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An Interview with Brian Shoop

by Dale Pierce

July 2009

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For anyone not familiar with you, why do you not provide your own introduction and tell people about yourself for the first question?

 

I was born near the shores of Lake ErieÖ actually in a hospital, but my two older brothers, younger sister and I lived our happy childhood not far from the lake. During all the years of my youth, the health department posted signs along the beach which read Dangerous Pollution: No Swimming, not that any of us were ever tempted to brave the stench of dead carp and charge into the foamy mud-colored surf. Both the lake and I made out pretty well over the past 50 some years. Nowadays, itís a lovely Bahamian blue; swimmers are wooed and pampered, as are game fishermen and all water sports enthusiasts. I now anchor in the dusty plains of Oklahoma and only occasionally visit my Buckeye beachfront roots. Somewhere along the westward trail, I stepped into a pile of acting and I canít shake it off.

 


Accounts in print show your family was in oil and other business. What made you decide on acting instead?

 

For me, acting was sort of mid-life response. I began participating in skits at church fun nights. Then I auditioned for a community theater and was cast in a lead role. That set the hook. Next, I sought out some training, got noticed by an agent, landed my first professional audition, and the trend has remained quite steep and steady over the past 25 or so years. I spent some time in LA studying with Al Mancini at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, and began collecting agents for different regions like a hobby. These days however, Iím pared back to two: Tulsa and Houston. They keep me busy enough without spending all my meager income on airline tickets. I also wrote and produced and starred in my own movie, Treasure Blind, which introduced me to a facet of the industry that interests me most these days. Making movies with my wife of 38 years, our two boys and their wives is now my what-I-want-to-do-when-I-grow-up goal in life.

 


The Rookie would have been one of your first major roles?

 

It was my first role in a major pic. I canít say it was a major role. However, it was a real role in a real movie. Ironically, The Rookie is the story of the oldest rookie in major league baseball, and it represented this old rookieís first major also. Almost poetic ainít it?

 

You have also played an attorney or a politician several times? Is this what you prefer or do you simply go where you might find a role?

 

Yeah, I love to act, and I donít mind eating. If I can do both, Iím in. And if there is also the excitement of another role, then great. I have been a senator, a detective, a bad guy, a bum, a dad, a rancher, a public relations executive, a priest, a fireman, a doctor, and on and on it goes. Each is exciting because it's not meÖ exactly. I get to hide inside some other guyís experiences.

 

You have also gotten involved in directing?

 

I have directed many plays, a couple commercials, and one movieÖ so far. Iíve found that plays are much different from movies not only for the actor, but also for the director. In a play, especially a non equity play such as I directed, I spend a lot of time helping the actors act. There was much talk about motivation and subtext and so on. In my movie, I was telling the story with pictures. I was worried about having enough of the right pictures to string together when I would sit down with the editor. I tried to cast actors Ė at least for the major roles Ė so that those artists would come to the set prepared, concentrating on what they had to do, and I could concentrate on what I needed to do. Very different. Very collaborative.

 

You just finished some shooting in Israel?

 

I did. I was King David, obviously in his older years, revisiting the sites of the major events of his life and quoting the psalms that he wrote as a result of those experiences. Amazing opportunity.

 

Being one who makes no denial of his Christianity, did you find being in this area an added thrill?

 

Unbelievable. I knew it would be thrilling, but I couldnít have known just how thrilling. To see the connection between Old Testament and New, to see the actual places where the events of the Bible took placeÖ I was deeply impacted. Someone has said that after visiting Israel, you begin reading the Bible in color for the first time. I know what they mean. I was sitting on the Mount of Olives from where Jesus ascended back to heaven, and I read what he was saying to those disciples just before that happened. Acts 1:8 ďÖyou shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem,Ē (and I looked across the Kidron valley at the walls of Herodís temple) ďand in all Judea and Samaria,Ē (the whole region we had just been driving through and visiting), ďand to the end of the earth.Ē And thatís when it hit me: from where I was sitting, the end of the earth was Oklahoma. It was because those disciples were faithful to His charge on that day Ė all of them till their death Ė that a kid growing up on the shores of Lake Erie could hear about Jesus: the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and have any hope of eternal life. It was a goose bump moment Iíll tell ya.

 

Faith based or Christian films seem to be in some demand now. Would you prefer to work in this realm rather than in the secular?

 

You know, in the past, I have cringed and tried to reword that label or make some other lame explanation for what I wanted to do, but the truth is, yes. I want to make faith-based movies. In fact, I donít think I could make any other kind. When you write, you must draw on your personal world view, and whether youíre writing comedy or drama or horror, your guts are gonna show eventually. So yes, I want to keep making faith-based movies. There. I said it.

 

Does your faith then, ever lead to conflicts in your acting profession, i.e. what you can or cannot allow yourself to do on screen?

