INTERVIEW: Timothy J. Cox, star of Simple Mind, Choosing Sides, and more

Becoming a working actor is hardly an easy career path chosen lightly. For character actor Timothy J. Cox the journey towards independent film began by accident in 8th grade yet became a calling it would seem he was born to follow. Still, it took him almost a decade of living in New York City before making the decision to focus his professional efforts onto the film set above the theatrical stage.

Whether performing in student thesis projects, indie shorts, contests, or features, Cox has made a name for himself through hard work and dedication both on and off camera. An enthusiastic champion of every job he partakes in—doing whatever humanly possible to ensure each one finds an audience—Cox proves that acting isn’t the glamorous escapade one might assume when conjuring images of starlets and celebrities on the red carpet. It’s a job that takes passion, time, skill, practice, and of course blood, sweat, and tears. And it’s also one he’s loved, loves, and undoubtedly will love for decades more to come.

Why don’t we start at the beginning? I know you were born in Philadelphia, PA but you eventually ended up moving to Wilmington, DE. What was the cause of that move?

Yeah, my parents had grown up in Philadelphia and—I think I was three when we moved down to Delaware. I have three brothers and my whole family—we moved down to Wilmington. I believe my father got a job down there with opportunities for bigger and better. So, we moved down there and that’s where I was for the bulk of my upbringing.

Were either of your parents into the arts?

Oddly enough, out of my whole family I’m the only one that’s ever had any type of artistic— Well, actually that’s not true. There’s my father who did write two or three unpublished murder mystery novels. But no, my father is an accountant. My mother—aside from raising four unruly, Irish Catholic boys—she’s done everything from secretary to medical receptionist to, you know, she’s amazing. Both of them. So I had a pretty normal, typical childhood when I was a kid.

It’s funny; my brothers always say that I was an actor even before I was an actor. I was always doing bad [Marlon] Brando impressions and John Houseman impressions for my grandmother and my aunt because they were my first audience. I really wanted to be an athlete, though. I wanted to be Mike Schmidt for the Phillies or Larry Bird or Magic Johnson. But I really stunk as an athlete. [laughs]

I was always a fan of movies, though, even before. I guess I was maybe around thirteen or fourteen when—by accident—I auditioned for the school play. Auditions were held during the school day, so kids were just going to get out of class. I went and auditioned—never thinking I’d be cast—and was cast in the male lead. And that, well you sort of get hooked on that right away. That was 1990 and I haven’t really stopped since.

At the time—trying out to get out of class—did you think that if you did get the role you would actually do it?

I think—I don’t know at the time. I just really wanted to get out of math class and I think I didn’t think ahead. I thought, “Well this is a good excuse”.

But when I got in it—I remember the show. It was called Rags to Riches. It was a musical of the O. Henry story The Gift of the Magi. It was the weirdest audition I’ve ever been in: they just had all the kids in the room and the director would call your name, you’d stand up, you’d sing a couple of bars of “Do-Re-Mi”, you’d sit back down, and the next person goes. The director called me—with his back was to me—and I got up and started singing and my voice was really high. So he just stopped and turned around, unsure of who I was or what I was. And from that he cast me. That’s where it all began.

I think in the beginning it was just about getting laughs. You know, when you’re thirteen/fourteen the capital “A” acting doesn’t come into your mind. At the time it was really just to get laughs and the attention was kind of nice.

And was your family supportive? Were they surprised you went in this direction?

They have been and always have been supportive. When I went to college I went to Marietta College in Ohio which was about five, six hundred miles away from Wilmington, DE and they would—my parents especially—they would always drive out no matter what kind of role I was playing: leads, supporting, walk-ons. They would always come and see me in the theater. And subsequently since they’ve been very supportive of films I’ve done and theater. You couldn’t ask for more supportive parents.

How crucial was that college experience? You went for acting—is that something you would recommend, to get that education as an aspiring actor?

I really would. In retrospect it turned out to be one of the greatest decisions I ever made in my life because going away to college—that really shaped me as a person and hopefully as an actor. I was on campus a week and I was cast in my first play. I was horrible in it, but I learned a hell of a lot. [laughs]

I was thrown to the wolves immediately; I was thrown to [William] Shakespeare. I didn’t know what I was doing, but that was like the path where I learned the respect for acting and craft and really taking it seriously. Going to Marietta—if it hadn’t been for that I don’t know if I would have had the confidence to move to New York. You know, when I came up I think I only had twenty-five hundred dollars and an inkling of maybe I have some talent. College was really important in shaping the person I’ve become.

