Today is May 13th, and today you graduate, and today you already know what I know: to get where you're going, you have to be good, and to be good where you're going, you have to be damned good. Every once in a while, you'll succeed. Most of the time you'll fail, and most of the time the circumstances will be well beyond your control.
When we were casting my first movie, "A Few Good Men," we saw an actor just 10 months removed from the theater training program at UCLA. We liked him very much and we cast him in a small, but featured role as an endearingly dimwitted Marine corporal. The actor had been working as a Domino's Pizza delivery boy for 10 months, so the news that he'd just landed his first professional job and that it was in a new movie that Rob Reiner was directing, starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, was met with happiness. But as is often the case in show business, success begets success before you've even done anything, and a week later the actor's agent called. The actor had been offered the lead role in a new, as-yet-untitled Milos Forman film. He was beside himself. He felt loyalty to the first offer, but Forman after all was offering him the lead. We said we understood, no problem, good luck, we'll go with our second choice. Which, we did. And two weeks later, the Milos Forman film was scrapped. Our second choice, who was also making his professional debut, was an actor named Noah Wyle. Noah would go on to become one of the stars of the television series "ER" and hasn't stopped working since. I don't know what the first actor is doing, and I can't remember his name. Sometimes, just when you think you have the ball safely in the end zone, you're back to delivering pizzas for Domino's. Welcome to the NFL.
当我第一部电影《军官与魔鬼》开拍时，剧组里有位十个月前才修完加州大学洛杉矶分校戏剧表演课程的演员。他很讨人喜欢，我们让他担任一个不是很重要、但十分显眼的角色－一位傻气而讨喜的海军下士。这位演员在Domino披萨担任了10个月的外送员，所以首次获得参与一部新电影演出的机会令他十分兴奋。这部电影由Rob Reiner导演，汤姆．克鲁斯和杰克．尼克逊主演。但如同演艺圈经常发生的情形：在你还来不及完成任何事之前，成功的机会便接踵而来。一 星期后，这位演员的经纪人致电给剧组：米洛斯·福尔曼一部尚未命名的电影邀请这位演员担任主角。他欣喜若狂，虽然他认为应该对第一个机会展现忠诚，但毕竟福尔曼让他担任主角。我们回复说，我们了解，没问题，祝你好运，我们将采用第二顺位的角色选择，我们确实这么做了。两星期后，米洛斯·福尔曼这部影片停拍，我们的第二选择——也是一位职业生涯中首次获得演出机会的演员，这位演员名叫Noah Wyle。Noah之后成为电视影集《急诊室的春天》主角之一，至今仍在演艺圈大放异彩。我不知道第一位演员现况如何，甚至想不起他的名字。有时候，就在你以为自己安全达阵时，却得回到Domino送披萨。欢迎来到野蛮世界。
In the summer of 1983, after I graduated, I moved to New York to begin my life as a struggling writer. I got a series of survival jobs that included bartending, ticket-taking, telemarketing, limo driving, and dressing up as a moose to pass out leaflets in a mall. I ran into a woman who'd been a senior here when I was a freshman. I asked her how it was going and how she felt Syracuse had prepared her for the early stages of her career. She said, "Well, the thing is, after three years you start to forget everything they taught you in college. But once you've done that, you'll be fine." I laughed because I thought it was funny and also because I wanted to ask her out, but I also think she was wrong.
As a freshman drama student—and this story is now becoming famous—I had a play analysis class—it was part of my requirement. The professor was Gerardine Clark. If anybody was wondering, the drama students are sitting over there. The play analysis class met for 90 minutes twice a week. We read two plays a week and we took a 20-question true or false quiz at the beginning of the session that tested little more than whether or not we'd read the play. The problem was that the class was at 8:30 in the morning, it met all the way down on East Genesee, I lived all the way up at Brewster/Boland, and I don't know if you've noticed, but from time to time the city of Syracuse experiences inclement weather. All this going to class and reading and walking through snow, wind chill that's apparently powered by jet engines, was having a negative effect on my social life in general and my sleeping in particular. At one point, being quizzed on "Death of a Salesman," a play I had not read, I gave an answer that indicated that I wasn't aware that at the end of the play the salesman dies. And I failed the class. I had to repeat it my sophomore year; it was depressing, frustrating and deeply embarrassing. And it was without a doubt the single most significant event that occurred in my evolution as a writer. I showed up my sophomore year and I went to class, and I paid attention, and we read plays and I paid attention, and we discussed structure and tempo and intention and obstacle, possible improbabilities, improbable impossibilities, and I paid attention, and by God when I got my grades at the end of the year, I'd turned that F into a D. I'm joking: it was pass/fail.