Interview with Actor Michael Pare’

I first saw Michael Pare’ when he appeared on television’s “The Greatest American Hero,” but it was his performance as Eddie Wilson in the film “Eddie and the Cruisers” that cemented him in my mind as an actor to watch.  While on his way to Nevada to shoot his latest project Mr. Pare’ took time out to talk to me about his latest film – “Once Upon a Time in Deadwood” – his aspirations to be a chef and how Rick Springfield almost ended up playing Eddie Wilson.  (I should also note that this interview is posting on his birthday so, from all of us at Media Mikes, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICHAEL!”

 

MIKE SMITH:  You studied to be a chef.  Was that your original career goal?

 

MICHAEL PARE’:  Yes.  When I was in high school, my first job where I had to pay taxes, social security and everything was in a fast food restaurant.  Then I got on at a regular restaurant that served steaks and everything else.  I was pretty good at it and I liked the life.  So in my junior year I heard from a co-worker about the Culinary Institute of America.  I got a recommendation from my boss and I applied and got in.  At the time it was known as the best cooking school in the United States.  I attended for a year and was given an internship at Tavern on the Green in New York.  They eventually offered me a full-time, six days a week job.  So I moved to Manhattan, which is where I was discovered.

 

MS:  Do you ever give the Craft Services people on set any pointers?

 

MP:  (laughs) No, but there are a few directors I’ve cooked with.  Uwe Boll and I used to have a sauerbraten contest every time we worked.  Cooking is something that a lot of people share.  In all of the arts food becomes an important part of your life.

 

MS:  How did you get into acting?  What took you from the kitchen to the soundstage?

 

MP:  I got discovered by an agent.  There was a bar where my girlfriend waitressed at that was kind of a show business bar.  It was right across from where they broadcast the news for ABC. A lot of people in the business hung out there.  The agent noticed me and asked me if I was an actor or a dancer.  I told her I was in the restaurant business.  She kind of pursued it and talked me into taking a few classes.  I did and I liked it a lot.  My first classes were at Carnegie Hall.  I’d go to class during the day and work the night shift at the restaurant.  I studied for two years and then auditioned for ABC’s talent development program and I got it.  They brought me out to Hollywood and put me on “The Greatest American Hero.”

 

MS:  You made your feature film debut as Eddie Wilson in “Eddie and the Cruisers.”  How did you get the role?

MP:  Marty Davidson, the director, called my agent and asked me to come in and meet him.  That was it.  I met with him about four or five times.  Marty was a very artistic guy.  He put the cast together and we had two weeks of improve and then we shot it.  I did it on hiatus from “The Greatest American Hero.”

 

MS:  Is it true that Martin Davidson would threaten to replace you with Rick Springfield?

 

MP:  (laughs)  Yes, but he only had to do it once!

 

MS:  I like Rick Springfield (Ok, I’ve seen him in concert a dozen times so I REALLY like Rick Springfield) but I don’t think he would have been a good Eddie.

 

MP:  It would have been a different movie.

 

MS:  Exactly.  Did you know while you were making the film that it was going to be regarded the way it is now?

 

MP:  No.  At that time I was still a young actor and didn’t know the potential of things.  I had only done two seasons of “The Greatest American Hero” and a movie of the week, so it was all like a dreamland.  I didn’t even think about marketing.  When I was back on “The Greatest American Hero” I was telling another actor about the film and he told me “you don’t have nothing without distribution.”  I had no idea what that meant.  I told him, “well, I shot it and they’re happy…that’s all I can say.”

 

MS:  Anyone ever ask you to sing “On the Dark Side” at karaoke?

 

MP:  (laughs)  If I do karaoke it’s Johnny Cash.

 

MS:  What drew you to your latest role in “Once Upon a Time in Deadwood?”

