What is your favorite thing about acting?
Just being. Being in the moment. Being and doing as the character. Feeling all the emotions that come with that. When you are able to be 100% in it, just living it for the first time, whether it is with a camera inches from your face in front of a 30-person crew, or in front of a sold out theater, the rare moments when you are just able to be fully in it. Its like magic, its surreal.
What is the hardest part?
I guess when you are just not finding it. When you are trying to find that character, or that emotion, in rehearsal, or on set, it can be excruciating. Because you know what has to happen and for some reason, your body, your emotions, the circumstances, get in the way of your preparation and your process, and if you’ve been on set for seven hours waiting around and suddenly they need you to go, you need to be able to take a breathe and do it, because everyone is counting on you and time is money, but that’s part of the fun too!
What are your tips for newbie actors?
Breathe. Give yourself a break. Save money when you can. There are so many different roads to success, but you have to define what success is for you, and you can’t define your self-worth by it. Especially for people that become actors in search of the lifestyle, the money, or the fame, because it’s what we see and read about, and in some cases are told we should strive for, but most working actors are just that, working. So you have to love acting and the art, and not do it for what you think it might bring you. Also continue to refine your skills and your craft, continue to train and get better, and surround yourself with likeminded hard working people and artists.
What skills, training and education do you recommend?
It’s different for every actor. Show me 1,000 actors and I’ll show you 1,000 approaches to acting. In terms of skills, great listening, an openness and flexibility to work with different people and changing circumstances, and courage. All actors need courage! But as far as training and education go, there are millions of options out there… I went through an intensive BFA program, but you see it all the time living in LA, you meet a lot more actors that, you know, got off the bus with a suitcase and a dream so to speak, actors who have been training with the same acting teacher for years, or people that have just learned by doing it, they’ve been on camera since they were babies – literally! But I always recommend what my friend and casting director Andy Roth says, which is there are two approaches to acting, one that works and one that doesn’t, and actors have to find the one that works for them, and keep at it.
Who are your favorite actors/actresses and what do you learn from watching them?
The list is long and varied; I love film and television, and I try to watch it all. It changes every week as I get enthralled by whatever I’m watching, but I love the passion, joy, and energy Gael García Bernal brings to set on Mozart in the Jungle, I love the command of character and scene work that come from a Denzel Washington performance, who is a master storyteller and understands the camera so well. Watching great actors do live work is incredible too, I remember I saw Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams in Blackbird on Broadway, and it is so emotional and challenging material, and it almost seems over the top, especially compared to their work in front of the camera, and yet you go with them, and you feel what they do, and its incredibly useful to see how they must adapt for the medium they are working in. So for this week, I’ll settle on those four…
What are your upcoming projects and career goals?
I just finished Car Plays, which had a successful run as part of the Pasadena Art Walk, but I really can’t wait for some of the stuff I’ve been doing to come out, in particular the “Chandler” episode of ID Network’s Betrayed coming out in December, as I play the lead antagonist, Robert ‘Carl’ Paiva. Its so much fun to play a villain, but a to play a 70s hyper-masculine mustache killer from the Midwest in a hit new show’s second season, its really exciting. But upcoming projects? I’ve been dying to play Salvador Dalí since working on a version of the character with casting director Ellen Parks, and though I can’t really talk about it yet, I will be playing him very soon and my blood is boiling! I have family in Spain that is actually not far from where he lived most of his life… And as far as career goes, I would love to work with genius filmmakers like Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritú, who I’ve loved before Birdman and The Revenant made him one of the most coveted directors in the world. But more than anything, continue to tell great stories and reach people, whether that be in front of a packed audiences on musical stages where I started, on film, television, or through viral web content, at the heart of it, I hope to continue to do work with meaning, that pushes the envelope, and reaches people.
What is something funny that’s happened to you on the job that makes you love acting more?
I don’t know if this is funny, but recently on the shoot of Rico San Marco, we were shooting in the city of Temecula, a charming town, and for some reason residents hated us! It was crazy! Most of the time when you are shooting on the streets or on location, people want to know what you are shooting, want to take pictures with you, the actors, maybe even try to get in the shot, but we had the film commission shut down a tiny street the first day and people went nuts! They were complaining about having to wait, they were yelling at our production assistants until the director, had to get involved, it was crazy. One guy was upset someone asked him to be quiet, and so he stomped his way through five flights of stairs just to mess with production, but as an actor sometimes the adversity, having less time to shoot, you have to focus and push through, and as a leading actor, working with a kid on the shoot, you have to lead by example and show everyone not to focus on the drama around a shoot, but the job, the scene, the take at hand… And by the end, most people in town ended up loving our production team and came out to watch us film our final scene on the town bridge, but hey, that’s show business, and you got to love it!