I Used To Be Somebody
“I used to be somebody”.
That’s the kind of sentence someone washed up would say, perched on a crooked stool in a dingy dive bar, sharing stories of bygone times to anyone willing to listen in order to scrape any serotonin out of the remnants of their memories.
That’s how I feel.
Burke & Hare.
The story of a couple of grave diggers. Apt.
A highlight of my early career. Performing in a scene with the writer of the screenplay Nick Moorcoft, and actors Andy Serkis, Jessie Hynes and Simon Pegg. I remember how happy I was.
I emerge out of the audition with another actor.
“You were so confident in there” he tells me.
“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?” I reply, unaware that we had just auditioned in front of John Landis, the director, who’d created so many Michael Jackson music videos, An American Werewolf In London, Coming to America, etc…. I would’ve likely behaved differently if I had known it was him. Usually early auditions are done in front of assistants.
I land(is) the job, and barely a year in my career, I’m on set with that motion capture nerd Serkis (Gollum, Caesar, Kong) and the cast from one of my favourite TV shows Spaced.
It was a beautiful day.
The scene was cut from the film.
“I used to be somebody,” I remind myself.
I lay in bed for the ninth consecutive day in California with a warped sense of having accepted defeat.
There’s something strangely pleasant about allowing oneself to simply be, to find acceptance in doing nothing and being of no value to anyone, and finally realize that’s an equally acceptable life to live.
Because in the absurdity of the eternal cosmos, all this, everything, is pretty fucking ridiculous.
I am a loser.
In the very real sense that I relatively recently lost everything, I am a loser, and I approach this title with masochistic glee, because everyone loves an underdog story, and I’ve not given up hope that I will get out of this psychological slump.
I flick through pictures of who I once was and wonder what’s ahead for me. Will I be able to relive the career I once had, or dare I dream, achieve better results? I just can’t tell if my fire has been extinguished or if it gently, quietly, burns in the darkness, waiting for fuel.
“Having played international stages and been on a few movie sets, I clearly have what it takes”, I tell myself.
Eager, curious to learn more, and technically, not starting from zero, I have over a decade of performance in my backstory, theatre in London, improv school in Los Angeles, clowning in Paris, and a beautiful showreel to tantalize the appetite of potential collaborators, so what’s wrong? Why can’t I get my shit together? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09mGI_Z0fbk
It’s a strange feeling losing confidence in oneself; I feel like a shell, hollow, void of the character I once played, and the only comfort I have is telling myself a potential lie; that I’m being held back at some frontier, either by some cosmic force larger than myself, or by a puppeteer in my subconscious, waiting, stalking, for a well-timed opportunity to pounce on. Maybe there is a collaboration out there that would be perfect for me, and this means the gut-instinct timing needs to be on point. Believing in oneself really does require a degree of delusion to continue forward, but I’m so tired of trying, that I’ll just wait in bed and see what results that gets me.
Or maybe it’s just depression.
Perhaps my post-traumatic stress disorder is appreciating the oasis of inaction and forcing me to learn to do and welcome nothing.
It’s nice and my human has made me laugh with its ridiculous attempts at entertaining itself and pretending that it’s being important in menial tasks, but I’d like get back to work please.
When people ask me what brought me to Los Angeles, I tell them it was career and marriage, but now unemployed and divorced, I don’t quite know the answer anymore.
Was I brought here as some rite of passage? Or a sacrifice?
Does this city crush someone on purpose in order to rebuild them from their core?
To recap, I moved to Hollywood in the hopes my international career would translate to some work, but that didn’t happen, I saw the gradual decline of my savings, I witnessed my relationship slowly crumble until we separated, leaving me alone on the other side of the World from loved ones and forcing me to question my ability as a man, incapable of providing, useless and panicking as I had lost all my hair to a metaphorical Delilah.
I lost my sense of purpose, my raison d’être, and I hated who I was.
I journeyed into hypnotherapy so that I could resolve issues which were perpetuating patterns of self-destructive behavior, leading to a subsequent few weeks of disintegration in a reality that mirrored Van Gogh’s Starry Night where movements were fluid and had a dream-like feel, forcing me to wonder wether I was still under hypnosis. (A feeling I still have today).