 

MP:  I’ve done a few westerns so when Jeff Miller (the film’s co-producer/co-writer) called me up and said he had an interesting project with this guy named Robert Bronzi I called up Danny Baldwin.  I knew he had worked with Robert and I asked him what he was like.  He said that Jeff and his team were very creative… very open minded.  So I said “ok.”  And then when I met Rene’ (director Rene’ Perez) he was surprised as he expected to meet someone who was a little more “beat up.”  I’m a pretty healthy guy.  That was it.  We shot in a little western town in central California up near the Sequoias.  We used blanks and squibs as opposed to all of the CGI stuff that is so popular now on low budget movies.  It was a great experience.  Nice cast.  Rene’ is very creative.  He’s the DP and the director.

 

MS:  Do you enjoy the genre’?  Do you have a favorite role-type?

 

MP:  I like all of them.  If you do it so long you play everything.  And you hope one of the roles will be successful, you know?

 

MS:  What are you working on now?

 

MP:  It’s called “Bridge of Doom” We’re shooting in Caliente’, Nevada.  It’s the military reaction to the Zombie Apocalypse.  When I heard that I was like, “great…we never hear about that part.  It’s always about the civilians out in the middle of nowhere.

Actor Ian Shaw talks about portraying his father in his new “Jaws”-inspired play.

As many of you readers know, both myself and Mike Gencarelli (your favorite “Mikes”) appear in the brilliant “Jaws” documentary entitled “The Shark is Still Working.”  The film tells the story of the making and the impact of the 1975 blockbuster.  But there are stories still to be told.  Ian Shaw, whose father Robert portrayed Quint in “Jaws,” has written a play, based on stories his father told him about the production, entitled “The Shark is Broken.”

Like his parents (his mother was the brilliant actress Mary Ure), Shaw is an accomplished actor with many film and television credits to his name.  In what I call a stroke of irony, Ian portrayed Colonel Paul Tibbets, the pilot who dropped the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan in the television film “Hiroshima.”  “Jaws” fans will remember that Quint was a sailor on board the U.S.S. Indianapolis, the ship that carried the bomb to the island of Tinian, where Tibbets began his mission.  

Mr. Shaw took some time out recently to speak with Media Mikes about his latest project.

Mike Smith:  What can you tell us about “The Shark is Broken?”

Ian Shaw:  It’s 1974. Martha’s Vineyard. Three iconic actors are confined together during the tortuous filming of what will one day be regarded as the greatest blockbuster movie of all time  Forced into close proximity by studio politics, endless delays and foul weather, the three must deal with violent outbursts, squabbles, rampant egos, petty rivalries and the fact that the mechanical shark keeps breaking down.  This causes their insecurities to run riot. Is this film going to ruin their careers? Who is going to want to see a film about sharks with hardly any shark in it? And who is the star of the movie anyway? 

MS:  What inspired you to take on this project?

IS:  Like so many people, I’ve always loved the film, except of course I have the personal connection of being Robert Shaw’s son.  The film is a rare combination of elements combining to maximum effect: the performances, the music, the design, the writing, the direction, the cinematography and editing all combine to create a fantastic amount of tension and emotional reaction from the audience.  That’s really hard to do. When I was a little older, I read Carl Gottlieb’s spellbinding account of how they managed to achieve it, The Jaws Log.  What particularly fascinated me were the problems they had with “Bruce”, the nickname for the shark, named after Steven Spielberg’s lawyer.  Then there’s the sheer audaciousness of filming at sea, the relationships with the locals, and the tensions between my father and Richard Dreyfuss.  Both of whom I admire hugely, I might add.

Ian Shaw sneaks a peek at “Bruce” while visiting his father on the set of “Jaws” in 1974. (Photo used with the kind permission of Ian Shaw)

MS:  You started your professional acting career in your mid-20s.  Was there any reticence on your part to pursue the profession, being th son of two very distinguished actors?

IS:  No.  I had a wonderful drama teacher at my school, Michael Walsh.  From the age of eight, I was performing in school plays, and I fell in love with the process.  And I think if your parents are actors, you think it’s a perfectly normal thing to do. Later on I discovered how hard it was for other actors from different backgrounds to make the leap.  I just made a promise to myself one day that I would pursue the path of an actor. I can remember the exact moment, as if it was yesterday. I was standing outside the school gym, where we used to put on plays. Even though I was very confident, probably with the arrogance of youth, I told myself it might take a long time to become successful! So there was never any question about what I would do. You can’t break a promise to an eight year old!  

