Interview with “A Christmas Story” star Zack Ward

Ever since his debut as Scut Farkus in “A Christmas Story” over three decades ago, Zack Ward has steadily carved out a career both in front of and behind the camera.  But there is a lot more to Cleveland Street’s best known bully.

Zack and co-star Scott Schwartz will be appearing in Omaha this Friday, November 10, where they will host a charity screening of “A Christmas Story.” I had the opportunity to speak with Zack this week and he shared his thoughts about the film and his career.

Mike Smith:  Why do you think, more than 30 years after its release, “A Christmas Story” is still so popular?

Zack Ward:  I’ve been asked that question many times over the years and I’ve been able to give the answer a lot of thought.  It has something to do with the combination of many things.  The writing.  The story is the same story structure of Homer’s “The Iliad.”  A young boy goes on a mythical adventure.  He fights all of these different demons.  And he does this to finally earn the respect of his father.  That’s what the B.B. gun is about.  It’s not that it’s a toy.  It could have been anything.  If you remember what happens at the very end of the film, when the father says to Ralphie, “What’s that behind the tree?”  The mom doesn’t even know what’s there.  And he finds the B.B. gun and the mom is upset.  But he tells her that he had one when he was that age.  What the whole statement of the B.B. gun is is a coming of age.  It’s the father’s acceptance of the son being responsible and becoming a man.  Transitioning from being a child.  And getting that respect from the parents that you adore means everything.  It doesn’t matter what the toy is.  What matters is what it represents.

MS:  That is the greatest answer to that question that I’ve ever gotten.

ZW:  (laughs)  Thank you.  I’ve had many years to ponder this.  The other thing is the direction.  If you look at the film again, and I’m sure you will now, you’ll notice that it is shot from the child’s view.  Bob Clark had the camera lowered so that the camera was always shooting from Ralphie’s point of view.  That never happens.  Usually adults are looking down on children.  In this situation, it’s always from the child’s perspective.  At a certain point, Bob Clark had them remove the floor from part of the set to ensure they could get the camera dolly low enough in order to have the right perspective.  He fought for that tooth and nail.  Also, the film is multi-generational.  It’s what they call in the industry “co-viewership.”  It’s like “Modern Family.”  You can watch “Modern Family” if you’re a grandpa, if you’re a mom, if you’re a dad, if you’re a teenager or if you’re a kid.  And “A Christmas Story” captivates all of those life moments.  You can see it as a child.  Understand it as a parent.  And reflect on it as an adult, thinking about your own childhood.  I’ve been amazed to watch 70-year old men with their 50-year old sons and 25-year old grandsons and 5-year old great-great grandsons walk up to me because they all want to meet the kid from “A Christmas Story.”  And they’re all surprised it’s me because they actually think it was shot in the 1940s.  That’s the thing that’s incredible.  How multi-generational it is.  How inclusive it is.  There’s no CGI.  There’s no special effects.  It’s just a great story that connects with people.

MS:  Do you have a favorite memory from the shoot?

ZW:  Yes I do.  My favorite memory from the shoot was when I came to the set one day.  We were shooting in Cleveland and there was no snow.  It was the middle of winter and all of the lawns were dark brown.  Cleveland at that time was not a city you really wanted to be in.  It was going through a very severe economic crisis.

MS:  I was born in Cleveland so I know what you’re talking about.

ZW:  So you know.  We were not allowed to go outside of the hotel after 6:00 pm for good reason.  It was a scary place at night.  We walked down to the set, to the house which is now a museum, and we turned the corner.  And every other street is just brown grass and ugly lawns.  But in the middle of the street is a house covered in snow.  With a big tree in the yard full of icicles glistening in the sun.  And it was all man-made.  That for me was a “wow” moment.  It took my breath away and still today I remember that feeling…that anything is possible.

MS:  You have worked steadily since “A Christmas Story,” which is very rare for someone whose career started when they were a child.  What’s your secret?

