Interview with Oliver Muirhead

Oliver Muirhead started of his career in the voice over business and has since gone on to appeared in over 70 films such as “Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me” and more recently the blockbuster hit “The Social Network”. Movie Mikes had a chance recently to speak with Oliver about his career, his projects and his pen name.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about your role in “The Social Network”
Oliver Muirhead: I was cast for that role in an interesting way. I had originally been sent in by my manager to audition for a role that I was clearly not right for. However, she knew there was another role that I was right for and hoped that casting would give me a shot. As it turns out she was right and I was perfect for this role. It was a very clever way to get the jump on things. I felt like a complete idiot when I went in for the first audition because I was just so wrong for that particular role. After my audition, casting told my manager that mine was the only audition tape that she sent to David Fincher for that role and I was hired. It felt kind of good to be noticed in that way. We shot the scene at two different locations in Los Angeles and during the first shoot they used a long tracking shot which featured eight principle characters and around 130 extras. The scene was a very large and ended up being shot 64 times. A lot of the scenes in that film were shot multiple times which allowed for the actors to really relax and take in the scene. I really enjoyed the script of the film and felt it had a very classic Hollywood feel. I think this film is one of the most classically scripted films I have been a part of. It was a really fun movie.

AL: During the time of shooting did you and the other actors have a sense that the movie was going to be such a hit?
OM: I don’t think so. Everyone had an idea that we were becoming a part of a really intense movie making process. I think everyone was happy that it was completed and had a good time doing it but I don’t think anyone predicted the success the film achieved.

AL: How was it working with Mike Myers on “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”?
OM: [Laughs] I had met Director Jay Roach one day at my daughter’s schools, as he was there as a parent as well. It was one of those funny coincidences. I guess he had met Mike previously and one thing led to another and I ended up in the film. Jay is a really great guy. I think that film was actually his first film as a director.

AL: Are there any great behind the scenes stories from that shoot?
OM: Not that I can think of off the top of my head. I do remember during shooting we all had a sense that we were making a really funny film. I think that film has the best story of the three and is probably the funniest.

AL: How did you become involved with doing voice over work?
OM: I had gotten my union card by re-voicing movies so I have always had a toe in the water in the way of voice work. It’s really great doing that type of work because I can go to work in my pajamas. [Laughs] I have friends that work on the “Spongebob” show and I am extremely jealous. Who doesn’t want to live at the bottom of the sea! And who wouldn’t want those residuals [Laughs]. There are some really great and funny people in the voice over business.

AL: Do you have a project that stands out as a favorite?
OM: That’s like asking if I have a favorite child. Which I do, I only have one child so it’s easy to get away with that one [Laughs]. Generally I am always very into what is coming up. I did a small movie last year titled “Like Crazy” which won the Grand Prize at Sundance. I wasn’t a lead actor but I did have a large role in the film. The film had a great cast and we were all very happy to be working on the project. Paramount ended up buying the film for around $4 million dollars and I think they plan to release it on some sort of theatrical level. That film was such a pleasure.

AL: Can you tell us about your writing and your pen name George Mole?
OM: I started out as a museum journalist and writing under a different name as a way to protect my parents who were both in the museum world. I had met Steven Applebee who is a cartoonist in the UK while I was still living over there and we wrote our first book titled “No Honestly It Was Simply Delicious But I Couldn’t Eat Another Mouth Full”. The book was somewhat of a fake cooking book based on an idea for a series of books I had. The book did fairly well but we both felt it should have been a hit and were somewhat disappointed. That book did launch a career for us and we went on to write books such as “The Little Book of Parking Tickets”, “Negative Thinking” which was huge in Germany. We also wrote a book titled “Better Living Through Air Guitar” that was big in Italy. [Laughs] My pen name came about from my mother actually. There was a character in a spy novel called George Smart. George was always looking for the mole in various places or agencies, so my mother put the two together and felt it was a suitable pen name for me. She failed to check however that I actually have a cousin named George Mole [Laughs].

AL: Do you have any other upcoming projects?
OM: I just finished doing a few episodes for the upcoming season of “The Secret Life of an American Teenager”, which is great show. I had done one episode on the show last season and got some really great Christmas presents from the show. [Laughs] I did a “Hot Wheels” promo piece for this year’s Indianapolis 500, which was a little odd but fun. I also have a film in post-production titled “Son of Morning” which has a good story and an interesting cast. I also just completed three episodes on the TV series “Switched at Birth”. I have a recurring role as the character “Geraldo”…good fun!

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