Your new movie The Cabining
- in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell
us about your character in it?
follows Todd & Bruce as they try desperately to write a satisfactory
screenplay that will please their investor, Todd’s wealthy stepdad,
Sarge. Bruce convinces Todd that they need inspiration and will find it at
Shangri-la, an artist retreat set out in the woods. They find the
inspiration they’re looking for, but whether or not they’ll survive
long enough to complete the script… well, that’s another story.
uh well, where do you even start; he’s very much a type-A personality
with hints of narcissism that are about as subtle as a jackhammer at
times, but underneath it all I always saw him as an eternal optimist. He
just believes that everything will work out and doesn’t waste his time
with worry. Like he read a synopsis of The
Secret and said, “Yeah, that sounds good. I’ll go with that.”
Of course, Bruce has
made being a freeloader an art form, and therefore knows Todd will take
care of the “responsibility stuff” at Shangri-la. That allows him to
focus his attention on 3 things: Fun, hot girls, and fun with hot girls.
All the things a growing Bruce needs!
What did you draw upon to
bring your character to life, and how much of Bo Keister can we find in
Bruce really jumped off the
page for me. I could just feel it, and ideas for him began playing in my
head immediately. The script alluded to Bruce
not really having anyone in his life other than Todd, and it’s clear
that whatever he had in the past is gone. Rather than get down about it,
he chose the opposite path. That’s what clued me in to his optimistic
nature. He lives his life driven
completely by his desire to have fun, free from worries of the past. From
there, I just began adding layers, going with improv ideas on set that
worked, and let him breathe. But I think finding his optimism is what
really made the character work. He sort of becomes this loveable
man-child. You like him, but also want to strangle him at times.
As for the amount of
“me” in the character, I would say it depends who you ask! There are
certainly similar traits. I like to think that I share his optimism, but
I’m not nearly as narcissistic… at least I don’t think I am! I can
relate to his party animal side too; a throwback to my college days. Even
today, at nearly 40, I can still raise hell with the best of them and love
having a good time. The one part I hope comes through, and that I
tried to consciously add, was an element of charm. I felt that without it
he’d come across unlikeable. Without that, Bruce can’t “get away
with” the things he says and does, so I knew that was going to be
paramount in playing him.
How did you get involved with the project in the
Kopera found me through IMDb, believe it or not, and called me about
coming on as an executive producer. He said there were a couple of cop
roles that I might fit, so I was eager to give it a look. He
emailed the script, and the more I read, the more Bruce just kind of
called out to me. It was a character type I’d been waiting to play for
the longest time. So, I asked if the role was filled, which it wasn’t,
and I asked for a shot. The rest is history.
What can you tell us about your
collaboration with the Kopera brothers, the driving force behind The
Cabining [Mike and Steve Kopera
interview - click here]?
Mike and Steve are just
amazing to work with on so many levels. They each know their own strengths
and weaknesses, as well as each others; just a perfect one-two punch on
set. You can feel the trust they have in one another’s abilities, and
that provided a great tone for the shoot.
Mike is a terrific actor,
but he’s also one of the best producers I’ve ever seen, hands down. No
matter what the situation, he seemed to flawlessly handle it, never
getting ruffled. Even if he did, it didn’t show or carry over to set.
That’s an incredible feat considering the number of hats he was wearing
throughout the shoot. He’s a beast!
Steve, as a writer, had put together a clever
script, but more importantly, as director, he had a very clear vision for
it. He knew exactly what he wanted from each of us, as well as our
characters, and communicated it well. As you mentioned in your review, his
directing style was very subtle. He trusted us as actors, giving us the
latitude to discover and create in the moment. That allowed the characters
we built to come alive, while Steve acted as more of a guide to keep us
within the framework of the scene. To me, that’s what great directors
do, and Steve is in that class.
Cabining being a slasher movie of sorts, is that a genre you can
at all identify with?