Your older brother, Colin, portrayed your father’s character as a young boy in “The Deep.”  You bear a striking resemblance to your father.  Would you consider portraying him in a project?

IS:  Well, here we go – I’m playing him in The Shark Is Broken.  Wish me luck…

MS:  What else are you working on?

IS:  I’m also performing with the actors Duncan Henderson and David Mounfield in our adaptation of three Damon Runyon stories – the show is called Broadway Stories, and it will alternate nightly with The Shark Is Broken at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival, Venue – Assembly Festival, George Square.  Damon Runyon is best known for being the source material for the musical “Guys and Dolls.”  His short stories, which centered around the world of New York’s Broadway, took in what might be seen as the seedier side of life; a place of gamblers, molls, hustlers, dames and gangsters. With an utterly distinctive vernacular he described this hard, and often illicit world, but without the usual judgement or dismissal.   The first story is about a woman who murders her husbands for the life insurance.  The second is a study of the relationship between a half blind cat and a mobster holed out in a derelict hideout. The last is a comedy about an eating contest. 

NOTE:  Readers interested in helping get THE SHARK IS BROKEN to the sage can click HERE

Information about the upcoming performances of THE SHARK IS BROKEN and BROADWAY STORIES will soon be available HEREh

 

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Actor – and Bronson Lookalike – Robert Kovacs talks about his new film “Death Kiss”

If you were walking down the street and passed by actor Robert Kovacs nobody would question if you did a double-take or two.  Ruggedly handsome, the Hungarian-born actor and stuntman bears more than a strong resemblance to one of the greatest icons of action cinema, Charles Bronson.

Capitalizing  on that resemblance, Mr. Kovacs is currently starring in the action-thriller DEATH KISS, currently available ON DEMAND from Uncork’d Entertainment.

Nicknamed “Bronzi” by his friends, Mr. Kovacs took time out from promoting his new film to chat with Media Mikes.

 

When did you come down with the acting bug, Robert?

I have always loved film. Since seeing the Westerns on the movie theatre screens as a boy. This caused me to work as a stunt man and live performer at Wild West shows all across Europe including Almeria, Spain where I was the Sheriff for many years.  Performing in front of tourists at the same locations the epic films of Sergio Leone were filmed.

Did you go to acting school?

Yes, I attended acting school at the Maria Mezey Theatre School in Budapest.

 What was your first project? 

Aside from Live Performances I have also been featured in commercial print ads for many European Brands and featured in a series of commercials for one of Europe’s largest  supermarket chains. They featured me as a Bronson-type character to promote sales in their Grilling Season promos. Much fun and very successful. But my first film was years ago, a Western called American Night.

 Who was the first person to tell you looked like Charles Bronson?

My good friend Peter. We were very young men and worked together in horse breeding. He would always say “ You look like him.” “ You look like Bronson. “ So he begins calling me Bronzi. It kind of stuck.

 And is this the first film where you’ve emulated him?

The first film where I portrayed a character similar to Bronson was From Hell To The Wild West also by Director Rene Perez. (NOTE:  Mr. Perez is also the director of Death Kiss).  The character was a stranger with no name hot on the trail of a serial killer. The stranger was a man of few words who let his pistols do the talking.

 Is there anything you had to do to ‘perfect’ your look for the film?

I grew my hair in a more familiar style and trimmed my mustache just right. Rene had many suggestions and I listened closely and followed them. Much of what you see is naturally how I move but he greatly showed me how he perceived the character.

How different is Death Kiss to Death Wish

I think they are very different films. Similar in tone with a tale of vengeance or retribution but a very different approach. The stranger is more mysterious in nature and less transparent. So his actions may be perceived as darker in intent. Also Death Kiss is a much smaller film so the emphasis on action and gun-play are more at the forefront.

Did you have to do any weapons training?

I train regularly with replica firearms. I do stunt work as well with most of it being firearms related stunts. I also perform often as a costumed reenactor of famous battles in Europe. This also requires the use of period replica powder firing rifles and cannons.

Do you do your own stunts?

