My name is Roger. I was born in Flint, Michigan, sometime in the 20th century.
Once there were many of us. Tens, dozens - perhaps scores, if we count those who labored in obscure unconscious Hitlerdom, the unknowing unknowable Hitlers, the Hitlers who spent their lives as garbagemen or actuaries or dogcatchers in loose uniforms and worn loafers, never knowing the brisk thrill of crisp trousers, the rough thrust of stiff jackboots.
All of us, we are brothers, brothers of peaked complexion and poor posture, of limply slicked combovers and insufficient moustaches, with shrill darting tenor and unusually robust hip flexors. We fell as ash from the sky and collected in soot in the dust and arose again as the manifestations of der Fuhrer, obsidian eyed as we erected a line down the hall of the casting agency to audition for the role of Hitler.
We were a mess of Hitlers, a terror of Hitlers, a roiling looming goosestep of Hitlers. Men are made but Hitlers are born, and where we pale and lumpy failures would have once been tailors or hatters or potters toiling alone in the dank and damp we were now born to a world seething for Hitlers, hungering for Hitlers, Hitlers in cinema, Hitlers in art, Hitlers as strippers.
And I am the last of them, the others long dead or crazy, or crazy in death, buried beneath Iron Crosses and eagles as I alone stroke a greying moustache and brood, wringing memories from the old programs and scripts crackling and crumbling to dust in my fingers, brooding and dying in the dusk, a defiant and cantankerous goosestep down the infinite and cavernous hallways of history.
another year. another world war ii movie. another hitler audition.
the same 15 guys show up as last time, the veterans smoking, laughing, and telling stories, the newbies fidgeting. congratulations, the suits will tell one of them next week. we thought that of the entire group you were the most like hitler by far. it is a strange but understanding brotherhood, this small circle of hitler impersonators.
all of us hate klaus. yes, we all think it's hilarious when you make menacing comments about "method acting" to your jewish agent. or maybe we thought it was hilarious the first 5,999,999 times you did it.
a shiny red ball comes rolling into the alley where they wait their turn. a girl comes chasing after, pigtails flying in the california breeze. "rosie!" a voice shouts urgently. "leave it! get away from those men!"
her mother glares at them all leaning up against the wall as they are. how dare you be hitler.
The Pussy Boss
they immerse themselves in the hitler canon, know all the great speeches by heart, spend hours perfecting every inflection and then the director wants them to stand there and seig heil a couple times
david is the pathetic one. his wife left him for looking like adolf hitler. his son and daughter have strawberry red in their hair, but there is enough of the hitlerine in them that they resent their father for it. we are the only family he has these days and when most of us just want to get the audition over with and go home and smoke and practice yelling he keeps wanting to take us all bar hopping when the auditions are all finished. some of us tolerate him, most ignore him.
sometimes it grates, reading daily variety and seeing that you'll have to shave off the outer quarters of your moustache, get the brown shirt and jacket cleaned and pressed. the worst part is the busride, with all the dirty looks. of course, no cab will stop for hitler.
nobody pays a hitler much, not even out of pity. face it, we're all saving up for plastic surgery here. the banks won't loan us the money to do it sooner (typical). poor ernie got drunk and went after his face with an electric knife three years ago. none of us can really blame him. once a year all fifteen of us go together and lay a rose on his grave.
shaving the moustache helps, but you have to be ready when the phone rings and they need a hitler. you have to live with it. pick up milk and a pack of smokes with the hitler moustache and your sweatpants. the facial hair that killed six million jews and your dollar general flip flops when you're cleaning the car out at the magic wash. you can't show up at a shoot with a pasted-on moustache. christ. you'd never get another callback in the 213 area code. so here you are trying to pay for goddamn takeout and some 16 year old korean kid is giving your spare uniform the hairy eyeball over your shoulder while you count out enough for a tip and not for the first time sympathize with the guy for blowing his brains out rather than deal with this shit.
i remember when paramount FINALLY did a mein kampf picture. christ, we were all so fucking excited.
and then, no audition.
they gave the fucking part to gary oldman.
i stand in front of the bathroom mirror. first, softly, "i am hitler". then, louder "i am hitler" and even louder "i. am. hitler!" the cat comes in. she is hungry but there is no food
it's easier if you grow the moustache out on the sides, though, during the off season. and of course khaki's just out. for god's sake, your mother's funeral was the day before the audition back in '06! how do you think it felt, saying goodbye while every eye was on that fuzzy square of death between your lips and nostrils? and the director said he wanted more of a 'young hitler' look anyway. what the fuck!
the hitlers snicker quiletly and mug at each other as they creep around the side of the building trying not to be heard. a smell of sauerkraut, stale heffenweizen and sweat is built up around them hanging heavy like a bog's haze. unable to restrain themselves longer as they approach the door of the dormitory they all let out their choreographed howl through grinning mouths "WAKE UP BRAUNS!!! IT'S A PANTY RAIIIIIIID!!!"
bow chicka wow wow
not every man can be hitler. only one. the rest of the single-file line will have to pretend to be charlie chaplin.
one audition all the fdrs wheeled up as we were finishing. a lot of them were just guys in wheelchairs, didnt even look anything like him. pathetic. none of us really made eye contact.
the worst is when you're flying to hawaii, after the golden globes, clean-shaven, fresh, ready to get some rays, and the sonofabitch next to you recognizes you. -Oh, you're Hitler! I mean, in that movie.
Yes, you sigh sluggishly. You've met him before, at Caesar's Palace that night you won twelve hundred bucks, at the racetrack that afternoon you lost two grand, at your stepdaughter's wedding reception.
Someone always recognizes you, grills you about the part. 'I'm such a fan,' they bubble, 'you brought real humanity to the rôle.' Or compassion, or zeal.
'You make evil look good', one round, balding old fairy told you at a meet'n'greet in Malibu.
there are only five working actors that play goebbels. the same five show up to every audition. they gravitate towards the darkest corner of the room and talk to each other in a chittering huddle, a blister bump of goebbels in the corner of the green room, softly scratching the walls and squeaking like baby mice.