ZW:  (laughs)  I think it’s because I’ve got this face that people look at and want to punch!  It’s not my fault.  I’m a sweetheart of a guy.  I just happen to have slanty eyes and red hair.  And I really think people want to punch me in the face.  Definitely it’s helped.  (laughs)

MS:  You’ve written and directed in the past.  Do you see yourself doing more of that in the future?

ZW:  I’m actually in the process of doing that now.  I’m writing a series called “Fracture” and we go into pre-production in December.  It’s a series I co-created with a friend of mine and I’m the single writer on it.  I won’t be directing this one but I will be executive-producing and writing.  But I do love directing.  I’m actually getting ready to direct a commercial being shot in Akron, Ohio in about a week.  I love working on both sides of the camera.  The one job I hate is producing.  It sucks!  It’s such a horrible job.  Everybody blames you for everything and nobody thanks you for anything.  No matter what you pay them!

MS:  Anything else coming up soon?

ZW:  Yes.  Onscreen I have a T.V. show called “Swedish Dicks,” as in detectives.  The old, 1940s style term.  He’s a flatfoot.  I appear with Peter Stormare and a little fella named Keanu Reeves.  I tell you, I don’t know but I think he’s got a career ahead of him.  I’m also working on something I’m very excited about outside the entertainment environment.  It’s called “All Sports Market” and it is the world’s first stock market for sports team.  We’ve been working on it for the past 15 years and we’ve had a data model up for the last 3.  The whole concept is that you can buy shares in your favorite sports team.  And you can sell or trade them like you would stocks.  It’s something that goes back to the Roman times, when at the Coliseum people would place their bets.  And the sport always suffers because someone always takes a dive.  Even if there is a suspicion of collusion towards throwing the game, gambling sours sports.  It poisons it like a cancer.  This takes that element out of the game.  And it allows parents to bond with their children over their favorite sports teams.  Do you have any children?

MS:  One

ZW:  How old is he?

MS:  33

ZW:  If you said to your 10-year son, “hey buddy, let’s talk about market fluctuation and dividends and stock prices because you need to learn how to be an investor so you won’t be homeless when you’re 33,” I can pretty much guarantee you that he would fall asleep or start crying.  But if you find out his favorite team, you can tell him that together you’re going to buy 10 shares in his favorite team and you can watch what happens over the season.  It’s something you can do together.  And by the end of the season you’re son or daughter is now financially literate.  They know how to make investments.  Because you took the moment and educated them on something important while to them they were just talking with dad about their favorite team.

You can learn more by going to www.AllSportsMarket.com.  And if you sign up you get $2500.00 of play currency, what we call “learning capital.”  The whole thing now is a learning market.

MS:  Last question.  You run into Peter Billingsley (Ralphie) in an alley.  Who wins the fight this time?

ZW:  (laughs)  Is there any doubt in your mind that Scut Farkus took a dive?  Another point against sports gambling.  You KNEW I took a dive.  I was bought out.  I went down harder than a sack of potatoes.  I’ve got a couple of black belts and was in “Black Belt” magazine so I think I’d do well.  On the flip side, Peter did produce “Iron Man” so he’s probably got more bodyguards!

 

 

 

Stuart Ward talks about touring with Broadway hit play “Once”

Stuart Ward is currently touring North America with the touring company of the hit Broadway show “Once”. Stuart is no stranger to the show “Once” as he was in fact the understudy for the role of “Guy” in the West End production of the show. Media Mikes got a chance to chat with Stuart about “Once” and him role during their stop in Philly in their 29 city tour which runs until October 2014.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you come on board with “Once” for its North American tour?
Stuart Ward: I actually was a part of the London cast of the show. I was a cover for the role of Guy. I missed out on the casting since I was on another job in Australia touring with the singer Cliff Richard. No one knows him in the US but in England he is a bit of a rock pop legend. 73 years old and he is still rocking out! So I was in Australia playing the Syndey Opera House and other great venues with him, so when I got back the show was all cast. I got a call asking if I would be interested in the understudy part and to be quite honest I really wasn’t. But they kept asking and I thought even if I get to do think just once – [laughs] there you go “Once” – it would be worth it and I would be happy. So I took it and then the day after I went on for the very first time, I got a call asking if I would be interested to play the lead in the US tour. My jaw hit the ground and I screamed a resounding “Yes”!

