Monday, March 27, 2006

Macy on Mamet

Below is Mike Jones' very interesting interview with William H. Macy, who discusses his relationship with playwright David Mamet.

A Talk with William Macy, Part One: Macy on Mamet

by Mike Jones


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Before his performance in "Fargo" put him in the global spotlight, William Macy was (and still is) best known for his work with David Mamet both on stage ("Oleanna") and screen ("Homicide"). To a capacity crowd at the 1997 Florida Film Festival, Macy spoke of his work with Mamet -- from the plays of his college years to working under Mamet's more recent theater and film direction.

"I went to school in a place called Godard College in Vermont. [David Mamet] had just graduated and came back as a teacher. He was my acting teacher. Godard College was this phenomenal hippie college in the 70s. There were no grades, no tests, no classrooms. I flunked out. (laughs) But it allowed us to form a small acting company called the Saint Nicholas Theater which David subsequently moved to Chicago.

"David was a total maniac. Godard was a hippie school. There were no rules whatsoever, but if you were one second late he threw you out of class. Time at Godard was a relative concept. Class was held on Tuesday, more or less, yet David was this strict task-master. Some people dropped out of the class. About 20 of us stayed. Six months into the class he walked in with a script and said 'just wrote this play and we're going to do it.' It was "Sexual Perversity in Chicago". Quite a wonderful play. He did a lot of writing there and I believe he started "American Buffalo" there."

"There was a book called "Homicide" which Ed Pressman bought and hired David to write because it was loosely based on a fella named Eddy Mamet that was a distant cousin of David's. David agreed to write the script and never read the book. He just wrote this script and Pressman said 'Oh, okay.' Apparently the book was about a cop with a wooden leg."

"As a director he's generous. Strangely enough if you mis-quote a line more than a couple of times, he'll change the line because his feeling is that if an actor is saying it wrong there must be something wrong with the line. Also, he's quite a poet. His dialogue has great meter and rhythm and it's literally fun to say because of that."

"The only thing that he's a bore about is that he hates indicating, he hates emotionalism. He constantly says 'No, no, no. You don't gotta do that. You don't gotta do that.' He basically just wants you to open your mouth and say the lines. Unfortunately some actors just open their mouths and say the lines. (laughs)"

"David is famous for saying this: 'It's not an actors job to be dramatic. It's a writer's job to be dramatic. It's an actor's job to be clear and simple. It's not an actor's job to bring conflict to a scene. That's the writer's job. It's an actor's job to bring order to the scene.' So many times when the script is bad, there is no conflict, there is no drama, and the actors are forced to bring it there."

"David works with the same people over and over again. He works with his pals. It's so much more fun to work with your pals then it is with strangers. It's a bizarre thing. I just had the experience of doing a love scene, my first love scene, in a movie. I had known this woman a week before we had to climb all over each other. It was horrifying."

"My favorite moments have been on stage in two plays by Mamet. One called "Oh, Hell" where I got to play the devil, which was great. Another called "Oleanna". We made a little movie out of that that didn't work very well. The play is about sexual harassment and it would get audiences so angry that they would start yelling before the play was over, which I thought was a successful evening in the theater."

"Since he hit the theater scene all the new writers have his voice in their heads. You can trace, at least all the plays that I like, their roots back to David's influence and that influence is this: he loves the American language. He loves the way Americans sound. More then almost any other writer including Tennessee Williams, in whose plays I still hear the classical theater, I still hear English theater, in the nature of the dialogue."

"Dave worships middle America. He was born and raised in Chicago. He's a 'dees and does' kind of guy. He brought that urban profanity and poetry together. My favorite play of his is "American Buffalo" and it's known for being so profane. But the majority of it is in iambic pentameter.. and that language is so beautiful and so American that every time I run into another actor who has done the play, just as two people who love music, we'll start riffing the lines together. They never forget it. It literally is fun to say."

"And so I think he's a visionary in terms of his writing. And as a man of the theater his writing is minimalist. David's attitude is if it's not in the dialogue, it's not there. If it's not in the dialogue it doesn't matter what the stage direction is -- it doesn't exist."

The Coen brothers' "Fargo" gave William Macy his first Academy Award nomination for his performance as the simple guy-next-door slowly drowning in his own irreversible chain of events. The striking, excruciating performance suddenly had him at the top of critics' lists worldwide, and for audiences unfamiliar with his theater work he became the underdog to root for. Macy spoke of the making of "Fargo" to a full house at the 1997 Florida Film Festival.

"I knew ["Fargo"] was a brilliant script. I'm a huge fan of the Coen brothers. I've seen all their movies. Even the ones I don't like, I love. They're just genius filmmakers. I think I'm pretty good at reading scripts and this one just knocked me on my keister.