I do. I work hard to keep my body in shape. I have been a stunt man in live shows. Everything from saloon brawls to falling off horses. Maybe even a building or two. I have trained as an acrobat and continue to lift weights daily as well as regular conditioning, Judo training and a few nights a week I do Thai Boxing.

How about a sequel?

If the fans would be so kind as wanting a sequel and Rene has something in mind I think the Stranger still has much work to do.

 

 

 
 

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Actor Jimmy Bellinger Talks About His Role In The Film “Blockers”

Jimmy Bellinger is an actor who has appeared in a variety of commercials, films and, television series including “The Middle” and “Parks and Recreation”. In the newly released film “Blockers” starring Leslie Mann and John Cena, Jimmy plays the role of Chad a nerdy yet confident high school student. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Jimmy recently about his character and the film and also about his widely popular Skittles commercial.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us a little bit about the film “Blockers” and your character Chad?

Jimmy Bellinger: “Blockers” is a fun, raunchy sort of coming of age story that follows three parents and their daughters. We first see the girls as young children and then as teenagers getting ready to attend the prom. The girls decide they want to lose their virginity and make a pact to do so. The girl’s dates are not aware that this is set to happen and it turns into this crazy thing when the parents find out and attempt to stop them. My character Chad is sort of a dorky guy but he is very confident. He loves to dance and be a showman. Chad also loves a good fedora!

AL: How did this role come about for you?

JB: It was actually quite a long process. I auditioned a few times over the course of two months before officially getting the offer. Originally I read for a character that’s not in the story anymore. I then went back and read for the role of Chad. I actually did two auditions that day as they brought me back in the afternoon to read with a group of girls auditioning for the Sam role. None of those girls ended up in the film and I didn’t hear anything for a couple weeks until they brought me back to read with a different group of girls. This whole time I was never really sure if I was going to get the role or not because they could have been seeing other people that I didn’t know about. A week or so later I found out I got the part and also that they recast all three girls and the other two guys. I was lucky that I made it and am very happen that things worked out for me the way that they did.

AL: Over that time did the script change in any way?

JB: Yes it did. Originally there was this completely different character in the script and that role had been cut out so there were definitely a lot of changes made from the time I first read the script to what ended up being in the film. Things were added and locations changed but the film is still just as funny as when I first read for it and, that was what interested me in the project from the start.

AL: Were you allowed creative freedom with the character or were you asked to stay to the scripted material?

JB: There was certainly creative freedom. Yes there was a script for the character they wrote but I feel like unless you are playing a real person that existed somewhere in time you bring in pieces of yourself to each role you pay. I feel like most people want you to bring your own traits as an actor to their character. That’s essentially your job. You have ideas and there are scripted pieces so you start there and once you get going you might come up with some other things that help the character and story. The film’s director Kay Cannon is an extremely talented writer so if we weren’t pitching ideas she was coming up with things to try or add. We shot a lot of different versions of each scene so you really didn’t know what will be in the final film until you see it.

AL: The film has a very comedic cast. What was it like on set between takes?

JB: It was fun! Sets are all very similar because the days are long and when you are not shooting you are hanging out with the other cast and crew joking and having a good time. You get to talk with and meet a lot of different people. The cast was great as were the crew and, being that we were shooting a comedy and not a drama or something really serious everyone was just very relaxed and the mood was light.

AL: You also are currently the face of Skittles and appear in the hilarious Skittles-pocks commercial. How did that opportunity come about and, will you be reprising that role in upcoming ads?

JB: That came about much like this film through a regular audition. I went in to read for the part and they paired us up randomly with the girls who were their reading for the other part. I ended up being with the girl who also ended up in the commercial. After the first audition I got a call back and I could tell that they liked me because I read with the first girl again as well as a couple others. When we shot it even though it was such a short spot we tried a bunch of different things. The lines were there but I got to have a lot of fun playing within the confines of them. I had no idea what made it into the commercial until it came out. The ad started on the internet and then they started airing it and then they stopped. That usually happens after some time with commercials but then they decided to renew it and it has been playing non-stop. I am completely fine with it. Some people think it’s funny; some people think its gross or a combination of the two. I think that they are probably all right but I think that’s kind of the appeal of it as it’s weird but quick and easy. It’s just crazy how big it has become and seeing how excited people get amazes me. In terms of reprising the role that really on them however I will happily be paid to wear more skittles on my face. I am fine with that.