Shedding any and every thing that I despised about my character, like an ex-girlfriend throwing all my belongings out of the window, I was suddenly left with nothing, an internal silent implosion, a literal ego death, for it is on that fateful morning, that I woke up with amnesia and no longer existed.
Whatever I was when I first woke up, it wasn’t Eric.
He couldn’t survive the World anymore.
It was exhilarating and terrifying.
To not be me anymore.
I can’t quite tell who’s who.
I had disassociated so much with Eric that I didn’t even have his name in the Edinburgh Festival brochures the year it happened. I didn’t any of the press quotes once associated with his work, because these didn’t belong to me…
Because I wasn’t him.
And now, it’s like I’m only him because one needs a name to cross borders, you need a name to have a job, you need a backstory when introducing yourself to new people.
Eric is alive, but only in the sense that the external World still recognizes him, for bureaucratic reasons.
There’s going to be paperwork if you’re renting a space out. Well, like that, this piece of space exists in a much larger piece of space, in space, and we’ll call that piece, Eric R Lampaert.
Humans have tried giving each other numbers instead of names, and that didn’t work out well for us.
I worked with Margot Robbie previously on a commercial. After that shoot, I knocked on the door of her trailer and asked if she’d make an appearance on my SNL self-tape audition. and she agreed. I’ll always remember that kindness, and it might be thanks to her that they flew me to New York for the callback.
So you can imagine I was thrilled to work with her a second time.
I had just left Los Angeles to work in the United Kingdom for a couple of weeks, and headed straight from the airport to Cardiff for a weekend of gigs. On the way there, my agent calls me and asks if I can be in Los Angeles on Monday, specifically, in Miracle Mile district where I lived. I couldn’t believe it.
Friday & Saturday in Wales for stand up comedy, and back on a plane Sunday night to land Monday morning for a brief interview with Margot, before heading to LAX for a flight back to Blighty and land on Tuesday to get back on set for another project.
There was something comical and engaging with this yo-yoing between worlds, with people needed me on both sides.
It felt good.
I felt important.
Perhaps I took it for granted.
At the moment, literally nobody needs me.
Nothing more humbling that switching your phone on airplane mode for a few days and turning it back on to be greeted with silence.
It’s freeing, and tragic.
I feel alone in this depressing experience.
I suppose we all feel alone in our unique experience.
Each, alone, together.
My particular trauma has unique flavours and unbelievable details, but at its core, what I’m moving through is a profound grief. There’s a comforting solace in being able to relate to other humans with this, even if the gateway is through suffering.
One recognizes someone who has seen the other side.
To have died and come back, or emerged, or wherever it is I am now, does offer bizarre insight into how one could navigate through life, and how to lend a helping hand to those in need of hope for more.
“I used to be somebody”, says the ghost.
There was no funeral for Eric, because as far as you’re all concerned, his body still walks around.
Occasionally, I get glimpses of him, but this new World is so different. I still can’t quite grasp that I wrote a screenplay about a virus taking over the world just before the pandemic.
Sounds crazy doesn’t it?
I know it’s happened to others writers, it’s not necessary something special, but when it happens to you, believe me, it’s fucking crazy.
No wonder I ended up in a psychiatric hospital.
I wrote a script about a plague and it then happened, begging questions of manifestations, clairvoyance, responsibility, unbelievable boundaries of consciousness, of time, and unknowable foundations of the reality in which I now live in, leaving me in unending free-fall and clutching for anything that will save me from having stared directly into nothingness.
Is that what Hollywood is? You enter its sphere of influence and are capable of hacking into the story telling machine of the planet? Or you live in your very own Matrix sack and control the story you dream of, as was promised by American propaganda on the television of European youths.
Honestly very difficult to get over the belief that I had something to do with the millions of deaths. Nonsense, yes, but hey, maybe I did, and if so, not only is that quite the achievement, but I wouldn’t recommend you get on my bad side, or I’ll write something else.