"When I got the script I said 'Should I read some of the case studies about this?' And [the Coen brothers] said, 'No. We made it all up.' I said that they couldn't say that in the beginning of the film, and they said 'Why not? It's just a movie.' So then the New York Post found out it wasn't based on any case studies and wasn't true at all, an article appeared in the paper. And they responded in quintessential Coen fashion: 'We're shocked something like this could have happened. An internal investigation is going on. Three people from our staff have been let go. We want to assure the public that they can expect quality entertainment from us in the future.'

"The whole thing about actors doing prep for their roles... is just horseshit. I'm a reoccurring character on "E.R." and they have doctors on the set all the time and there was a scene where we're scrubbing and it took more time for the guy to teach me how to scrub properly than it did to memorize the scene. There's a whole dance you gotta do and it's important to them because every doctor in America is watching and waiting for us to make a mistake, and the mail just rolls in when we do.

"But the idea of emotional preparation -- that I've got to figure out how a car salesman thinks -- that's just jive. I don't know why actors do it. I think they face that problem because that is a problem that's solvable as opposed to some of the other questions that face you in acting -- many of which are not solvable -- you've got to just go out and do it even though you're not sure about the scene. That's a frightening problem. We chose our battles -- the ones that we think we can win.

"All the time we were making ["Fargo"] it was so easy. It was such a breeze. There was no mashing of teeth, no struggle. I thought every single scene was hysterically funny and completely obvious. And when I saw the first screening of it I thought it was going to be big.

"I thought [the Academy] showed extraordinary taste (laughs). I think the Academy is changing. In the last couple of years I would go to these Academy Awards parties where you drank too much and there was a lottery and everybody put in buck. And always our question would be 'Who are these people that like these films?' But the Academy has been changing recently. All the films I agreed with. I thought the acting nominations were really good. I was proud as punch to be nominated in that group of actors and I have no problem losing to any of them. So I think the Academy is catching up with reality.

"The only thing I want to see when I go to see a movie -- and I'm not being facetious at all -- is what happens next. What's the next plot point. All I want to do is be told a story, and it better be a good story. It better have something to do with my life. And the center of good has to be something that I believe in. For my money, when I'm paying the ten bucks to see a movie, I don't want to know about the acting. I don't want to see acting. I want to see the story unfold. And so as an actor I think our only job is to analyze the script for action. Everything you need to know about a script is in the script."

Dante One Shot

Director Brendan Cooney found something for me to do after all in DANTE ONE SHOT. Although I appear in a short scene, I thank Brendan for the chance to be a part of his film. I played an aspiring poet who hears and comments on a poem/confession from Dante.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Cast in the Flobots Music Video "Handlebars"

Director/Producer Nina S. Misch has just tapped me to play a "corporate boss" in the new Flobots music video called "Handlebars". Nina is producing the video and the director is Iyabo Boyd, a senior at Tisch. Iyabo is doing it for a class in
experimental film.

I'll be filming it on April 1st.

If you're interested in learning more about the Flobots, you can go to www.flobots.com and listen to the song "Handlebars" (under the "music" section on their website).

Should be fun!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Click Here for Photographer Tomas Vrzala's Online Portfolio

This is the photographer who did the pictures below.

I highly recommend his work.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Friday, March 17, 2006

Untitled Parsons School of Design Project

Yesterday, I worked on a film about a man whose wife is dying and the effect that her suffering has on him.

It has proven difficult to find the right title for the piece. I suggested "All Else is Silence," inspired by a line in Hamlet, but we'll see.

The film was directed by Chia-Hsin (Nancy) Wei as part of the Parsons School of Design.

Playing my wife in the film was the charming Italian actess Alessia Siniscalchi.

One More Twelfth Night Picture...


...compliments of David Gochfeld.

PADDY WHACKED Pictures



Thursday, March 16, 2006

PRESS RELEASE: PADDY WHACKED: THE IRISH MOB (Click Here to Purchase the DVD Online)

Long Before the Mafia, There Was the Irish Mob ... PADDY WHACKED on The History Channel(R)

World Premiere Friday, March 17th, 2006 at 8:00 p.m.

NEW YORK, March 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Once called the "National Scourge," "The Shame of the Cities" and "The White Man's Burden," the Irish Mob rose from hellish beginnings to establish itself as the first crime syndicate in the United States. From "Old Smoke" Morrissey to "Whitey" Bulger, a parade of characters used ruthlessness, guile, and the diabolical power trio of "Gangster, Politician, and Lawman" to rise to power in the underworld. Their 150-year legacy of corruption is chronicled in the new special from The History Channel, PADDY WHACKED, a world premiere Friday, March 17 at 8 pm ET/PT on The History Channel.

