Interview with David H. Lawrence XVII

David H. Lawrence XVII has worked on television and film. He is also works in voice talent, network radio host, is an internet entrepreneur, podcaster, demo producer, teacher and author. Movie Mikes got a chance to talk to David is currently starring in NBC’s “Heroes” as the villain Eric Doyle and told us about a bunch of other projects and plans for the future.

Mike Gencarelli: Give us an little insight about the XVII after your name?
David H. Lawrence XVII: If anyone want the complete godawful sheep dog version of this story, send me an email at davidlawrence@gmail.com. Basically when I first started off as an actor, which was about four years ago. I put myself or someone put me up on IMDB and there were several David Lawrence’s that preceded me. So I was the seventeenth David Lawrence. When I had to join the union, SAG, some of those David Lawrence’s were also SAG members and the name David Lawrence was unavailable. I choose XVII and became David H. Lawrence XVII. The problem is IMDB doesn’t let you put roman numeral at the end of your name unless you are Danny Aiello III and then all rules are off. When I put myself, the age popped me over to David H. Lawrence I. So I just can’t catch a break.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you originally get the role on NBC’s “Heroes”
David H. Lawrence XVII: Just another audition, in a series of auditions that month. June of 2008, June 12th to be precise. I had an extra day with the sides so I was to play with it a lot more than another audition. Sometimes you get auditions and its the same day and you have very little time to go over the sides. The issue with not having enough time to review sides is what prompted me to create the app I have for the iPhone called “Rehearsal”. So I can rehearse my lines and my lines and memorize stuff right on my iPhone. It turns out the reason they brought me in was because of a student film I have done a couple of years earlier. That student film by the way, I shot it despite the fact that I got booked for a network television show that much earlier. The show was called “The Clubhouse”. Because I had already committed to the student, I passed on the part. It would have been network part but he couldn’t reschedule the shoot. So fast forward two years later, they see that clip from that film where I am playing a ringmaster. I am all dressed up in stage makeup and what not and they said “Hey if he will do that maybe he will come in for Eric Doyle”.

Mike Gencarelli: Did you enjoy playing the role of the villain, Eric Doyle on “Heroes”?
David H. Lawrence XVII: I did and I continue to, he is not dead yet. Only after the fact how I realized how fun it is to play a villain as suppose to play a good guy. The higher you are on the call sheet the more money you make but in terms of having the good lines. People know me for saying things like “Barbie” and “I just want to be normal”, things like that. The character gave the opportunity to be a villain with a heart. People want to hug me and help me be better so that is kinda nice. Be aware I am only going to disappoint you in the end.

MG: Any cool stories from the set of “Heroes”?
DL: There are hundreds of stories from the set. I spent more of my time working with Hayden Panettiere and with Robert Knepper who played Samuel. Both of them are really amazing actors, in terms of their preparation and attitude, approach and work ethic. I wish I had some horrifying stories to tell you about misbehavior on the set but it just didn’t happen. I have been on a couple of sets in my acting career, probably seven or eight and this one is far and away the most comfortable and amazing and enjoyable. All I can say is that what powers me is bagels and cream cheese. That is about as crazy as I can get.

MG: Your work ranges from comedy to drama, how do you usually prepare for your roles?
DL: I spend a lot of time memorizing my lines and exploring way for the character to interact. It all goes out the window or all comes to play when the cameras start rolling. That is really the time when the magic happens and all the prep work could be thrown out the window if something changes or if the writers come in with a rewrite at the last minute. I was certainly rehearsing how to die in my first episode because I was suppose to die in my first episode and then the writers rewrote the ending after we starting shooting. They decided they didn’t want me to die just yet and they changed it to have Claire hit me over the head with a chair leg. All of the preparation I did on how to die convincingly so far hasn’t had to be called into play. There were all these villains that came out in season three and every single one of them are dead, expect me.