You’ve done a lot of theater since that move. Was that a big reason in going to New York City as opposed to say Hollywood to try and strike it big there?

When I got out of college I really didn’t think much about being a film actor. A lot of that had to do with confidence. When I watched movies it was always about tall and handsome. I was short, I was stocky, I had glasses, and an unusual last name. So when I got out of college I said, “You know what? I just want to be a good supporting actor in classical theater, in Shakespeare”.

In 2001, I moved up to New York and I worked a lot of theaters, had some good productions—like any actor you have some hits and misses—and did a couple of films during that time. But it was often student films [where] you’d have to become a sort of bounty hunter to chase them down for copies. A lot of the early stuff I did, looking back at some of it’s just like, “Oh, you’re clearly a stage actor and it’s a little too much—you’re too much there”.

Maybe around 2010, right around the time when—it was three major movies that came along that I really started to enjoy and go in the direction of film. It was Socks and Cakes, Over Coffee, and another one called The Watchers. And all three of those films were fun sets. Sean Meehan [director of Over Coffee] who I’ve worked with many times—he’s a dear friend. I don’t know; it’s just that something clicked. As actors, sometimes you go where the waves take you and sometimes it’s unexpected. I think a year ago I would have said I’m 50/50 on film versus theater, but now there’s just so many more exciting opportunities happening in film. I’ve really come to like it. I’m still learning.

Every year I look over some of the films I’ve done and you know, some are … I’m thankful that I’ve had people help me get the films out there and be reviewed by folks like you and The Independent Critic or Film Threat. Reviews have been nice, but I think the important part is that the films are being seen because not many films have that kind of opportunity. I can look at a film like Choosing Sides and I’m delighted that it’s getting the reaction that it’s getting because it was just a fun little Sunday afternoon shoot and everyone who’s watched it has really, really enjoyed it. That’s nice because all any actor wants to do is just keep working and doing good work.

You mentioned your relationship with Sean—how crucial is that sort of networking in the industry? Someone I went to high school with moved to Astoria, NY too and he pretty much started up something of a troupe to be able to constantly create work. How huge is that autonomy?

I think that’s integral. That’s ideally the situation that I like to be in. One thing I have found out—things you just know about yourself—over the last year or two is that if I have any success as an actor—any mainstream, indie, or whatever—it’s not going to be by conventional terms. I see a casting director and sometimes they don’t know what to do with me. Yes, I play “Dad” roles but I have a young face. So, I think today—as an actor, a writer, a director—if you have the means you have to some how sort of make the work for you. You have to make the opportunities for yourself.

Sean and I—we always collaborate on things. We’re in the very early stages of a project that we’ll write together and for me to act in and it’s nice. It’s a nice process. It doesn’t happen over night and you have to take a lot of care with the story and the characters and the development. All of that is fun. It’s really, really fun to do.

Now off the film set—I ended up finding out about you through Casey Wilson who sent me a link to Simple Mind and has been sending me other indie films, some with you and some without. Can you tell me a little about that kind of guerilla marketing? Why do you think short films are such a niche format where most sites aren’t covering them?

Again, it’s just people who—I met Casey at a festival and she saw Simple Mind and she said, “Oh my God, I really liked the performance. I liked your work”. And I think—on a freelance basis, as a hobby—she scours the internet for blogs and sites like yours and just sends a simple email. She told me once that she sent about 200 emails just for a submission for Simple Mind alone. And sometimes she gets a response, sometimes she doesn’t. Some people don’t like to cover short films for whatever reason.

I think all of that is really important; I think it’s a win-win for both sides. One, for the filmmakers and the cast, we get to have our film exposed and seen on a site. It’s a critique whether positive or negative—it’s about the fact that it’s being seen. Also, I think for the writer it’s something that if they’re looking to sharpen their writing skills—on a blog or a site like yours—they’re going to [need] plenty of writing samples. Like you’re working for The Film Stage now so what you wrote on your personal site probably helped you big time in getting in with [them]. I would like to think that it helps both parties.

