Written by Lawrence Buchér
“To be or not to be … Rusty Meyers”
I was channel-surfing on a brand new flat screen (shameless plug), when lo and behold, whom do I see in a Capital One commercial? It was none other than the Las Vegas-based actor of almost two decades, Rusty Meyers. I began to laugh--and not at Rusty--but at the fact that once again, I see the face of the nemesis to so many local-based actors (and other so-called entertainment professionals). And In spite of the venomous tendencies that Vegas seems to yield, he still presses on doing his thing--be it in Cirque Du Soleil’s production of Viva Elvis in the role of Colonel Tom Parker (narrator), or in the above mentioned, as he inevitably adds another notch to an already impressive IMDb resume, built not only from his work in Las Vegas, but from a collective 20 years as a thespian living in LA and NY.
For some time, I have considered writing an article about Rusty, then the other week I was contacted by a close friend of mine who said that Rusty was mentioned in the LVRJ, playing opposite Bruce Willis in the upcoming film Lay the Favorite. After reading the article I found it fitting to make use of the recent public noise about his performance, yet I still didn’t know how I would approach the article. After spending a few days kicking it around, I realized that what I found more interesting than Rusty himself was the behind-the-back talk that often had a propensity to rear its ugly head whenever his name was mentioned. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why.
Rusty, has a reputation for pulling no punches, mixed with the occasional head-butting. And while there are many who like to ask him questions, they simply do not come equipped for such engagement. Not only do they not like his answers, they are simply unable to handle the truth. Answers from someone so poised with industry knowledge, it leaves the average go-getter 'paled' in comparison. Yet one would think that most, if not all, would find this refreshing. I guess not. In spite of his low-threshold for ignorance he has proven time and time again to be a person who cares by reaching out and giving back to the community as the Founder/Director of RAW (Real Actors Workshop) for 17 years, along with hosting his monthly entertainment industry WRAP PARTY since 2004.
Now, if you know Rusty and have had the privilege to spend more than a couple of minutes with him, you know how easy a conversation can turn--let’s say transition--from pleasantries between him and the conversant, to nothing short of an all-out rabid interactive. But, so what?
The problem in Vegas, as I see it, (and for the record I am not speaking for all, but most), is that actors and others in LV tend to make things personal. Instead of learning from someone like Rusty--who has been in the game since 1971, having his first professional performance under his belt in 1976; who graduated (on a full scholarship) from Central Arizona College with a degree in Theatre and Music in 1977; who is a fully vested SAG/AFTRA/EQUITY actor who received all his cards by 1979--there are those who will still ‘balk’ about the way he talks to people, or how he goes about doing what he does to be one of the few working actors in LV. Give me a break.
Simply put, the industry as a whole, especially what little can be made of it in Vegas, is filled with haters. Instead of building alliances with Rusty, taking a look at not only what he has accomplished but what he tries to do for others around him, these haters feel better served in a feeble attempt at going at it alone, dismissing Rusty for ego, propaganda or other eccentricities--neither of which is further from the truth. Rusty is simply a large fish swimming in a very small pond. In every situation, under any conditions the big-boy on any block will always be left to take shots at- and what a senseless waste of time and energy it must be.
Please don’t misconstrue what I am saying here. I’m not saying others in Vegas don’t have talent. There are TONS of talent; flair bartenders, stilt-walkers, fire eaters, trapeze artists, comedians, contortionist and showgirls (of course), film directors and producer, but there is a very, and I mean VERY limited circle of other good, solid, working actors (the Dean Mauro types), who, with that said, still do not have Rusty’s level of industry knowledge. Why people would rather spend time arguing this absolute fact is beyond me.
Hey, I’m the first to admit, too, that there are MULTIPLE things about which I disagree with Rusty, but never, not once, has it ever clouded or impeded my judgment of him as an artist to such a degree that I was left holding nothing but contempt. I can disagree with this same guy who I know has grown over the years to be as synonymous to acting in Vegas as Joseph Bernard was to coaching. Rusty Meyers is a man who began his dream as a teenager, having his first paid/professional performance at the age of 18 (1976) doing summer stock in Cripple Creek, CO. He is an actor who not only had the technical ability, but more so the tenacity and wherewithal to see his dream to fruition into adulthood, having done year–to-date nearly 100 national, network, regional and local commercials, not to mention that he has played opposite to a small handful of A-List actors in his film career. An actor which CD, producers, etc., use him like there are eight ways to Sunday- like a Dave Thomas’ Wendy’s Commercial, as the Las Vegas go-to card.
So, in closing if you are serious about the business of entertainment (on any level), you should take some time out of your busy schedule and join Rusty the last Thursday of every month (TORINOS, 5570 W. Flamingo- between Decatur & Jones), and take advantage of an opportunity to pick a working actor’s brain, as you never know where that road will lead—even if it leads to the two of you giving each other the ‘high hard one.” :-)
However, if you decide to go the long and windy road alone, only later to find yourself in the unfortunate position of auditioning against Rusty, as you look over your shoulder only to suspect that he’s shooting you a, “Why are you here and not making me an omelet” kinda look on his face--well, that’s because he did. --Lawrence Buchér
*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Callback News.*