MG: So you are currently in Philly, tell us how the tour has been going so far?
SW: It is going great. We are just kind of settling down now. To be honest, when we were in Providence we were still working on the show and cleaning it up a bit. Then we got to Chicago and we were filming b-roll and doing recordings, so it was busy. So now in Philly it is settling down. I have had some time to explore the city and I ran up the Rocky steps [laughs]. The video is actually on my Twitter. I couldn’t help myself [laughs].

MG: What are some of the other cities that you are looking forward to hitting?
SW: I was actually looking forward to visiting Chicago. When we got there it didn’t let down at all. It had such an incredible vibe about the place. It was a bit like New York but a bit more laid back and chill. I am looking forward San Francisco as well, since it has a similar laid back vibe. I am looking forward to Florida since my mom and dad are coming down for that. I miss them hugely, so I am looking forward to getting them down. Honestly though, I am excited for all of them since I have never been to these cities before in America. So I am taking it a city at a time and having a blast!

MG: What do you use for inspiration to get you into the role each night?
SW: There is a remarkable amount of similarities between me and the character, so it doesn’t really take that much. Sometimes when you are playing a role, I think it is important to bring a part of yourself to it otherwise you are just lying. You have to have some truth in there. Usually it is 30% you and 70% your character that you built. But for this role it is actually like 90% is already there for me. I am a songwriter myself and I can relate to this character. I feel like I am actually playing my own songs out there. They all sit perfectly in my voice. It is quite easy for me to get into it.

MG: Tell us about the chemistry you have with co-star Dani de Waal?
SW: It is massive. I was so worried when I came over here because I didn’t meet her until the first day of rehearsals. I thought that 98% of my stage time is with this girl and I was thinking “God, what if she is terrible?” [laughs] I have been so lucky because she is really wonderful. She has this fantastic quality about her that fits the role of Girl so well. It is like a non-descriptive energy that is so great to play off. I feel quite blessed to have her as my Girl. It would be a horrible experience if she didn’t have all these amazing qualities but she is just fantastic.

MG: What is your favorite song to perform with the show?
SW: It is torn between two songs but think it has to be “When Your Minds Made Up”. I just think that that moment is when everything comes together and completes what they have worked for in the play. He just nails it in the studio the first time around. I always feel like he has that performance in his mind for three or four years and he is just waiting to be unleashed. I just love that moment. Not just performing that song, even when watching it, I just love the moment when he has become a songwriter – a rock star if you like.

MG: How has the show changed for you having watched it and now being the lead of it?
SW: What is great about this show and the whole creative team, is that they never wanted a copy of what has been done before. I have never had this happen before when going into a role that someone else has done. Usually you stand at the mark, turn right and say your lines. With the creative team here, they didn’t want any of that and they wanted us to make our own production of it. They approached the show like it was never done before. Half of the blocking is different and all the costumes are different. So the bare-bones of the show is the same but it is our completely own version. You will notice the differences when you come see it and if have seen the show before.

Here is the rest of the tour schedule! Check it out when it comes to a city near you!