Do you see anything in the future providing a better forum with which to get that stuff out there? Do you think Vimeo and YouTube are doing the job? McSweeney’s used to put out a quarterly DVD magazine subscription called Wholphin where you’d get a DVD with shorts and hard-to-see films with name actors and established directors. Do you see that being marketable?

I hope. Of the two—YouTube and Vimeo—I would say Vimeo is probably the more likely [venue] to do that. YouTube tends to have—you can post anything on there. Vimeo has competitions like the Canon competition they had [The Story Beyond the Still of which Tim acted in and Sean directed a finalist entitled The Beachcomber] and I think there was another one Ron Howard was sponsoring [Project Imaginat10n]. There’s something about what Vimeo does that’s a little cleaner, they filter out [things], and the quality of films they have on there is definitely better in my view.

You go through your IMDB page and you’ve got everything on there. Tons of TV work, some uncredited work on a couple films from Steven Soderbergh‘s The Girlfriend Experience to Doubt. How is that experience—being on those sets?

Every actor should do background work. You shouldn’t do it too much, but the nice thing on the Doubt set was that I got to watch Philip Seymour Hoffman work. I remember, there was a moment where we were all sitting in a church scene—we’re all sitting in pews—and Meryl Streep comes in from the back of the church and is just sort of standing there. Everybody’s like, “Oh my God, there’s Meryl Streep”. Just the focus—and it’s like 7:00 in the morning—watching what she’s doing and Philip Seymour Hoffman whose doing this homily, he must have done it ten, fifteen times. And there are moments when he flubs a line, but he’s just having a blast. It’s kind of like you have the best seat in the house.

Some background experiences, you could be sitting on a set for fifteen, sixteen hours. The Steven Soderbergh experience was extraordinary because I think we had like a 7:00 call and we were all down in the West Village somewhere and we get there and the PA [Production Assistant] said, “I don’t know what you guys are doing. You guys don’t have any real specific directions—Steven doesn’t like to rehearse. How about you walk out of this door here and you walk out of that door.”

I think we were done in like ninety minutes and the PA was kind of like, “Okay, the camera’s down there. You guys just improvise. Do whatever you want. If you guys bump into each other and want to have a conversation, go ahead. And you don’t have to mime the conversation.” Apparently, I guess, Steven Soderbergh hates when those kinds of things look superficial in TV shows and movies. It was just fun. It was nice to do that at 7:00 in the morning and be back in bed by 9:00. [laughs]

But it’s totally rare that that happens. The nice thing about that—I’ll stress that most of that doesn’t have to do with acting. For me, what I took from it was that I got to watch. Like on “Kings” I got to watch Ian McShane work. It was so cool and—I mean I followed Ian McShane since high school. I used to watch “Lovejoy” and Sexy Beast and all those movies—The Last of Sheila from 1973. And he’s just so calm, cool, and relaxed. It was just fun to watch.

I think it’s something every actor should do because you see examples of how an actor should conduct himself on a film set. Most of the time you see examples of how not to conduct yourself on a film set. So, you kind of learn the rules of being a professional. It’s very simple, you show up on time no matter what the job is and you do it. Sometimes the PA is not so nice to you—it’s certainly not you. It’s probably because they haven’t slept very much the last couple of consecutive days. You learn to not take things so personally because you’re not in such a glamorous job.

Mentioning watching Ian McShane throughout his career—I’ve read that you also label Jack Lemmon and Donald Sutherland as inspirations. How important is it to be a student of film and continue to keep watching old and new work just to see what other people are doing?

That’s the bulk of my education. I studied theater in Ohio and studied here in New York a little bit, but really I took courses in the class of Albert Finney or Vanessa Redgrave or Jack Lemmon or Jason Robards. And all of them—I remember I went into an audition like seven or eight years ago doing this speech from Long Day’s Journey into Night and trying to do a Jason Robards voice. Trying to get that craggy voice. And the moment I did it, I came out and said, “Oh God, I’m really not going to get that”. [laughs]

But it teaches you a very, very valuable lesson. It’s nice to admire, but you can’t emulate because every actor is different. You look at what Daniel Day-Lewis does and it’s completely different—not only in his preparation but his style. And something like what Robert Downey Jr. does. All of it is valid and it’s nice to see that there are so many different schools of acting going on constantly.

