Talkin' Tepper (part 1 of 2)
Updated: Feb 3, 2020
It was Facebook that did it.
A decade on from college, I searched for the profile of the only actor I knew in Hollywood and hoped Rob Tepper would remember me fondly from our one Public Speaking class together back at Santa Clara University.
Brayden! Great to hear from you! What's your number? I'd be stoked to help you find who you're looking for...let's talk soon...this weekend is good for me. Best -Tepper
It was August 2011, and I was back in Hawai'i for a short time. Before returning to India, I had set myself a goal of identifying an actor who might be interested in coming to the subcontinent sometime in 2012 to carry my final student film. I called up Rob, hoping that he would be able to help me dig around Los Angeles for the best guy for the job....and, you know, damned if he didn't.
Actors are the most prominent tool in a director's kit; whether a film is dialogue-heavy or not, actors are the ones the audience is watching, like the front man for a band. To put it another way, a good lead actor executes the dramatic plan laid out by the director, like a quarterback calling the coach's plays.
A great lead actor, though, like Rob, can change the call at the line of scrimmage, and produce something truly extraordinary for himself and his team. Time and again, Rob delivered for us on the Breakdown set, leaving me wondering how in the hell I ever could have made this film without him. I mean, what if he had told me, "No?"
Before that first phone call in August 2011, I had not spoken with Tepper in more than ten years. We had been friendly but not close in college, though we had gotten on really well in that one class and had several mutual friends. But after our graduation from Santa Clara, I went off into the US Army, and Rob went off to Hollywood.
I'll never forget Rob's first words when I called him up on the phone. "Yoder, what? You're in India? Making films? What?"