I have had the pleasure of meeting a lot of interesting people on Twitter. I say this time and time again—I have no idea how half the people who follow me find me or what intrigues them enough to follow my feed, but I’m always glad they do.
It’s been a while since I’ve done an interview for this blog, and it isn’t because there aren’t any interesting people out there to interview—I’m the type that believes everyone has their own unique story to tell. However, since this blog isn’t solely based on these “people” features, I don’t really feel the urgency to do them that often. The people I try to obtain interviews from are individuals of the artsy variety, and for the most part they are also people who talk to me regularly either on this blog or via Twitter. This is my way of supporting the industry I love by doing one of the things I love, and that’s promoting others who are open to sharing their stories and struggles with me.
This time around I had the pleasure of interviewing Blaine Gray, who is a full time actor. Blaine is one of those individuals that randomly decided to follow me on Twitter, who I in turn decided to follow back. I think his Twitter feed can be seen as a very encouraging one to other aspiring actors. It’s clear from his tweets that he is not a quitter and extremely proactive.
So without further ado, onto the interview!
CEC: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
BG: I was born & Raised in Phoenix, AZ-graduated high school early to join the Army. Served 3 Years in the 82nd Airborne as a combat medic assigned to a recon platoon. Was recalled for Desert Storm 1-spent a year in Denver. Moved back to Phoenix, then to Los Angeles.
CEC: Wow, thank you for your service. You made quite the switch! Has your military experience influenced the way you view military roles in film?
BG: It’s interesting that in last few years there has been more emphasis on real military tactics. Less Rambo-style things and more Jarhead, etc. I belong to a group called combat casting that represents real combat veterans for film and TV projects. They want people with real training and experience to technical advise or act in projects.
CEC: Are your family and friends heavily involved and supportive of your acting career? How important is it to you to have a support system?
BG: My family is very supportive—you have to have a support group. Other actors, writers, etc.—they are the people who will help you get an agent. Understand that we all feel the same way after a horrible audition.
CEC: What is the earliest acting experience that you remember?
BG: No school plays, etc. for me—first acting experience was a class I took in community college in Mesa, AZ.
CEC: What inspired you to take the course, and what were your first impressions?
BG: I always wanted to try acting and truth be told I needed to keep a certain number of class credits each semester to get paid for the GI Bill. First impression was that it was something I really enjoyed!
CEC: Through our correspondence, you’ve told me that you consider acting a full-time career. Around when do you think you came to that decision?
BG: I have always pursued an acting career since I came to Los Angeles-However, It became my full time career in the end of 2011.
BG: As of lately, it was being shot twice in the chest and flying into a wall mirror that shatters everywhere!
CEC: Sounds like quite the experience! Did you just simply act out the impact or were there a little more special effects involved?
BG: They had a stunt supervisor on set—he worked with me extensively to “sell” the impact of the two separate bullets—then I basically threw myself backwards into a breakaway mirror.
CEC: What do you consider to be your greatest success?
BG: My greatest success has been a change of mindset—from one that depended on approval from others to one that allowed me to be the best actor I can be in that moment.
CEC: Do you currently work any side jobs while pursuing your acting goals?
BG: I still sell some film rawstock from an existing company I had, but that is few and far between.
CEC: What do you consider to be the greatest challenge as an actor?
BG: Aside from the financial challenges I would say it’s the fight to stay open & vulnerable—each new audition requires you to be fully present, open, and fully committed.
CEC: Now to contrast, what do you consider to be the easiest part about being an actor? Or do you not consider it to be an easy endeavor at all?
BG: The easiest & hardest part is to be fully present and committed in each and every moment of the process. For years I tried to do what I thought was wanted in auditions as opposed to bringing what I had to the table.
CEC: When did you have that epiphany?
BG: No specific time.
CEC: Who do you consider to be your greatest influences?
BG: I’ve had some great teachers over the years; Howard Fine, Sandy Marshall—and for the last few years—Jeff Kober. The last two are heavily Meisner based teachers.
CEC: What is your acting style? How do you prepare for an audition and/or a part that you’ve obtained?
BG: Meisner—I spend as much time as possible learning the lines, then I do a breakdown of who I am to each character I interact with, what I want, etc. I go through line by line and make sure I fully understand the subtext of each line/scene, etc. Then, I try to envision how I would actually act/react in this situation—I attempt to align who I am as a person with the character.
CEC: You’ve mentioned the Meisner method a few times in this interview. Would you mind providing a quick formal definition of what exactly that technique is, for those of us who might not be familiar with it?
BG: I’d probably just sound like an idiot if I tried to sum it up—Google the book Sanford Meisner on Acting, by Sandy Meisner.
BG: In the last few years I have been working more & more as the bad guy—I really find bad guys much more fun to play then the good guys.
CEC: The bad guys do tend to be more memorable. On that note, have you ever struggled with being type casted? If not, how do you think you would deal with it if such a situation occurred?
BG: At this point I’d be happy to be typecast—if it happened, I’d work it till it was over and then complain about being typecast from my Beverly Hills Mansion!
CEC: You’ve mentioned in a previous conversation we’ve had that in the long term you would like to be able to work with people you respect and admire. Who are some of these people, and what are the qualities that you admire most about them?
BG: I recently read for a new show called Ray Donovan—Liev Schreiber is the lead. I love his work. Michael Fassbender is someone else who I think is amazing. Both of these actors take chances and always give great performances.
CEC: Do you prefer to act in movies over television, or do you hold no real preference?
BG: I love movies—but television pays better and has a quicker turnaround.
CEC: What are some of your favorite television shows/movies?
BG: Breaking Bad, Homeland, Childrens Hospital, SDSFSVU, Workaholics, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, Arrested Development, Family Guy, American Dad, Bob’s Burgers, Shawshank Redemption, Memento, Fight Club, Monty Python & the Holy Grail, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Donnie Darko, 12 Monkeys.
(Side note: I had to laugh when Blaine told me The Big Lebowski was one of his favorite movies. Coincidentally, that movie is also a huge favorite of my boss from the online magazine I work for, Incognito. Gary, it looks like you have a kindred spirit over here. Website: incognitomusicmagazine.com | Twitter: @incognitomag)
CEC: Do you keep in touch regularly with your fans? If so, what mediums do you typically use?
BG: Get up to date on the newest technology—things are happening fast in this industry. You have to always be working your career, even when you have an agent/manage/etc. Get in the best class you can afford. Don’t ignore the commercials—you can make enough doing commercials to cover the rent while you do a super low budget indie film.
CEC: Do you see yourself as an actor for life, or do you think you might retire at some point to pursue other endeavors?
BG: Acting is my answer to that question, “What would you do if money were no object?” No one should ever get into this business to be famous or rich—it’s way too rough if you don’t love it.
CEC: Well, thank you very much for your time, Blaine. One last question though, just for fun. What would you imagine your “famous last words” to be?
BG: Just 1 thin mint?
Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen! As you can see, Blaine is not only hilarious, he has a very upbeat personality. For more information, be sure to check out the array of links below! The buttons are courtesy of Blaine himself—the two star buttons link to his TV and theatrical reels.