After the devastating mid 19th century potato famine killed nearly a third of Ireland's population, the Irish looked across the ocean to America for salvation and opportunity. They arrived in New York City in droves, starving, destitute, determined ... and loathed by native New Yorkers. Gang wars soon enveloped the streets, and from the chaos rose the first mob boss, James "Old Smoke" Morrissey, as proprietor of gambling joints, saloons, and whore houses who aligned himself with the corrupt power corridors of Tammany Hall and Boss Tweed. Soon, the Irish carried the dubious distinction of dominating the lower rungs of the immigrant ladder. For the next century-and-a-half, they rose and found power and glory in New York, Chicago, Boston, and Hollywood, before being done in by Italian foes, infighting, and eventually the law. PADDY WHACKED is the story of a long rise to power and a violent and bloody collapse, with a steady drumbeat of unforgettable characters along the way.

Highlights of PADDY WHACKED include:

* Re-creations of the early New York City gang wars made famous in
Martin Scorsese's film Gangs of New York.

* "King" Mike McDonald's efforts to establish the Irish Mob in Chicago,
under the philosophy of "There's a sucker born every minute" and
"Never steal anything big, the small stuff is safer," and the
portrayal of the mobster as "the man behind the man."

* The rise of bootlegging as a primary source of income for the Irish
Mob during Prohibition, an effort led by Dean O'Banion in Chicago and
Owney Madden in New York.

* The first glorification of the Irish mobster in Hollywood films
starring James Cagney.

* The arrival of ruthless foes like Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and Meyer
Lansky, who wipe out Irish bosses by the dozen as the mafia rises to
power, while government foes such as FDR and Thomas E. Dewey doggedly
struggle to end corruption in the United States.

* The legitimization of the Irish in the upper levels of American
society crests in the 1950s and 1960s as Irish gangsters begin to take
over legitimate businesses. The son of upper-crust Irishman Joseph
Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, is elected President of the United States
after a multitude of back-channel dealing seals his Democratic Party
nomination.

* The JFK assassination signals the beginning of a murderous era of
bloodshed that leads to Wild West-style shootouts in Boston between
the Mullin Gang, the Winter Hill Gang, and the Charlestown Boys.

* James "Whitey" Bulger's rise as the last great Irish Boss is fueled by
protection from his state-senator brother and his best friend in the
FBI ... a shining example of the "Gangster, Politician, Lawman"
triumvirate that was so hard to crack. But even the untouchable Bulger
can't hide from the government's most powerful weapon, RICO.


Executive Producer for The History Channel is Carl H. Lindahl. PADDY WHACKED is produced for The History Channel by Joe Bink Films Inc.

Now reaching more than 88 million Nielsen subscribers, The History Channel(R), "Where the Past Comes Alive(R)," brings history to life in a powerful manner and provides an inviting place where people experience history personally and connect their own lives to the great lives and events of the past. In 2004, The History Channel earned five News and Documentary Emmy(R) Awards and previously received the prestigious Governor's Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the network's "Save Our History(R)" campaign dedicated to historic preservation and history education. The History Channel web site is located at http://www.historychannel.com/.

Website: http://www.historychannel.com/

Paddy Whacked: The Irish Mob


Premieres 3-17-06 On The History Channel 8-10 PM. Check it out! I appear as Rev. John Corridan.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

MOON CALVES

Had a great time (wonderful weather may I add) for the filming of MOON CALVES this past weekend.

Director Rosi Hayes was most kind and pleasant to work with. The chance to work with Kyle Pierson again also made the experience a memorable one.

Some kinds words from Rosi:

Dear Tim,

I am so grateful for your presence and work on Saturday. I think you are a wonderful actor. I am impressed by the warmth and skill of your work. I went away very impressed and hoping that you have every opportunity to use your talents in the future and that many people will see and enjoy what you do.

Thank you again, best wishes,

Rosi

Monday, March 13, 2006

One of the Greats...Maureen Stapleton Dies at 80

When I was first in New York there was a girl who wanted to play 'St. Joan' to the point where it was scary. ... I thought 'Don't ever want anything that bad,'Just take what you get and like it while you do it, and forget it. Maureen Stapleton

NEW YORK - Maureen Stapleton, the Oscar-winning character actress whose subtle vulnerability and down-to-earth toughness earned her dramatic and comedic roles on stage, screen, and television, died Monday. She was 80.

Her son, Daniel Allentuck, said she died of natural causes.

Stapleton, whose unremarkable, matronly appearance belied her star personality and talent, won an Academy Award in 1981 for her supporting role as anarchist-writer Emma Goldman in Warren Beatty's "Reds," about a left-wing American journalist who journeys to Russia to cover the Bolshevik Revolution.