I do prefer the classics. I watch documentaries about movies from the 70s like Chinatown and just to be alive during that period of working with people like Robert Altman and Hal Ashby. It would have been—or even going further back being part of Frank Capra or John Ford‘s stuff. Ward Bond, Thomas Mitchell, Jane Darwell—all those great colorful character actors. They’re not major stars, but because they just looked so natural on camera they were so memorable. I think that’s the kind of career I’d like to map out.

It was never—I think maybe when you’re starting out, when you’re a kid you think like, “I want to be a movie star and make a lot of money”. But really that’s just such an unrealistic goal to set for yourself. For me it’s always been a supporting actor mentality. I like to come on, do it, and go. If you’re doing a production of Hamlet, I’ll take Polonius or The Gravedigger over Hamlet any time. [laughs] I think having the weight of that on your shoulders when there’s just so many good supporting parts out there—you know, work is work. I do like to work and I’m still learning.

Acting—the good actors know that it’s a profession that you never stop learning. I think someone asked [John] Gielgud—I think he was 93—asked him the elusive question, “What is acting?” And he said, “God, I don’t know.” I don’t think anyone knows. I don’t think anyone knows and I don’t think any actor is fully happy with an entire performance. I think Gene Hackman said, “I think actors are only happy with fragments”. I can watch a performance—I don’t really watch myself, but I’ll watch like the lighting or the sound and every once in a while I’ll catch like, “Well why did I say—why did they use the take of me saying it that way? Why did I do that thing with my hand?” But it’s like, “Oh well. There’s always another film.” There’s always something else out there.

Do you constantly look for different roles? I’ve seen a few films where you’re the principal character, the athletic director, kind of that jovial authoritarian sometimes with ulterior motives. But then something like Simple Mind shows a completely different side of you and you really get into it. Do you seek that variety out? Was Simple Mind offered to you?

Phil Newsom—he and I had worked on a play maybe a year or so before Simple Mind came along. And this is a good thing for actors to do—I sent him an email saying, “Happy New Year, hope all is well. If you have any projects coming up please keep me in mind.” And he emailed me back like two days later saying, “Thanks for contacting me. I have this role.”

Of the roles that recently have been truly different and challenging, that was the one. And that was the appeal. I go through periods where I’m the Dad or the Principal or the jovial whatever. Sometimes they’re different but most of the time they’re—like for Gunderson’s and I guess We Just Want to Play, they’re similarities to [those]. You just constantly try and look for something that’s challenging.

I think even Mallas, MA—that was something different. Kind of reclusive and kind of awkward. I think you need that little girl to somehow open his eyes to possibilities that are out there. Socks and Cakes too was something really different and fun. But most of them—I’m always looking for challenges. Not all the scripts come along that are challenging like Simple Mind, but sometimes actors just need to “feed the beast,” I guess. You need to work.

I just shot a movie this past weekend called Sky’s the Limit and I play a father whose wife recently passed away and [who] has a son. He immediately hasn’t dealt with the loss of his wife and he’s going online trying to find a date. Meanwhile while this is going on he’s really ignoring, neglecting his son who also lost his mother. So, it’s a really nice drama and that was different too because most of the time [when] I play Dads they’re sort of lovable goofballs like Yeah, Love. I have a blast playing them, but—I mean I stick with it and the good parts will always be around the corner. I think if you stick with it the good parts will come along. And practice is always good too. You can never get enough practice.

Now, We Just Want to Play was a student film. Do you find yourself helping them with your experience? Being on that set and being able to teach them as well—is that a benefit to that sort of work along with the practice?

I know you weren’t a big fan of the film—I don’t think many people were. But admittedly, those guys set out just to make a movie where—I mean the party scene at the beginning of the film was a real party. For me, I looked at that as an excuse to—it would be so much fun to play the John Vernon in Animal House role.

The guys were a spirited, energetic bunch. I think I just worked the one day. They were very—I don’t know if they ever said it—surprised that a New York actor would come in, but I thought it was a lot of fun. I had a blast working on it. They were nice people; it wasn’t a difficult role. [It was] the same thing with Trouble, I think that was about a two-day period up in the same area in Connecticut and Daniel Witkin [the writer/director] was very good. The film is interesting, it’s kind of like—you or one of the other critics mentioned it had like a Wes Anderson feel, an homage.