You mean aside from the two
dead bodies in my basement? Absolutely!
I’m a child of the
80’s, so I cut my teeth on all the classics. Jason,
Myers, all of them were part of my formative years…which probably
explains a lot. Finding such a love for the
horror genre at an early age opened me up to exploring Hitchcock, Kubrick,
and others. If I hadn’t been so into horror, I probably would have
overlooked them and I would have missed out on some great films.
What can you tell us about the
shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
It was just awful! Having
to go film every day in a mansion, on a beautiful lake…how horrifying!
Nah, I know it’s cliché,
but it was very much one big family. The majority of the cast were all
staying together in a huge house, so we were always together. I think you
really see those bonds and relationships translate to the film. Also, on the few nights off during the shoot,
everyone would get together over great food, adult beverages and guitars.
It was one of best shoots I’ve ever done and I can’t wait to get
another one going with the same group, cast and crew, everyone was amazing
to work with.
projects you'd like to talk about?
Yes. I been very fortunate
to have several projects come my way and, like all actors, I hope it
Most imminent is a new
comedy/drama series called Assets,
which will start shooting in Georgia this fall. I’ll be playing
“Pete”, the limo driver/bodyguard of the lead character, Quintessa.
Not sure if he’ll be a series regular, but definitely recurring.
I’m also developing The
Lycanthropist with Blu de Golyer [Blu
de Golyer interview - click here] and David Mun [David
Mun interview - click here] from House
of Good and Evil. Originally, it started off as a feature film, but
the opportunity to turn it into a series came along and was more
appealing, so we’re getting that put together now. It’s going to be a
terrific new spin on the werewolf genre.
There are several other
films that are in various stages of development or pre-production too;
primarily The Puzzle Jug and The Tomorrow Saga. Lastly, Reunion
108, a baseball comedy I shot last year, has completed post and will
hopefully be premiering soon. Lots of great things going and I feel truly
blessed. Of course, I’m always looking for more, so fingers crossed that
the offers keep coming my way!
What got you into
acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the
I grew up loving movies,
but being from a small town in Virginia, Hollywood was a pipe dream. So I
went to college to study criminal justice instead. I had myself convinced that
I was going to go into the Secret Service and guard the President one day.
No idea why, I guess it just seemed cool. Anyway, I came to find out that
my eyesight would prevent me from ever achieving that goal. It was at this
point that I had to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. The only other real love I
had was movies, so I did some research and my parents suggested I check
out Wilmington, NC. It was the 3rd largest film market at the
time, so I jumped at the opportunity. I drove down, checked it out, and
moved the following week. I didn’t know a soul. All I knew was “start
with extra work”. Two days later, I was on my first set. From that point, I began
making connections and studying with my first acting coach. After a couple
years of busting my hump in classes, booking small roles, and getting in
the union, I took off to LA and trained my ass off under numerous coaches.
I moved back to Virginia to be closer to family
in 2006, after my first son was born. Luckily, thanks to the internet and
a team of agents that work their hearts out for me, I’ve been able to
work consistently and remain relevant.
Can you still remember your first time in front
of a movie or TV camera, and what was that experience like?
My first speaking role was
on, wait for it… a horror/comedy! I played “J.T. Strickler” in a film
called Vampires Anonymous. Funny
enough, I’ve never even seen the film. I remember being nervous at first, but I
eventually found my groove, and made friends that I still have to this
day. Honestly though, it was so long ago, I can’t recall much else.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to The
I suppose the most
recognizable role would be “Kip Tyler” in Remember
the Titans. I’m the guy that breaks “Rev’s” arm and talk’s
trash to him, then “Sunshine” comes in the game and takes me out. Other than that, I’ve done several indie films
that are hopefully finding their way to distribution soon.
Where I Begin is one that comes to mind. I’m particularly proud of
my performance in that film, which is a gritty, southern drama. I’ve
done a boatload of commercials too, and I currently host the top rated
show on The Sportsman Channel, Gallery
of Guns TV.
