WHEN ARE WE NOT ACTING? SEAN SAM INTERVIEWS MATT LEE ON CRISIS ACTOR
During a strange period of my life, I worked an acting gig on a military base. We were called “Standardized Patients.” Our job was to portray hypothetical subjects in training exercises for nurses, doctors, emergency personnel. Some days I’d play a soldier suffering from PTSD or a schizophrenic planning to murder his boss. Other days I was just a guy coming in for a routine physical. Occasionally we’d get assigned disaster scenarios for first responders. A plane crash, a suicide bombing, a mass shooting. We’d be decked out in special effects make-up, painted with fake blood, prosthetic broken bones, silicone skin. All the actors had different briefs. You be in shock, you be difficult, you be dead. We’d all be screaming bloody murder with pre-recorded sounds of carnage blaring from hidden speakers. We had to make it as convincing as possible. “These exercises save lives,” we were frequently told. Macabre stuff. Almost immediately after I started working there, the idea for Crisis Actor began gelling. Much of what I describe in the book is based on these actual experiences.