Ever since my little stint in the supernatural, I have felt my fractured self fight for control of our body, as we wade through memories that had such a metaphysical quality to it, that it’s difficult to “return to normal”,… to return home.
The past few years would’ve made Joseph Campbell proud, although I can’t tell where I am in the story circle.
What I have experienced in the City of Angels, a story that began in Miracle Mile district and had me flow through the river Jordan, is either explained by the invisible hand of an omniscient power capable of moving pieces around his Unus Mundus and leaving celestial road signs as comforting clues to safe passage, or as a bystander to mathematically precise cosmic self-regulation whose geometry terrified and humbled me. Either God got involved, or I saw the inner mechanics of our machine, and either way, this strange safety net has elevated what I now believe to be possible.
I used to be somebody that believed he knew what was going on. That was nice.
It was blind, but it was nice.
Perhaps that’s what I’m scared about.
The fantastic possibilities now available to the human when it transcends his animal, when it observes itself outside of his biological avatar and feels the other side of the firmament.
Having been a spectator in waves of synchronicities and coincidences gives me no doubt that all things are interconnected, and can exist without the need for a God.
Oh oh, he’s on a spiritual rant. Just let him through, it’s like bleeding the radiator, it’s gotta be done sometimes, regular programing will be back shortly.
A conscious force to guide us through life isn’t necessary in chaos theory, because patterns can appear in the formlessness regardless; the Feingenbaum constant being an example of precision order in chaos.
And yet, the apotheosis I was enthralled in was so exquisite, so euphoric, that it revealed windows on the edge of the universe and gave me no doubt of a divine dimension.
So, with all this farfetched backstory, what will become of me?
Only time will tell.
As I wrote that sentence, I played ‘Only Time’ by Enya to give my movie some backdrop.
Till I work it out, let’s revisit some more memories and numb the present with nostalgia.
All aboard the Stoner Express, aka, AmStarDam.
The first, and only movie thus far, in which I played one of the lead characters, with an ensemble that became family. Occasionally, I see their faces pop up on another project and my heart leaps in excitement for their success. Big love for these people.
This is the kind of project I long for; lengthy periods of time on set, exploring a character and collaborating with people who want the best for the story.
One of the blessings of having had amnesia, hollowed of identity, is having first hand experience of owning a body capable of deconstructing and rebuilding a character from within; ideal for a potential future of a life in people’s stories.
Fingers crossed the roles come my way.
Having my name, albeit small, on the wall of the prestigious Parisian Olympia, made my French family finally take notice of my career. Opening the bilingual show for giants Eddie Izzard & Gad Elmaleh, two comics I had grown up with, and suddenly sharing a stage with.
It was certainly a night to remember.
Perhaps one day, I will be able to have my name in large.
Group photo for the Top 10 shows at the Edinburgh Festival.
It’s a nice feeling having colleagues recognize the work that you put in, and that Summer, my show Alien Of Extraordinary Ability was well received by critics and audiences.
Sometimes, it’s good to remember that you’re not as bad as you think.
Didier Bourdon. I literally grew up watching this man perform comedy on my French television, so you can imagine how happy I was when I got to play alongside him in movie; Les Profs 2.
Wearing a sweater with the words Reality Dreams, I wonder if it was some sort of harbinger of things to come, for the two have certainly blended and shocked me as much as I look in the photo.
Wither Would You Go? presented at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. A one-off performance with the likes of Stephen Fry, Lucy Davis, Iddo Goldberg, Jimmy Akingbola and other brilliant actors, who presented sections of Shakespearean plays, in order to bring light the challenges faced by refugees, spurred by Syrian actor Jay Abdo who was forced to flee his home country.
It gave me a taste to further my knowledge of Shakespearan works, in the hopes that one day, maybe, I could be engaged in one of his plays, and who knows, might it be at The Globe in London?
I feel ready for his work. I have traveled through the question of wether it is best to be or not, and I certainly feel the sensation that all the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts…
And just for shits and giggles, I’ll always be thankful the King’s Theatre in Newmarket, and for bullies who pushed me in here to hide.