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An Interview with Ty Anthony Smith, Star of When a Stranger Knocks

by Mike Haberfelner

February 2024

Ty Anthony Smith on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie When a Stranger Knocks - in a few words, what's it about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?

 

In my personal opinion, it is about two children who are now adults making peace with their past. While knowing the hurts, re-visited feelings, and reflective moments they could/would experience, they still chose to do what is felt required of them not knowing the shadows that lurk to remind them they aren’t alone…

 

What did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much Ty Anthony Smith can we find in Cecil?

 

Initially with having the loss of my own dad in real life, I drew from that place. While confused, sad, even at times angry with the situation, choosing to maintain my peace in that particular instance of my life. Throughout the film, you will see how mild mannered, soft spoken, peaceful, and laid back Cecil was until he was pushed - while I never hope to have to fight anyone as an adult lol, I am very protective of my family, and would’ve done the same thing Cecil did to defend his and his wife's honor.

 

How did you get involved with the project in the first place?

 

It's funny, initially I went in to read for one part/one scene - I was going to be a guy at the camp grounds that crossed paths with Gray and talked to him about marriage, love and sacrifices made for the one you love. Before I knew it, I was Cecil and now had hundreds of pages of dialogue to learn lol.

 

To what degree could you identify with When a Stranger Knocks' approach to horror?

 

I don’t know if I am the right one to ask this question as I am typically not a big horror guy. In the 80s and 90s I did enjoy the Nightmare on Elm Street and some of the Friday the 13th series but not sure if it quite ties into horror. What I can share is that I can appreciate the time, effort and creative thought(s) that went into the film. The use of black and white/shadows immediately captivates you to stay focused to every scene. The music, I think the more subtle approach versus the normal loud “boom, clap, extended noises” really kept the focus on the story and not the effects. I do like how the spirit of the Ranger had the ability to effect those he lurked upon without them really knowing what was going on.

 


Do talk about When a Stranger Knocks' director Javan Garza [Javan Garza interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like?

 

I can't speak enough greatness about Javan. Javan knows no matter where I am in this world, if he calls me for a project I am there. He allows his people to feel the scenes out, bring to the table what they see for their individual character and combine it with his vision for the overall film.  He often is so hard on himself as an artist it's very much easy to understand how and why. Throughout the film process I would tell him “man you are great, give yourself more credit, trust your process,” not because he asked for it, but because I personally see something in him. He is a gift to anyone that knows him, and mark my word, he WILL go down as one of the all time greats. People will knock horror, suspense and thrillers, but man let me tell you, it takes a special person to direct these types of films!

 

To Dawn Hamil, this isn’t possible without her. Dawn got us Saenger Theatre, the investors, the distributions and the list goes on. We met 4 years ago filming a commercial and immediately connected. I so respect the woman, wife, mother and friend she is. Thank you!

 

What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

Great experience overall! We had a great airBnB location for the “house/cabin scenes” and had literally hundreds of acres of land for the woods, fight scene... We all collectively made it work! It was hot as all get out outside, we would be shooting in 100+ degree weather, facing the elements, nature etc. In my opinion that is what made it so much fun and able to tap in. We were a team, it's people not on screen that made so much of it possible!!!! I absolutely thank them and tilt my hat to them as well! You all know exactly who you are, from me to you... THANK YOU!

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

One thing I have learned in this business is to never announce your next moves. All I can do is tell you to stay tuned…

 

What got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

Oh man… we are talking wayyyyy back to 1993. I auditioned for the movie Little Rascals. I actually booked the role for “Stimey” only to get call later to say, “you are too tall for the role”…  broke my little heart. I went on, shot a film in Atlanta in 1994 entitled Momma Cries Why, it unfortunately never went anywhere so I left the acting world alone for a long time…

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to When a Stranger Knocks?

 

I have been blessed to do a lot of tv and commercial work. You may see me here and there on somethings lol. But naw seriously, prior to When a Stranger Knocks I had the opportunity to play a masked stalker/slahser which required me going to a very deep place. Prior to that as stated in the above question did a couple of things.

 

How would you describe yourself as an actor, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?

 

As an actor, I can say and learned shooting this particular film that I am definitely a method actor. There was a scene we shot, that unfortunately wasn’t in the film for time reasons where “Cecil” really transformed into something his wife didn’t expect - his anger, darkness, and almost cynical moment in that scene was birthed. Having to pull from a place of being blind, losing everything that was important to him (personally/professionally), and transforming that into sad/mad/dark/even a bit looney was no easy task. Allowing myself to feel the scene, see it in my head helps. All the rest, if I tell you... then the secret will be out lol.

 

Actors (and indeed actresses) who inspire you?

 

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Believe it or not, I have never studied an actor per se. While I appreciate his work, it's the off camera work that is done by one (Denzel Washington). No matter how “big” he is as people like to reference certain things or people. He never forgets where he comes from, helps people in silence, and doesn’t seek validation. That is something I respect and admire. In this mean world we now live in, too many people seek the approval, the likes, comments etc. When you are focused on being a great person, all else will fall into place.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Mushy as it may seem, my favorite alllllll time movie is Titanic!

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

I can’t say that lol, they may see this interview.

 

Your website, social media, whatever else?

 

instagram.com/ty_a.smith/

facebook.com/TyAsmith84

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

I thank you for the time, space and opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences from our film! Just wanted to say to anyone that is reading this interview, if you have a dream, work it, don’t let the dream work you! Just because doesn’t happen today, does not mean it will never happen. Maybe you are being kept for a reason, season and purpose! To my cast mates/crew, I sincerely thank you for taking a chance on me, I was the new guy to your crew, so I will forever be appreciative of our time on set, moments shared, and magic made. From the lights, the sound, the catering provided, props, safety procedures and the list goes on - you all are the MVP’s.

 

To my Dad, Grandma, and Big Mom in heaven. Over a 3 year span, back to back to back you all were called home and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss you. I just hope I am making you proud!

 

Mommy and Shannon, thank you for the continued support! Everything I am is because of you! Saving the BEST for last, I thank God for just being who He is in my life, without Him, nothing is possible!!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
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special appearances by
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directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

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Vimeo

 

 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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