Cleveland, OH (Playhouse Square)
Nov. 12 – 24, 2013

Toronto, ON (Royal Alexandra Theatre)
Nov. 26, 2013 – Jan. 5, 2014

Boston, MA (Boston Opera House)
Jan. 7 – 19, 2014

Durham, NC (Durham Performing Arts Center)
Jan. 21 – 26, 2014

Orlando, FL (Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre)
Jan. 28 – Feb. 2, 2014

Miami, FL (The Adrienne Arsht Center)
Feb. 4 – 9, 2014

Tampa, FL (Straz Center)
Feb. 11 – 16, 201

Fort Myers, FL (Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall)
Feb. 18 – 23, 2014

New Haven, CT (Shubert Theater)
Feb. 26 – March 2, 2014

Atlanta, GA (Fox Theatre)
March 4 – 9, 2014

Pittsburgh, PA (Benedum Center)
March 11 – 16, 2014

Rochester, NY (Auditorium Theatre)
March 18 – 23, 2014

Buffalo, NY (Shea’s Performing Arts Center)
March 25 – 30, 2014

Minneapolis, MN (Orpheum Theatre)
April 1 – 6, 2014

St. Louis, MO (The Fox Theatre)
April 8 – 20, 2014

Des Moines, IA (Civic Center of Greater Des Moines)
April 22 – 27, 2014

Tempe, AZ (ASU Gammage)
April 29 – May 4, 2014

Denver, CO (Buell Theatre)
May 6 – 18, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (Smith Center for the Performing Arts)
May 20 – 25, 2014

Seattle, WA (The Paramount Theatre)
May 27 – June 8, 2014

Portland, OR (Keller Auditorium)
June 10 – 15, 2014

San Francisco, CA (Curran Theatre)
June 17 – July 13, 2014

Los Angeles, CA (Pantages Theatre)
July 15 – Aug. 10, 2014

San Diego, CA (Civic Center)
Aug. 12 – 17, 2014

Costa Mesa, CA (Segerstrom Hall)
Aug. 19 – 31, 2014

Charlotte, NC (Blumenthal Performing Arts Center)
Sept. 30 – Oct. 5, 2014

A Christmas Story Star Zack Ward Fights Bullying with “Go Fark urself & get Bullyproof” Campaign


“A Christmas Story” is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary this Christmas and Zack Ward, who played Scut Farkus in the film is looking to show my appreciation by giving back. “Fark-O-Vision!” is an app that raises money for Bully Prevention programs around the country! Click here to support the campaign and spread the word before November 30th, 2013.

Here is Zack’s pitch from indiegogo.com:
“We’re creating a free app that will allow people to “Fark-i-Fy” their photos. Ya know, you can take your face and mess it up…in a good way. You can then send your photos via text, email, Facebook, Twitter, or hard copy postcard to your friends, family, enemies, or random strangers. The postcard will cost about $1-$2 and that’s where we’ll raise money for Bully Prevention programs. So when it comes to sending out your personalized holiday greetings, you’re all set…and you help some kids at the same time.

The idea of Bullying has changed. Society has gotten smarter and more aware of the short term and long term damage it causes. It effects all races, sexes, religions and ages. It’s time for us to end it. And we can.

You can help us create programs for kids in underserved schools and communities. We can show them, in person, that there is a choice for both the victim AND the bully, to change and enrich their lives, and then pay it forward. We envision a world of young, kind hearted mentors, that find inner strength and gain confidence by helping their peers succeed. A true synergy for our children and our country.”

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"Dark Feed" DVD Giveaway, from the Writers of "John Carpenter’s The Ward" [ENDED]

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED AND WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL. PLEASE CHECK BACK EACH WEEK FOR NEW GIVEAWAYS!

To celebrate the release of “Dark Feed”, from the Writers of “John Carpenter’s The Ward”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway TWO copies of the film on DVD. If you would like to enter for your chance to win this great prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your favorite horror film and why?. This giveaway will remain open until March 29th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to residents of the United States only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

A film crew moves to an abandoned psychiatric hospital with a shadowy past to shoot a low budget horror film. The late nights and lack of sleep begin to take a toll, and the longer this crew works, the more the leaky, wet building seems to be coming back to life, feeding off its new inhabitants. As the shoot wears on, members of the crew exhibit increasingly strange behavior leaving those still sane realizing they need to get out of this place before they too succumb to the building’s infectious hold. The only problem—the old hospital is not ready to let them go. Written, produced and directed by Michael Rasmussen & Shawn Rasmussen.

