411 Movies Interview: Vicki Goldsmith (The Guilt Trip)
The Guilt Trip, originally titled My Mother’s Curse, is a comedy starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen. To most people, they are the headline – the name recognition that drives commercial time and trailer views. Director Anne Fletcher, or as previews know her as “from the director of The Proposal,” figures to have some attention play as well. Yet if you plan on catching the flick, currently slated for a December 11 premiere followed by the public release date on December 19, try to be on the lookout for the character known as Young Joyce Brewster, the youthful version of Streisand’s character. I have to stress that part considering the column’s attraction is centered on the multi-talented actress behind the role, with a knack of twisting herself into a pretzel.
For you see, Vicki Goldsmith is Young Joyce. You could say The Guilt Trip is a welcome change from her usual selection of uncredited roles, most of which are recognized as vague names of the character description. This is true if we went solely based on the acting portion of her IMDB page; one would suspect her career is nothing more than to be part of the anonymity crowd, to be counted on to fill the room and help make the scene become alive for a reward of maybe a split second of screen time. Vicki welcomes it. She welcomes the appeal of getting in character for even the minutest of roles. She finds enjoyment in all of her acting gigs, whether as “Crazy Packers Fan” from an episode of That ‘70s Show or the more ambiguous label of “Bikini Girl” in CSI: Miami. Besides, it’s not like these roles will consume her forever. The Guilt Trip is one of the many platforms toward a fruitful calling, a sight she is earnestly set on reaching.
The University of Maryland graduate has experience in all the major stages of performing arts – theater, movies, and television. But the truth is you won’t find her entire livelihood in front of a pair of camera lens. Her profession in the entertainment industry started out as an unknown set production assistant for the TV show ER in 2005. Since then, Vicki has worked in more than 100 positions for various movies, television, and commercials projects. Part of the career arc includes assisting directors (some cases in a hierarchy organized by the title of first and second assistants) and working on set or key productions. Not all of them small time entries either. I’m talking big names like Desperate Housewives, Mad Men, Cloverfield, and Changeling. She even has a stunt credit attached to her name, a fact I find most envious. (Seriously I want a stunt credit. I already know how my grave stone will read, “Porfirio Diaz – A Beloved Friend Who Also Once Jumped Out A Window On The Avengers 2 Set.”) I imagine the name of producer has to be one of her more prized titles.
In promotion for the upcoming Streisand-Rogen vehicle, Vicki agreed to a phone interview in which we discussed about the movie, the similarities between herself and Barbra, and her busy life in Tinseltown.
Below is our conversation.
Porfirio Diaz: At what point did acting and creative filmmaking become something you wanted to do as a career?
Vicki Goldsmith: Since I was 8 years old I knew I loved performing. When I was in high school I knew this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
Porfirio Diaz: You have managed to build yourself a well-balanced resume. An impressive list: acting roles, producer credits, you were even a stunt performer in an episode of Cold Case, which, I may add, I went back to see if I could find you, and I think I saw you for a split second in the rave scene if I’m not mistaken.
Vicki Goldsmith: Uh-huh.
Porfirio Diaz: Anyway, do you have a preference in the production roles you take? Do you like working in view of the camera or are you more of a behind-the-cameras person?
Vicki Goldsmith: I love both, though honestly, I work more as a second AD (Assistant Director). The goal probably 5-10 years from now would be where I could produce and put myself in my own films. In my role as an AD, I feel close with the actors and I think part of why I’m good in that fit is because I’m also an actor and they know that they can trust me. I can relate to them so it kind of works better all the way around.
Porfirio Diaz: Is it a hard transition to make?
Vicki Goldsmith: It’s hard to do both on the same job. I’ve learn that about myself because in acting I need to concentration on a lot more. So it can’t be “Hey roll the camera!” and then jump in there and do a little scene because it takes a different kind of focus. But when I was just acting on the The Guilt Trip for instance, it was a little hard to sit there and not have control over the process. Yes, absolutely.
Porfirio Diaz: Do you have the option of choosing what you want to do or do you have someone laying out these projects that you may have an opportunity to do?
Vicki Goldsmith: As far as production or acting?
Porfirio Diaz: As both.
Vicki Goldsmith: Everything’s freelance and everything I get for myself. My agent Vincent came into the picture about two weeks ago. Production, it’s totally word of mouth. People I’m working with know they can call me. Same thing with acting. People who I’ve worked with in production sometimes know that I’m an actor and will call me for things or I’d find things on postings.