Again, I always have fun on all of the films I’ve done. I can’t think of any recently that I regret. And if you do, most of those films are not online anywhere. I did a film with a gal a couple of years ago and I think in the span of ten minutes she tripped over and broke two very expensive lights. So, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that film, but it’s probably a good thing.

In everything I’ve done, I always try and bring an element of fun and play—I try to keep it light on set. You know there’s times—Sean Meehan when we were doing Over Coffee the first time, I was coming in as the boss and having a blast improvising here and there and he said, “You can improvise, but then we’re going to have one take where you just do the dialogue as written.” In the editing room they use a little bit of all of them. It’s fun to be able to have that freedom and that’s why Sean and I’ve worked together several times. Sean’s a guy I would work with forever and you want to try and develop those kinds of relationships with all filmmakers.

How fun/challenging was it working on Mallas, MA with him? That was a 48-hour project so you had to get everything together pretty quick.

It was one of the most exciting film sets I’ve ever been on because—you go up to Boston and we we’re up at I think 5:00 in the morning and we go to the location. The script was written and we’re sort of shaping it. I meet Maria [Natapov] for the first time and she’s just lovely and we’re sort of developing as we go. Something like that really comes back to your training and your theater and going with your gut. Just going with your imagination. Also, we had an incredible crew—like twelve or thirteen people. Rick Macomber was one of the cinematographers and he was marvelous [along with] Dan Berube.

It was a blast to work on. And we were delighted—actually, I think we got disqualified from the main competition because the line we had to say didn’t necessarily get said 100% correctly. So we got disqualified from the main competition, but it was nice [to get] the audience award I think mostly for that opening helicopter shot which was very epic. That was kind of cool to have that.

I like projects like that. I did Dark Romance which was another short 48-hour project and that was a lot of fun as well. I like those projects. [They] challenge and push everyone on the set to do their best. And as actors—if you have a script or even if you have actors adept at improvisation—if you have a good situation you can work from that. It was a very, very exciting project and we’re delighted that the film is received—I think they’re mostly positive reactions. I don’t think anyone has disliked the film, but people have obviously enjoyed it.

Do you see yourself reaching a point where you may take a step back from theater or is that always going to be a driving force behind your acting?

You know, it’s funny. I haven’t done a play in a year. In almost thirteen years I’ve been in New York I have never gone that long without doing a play. And I was just sitting with a friend of mine about a week or so ago talking about that.

I think the problem is that theater—a lot of productions here in Manhattan or in any of the outer boroughs—the space for rehearsal and performances is so expensive that if you’re rehearsing all of this time for like a fringe show (which they’ll do in the summer), you’re rehearsing all this time and getting maybe five or six performances with one of the performances being the tech rehearsal because there are so many shows and so many spaces and shows that are sharing the same space. You just want something a little more—you can’t build an audience on five or six performances.

They have awards for shows, it’s not like the Tony Awards where shows run a little longer, but there’s Off-Broadway awards and it’s hard for shows to get a leg in. Sometimes [they] only run for three or four performances where back a couple of years ago [they] would run three or four weeks and you would have been able to pay your actors or at least have enough to support your next future productions. Now it’s harder and harder for theater companies to get going. A lot of theater companies are closing down. A lot of theaters are closing. And if you look at Broadway, a lot of the shows are huge spectacles like Spider-Man [Turn Off the Dark] which is closing now.

It’s a shame when a show like—there’s a revival of The Glass Menerie going right now which is apparently very, very good. But when that show opened in 1950 it was a huge—1945 actually—it was a huge phenomenon and Tennessee Williams had two plays running at the same time. In the sixties it was Neil Simon. Now if you look at a typical Broadway season, a play will only have a limited engagement of ten/twelve weeks and it will have a movie star in it. It’s just a shame. I think in films, short films—what have you—[and] even television, more risks are being taken. I don’t know now if anyone would do it, but a play like something in the ballpark of “Breaking Bad”—a producer would probably balk at that thinking, “How could this make money?”

And that’s the bottom-line it seems.

It is and it’s a shame. And I see the casting boards—[they’re] a mix of big musicals and Shakespeare revivals (which are fine), but you wonder where the new Tennessee Williams is. The new Lorraine Hansberry. The new, well David Mamet is still out there. And it might change. It might change tomorrow. With Spider-Man closing and losing its—I’d say more than losing its shirt—a trend may change. They’ll have to scale back.