To prepare for the role, Stapleton said she tried reading Goldman's autobiography, but soon chucked it out of boredom.

"There are many roads to good acting," Stapleton, known for her straightforwardness, said in her 1995 autobiography, "Hell of a Life." "I've been asked repeatedly what the 'key' to acting is, and as far as I'm concerned, the main thing is to keep the audience awake."

Stapleton was nominated several times for a supporting actress Oscar, including for her first film role in 1958's "Lonelyhearts"; "Airport" in 1970; and Woody Allen's "Interiors" in 1978.

Her other film credits include the 1963 musical "Bye Bye Birdie" opposite Ann-Margret and Dick Van Dyke, "Johnny Dangerously," "Cocoon," "The Money Pit" and "Addicted to Love."

In television, she earned an Emmy for "Among the Paths to Eden" in 1967. She was nominated for "Queen of the Stardust Ballroom" in 1975; "The Gathering" in 1977; and "Miss Rose White" in 1992.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Kyle Pierson Joins Cast of MOON CALVES

I am happy to report that Mr. Kyle Pierson is joining me for tomorrow's film shoot of Rosi Hayes' MOON CALVES.

Should be fun.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

An Interesting Audition

Sometimes, getting the part isn't the most important thing...

Case in point, last evening I auditioned for a short film titled DANTE ONE SHOT at the New York Film Academy. The script was quite good, but from reading it (about an Italian gangster going through a sort of mid life crisis), I knew I was not an ideal fit for any of the roles (mostly mob types, which I am not), but I still went anyway. What did I have to lose?

I went in and met the director, Brendan Cooney, who was most kind and professional and had me read for the lead role and a few of the supporting parts. Now, I knew going in that I wasn't going to be cast, so I just had some fun...reading the roles a few different ways...big, small, serious and ridiculous. That was fun for me, a chance to charge the batteries...try some things, not be afraid to fall on my face and laugh at myself a little. I also had a chance to read with other actors who auditioned and that was fun as well. No pressure on my end, I just had a fun time reading, seeing what different actors' processes/methods are...see how they attack a script when all you really have to go on is instinct. I saw a lot of different takes on all the characters in the piece; all very interesting. That was a thrill to watch. Now some people would consider what I did a waste of time and I would disagree. As actors, we need to keep our batteries charged...so that's what I did.

Although I wasn't cast, Brendan was nice enough to send along the following email. Thanks again Brendan!

Timothy, thank you again for all your help today.

I don't have a role for you in "Dante", but I would be happy to recommend you to my colleagues. You gave consistantly strong performances.

You are easily the most agile actor we auditioned.

It was truly a pleasure meeting you and watching you work.

Sincerely,

Brendan Cooney

ITG's 12th Night & 47:59 Post Show Party!

Impetuous Theatre's Group's 12th Night & 47:59 Post Show Party!

Location: Proof 239 3rd Ave, New York, NY

When: Friday, April 7th, 8:00pm

Phone: (212) 228-4200

Great Anthony Hopkins Article (Click Here)

Sir Anthony Hopkins telling it like it is in an article from THIS IS LONDON.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

MOON CALVES: Video Shoot This Saturday

I have just been tapped by director and artist Rosi Hayes to appear in her video short MOON CALVES which will be filmed this Saturday in Central Park.

Here's a summary of the project from Rosi herself:

This project is a short piece of video art (total run time will be approximately 10 minutes) that combines text from Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Beowulf (and Frankenstein, depending on time constraints). I am using brief segments of dialogue to compile a radically new vision of these texts and to create a very new kind of story-telling.


I chose these two sources because of their content and historicity. My primary interest is in the monsters that inhabit these texts. Monsters occupy a very special place in our minds and culture; they are often reviled and very poorly behaved. They also maintain a certain moral ambiguity that allows them to be both sympathetic and tragic characters. We are disgusted by monsters yet we know somewhere in our hearts that they represent our most vulnerable, pathetic selves.

Videos themselves are monstrous creations. They are a hybrid of different shots, sounds, points of view, characters and styles. This video will explicitly acknowledge the creative and monster-like role of the camera and the editor. Essentially, the video itself has a character, and a subjective stance that this video will make into a monstrous demi-being.

Cast:

The Tempest:

Caliban: Lazzarus
Stephano: Linda Delmonico Prussen
Trinculo: Timothy Cox

Beowulf:

Narrators:
Timothy Cox, Linda Delmonico Prussen, Lazzarus, Crystal Horton, Roopa Kosuri, Bryan Messenbourg, Megan Roe, Jes Cannon, Sarah Lange, Sophie Hayes,

Beowulf: Timothy Cox
Grendel: everybody on the shoot