There is only one Teddy Smith, by Timothy Hines.
Above: Teddy Smith plays an Iron Guard in Chrome: The Series, an elite force of the labor police tasked with reclaiming escaped robots.
I like to cast opposite personalities of what the script calls for. If the script describes a person suffering from depression, I try to cast someone naturally upbeat. Likewise if the script calls for a psychopath, I will often cast a comedian, as they generally understand both the dark and the light of human souls. There is something about the polarity in tension that brings, as Theseus said in Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Hot Ice” to the screen.
So when I needed someone to voice a vicious Iron Guard leader in Chrome: The Series, my mini-series which begins streaming with the pilot episode on May 30th, about a slave robot who defies her masters to bring humanity to a world where people have forgotten what it is to be human, producer Susan Goforth and knew without question we would cast Teddy Smith.
When comedian turned movie star Greg Kritikos and producer Dominick Martini first introduced me to Teddy Smith it was hot in the second floor Astoria production office of School of Old where the feature film Charlie Boy was being staged from. The air conditioning unit was malfunctioning and in wait of repair. Teddy had ridden the subway from Manhattan, which can be a diesel laden oven that time of year even though the trains run on electric tracks. He was parched.
I offered Teddy water but when I opened the fridge, the staff had drank it all, save for a box of “special” water actress Sean Young, (of Blade Runner fame), had ordered before she left the production. Sean had touted the water to me as a special mineral water that uniquely had been colorized with some natural ingredients to make it darker than a Coke-a-Cola. I’m not sure if the color was just a selling point but it tasted like a good mineral water, just strange to me.
I told Teddy all I had was this mineral water that had been tinted but as far as I knew it was perfectly fine. He agreed and I handed him a bottle. Teddy had the most precious look on his face as we both realized the brand of water was called “Black Water.” We both burst into laughter at the same moment.
Teddy, without missing a beat said, “That’s just great. I come in for an audition and the white director hands me a bottle of Black Water.”
I still laugh at that moment. It broke the natural sometimes unbearable tension that goes with an audition. We took a picture together holding the bottles of Black Water. I knew then that we would get along and it has been true ever since. On a side note, I later read about this water, BLK Water, and the research said the water’s color comes from the addition of fulvic acid produced by the biodegration of dead organic matter (sounds just delicious). The product reportedly provides a bevy of trace minerals and electrolytes while also helping to balance the human body’s pH levels. It actually tastes fine.
Above: (L) Comedian actor Teddy Smith and Director Timothy Hines sharing bottles of “Black Water”.
I had no idea how talented he was, how, when he auditioned for the part of detective Frank, that he would not only nail the part but bring facets of light and emotion to the role that was way beyond the well crafted script by Frederick Stroppel and Greg Kritikos.
I saw Teddy do his stand up act some time later and I was in stitches. A comedian has to ride a fine line in expressing and exposing sometimes painful truths and also show the audience the absurdity in things. I have always felt the true difference between sanity and insanity is the ability to laugh at ourselves, our troubles, our frailties. Teddy is a master of this.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/JX_6FWzCDgo
We became friends beyond the set in that we share a particular optimistic view of kindness toward our fellow human beings. Teddy has faith, hope and tolerance coupled with strength and the realization that it takes discipline to maintain a positive and peaceful perspective in a modern confusing world. He adheres to kindness and his peaceful nature does not equivocate weakness, but the opposite.
To hold one’s faith in humankind is challenging when at times most around seem to be corrupt or to hold lost values. It is easy to give into anger and rage and takes great strength to maintain a steady hand so to speak. Indeed, the easiest emotion to act on stage or on film is anger. Fear converts to anger and off you go. It requires little discipline to rage. Teddy believes in people, in humanity, looks for the goodness in a person, but gives no quarter to bullies.
When I filmed with Teddy his performance was a joy and as we were shooting I knew I was capturing gold. To see him and the hilarious Greg Kritikos bounce off of each other; it was priceless to watch them click in masterful synergy.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZzdyRP6drIg
Likewise, one of the funniest scenes in the movie is when actor Peter Plano and Teddy are on a stakeout and Peter is trying to get Teddy to try his wife’s homemade egg salad sandwhich. The scene was entirely improved but was side splittingly funny. When you see the film you can see the handheld camera slightly shaking from the laughter.
It was for this reason that I cast Teddy to play an Iron Guard confronting the superhero robot Chrome. It required a deft touch to not let the moments fall into absurdity, to be straight arrow but not corny. Teddy was the right choice and he brings the perfect combination of fear and rage at attempting to subdue and capture the renegade robot Chrome played by Katie Erin Tomlinson. My creative partner Susan Goforth agrees and, at her request, she and I have cast Teddy in a very special role that takes place in one of Chrome’s future episodes.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/SplFH2Ek6k8
A while back, just as COVID-19 was taking hold, Teddy fell ill with a virus and passed out pumping gas for his car. He hit his head and broke his ankle. It was a shocking accident and by the grace of God Teddy was meant to survive. He is strong in his soul.
Tough and unapologetically optimistic though nobody’s fool, Teddy does not suffer ignorance and has no problems calling people on their selfish or garbage thinking. He doesn’t do it to slam people, but to awaken them. To blast them out of the lazy mentality and narrow cynicism that it is so easy to fall into these days.
This Spring when I and my family were amongst the first in the country to come down with COVID-19, which lasted for us over 8 weeks, Teddy was there on the phone and through texts and messages daily with prayers and encouragement, helping me to believe that we were going to live. That the strength to survive was within us and not to give up and despair.
Teddy was one of the prime leaders in a core group of friends that pushed us not to die when the monstrous COVID-19 was trying to eat our bodies, when it seemed as though for sure one or the other of us was going to perish.
Even after finally testing negative at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, Teddy wrote me and said you survived because you are strong and a good soul. I will not leave your side until you are 100 percent healed.
And yet it is not for his kindness, his humanity, his razor sharp wit and humor, but for his enormous natural talent as an actor, that will I cast Teddy in everything I create from here out. He was a pleasure to work with on Charlie Boy and on the miniseries Chrome coming May 30th.
Photos: Chrome: The Series Streaming May 30, 2020 on Amazon Prime
Paraphrasing the late Comedian George Carlin, Teddy said something like, when people make you feel bad, dump ‘em immediately from your world. Life is too short. There are few people like Teddy in the world today. I wish I could make copies of Teddy in a 3D printer. The world would be golden for it.
CHROME: The Series Official Trailer Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/SplFH2Ek6k8
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ7m7sx-LYIwtbWFw3QnKrA
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