I saw that you are doing a reading of Steve Martin‘s Picasso at the Lapin Agile in January. Will that be your first stage performance since the hiatus?

I think I did an informal reading a couple months ago, but yeah. This will be fun. I did the show back in 2006 out here in Astoria. It’s a wonderful show—for one it shows the world how not only incredibly funny Steve Martin is but [also] how intelligent. He can make us laugh on one end and on a dime make us really think. And that’s why I think he was just awarded with an honorary Oscar—richly deserved by the way. So that will be a lot of fun.

I think I’m [also] doing an A Midsummer Night’s Dream reading with the same company All Things Random that I’ve done a number of things with: Greg’s Guardian Angel, Overcrowded. Actually Sean Meehan is going to be directing Marty and Doug’s New Religion Part 2. It’s a sequel series Greg Vorob and Dan Conrad did a couple of years ago. I hope to do that if not in the spring then sometime early Fall 2014.

Could you talk about A Good Marriage? Has that finished filming? It seems to be a pretty decent-sized movie based on a Stephen King short story with Joan Allen, Anthony LaPaglia, and Stephen Lang.

As far as I know—I just worked two days on it and it’s sort of a featured role. The thing I remember from that was—I get to set and I play this … in the story Anthony LaPaglia and Joan Allen are married in this small town and are the picture perfect couple. And Anthony’s character Bob is the kind of guy who people in the town kind of go to with their problems. Meanwhile, he has this secret life as a serial killer—only Stephen King. [laughs]

So the scene I have with him—it’s a very, very brief scene and whether it ends up on the cutting room floor, who knows? But I got to improvise a scene with Anthony LaPaglia and talk with him about A View From a Bridge and he was like, “Oh my God, I was trying for fifteen years.” You know because he had done a wonderful Broadway revival in 1997 and he tried for fifteen years to make it into a film and now he’s like “I’m too old for the part”. He was very cool. He was very relaxed, very nice.

Joan Allen—again like Meryl Streep—[was] very focused, very focused on what she’s doing. I only saw Stephen Lang. I didn’t actually work with him. But he’s a guy who’s been around for a very long time. He plays like a cop in the film. I got to watch Mike O’Malley work—I guess he’s going to be the comic relief, naturally, of the film. I got to watch him work and he had the cast and crew in stitches.

It was kind of nice—it’s not a major role, but it’s fun to be on a film set like that and work with people that you admire; that you’ve seen. Anthony LaPaglia: he was real laid back and relaxed—just very cool [without] a trace of ego. I went back to the holding area to look on IMDb and was like, “God, he’s been around from So I Married an Axe Murderer to a movie with Danny Aiello called 29th Street.” I was like, “Oh my gosh.” You know? It’s nice to see an actor you admire in action.

Was this something you auditioned for? Are you auditioning for features like this as well as the short films?

I submitted a—I think it was Amerifilm Casting. They were looking for a blue-collar type in his mid-30s, so I submitted my reel and my headshot and they said, “You got it.” It was so weird. I had brief dialogue, but I think they cut it. You just [have] to be ready for anything. The crew was nice and Peter [Askin], the director—they were all nice, very kind people. It was a long shoot—I think we started at like 6:00 PM and didn’t end until like 7:00 AM. But that’s movie making. It was fun to work on.

Anything else coming up in the near future?

Not right now. The holidays—things kind of slow down here. I got married a couple months ago in August.


Thank you. My wife and I are enjoying our first Thanksgiving and of course our first Christmas together. And of course she is very supportive of everything I do as well—we support each other. She’s a video editor, so my dream now is to do a film project with Sean Meehan that she could be involved in as well. Kind of like a nice little family affair.

Well, thanks for this. It was great finally putting a voice to the emails and performances I’ve seen this past year or so.

I told a friend that this was happening and he was like, “Oh, is he going to ask you the dreaded James Lipton questionnaire?” And I was telling him I think you were going to be a little more detail oriented than something like that. [laughs]

That was a show [“Inside the Actors Studio”]—in the beginning I really, really liked it because they actually had members of the Actor’s Studio. There was Paul Newman, Dennis Hopper, Arthur Penn. In the beginning it was very educational. I haven’t seen it recently, but you didn’t have shows like that. You didn’t have shows that talked about acting. The only thing you really had was “Entertainment Tonight“.

