In anticipation of my guest spot on this week’s episode of Mad Men, below are some Q&A submitted by folks just like you.
Please feel free to submit further questions in the comments. To left, you can sign up for my (occasional) newsletter. And I’m on Twitter @williammapother, and on Facebook here.
[Here is AMC's post-ep summary and wrap-up.]
Q: Will you be giving out any spoilers in this Q&A?
A: No, of course not.
Q: Grrr. What about at least discussing the –
A: No, I’m sorry, I’m not even going there.
Q: Okay, fine. Whatever.
A: Sorry, is that a question, or … ?
Q: Damn, dude, just give me a second, would you? Okay, Mad Men is very protective/secretive about information on upcoming episodes. Lost was, too. Which show’s Powers That Be would you rather face after having given out spoilers?
A: Probably Lost’s. As geeks themselves, Damon and Carlton would probably buy the explanation that I got over-excited and overshared. Matt Weiner, however… I just had this vision of confronting him in a sort of Mad Matt: Beyond Madison cage, and it involves ritualized disembowelment, humiliation before the secretarial pool, and a very bad wardrobe. I’ll take the smoke monster and polar bear, thank you very much.
Q: So what can you tell us about your character?
A: He’s got two arms, two legs, and speaks English…intelligibly, on occasion.
Q: That’s hysterical. Really. ADD LINKS But based on your previous characters, does he maybe live in the jungle, or get inhabited by an alien, or munched by a ghost, or mummified and buried by underground creatures in the Old West, or even haul his 800-lb body around in a motorized lounge chair (and here’s a photo, in case you forgot)?
A: I’m not clear…what’s your point, exactly?
Q: Oh, I think I made it. Back to the puffballs: How did you get the role?
A: I auditioned. It was set up by my agent. I’d gone in once before, but it was a couple years ago, and I don’t recall for which character. I read for Matt, a casting director, and a few other people. After the first time through, Matt gave me some good notes to tweak my performance, and I read it again. I think there was another note or two, and then a third reading. A day or so later, I heard that I got the role.
Q: What was Matt like during the audition?
A: Respectful, smart, focused, funny, specific, and serious about the work. About what I expected.
Q: Did you get to read the script for the entire episode?
A: Once, yes. A day or so before the ep started shooting, there was a group script reading. A number of shows do this. The entire cast, plus some others (execs, production team, etc.), gather in a big room and read the script aloud. As you can imagine, it’s a good opportunity for everyone to get an overview of the episode and make tweaks as necessary. For actors new to the show, it also helps bring them into the fold a bit, so they’re more a bit more acclimated when they start to shoot.
Q: Who knew that you were going to be on the show? Was it hard to keep it a secret?
A: Only my agents and manager, and my family. (I shot in December and had to change my travel plans for the holidays.) It actually wasn’t difficult to keep it a secret. MM was emphatic that they expected that, and I’m accustomed to generally keeping quiet about projects until I know I’ve survived post-production.
[Most actors have either experienced or heard horror stories about being cut out. (Back when actual physical film was used, it was called “being left on the editing room floor.”). A friend was in a movie, and another actor in it flew his family out from the Midwest for the premiere. He sits down with them, the movie starts, and he’s not in his first scene. Or his second one. Or any of them. The movie ends, and his family was, like, “Where were you?” The producer/s never told him (forgot? afraid to?) that his part had been entirely removed...]
Q: Was it fun to work on the show?
A: Yes, it was a blast. Everyone was friendly and welcoming. And working with a cast and script like MM’s is always a privilege.
Q: Do you have any ideas or hints about where this season of MM is headed?
A: Zero. And if my picks for this year’s NCAA basketball tournament were any indication, you really don’t even want me to guess.
Q: Your character is planning a trip to a desert island where he’ll be alone. Because he’s one of your characters, this is not considered unusual behavior. What are at least five things he takes?
A: A Native American headdress; the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour”; “How to Lie with Statistics”; the collected works of Aldous Huxley; and his ongoing list of the best and worst things about G. Gordon Liddy.
Q: WTF? Thanks for nothing on that last one, man. Moving on…. Do you have any preference about working in TV or film, big-budget or low-budget?
A: Not really. There are benefits to each. I’ll go to wherever the work is good, or, more specifically, where they’ll hire me.
Q: So, Mr. Picky, I’m on the other side of the deserted island from your character, and I have nothing to entertain me but all the projects you’ve been involved in (as this Q&A weirdly starts to bend in on itself). First, though, because it seems more interesting, I count all the grains of sand, then clean my toes with palm fronds, and finally lie back and try to make heart stop through sheer willpower. Then, with nothing else to do, I decide to watch some of your work. Where do you suggest I start?
A: [All links are to Netflix] Movies: drama In the Bedroom; sci-fi Another Earth (video & HBO); horror-western The Burrowers; horror The Grudge; sports film Without Limits. TV: Lost (11 eps) and Justified (2 eps). IMDb page.
Q: Do you ever play characters who aren’t, you know, weird or creepy?
A: Sure, plenty of times. Another Earth, FDR: American Badass!, Citizen Gangster, Moola, World Trade Center, The Lather Effect, The Grudge, Without Limits —
Q: Okay, I get it, thanks. Maybe I’m lucky and packed some movies besides just ones you’re in. What are some favorites you can recommend which I might not have seen?
A: Most of these are older…Buster Keaton’s The General and Chaplin’s The Circus. Cult comedy Withnail and I. Hitchcock’s sexy thriller Notorious. The fantastic Shampoo. Action epic Bridge on the River Kwai. Screwball comedies His Girl Friday (1940), Nothing Sacred, and The Lady Eve. Some Like It Hot, of course. Six Degrees of Separation. More recent: Wonder Boys; Superbad, and the French drama Dreamlife of Angels.
Q: What’s coming up for you?
A: As usual, I’m attached to a few films due to shoot later this year, and I’m waiting to hear back about a couple more. A few of my indie films are in post-production, and the indie Underdogs was just accepted to Newport Beach Film Festival.
Q: Anything else about you I should know before I finish this and resume my life?
A: I co-founded the premiere online film finance marketplace, Slated.com, which connects independent filmmakers with investors worldwide. I also do voice-overs, write, and invest in/advise start-up companies. I’m a spokesperson for Elder Abuse Awareness, on the Board of the Community Foundation of Louisville, a co-founder of the Flyover Film Festival, and a member of the Kentucky Film Commission. I have a B.A. in English from Notre Dame and lose my voice during football season.
Finally, my previous Q&A’s are under the “Interviews..” category, to the left. And I write occasional posts with information I hope will be helpful to young actors. Those are to the left, too, under “Acting<Acting Tips…”