Interview with Zack Ward

Zack Ward is known best for playing the role of Scut Farkus in the timeless holiday classic “A Christmas Story”. Zack has also appeared is various projects including “Transformers”, “Bloodrayne: Deliverance” and TV shows like “Dollhouse”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Zack about his experience on “A Christmas Story” and revisiting it every holiday season.

Mike Gencarelli: You are known best for your role of Scut Farkus in “A Christmas Story”, which is obviously how we met, do you every look back on that role and say “what if”?
Zack Ward: No. Not with ACS or any other project or any other part of life. I think I used to when I was younger; wishing things were different, kind of like wishing for “mutant powers” when I was the new kid in school. But as my dad says, “you can wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first”. So I stopped wishing for things and just started doing. It’s a lot more fun and you don’t waste time complaining.

MG: Working on that film, what is your most fondest memory looking back?
ZW: When Bob Clark directed me and pretty much taught me how to act, not only artistically but as a respectful professional. He was a father figure to me and has shaped the way I live my life.

MG: How do you feel about them making “A Christmas Story” into a musical for stage?
ZW: Ecstatic! I love the show and love watching people enjoy it. I think they should make the bully more important, but that’s just me.

MG: You have worked quite a bit with Uwe Boll, tell us how that relationship start?
ZW:  I auditioned for “Postal” and got the job. While we were shooting he offered me the bad guy role in “Bloodrayne: Deliverance”. I learned a lot about film making from Uwe. Specifically what NOT to do, and honestly that’s just as valuable an education. Do I wish “Postal” was a good movie that had a nation wide launch with rave reviews? Absolutely. But you know my thoughts on wasting my time “wishing”.

MG: Partly due to that you have starred in 4 video game adaptations, are you generally a gamer? Where you familiar with the games prior to working on the films?
ZW: I like video game (just finished “Portal 2”) but it has nothing to do with it. That’s kind of like asking if I’m into books because the film is an adaptation. It doesn’t matter what the source material comes from as long as their is a character I can pursue and play with. As to the specific games; I played “Resident Evil”, loved the story but hated the controller. I thought “Postal” was a boring game. “Bloodrayne” was cool and the avatar was sexy. The other I never tried.

MG: Tell us about appearing on the show “Breakout Kings”?
ZW: Good fun. Shot in my hometown of Toronto. The director was the steadicam operator on “Titus”, so we knew each other. The cast is great. Got to do the big explosion scene, every guys wet dream. Script was intriguing and then got dumbed down in the edit. I like the show and hope they keep pushing envelopes.

MG: You also appeared this year in the TV film “Accidentally in Love”, tell us about working on that?
ZW: I got an offer from the Hallmark Channel to do a comedy and thought, “why not”. Silly fun stuff wearing a giant bunny suit? What’s not to like.

MG: You starred in two of the best episodes of the show “Dollhouse”, what can you tell us about that experience?
ZW: Just a big pile of AWESOME! And then they made comics for the DVD release so I’m in a comic books which pretty much makes all my adolescent fantasies come true. Guns, zombies, lesbians, saving the world….what more do you want?

MG: Are you planning on producing more in the future?
ZW: Yup. Just finishing off “Last Stop” (themovielaststop.com). We haven’t sold it yet but have a bunch of distributors lined up and asking. Not surprised as we’ve got Mena Suvari, Brian Austin Green, Joanne Kelly and Bob Picardo in it. And honestly they are amazing. If you check out the site you’ll see some cool pics and posters. The trailer is a temp done by one of our interns, but still pretty cool for what it is.

MG: What other projects are you currently working on and have planned upcoming?
ZW: I’m producing and directing my next film which is called “Experimental”. That sucker is gonna blow your mind.