Can you distil what it is that you love about film or television acting particularly – over other types of performance such as theatre? Are there aspects of the craft of acting that are different in front of a camera than when performing for a live audience?
Well, I come from the theatre and it will always remain the nearest and dearest to my heart. I think it’s “the actor’s medium” – as in, the curtains go down and it’s you and the audience, living a lifetime in a moment, beginning to end, sharing it with whoever is in the four walls. And then the lights come up and it’s gone. It’s about as visceral and brilliant as it gets for an actor. In terms of making a film or acting in front of camera, it’s the same spine but much more contained and laser-focused. I think you make a deal with the camera that sort of goes, “Okay, I’m going to let you in,” and the camera responds accordingly. That sounded very thespian-esque…
Film and television can involve an enormously lengthy creative process, with months or even years passing between coming on board via auditions and the premiere of the piece. What’s that like emotionally as a performer – investing heavily in something and then having to wait?
For me, that is non-issue. It’s in the going from the first table read and costume fitting to the second you’re wrapped, or maybe a few hours after. After that, the job is done. Depending how intense the shoes you were just living in, it can take a bit to release that energy, for sure.
How important is a message for you in terms of the types of stories you prefer to get involved with? Are you part activist (and if so, for what causes), do you want something that primarily presses artistic buttons, or is it a matter of simply working first and foremost? (Perhaps it’s a mixture of all three…).
Personally, anything that gets my blood boiling and calls for leaping off the deep end? I want it. You have to connect to guts of the character, and there is no judgment in that. It’s more about the script; the story. If the storytelling is on target, I’m in. We are in essence storytellers, so I think it is important to not shy away from the stories on the fringe that might make people really uncomfortable. I truly believe that the same things that make us uncomfortable can connect us and make you feel a little less alone. That is worthy to me. In terms of being an advocate, personally I speak up and have many things that are near and dear. I work with underprivileged youth in LA a lot. They, by birthright, have important stories inside and want to tell them. Also, stopping police brutality or defunding the police; planned parenthood – these are things I am very much an advocate for.
What do you need from a director? Conversely, what won’t you put up with from a director?
It depends on the director. If there is a great collaboration, there it usually shows up on day one, or even at the audition. This happens more in film and theatre, as you have more time. When a creative environment is happening on set, you can feel it. It vibrates. That is all I ever want. Working with Nick Cassavetes and Bobby Moresco? Two great examples. You do have to be prepared for the alternative and then still be capable of doing justice to the work. I’ve had creative differences for sure, but you compromise. I can’t recall ever thinking “I won’t put up with that” – and knock on wood that remains that way. I have definitely been on not the most creative of sets. I’ll just leave that right there.
Does the way a film or show is distributed make a difference to you – the impact of the big screen and epic sound in a cinema versus a film or series being watched on a laptop or phone? Please answer as both a performer and a fan.
I’ll answer as both. Whatever serves the story the best and gives it its “day in the sun” is how I think it should be experienced. It’s nothing to do with me personally, or if I am involved in it directly or not. It’s the same as with a piece of art – at home, in the woods, in a gallery…
Let’s chat about Hitmen and MOPE: who are your characters and why were they satisfying to play?
They are about as different as they come. Well, both are survivors. And I think both have great senses of humour. Humour in any character – good , bad or ugly – is a way into their heart; into what they are afraid of or insecure about. I try to access that in that way. In MOPE, I play Tampa. Tampa’s a meth addict living on the streets with two kids somewhere out there, and she is literally getting by day to day. Despite her circumstances, she is looking out for any and every opportunity to rise up and educate herself. She has this thick line of morals and ethics. It might not be that high of a bar, but she has one. In Hitmen, I play Liz. Liz is a D-list hit-woman that drives around in a bad-ass van and with her empathy partner Charles. She is ex-military and tough as balls on the surface. But she is deeply insecure and just wanting to be loved. Aren’t we all?