What’s really interesting for me is whenever I have, maybe, two or three weeks off, I’d love to do a student film or a short film or a photo shoot. Just for a couple times a year to keep that creativity going. It’s a different kind of excitement that I don’t get from being on the set in other roles, for sure. But it’s all self-found. Currently I don’t have anybody helping me get that. I’d love to change that but the problem in the past has been my schedule because I’m not available like most actors are.
Porfirio Diaz: Let’s go ahead and talk about the movie. Your role is the Young Joyce Brewster. What made you decide you wanted to be a part of this movie?
Vicki Goldsmith: Since I was 3 years old people have told me I looked like Barbra Streisand. I’m not kidding. My mentor since I was in high school told me that I need to write a letter to her agent so when they ever make the story of her life I could play as her younger self.
And I’ll tell you the Hollywood version of the story that I tell people in a sec. I met an actress at this event one night and we had this conversation: “Oooh has anyone ever tell you that you look like Barbra Streisand?” “No. I’ve never heard that before. When they make the story of her life they better call me to play this part.” I have a conversation like this with somebody every day.
Flash forward about a month later, this girl and I have a mutual friend and she finds an ad on Breakdown (a communications network and casting website) looking for a young Barbra Streisand. Forwards it to our friend, who says “Send this to Vicki.” She sends it to me, I do a little recon, I windup calling and knowing the casting director. At first they weren’t going to send me out. The girl sees the ad again two weeks later. Sends it to me again. I call the casting director again and because I was so persistence, eventually they send me out on the auditions. When I showed up to interview, there were four other girls there. And one of the girls saw me and was like, “Shoot. I should just leave now. There’s like no contest.” (Laughing).
I kind of had to fight for it but my Hollywood version of the story is that I’ve done five movies with the casting director who knows as an AD on set my nickname is Babs, so when this role came up she said “I’ve got the girl!” Either way, very few things in this town are a sure thing, me getting that role was a sure thing.
Porfirio Diaz: That was actually going to be my next question – Do you think you share similar traits to that of Ms. Streisand?
Vicki Goldsmith: Well… I never saw it until I met her. I never understood it until we came face to face and we both kind of started laughing because it was a little surreal.
Porfirio Diaz: And how the experience of playing the younger character version of Barbra Streisand?
Vicki Goldsmith: I had a lot of fun with it. I studied and watched a lot of her videos and contests so I could nail some of her mannerisms. She is playing a character and this isn’t the story of her life but she is still fundamentally her – a strong, confident, East-coast Jewish women. So a lot of that is within me just because a lot of us East-coast Jews are kind of the same anyway. The only thing I had to add to that was… I don’t have kids yet and as shown in her role, the qualities of loving a child so much and putting that child first was the only thing I had to add. But I definitely had fun researching her.
Porfirio Diaz: Did you manage to have some time with Barbra or with her co-star Seth Rogen?
Vicki Goldsmith: Only on the day she had to approve me. Obviously we’re not in any scenes together so once I show up she’s already done for the day. And Seth Rogen, I sat next to him once during makeup but it didn’t really feel appropriate to start a random conversation. But he seemed like a nice guy.
Porfirio Diaz: Silly question. How fun was it to take down Diedrich Bader and put him in an arm lock in the movie (National Lampoon’s) Cattle Call?
Vicki Goldsmith: (Laughing.) Loved that movie. That was so much fun. You know, it wasn’t planned at all. The director didn’t tell him what was going to happen. I knew what I was supposed to do but they had no idea what was going to happen. They were totally off-guard.
Porfirio Diaz: Also from the same movie, how hard was it to turn yourself into a pretzel?
Vicki Goldsmith: Not at all. Not hard at all.
(Editor’s note: The next few seconds were of me gushing about her remarkable ability because I’m a child. Vicki handled it like a pro. I tried to duplicate the image you see above after I had finished with the interview because, again, I’m a child and I intimate what I see. I suffered 57 back spasms in a span of 4 seconds. My spine immediately left town afterward.)
Porfirio Diaz: Do you have any upcoming roles you may want to share?
Vicki Goldsmith: Right now it’s The Guilt Trip.
Porfirio Diaz: Is there anything else that you want people to know about yourself or your experience in the entertainment industry?
Vicki Goldsmith: When they make the story of Barbra Streisand they better call me. (Laughing.) I’m just saying.
Look for Vicki Goldsmith – actor, producer, twisty person – in the movie The Guilt Trip in theaters December 19.