„No Small Parts“ is no small matter
Remember: „ There are no small parts-only small actors“.
Constantin Stanislavski said it, and since 2014, Brandon Hardesty has been saying it through his fan-made documentary web-series and in short separate episode called “IMDb Exclusive”.
If you haven’t had the chance to see one of his YouTube episodes, I urge you to do it. As of now there are 18 episodes dedicated to the character actors in the entertainment industry. You know, faces you recognize, but you’re not sure from where. It would be ungrateful to choose a favorite, but with a gun to my head… I’d go with a couple… Not just one. The extensive insight of the life and career of Harry Dean Stanton, Academy award winner Linda Hunt, Darlene Cates – Johnny Depp and Leonardo Dicaprio’s “movie mom” in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and the late Vincent Schiavelli.
But, what sets “No Small Parts” apart from the rest of the fan-made docu-series out there? Well, for one, it’s made by one of them. Character actors, I mean…
Brandon Hardesty. Originally from Baltimore, Hardesty moved to LA a decade ago to follow his passion, but started making these videos in his spare time. Since the beginning of 2016 he’s been producing shorter weekly IMDb Exclusive videos, that you can find on the official page of the website. At 2-2.5 minutes, IMDb shows them exclusively on their site and social media outlets, and they feature mainstream actors such as Oscar Isaac, Riz Ahmed, Kasey Affleck and Paul Bettany.
Hardesty’s “No Small Parts” videos are the ones you should be watching. He delves into the beginnings of careers, and we learn their full extent. Hardesty is meticulous, thorough, and well educated, but is never condescending or mean in his personal remarks. Also, it is worthy to mention that besides the fine job of editing and writing each episode, the clarity of Hardesty’s voice and calm intonation of the lines is fascinating. His voice blends well with the visual footage and you don’t even notice the 20-30 minutes that pass while watching an episode on Anne Ramsey. In fact, you crave more and more…
Furthermore, the introduction of the actors is always made with footage from their best known picture, and often it’s done with a transcript from the particular scene. But, what’s most astonishing in “No Small Parts” is the extent of fact coverage from beginning to end. Not only is there an introduction to the personal life of the actor, there are even scenes from the early bit parts, stage productions, cameo appearances, commercials, interviews, and even voice work. Hardesty even goes the extra mile and finds books and old magazines for his research. Many Beautiful Things: Stories and Recipes from Polizzi Generosa by Vincent Schiavelli is one such example in the most wonderful tribute to the life and career of one of the most underrated actors in history.
Currently, Hardesty is struggling to find the funds for the production of “No Small Parts” on Patreon.com – a crowdfunding site. There he explains that ” every episode is made with one goal in mind: to shed some light on Hollywood’s lesser-known talents”.
“One thing that I love about working is that I get to talk to other character actors and hear their stories about the business. I identify with them, probably because I look at them and see my future.”
“‘No Small Parts’ came out of this desire to learn more about character actors. I would watch movies and see the same faces pop up, but realized that I didn’t know anything about them. A big reason for this is that they’ve never gotten their own ‘Biography’ show, or an ‘E! True Hollywood Story.’
That’s when I decided I wanted to give them their due and really examine their entire life and career as if they were A-Listers, because that’s how I see them,” he explains.
In the end… probably the most striking and sometimes surprising characteristic you’ll find in “No Small Parts” is the ability to empathize with the life and career of a person. To show kindness often in the most dark aspects of the actor’s life. When dealing with addiction, abandonment, death, physical disabilities, illness… Hardesty is not PC, but honest, sincere and warm all at the same time. You will find the explanation of the conditions of Linda Hunt, Warwick Davis and his family quite meticulous and sincere.
As for Brandon Hardesty himself? Well, in his own words, he’s struggling as well. Like so many in “tinseltown,” but well aware of that, and accepting of the current state of his career.
“One thing I’ve learned is that I don’t go out for the same roles as most actors do. I’m a heavier guy. I’ve been told I look a lot like Jonah Hill or Josh Gad. I learned that I am a character actor, and until I sweat to the oldies and lose a good fifty pounds or so, I’ve accepted my place in the Hollywood hierarchy.”
And I think that his acceptance, is the inception of “No Small Parts” series. The source of inspiration for the tribute videos and fascination with character actors in general.
But if you do a quick Google search, you’ll find that he’s already had professional collaborations with actors such as Kris Kristofferson, Danny Trejo, and William H. Macy. He appeared along Macy in the indie project Bart Got A Room, and since then he’s not only been working steadily, but that was the part that landed him an agent and representation.
Perhaps not all actors can make it to the big leagues. The 20 million dollar paycheck, leading role in the next Spielberg feature, The Marvel contract or even the ability to pick and choose the parts. But it feels good to know that there are people like him who know how to appreciate “the actors in those small parts”.