advance her career. Her frank and emotional discussion about that decision and her subsequent regret is a powerful glimpse into the pitfalls of pursuing greatness.
And then there’s a section where the interviewer flat-out asks Paget Brewster what “the worst thing” is that has happened to her because of being a woman in the industry. Her answer starts with a moment of silence before she discloses her experience of being sexually assaulted on-set by a male actor. To hear her tell it you get the sense that this isn’t something she’s allowed herself to deal with. Instead she fumbles to find her words and talks about the guilt and internalization of responsibility that followed the experience. There’s no talk of any healing process after the fact or any hint of the attacker being held accountable. It’s just an awful, honest answer to a probing question that didn’t know what it was going to hit.
It’s A More Important Movie Than The Original
With stories like these, That Gal is on a different level than That Guy. Rather than a fun, novelty-type movie about some familiar faces, the sequel is an insider look at the very real, and sometimes terrible experiences of women in Hollywood. Where That Guy was cute and informative, That Gal is poignant and difficult. Not every female actor in Hollywood ages out, or has to flirt, or is assaulted but it’s telling that even with twice as many actors in the original, none of the guys had stories like the ones these eight women had to tell.
You can find That Gal… Who Was In That Thing on Netflix or, for a taste, you can watch the trailer below.
Our review for That Guy… Who Was In That Thing can be found here.
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That Gal… Who Was In That Thing is also available on Amazon.