First of all, I'd like to say that I kind of like Meat Loaf. Not in a hey-I'mma-totally-listen-to-that-album way, just in a he-seems-like-a-nice-dude-and-look-at-his-little-underdog-face way. But...most depressing press release ever?
The subject line: "MEAT LOAF ADAY: NOT SO MUCH ROCKIN', STILL ROLLIN'"
- Gaze into the eyes of Loaf.
This is the story of a little known actor by the name of Michael Lee Aday. Classically trained, he began his career tackling the great bard with performances of Shakespeare in the Park. One day, a band he played in took off, and another persona joined Michael Lee Aday: Meat Loaf. Yes, as in “Bat Out of Hell” Meat Loaf. And although he is known worldwide by the latter moniker these days, Michael never gave up his love of acting, and continues with meticulously chosen roles to this day. His next project, the true-life “Citizen Jane,” airs on Hallmark Channel Saturday, September 12 (9/8c). Of course, one might still consider Michael Lee Aday a struggling actor, since it’s that Meat Loaf character who gets all the choice parts.
The point: Meat Loaf is old now and you haven't thought about him in 20 years and he'd really rather you called him by his human name (which is Michael) because he is more than just a Loaf, goddamnit. He is a man. Please think about Meat Loaf. Take Meat Loaf seriously. Meat Loaf exists. Give Meat Loaf a job. Meat. Meat. Loaf.
(Endless full text after the jump, in which we hear a story about a time Meat Loaf told a story and it was hilarious but you kind of had to be there.)
Meat Loaf remains an iconic name in the history of rock and roll. His seminal ’70s album Bat Out of Hell, buoyed by the classic singles “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light,” sold 43 million copies worldwide, one of the top-five best-selling albums of all time. These days, however, he’s more focused on his acting career.
The long, stringy hair from his halcyon rock-star days has been shorn to something approaching a buzz cut. On the set of his latest gig, the Hallmark Channel Original Movie “Citizen Jane,” which premieres Saturday, September 12 (9/8c) on Hallmark Channel, he’s not only serving as a co-star, but as the production’s quality-control expert and comic relief.
He noted a lapse in logic in the script that resulted in a rewrite that fixed the problem, in the meantime regaling the film’s crew with a witty soliloquy on famous continuity errors in other movies. And, when he blows a take in the rewritten scene by hanging on to a prop phone for too long, he jokes to those assembled, “That would’ve been good — if I had hung up the phone.”
“I like to get away from the Meat Loaf persona,” he explains between takes on location at a Southern California Sheriff’s office, “which didn’t work in the scene downstairs, which I’m upset about.”
“Citizen Jane” is based on a true story about Jane Alexander (played in the film by Ally Sheedy), who resolutely refused to allow the San Jose Police Department to give up on her aunt’s murder case. Meat Loaf — who, these days, goes by the moniker Meat Loaf Aday — co-stars as Detective Jack Morris, a composite character based on three real-life cops, who helps Alexander finally crack the vexing case.
Meat Loaf explains that, in playing a previous scene, “I forgot who I was. And then when it was over, I walked away and thought, ‘That was wrong.’”
No one else noticed, but Meat Loaf cops to being his own toughest critic. “When I’m driving home, I always go, ‘God, I should’ve done it that way,’” he says. Nowadays, he says, in between takes he pretends to imagine himself driving home, “seeing myself being pissed off,” in order to better calibrate his performances.
When it’s suggested that such behavior is called perfectionism, Meat Loaf wryly begs to differ: “No,” he replies, “it’s called being a nut.”
Before his rock-superstar days, Meat Loaf was an actor, appearing in Shakespeare in the Park in the early ’70s and appearing in such seminal movies as “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Wayne’s World” and “Fight Club.” He recently guest-starred in the most buzzed-about episode of this past season of “House,” in which series regular Kutner (Kal Penn) committed suicide.
“I read the script and thought, ‘Oh, this is a water-cooler episode,’” he says. “Even if it overshadows me, that’s still OK, because it’s a water-cooler episode. People might not initially remember I was in it, but I like that.”
Katie Jacobs, one of “House’s” executive producers, says having Meat Loaf as a guest star was “thrilling and kind of surreal. I had not known he began his career as a formally trained actor. The amount of vulnerability he displayed was really touching and he was so willing to open himself up and share all that real emotion.”
So why doesn’t Meat Loaf use his real name — Michael Lee Aday — for serious acting assignments?
“I’ve tried that before,” he says, reeling off a list of attempts that date back to 1972, when he did As You Like It in Shakespeare in the Park for legendary Broadway producer Joe Papp.
“I said to him, ‘Joe, God, this is Shakespeare; maybe we should use my real name,’ and Joe said, ‘What, you think if Bill Shakespeare were alive today, he wouldn’t use Meat Loaf?’ And he just walked away from me,” he recalls. “He called him Bill, I remember that.”
He tried again in 1992, with a Steve Martin film, “Leap of Faith.” “We’re at a screening, and the credits are rolling by and it says, ‘Michael Lee Aday,’” he remembers. “Steve leaps up and says, ‘Who’s Michael Lee Aday?’” When it was explained to him, he recalls that Martin replied, ‘What are you people, nuts? That’s Meat Loaf — you put Meat Loaf up there (in the credits).’” Same thing happened with the 2001 film “Focus” — even though he appeared alongside Oscar nominees William H. Macy, Laura Dern and David Paymer, Meat Loaf was considered a more prestigious moniker than Michael Lee Aday.
“Every time we’ve tried to avoid the name ‘Meat Loaf,’ it hasn’t worked,” he says, simultaneously amused and proud. “‘Meat Loaf Aday’ is acceptable to people.”