I think we need more shows like that and shows where it doesn’t have to be movie stars. Talk to actors in the theater. Here in New York they have “Theater Talk” with Michael Riedel who works for the Daily News. He interviews actors appearing on Broadway at the time. But I think more shows and things—I’d love it if they had a show where they talk to Jim Jarmusch about underground filmmaking. With John Waters, John Sayles, or someone like that. They won’t bring in the ratings dollars that TV shows usually want, but the climate is changing. Networks like AMC and Netflix and even Hulu now are changing the landscape of television and movies, so you never know what’s going to happen.

I used to watch—when it was on IFC—Jon Favreau did a show called “Dinner for Five”.

That was a great show. It was nice because you got people in the room that in another situation may not have gotten together. I remember there was an episode—I think it was Burt Reynolds, Kevin James, John Turturro, and Peter Falk and they all didn’t know each other. Inevitably you would have thought Burt Reynolds and Peter Falk would have bumped into each other at some time. It’s interesting to hear them talk candidly about their careers. Dennis Farina talking about being a cop and saying the best cop show ever is “Barney Miller”.

There are always really cool pearls of wisdom and then there’s also some great stories about Hollywood and how hard it is for everyone. I think it was John Sayles—he’s mostly a writer for hire on several films. But when he makes his own films he goes through the same—still to this day and he’s been making them for decades—it’s still hard for him and people like Paul Schrader. They’ve done many, many things and yet they go through the same hard times and issues that people I work with have. It’s always about raising money or dealing with locations in this amount of time.

I read the story about Paul Schrader working on that film with Lindsay Lohan

The Canyons.

Yeah, The Canyons. And it was a huge thing in—I don’t know, The Hollywood Reporter or the L.A. Times [ed. note: it was the New York Times]. This guy did Raging Bull and Taxi Driver. He’s worked with everybody and it’s just like, wow. I didn’t think, “Well, things aren’t too bad for me.” But you feel bad that someone who’s been around as long as he has still has to hustle and struggle. It’s kind of an inspiration for all of us that if you stick with it, there’s opportunity for all of us.

And I think it shows that they’ve cultivated an audience—respect and faith. A guy like Spike Lee: he got a lot of flack for doing Kickstarter, but it made sure he would make a movie for his audience because they were the ones producing it.

Yeah, absolutely. The thing is—somebody was saying the other day about Indiegogo and Kickstarter, that they were looking on an IMDB page for a project and the film had like 35 producers. The great argument now is whether Indiegogo and Kickstarter are really good because while these people donated money, are they really producers? I don’t know.

I’m delighted that—there’s a project that Sean and I did as a promo for a new product called The Tuck. I think the person putting it together is looking to make $30,000 and I think in one day she’s already made $5,000. It’s nice to have been a part of something like that.

You take one day at a time and hope—I truly believe that if you stick with it and you’re patient, you’ll still love it if it’s still fun. I never get discouraged if I don’t get a job because I always think, “Well, there’s another one around the corner.” I think that’s the mentality you have to have. You have to work hard and if you don’t get it you go onto the next thing. That knowledge pays off in the end.

That’s what they say: do what you love. And if you love it, you keep going.

That is the key. You have to love it. That applies to theater but I think to acting too. Acting—it has to be playtime for adults. It kind of like takes you back to when you were a kid—Capture the Flag or Cowboys and Indians. Use your imagination and have fun with it. That’s what I always try to do and I still love it.

[1] Photo by Ron Remke
[2] Times Square photo shoot with Sean MacBride Murray
[3] 2009 performance of Arsenic and Old Lace with Danny Mittermeyer
[4] 2010 performance of Run For Your Wife with Chris Kateff
[5] 2010’s Socks and Cakes with Kirsty Meares
[6] 2011’s Jack Jimminy: The Story of a Pornstar Extra with Ethel Fisher
[7] 2012’s Simple Mind
[8] 2012 performance of The 39 Steps
[9] 2013’s Mallas, MA with Maria Natapov and director Sean Meehan
[10] 2013’s It’s Not You
[11] 2013’s Transience
courtesy of

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