A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out. (Anonymous)
I’m devoting my blog today to wishing a very happy 43rd birthday to my friend Michael Trucco, who also happens to be one of the most outstanding people I know.
Michael gets his own blog because I’m not exaggerating when I say that last part. Both professionally and personally, he’s been one of the best people who’s ever walked into my life. (And regular readers will know I do not throw phrases like that out lightly.) No matter how much I say about him, I never feel like I say enough. But I’m going to try one more time, anyway.
I’ve known Michael for about two and a half years now. We met in January of 2011, during a conference call for the first season of Fairly Legal. I hadn’t even heard of him before; I was just on the line because I cover all the USA shows. So I sat there, confused and getting annoyed, as everyone kept asking him questions about Battlestar Galactica. Maybe I was in a mood that day, but just to break the monotony, when it was my turn, I declared, “I’m the one person on this call who hasn’t seen Battlestar.”
And Michael, without missing a beat, replies, “We’ve got something to talk about, then.”
He’d just pwned me on a conference call of like a dozen reporters. That was quick wit and some guts, too. While I was trying to stifle my laughter, I thought to myself, I definitely like this guy.
So I didn’t miss an episode of Fairly Legal after that, and over the first season, I came to appreciate Michael as an actor. Not to slight any other members of that cast, but for me, he was the MVP. Even in scenes where he didn’t have a lot to do, I could see the depth and feel the heart he put into the character of Justin. I am a complete sucker for actors who love what they do so much that we can see it, and Michael’s one of those actors. He puts so much effort into everything he does, and he can do a lot. Having watched most of his body of work since then, putting aside my friendship with him, he’s one of the best actors I’ve ever seen.
When Fairly Legal was renewed for a second season and the network asked if I was interested in doing any interviews, Michael was the only person I asked for. In early March of 2012, we reconnected for a one-on-one phone call, and we hit it off instantly. It was like I’d known him my entire life. Yeah, I got to ask him about the show and try to figure out how he was so damn talented, but there we were trading jokes and personal stories and TV recommendations. We were on the phone for like 40 minutes. I’m still really partial to the feature article that came out of that phone call, because it reminds me of the great time we shared making it. We started following each other on Twitter right after, and we’ve been in touch ever since.
It’s a completely mindblowing thing to share a friendship with someone who I consider to be one of the best at what he does. But I’ve had the pleasure of discovering what a great person Michael is. The experiences we’ve shared together have been great fun and also incredibly meaningful for me. He’s become like the big brother I always wanted.
We met in person for the first time at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, which is a pretty hilarious story itself. I’d promised Michael that I’d come down and say hello, but as I was heading over to meet him, I started to have a panic attack. It hit me that I was about to come face to face with one of my favorite actors, and as you know, I’ve never really had the best self-image in the world. I had to stop and take several deep breaths.
My friend who was with me just looked at me like I was crazy. “Don’t you already know this guy?” he asked me. “And don’t you already know that he likes you? What the hell are you worrying about?” Of course, he was absolutely right. Meeting Michael was the highlight of my Comic-Con 2012, and hopefully we’ll get to do it again this year.
Flash forward to this April, when I had the pleasure of supporting Michael at this year’s Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. That meant I got to show up for the media day and interview him during practice. I got to the track during lunch, and figured nobody would notice me sneaking into the room. I was thus completely dumbfounded when Michael noticed. He further broke my brain on race day, when he told me he was glad that I was there. It was like, “Um, I should be saying that to you.” It humbles me that someone I admire so much cares about me.
But that’s just how good of a guy Michael is. The thing I’ll remember most from the TPCR, and one of the memories I’ll hold dear for the rest of my life, is the two of us just sitting together during a break in media day, catching up, because he just decided to hang out with me. Moments like those show you who your real friends are, and I’m so lucky to count Michael as one of mine.
Even though we don’t see each other often, he’s always supported me. It was Michael who gave me a much-needed pep talk before I went to interview his Battlestar co-star Jamie Bamber. In fact, when I told him I was visiting the set of Monday Mornings, he pointed out that Revenge – which he was guest-starring on at the time – shot nearby and actually checked to see if he’d be around. He wasn’t shooting that day, but the gesture meant a hell of a lot, especially considering how scared I was to be on that set.
And when we are together, he’s one of the rare people that I feel completely comfortable with. I love spending time with him. It really is like I’ve known him my whole life. He’s embraced me for who I am, and having his support has given me the strength to accept myself. We’ve tweeted about so much over the last two years, and he’s become one of my best friends.
He’s also inspired what I think is some of my best work. After that Comic-Con meeting, I was inspired to write a pilot for him to star in. That was literally the whole idea. I wrote that pilot in three days, and it just came alive for me in a way almost nothing ever has before. I’m in the process of writing the rest of an entire TV season, just because I’m so in love with the characters, and those characters came from an idea that started with Michael.
I asked him to read that pilot awhile back, and let’s just say the feedback he gave me is something I will look at as a high point in my career, no matter what happens next. To know that I’ve impressed someone whose work I admire, who also happens to be someone I look up to as a person? It doesn’t get much better than that. Except maybe to know that person is someone that I can call not just a favorite actor, not just an inspiration, but most importantly a friend.
So Michael, if you should read this, I hope you have an amazing birthday today. You absolutely deserve it.
And you definitely don’t look 43.