You also run an acting school,
right? Do talk about that one if you can!
I used to run one. I really loved doing it and helping train beginning
actors. Both fortunately and unfortunately, I just got too busy with film
work to keep it going. I still coach privately as I have time, so it’s
not entirely dead in the water. And I’m proud to say that I have several
students out there booking roles.
How would you
describe yourself as an actor, and some of your techniques to bring your
characters to life?
I like to think of myself
as an everyman archetype, because my look is adaptable to numerous
character types, but my physical size usually puts me in line with playing
the bad guy. I think that’s why “Bruce” was such a must for me. He
gave me a chance to show I’m not a one trick pony. Don’t get me wrong, I
love playing dark characters. That’s my wheelhouse. It’s just nice to
find roles where I can show my range as well.
When it comes to technique,
I typically work from the inside out. A lot of actors wear a character
like a suit, whereas I like to let the character wear me like a suit. To
me, it’s more about finding what makes the character tick internally;
the core emotion that drives them and why. Once I find that information,
the rest just seems to flood my brain. My big thing is that I never focus
on “how” a character acts, says a line, etc. If you understand the
who, what, why, and where of your character, how happens all by itself. My strongest attribute,
however, is probably my work ethic. That comes from my parents and my
upbringing, and probably the thing I love most about myself. I don’t get
the whole diva thing. You’ve been hired to do a job that most people
would kill for, so knuckle down and do the work. As I like to tell myself,
“Find another gear!” When I walk on set I’m
ready to go, and I give 110% every take, even if the camera isn’t on me,
because it helps other cast members performances and the scene/film as a
whole. I believe that’s why so many directors I’ve worked with want me
on other projects. They know I’m going to bring that to set. No matter
how successful I may become, that’s one aspect that I will never change.
Actors who inspire you?
wow. I’m glad you made that plural, because I’d never be able to
narrow it to one.
guess I’d have to start with Kevin Spacey & Geoffrey Rush. Not
merely for the roles they’ve played, or how well they play them, but
more for the fact that they really had to fight to get their shot. Both of
them kept at it until their opportunity came, and when it did, they let it
rip. I think every actor dreams of that moment in their career.
As for others, I’ve
always admired Tom Hanks & Ed Norton. Tom Hanks primarily for his
ability to play such a multitude of characters; he’s really a true
“every man” and he has the ability to make you feel every emotion his
character feels. Ed Norton has those abilities as well, but I love how
gutsy he is with his character choices. He takes risks on edgy characters
and makes them work, even when they should be unlikeable.
Lastly, I’d say Anthony Hopkins & Meryl
Streep because, well, they’re Anthony Hopkins & Meryl Streep.
Hmm…probably my favorite, for personal reasons,
would be Big Fish. If I’m in
the mood for a laugh, This is Spinal
Tap is a great choice, along with anything from Monty Python or Mel
Brooks. Horror fave will always be the original Nightmare
on Elm Street, but Night of the
Living Dead is a close second. And, it may come as a surprise to some,
but I’m a huge fan of Richard Curtis’ work. I love his character
driven, intertwined stories, like Notting
Hill and Love Actually, he’s an amazing storyteller.
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
all honesty, I try to take away at least one positive from every film I
watch. Not sure there are any that I completely despise. If I don’t like
them, I just turn them off. In some cases, the fact that I turned them off
and didn’t have to finish watching is the positive that I take away!
Your website, Facebook, whatever else?
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
have to send out some love to my family; my wife, Cyndi, my two boys,
Hayden and Seth, and my parents too. No way could I do what I do without
all their support.
to the kick ass cast & crew of The
Cabining, you guys rock! Love you all and can’t wait for the sequel!
There WILL be a sequel!
Lastly, House of Good and Evil made it's Video On Demand
debut here in the US, so check with your provider and tune in!
for the interview!