The door swings open, he stumbles in headfirst, pauses for a moment to regain his balance and takes a gulp of apple cider from an old Moscato bottle.
He turns around and, as if surprised to see the camera, wobbles over, wide-eyed, to greet it.
Lake Orion senior Cody Stauber has been perfecting his persona of Jack Sparrow from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie franchise in some capacity since he was 13.
That year was the first he went as Jack Sparrow for Halloween. He said he remembers his mother helping him make the costume of a white shirt, a black wig and a bandanna with a hanging string of beads.
He still has many parts of the original, though the costume has evolved, he said. The cravat from when he took a medical first responder course at the end of his freshman year of college is now used as a sash. Its frayed ends, he said, make it look more authentic.
His candidly titled “I want to be in Pirates of the Caribbean 5!” was posted on YouTube last Monday and has since received more than 2,000 hits.
Stauber, now 21, began acting in sixth grade as a storyteller for competitive drama and speech. He would memorize children’s books and fairy tales and perform every voice, motion and character. In high school, he performed in plays.
“My dream was to be an actor, but I thought it would be too hard,” he said. “I kind of backed off and started to focus more on TV and sports broadcasting, which is what I came to Central originally for.”
His major is Broadcasting and Cinematic Arts and his minor is Outdoor Environmental Education. He has three jobs: as an adventure facilitator at the rock wall in Finch Fieldhouse, as a referee for intramural sports and as an announcer for every sport on campus except football and basketball.
But he still found time to act. He got involved with Central Premiere Productions, a student film group part of the BCA department. His prowess as an actor was quickly recognized.
“The first student films I auditioned for, they gave me the lead role. They didn’t even know who I was, so that kind of gave me some confidence again,” he said.
He was involved in a small independent film in Shepherd called “Social Silence,” playing a main role, and in a bigger, Hollywood independent film in Detroit titled “Only Lovers Left Alive” and had a small, non-speaking role.
His real epiphany, however, came two Christmases ago during a late night conversation with his best friend Ross Stolzenburg, a junior at Grand Valley State University who dreams of being a director in California.
“(Stolzenburg) was talking how he wished he had someone to go out (to California) with, and, at that moment, I realized that that’s always what I wanted to do, and I might as well try it,” he said. “If it doesn’t work it doesn’t work, but at least I can go out there and give it a shot.”
Stolzenburg said each would be a boon to the other in California.
“I told him that at the end of my college career, I just want to go to California and see what I can do, and he was immediately inspired, and he is now almost even more into the dream than I am,” Stolzenburg said. “We actually have different tastes in movies, but we’re just friendly people, and it would be great to have each other out there. If one succeeds, then the other succeeds, so we can always have each other by our sides.”
From that moment on, Stauber said, he knew he had to try to be in as many movies and do as many things as he could.
It was that revelation that motivated him to create and post his YouTube video. He said he hopes it will be noticed by somebody who has high connections in entertainment, and his biggest goal is to get an audition for the potential fifth movie of the series.
Chelsea Jacobs, senior from Rochester Hills and Stauber’s girlfriend for the past year and a half, said his personality will enable him to succeed in acting.
“He’s very strong in what he believes in. He is extremely outgoing and friendly; he always likes to make people happy and make people feel at home wherever they are, whenever they’re with him,” she said. “He always makes people feel important around him and takes the time to listen to people, and he’s very supportive too, no matter who it is, which is why everyone also does support him in turn.”
After he graduates, Stauber said he will move. He has an uncle he can stay with in Simi Valley, Calif., 45 minutes north of Hollywood. He said he hopes to find a talent agent before he moves, and he will send out head shots, resumes and cover letters. Failing that, he said he just wants a job in a studio doing anything he can to meet people and make connections.
“Jack Nicholson started off sorting someone’s mail. He was sorting mail, and then he became a huge actor. So you never know where you can come from,” he said.