MG: You have done quite a bit a short films? Can you us about anyone’s that stand out? “My Name is Wallace”?
DL: “My Name is Wallace” got into over 100 festivals and won about 40 of them. It was a really nice gentle little film that I loved doing. It was a character I have been doing on radio and on the phone with my buddy Bob Pondillo, who is the director and writer for decades. He started off as a character that was one of the oddest people to ever make a video tape for a dating service. In the movie the character doesn’t quite get what a phone sex service is all about. It’s is an interesting little movie and we are thinking of turning it into a feature. I just finished one called “The New, True, Charlie Wu” and it has been shown all over the country. It has also been in a bunch of festivals. I try to convince people I do shorts for to take the leap and make features. Shorts are weird, you can’t release them in the theaters and you can’t really release them on DVD. You just make them for the love of making films. I have done a lot of that and I really want to concentrate on doing television and studio features. I am actually shooting one right now with Frankie Muniz, Corbin Bernsen, Shelly Long and Diamond Dallas Page from WWE called “Pizza Man”. It is so much fun working with people that you grew up watching on television. Frankie Muniz is half my age but I was watching him as a child actor in “Malcolm in the Middle”. Corbin Bernsen most people know from “Major League” but I know him from “L.A. Law” and Shelly Long from “Troop Beverly Hills” but she is Diane from “Cheers” for me.

MG: You’ve done stand up before, how do you think it differs from movies or TV?
DL: Stand up is something I feel like I have been doing for 30 years on radio. So getting up on stage and doing stand up is no big deal to me, especially when it goes array, when things go bad. I kind of love that because it is a challenge to turn lemons into lemonade. When you can take a crowd who maybe isn’t with you in the beginning and get them with you towards the end, that’s like the best possible situation. It is easy to be a really popular comedian and people will laugh at just about everything you say. It kinda like being a business man and making a horrible mistake but then making it right with the customer, you have that customer for life. I look at my career as a busy and I look at everyone that see a film I am in or a television show I am on or come to a stand up I do as a customer of mine as well as a fan. I do everything I can to make sure that they are completely satisfied and surprised and delighted with what they get. Luckly I have been give that opportunity with some really great projects like “Heroes” and “Lost” and it has been great. I like the idea of being saying, “I had no idea that you were that “David Lawrence”. A lot of people know me from radio or from the world of technology where I worked with AOL, Yahoo and Google for many years and they go “Wait a minute, what are you doing now…What?…Your that guy…Oh my God, Yeah you are”. It always fun to watch that happen.

MG: Tell us out your author work with “10 Quick Steps”?
DL: With “10 Quick Steps”, when you do a talk show on radio, the callers are like records. You can only spend a few minutes with each one. There were certain questions I could answer poorly in 90 seconds or a couple of minutes. So I started to write complete guide on how to do certain things that people were calling in and asking about all the time. Some are “How do you turn cassettes, records, reel to reel into MP3 or CDs?” or “How do you take VHS and make them into DVDs” or “How do you completely backup your computer”. I started writing these guides and at the time, I was on XM satellite radio 24/7. CNET kind of went away in January 2003 and I started writing these in April or May in 2003 and because I was on 24/7 if I mentioned them on the air, they would repeat my shows all the time. They would get sold 24 hours a day. 7 days a week. I would sell them for $20 bucks a piece and you would download them on the computer and there was no shipping or anything. I also did audio version of them.

MG: What do you have planned for the future?
DL: I am appearing at various conventions across the country, I am already booked at Dragon Con, over Labor Day weekend in Atlanta. I am going to be at the Hollywood Show this year. I am booked at the San Diego, Toronto, New York Comic Cons and hopefully they will also book me for Cleveland and Nashville. I grew up in Cleveland and I do a lot of shooting in Nashville. Once you are on “Heroes”, you can easily spend every weekend of your life in some city somewhere meeting fans.

MG: Do you enjoy meeting you fans?
DL: I LOVE…LOVE meeting my fans. I realize they are fans of the show and they very clearly let me know when they are fans of Eric Doyle’s because they know things about him that sometimes I forgotten. It’s like who remembers these things, but the fans do. I am thrilled that fans care that much.

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