 

This is such an interesting dilemma for Christian actors, and it has as many answers as there are Christian actors I think. My answer isÖ I donít know. Certainly, there are things that I wonít do. Even though thereís the whole itís not me, itís the character-explanation, which is legit to a degree, I think there still is a limit. And the interesting thought is, if thereís any limit, why is it any different than your real life limit? I honestly havenít got all the way through that one. Donít know yet. It just isÖ for now. I donít have a list of things I wonít do if thatís what youíre asking. And I have an advantage of many believers in the industry, Iím an old bald guy. Nobodyís going to want me to take my clothes off or be in a sex scene or any of that stuff. At least not in any movie the public would look at. I really feel for young Christian actors nowadays. Itís only going to get tougher too. Thatís another reason I like to produce and perform in what I write. Problem solved.

 

What are some of your other past acting roles?

 

I was a district attorney opposite Kelley Preston and Aiden Quinn. I was a partner in crime with Michael Dorn. Our characters didnít get along at all and he was always yelling at me, which I found quite a trip. Dude, Iím getting chewed out by Worf! I was a Kansas rancher with Sandra Bullock and Toby Jones. I was the father of a prize fighter with Gary Busey. I was a State Senator with Rex Lynn and Wilford Brimley. Iíve been a bar owner, a doctor, a mob boss, a parish priest, and many others. Theyíre all my favorites. I love to remember each one.

 

Future plans?

 

I just got back from Canada scouting some sites for an idea weíre kicking around for another feature that takes place a few years into the future. A future feature. Donít worry, itís not another Left Behind story.

 

Any interesting behind-the-scenes stories you would like to share from any of your past film experiences?

 

Itís all such fun. Boring as all get out, and fun. If that makes sense. One time, I was filming in a little bitty Oklahoma town with stars flown in from LA and New York. The film company had shut down one little street, built a bar in a store front, make a video store into a small church, and we used the library as our green room. It was December, and one day, it was time for this little town to have itís annual Christmas parade. So they did. It pretty much shut down the shooting, but nobody cared. They got such a charge out of watching this pitiful little parade. Honestly, there was like one farm wagon with a couple crepe paper streamers on it. They had a lame nativity scene on one end with bathrobes and towels and Jesus on the cross on the other end of the float. In a diaper. It was so festive. Then they had the local schoolís marching band Ė all 35 members Ė marching by playing Christmas carols to marshall drum cadences. Then they had the local car club - which consisted evidently of anyone in town who owned a car. And by the way, washing your entry was not a requirement. Then the saddle club and on and on it went. It was just a hoot. And of course, all the coasters were just mouth agape, snapping pictures frantically because no one back home is going to believe this otherwise. It was great fun. That movie starred Mark Boone jr of Batman Begins and Memento, and also Toby Huss of King of the Hill.

 

Do you have any favorite director you enjoy working with?

 

Iíve worked with academy award winner, Bille August, and while that was a trip, he wasnít my favorite. My fave is probably Douglas McGrath. Heís an actor also, so he speaks the language and understands both ends of the camera. It was just real comfortable. Plus he liked me. That made it even more comfortable.

 

What are your interests away from film?

 

I love to fly, Iím a licensed pilot, but I canít afford to becauseÖ Iím an actor. I enjoy writing. Screenplays of course, plays, and poetry. Of course, these days, my two grandkids are my first choice for passing the time.

 

Do you still live in your native Ohio?

 

I moved to Oklahoma nearly 30 years ago. My boys turn one and four respectively our first year here. I have no trace of the nasal Ohio accent left. Honest.

 

I ask this because it seems liek there are a number of Indy film fests and production companies that oddly enough keep popping up in this state? Do you think it might be a place for new actors to try first rather than California or New York, for example?

 

I still think if an actor is serious about making a career in this business, they still need to get to LA. However, if that ainít happening, thereís a multiplication of new film companies in virtually every state where good experience can be acquired. Be careful though, because you can also develop some bad habits from less than knowledgeable actors or directors.

 

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Speaking of film festivals, do you ever attend these?

 

We took Treasure Blind to a few festivals in Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa, New York, and California. It was nominated numerous times and won three outstanding awards. Iím not sure if that helped land our distribution deal, but it surely didnít hurt.

 

Do you have any web pages where fans or business people may find out more about you?

 

www.treasureblind.com is the movie web page. Other than that, I have a page on IMDB, and on several casting service web pages, but they all say about the same thing.

 

Anything else you would like to touch on before closing?

 

Thank you for taking the time to ask me these questions. Thinking back over my career is always a satisfying activity, and makes me truly thankful.

 

Final comments?

 

Adios!

 

© by Dale Pierce


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

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Und an diesem Tag geht natŁrlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

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