AL: Are there any other projects you have been working on that you would like to mention?

JB: There are some things in the works but I can’t really talk too much about those right now however, I did do an episode of the Nickelodeon show “Night Squad”. My episode won’t air until Halloween time but I do want to let people know it will be coming out and when they can look for it.

For more info on Jimmy Bellinger you can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @JimmyBellinger

 

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Robin Williams, Oscar Winner and Beloved Actor, Dead at 63

This is going to be tough. I’ve had the great fortune, followed by genuine sadness, in the past to see a young talent break through, shine brightly and then die. Two people that come to mind are River Phoenix and Heath Ledger. Both great talents and both taken way too soon. The fact that I have been entertained by Robin Williams for almost four decades only makes the pain of his passing hurt more. Williams died earlier today, with the cause of death pointing toward suicide. He was 63.

I can remember Williams’ appearance on “Happy Days,” where he first gave life to Mork, the alien from the planet Ork. With his brightly colored suspenders and soon to be catchphrase “Nanu nanu,” Williams, like Mork, invaded our televisions and made them his own. I can still remember gathering at my friend Scott Gilbert’s house, just after my 18th birthday, with other friends to watch the debut of the new comedy “Mork and Mindy.” I can still remember the laughter, which peeled from the living room throughout the house. The show, and Williams, were such an instant hit that within a few weeks the movie theatre I was working at brought back an R-rated sketch comedy called “Can I Do It ‘Til I Need Glasses,” trumpeting in the ads that the film “starred” Robin “Mork” Williams. Williams really only had two brief appearances in the film, but that fact wasn’t enough to keep people from paying their money and selling out the opening weekend performances.

In 1980, the studios came calling properly, with Williams playing the title role in Robert Altman’s “Popeye.” Two years later, he showed he was much more than a funny man when he took the lead in the film version of John Irving’s classic novel “The World According to Garp.” He continued filling theatres in the 80s with a series of comedies, including “The Survivors,” “The Best of Times” and “Club Paradise.” In 1987, he teamed up with director Barry Levinson and earned his first Academy Award nomination (for Best Actor) for his role as Airman Adrien Cronauer in “Good Morning, Vietnam.”

Oscar nomination number two came in 1989 for the Peter Weir directed “Dead Poets Society.” He starred opposite Robert DeNiro in Penny Marshall’s “Awakenings” and alongside Kenneth Brannagh and Emma Thompson in “Dead Again.” He even managed a small cameo in his friend Bobcat Goldthwait’s film “Shakes the Clown.”

1991 saw him star as the grown up Peter Banning in Steven Spielberg’s “Hook.” That same year he earned Oscar nod number three opposite Jeff Bridges in “The Fisher King.” The next year he exploded (literally) as the voice of the genie in the animated Disney hit “Aladdin,” So acclaimed was this performance that the Hollywood Foreign Press presented Williams with a special award for his work. He later amazed audiences when he donned a fake bosom and gray wig to portray everyone’s favorite housekeeper, “Mrs. Doubtfire.” During this time he would also show up in small cameo roles in films like “Shakes the Clown” and “To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.” In 1996 he co-starred with Nathan Lane in Mike Nichol’s “The Birdcage” and as a young man who grows up too fast in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Jack.” The next year saw him co-star opposite two young actors who found work by writing their own script. The writer/actors were Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and Williams received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the duo’s “Good Will Hunting,” which also won Affleck and Damon an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Williams continued working in a mixture of comedies and dramas, including “Patch Adams,” “Bicentennial Man,” “One Hour Photo” and “Insomnia.” He also contributed his voice to such popular animated films as “Robots” and “Happy Feet.” He appeared as President Theodore Roosevelt in “Night at the Museum” and it’s sequel (and had just completed work for the third installment). He returned to episodic television last year opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar in the CBS series “The Crazy Ones,” which was recently canceled. Last year he also appeared as President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the critically acclaimed film “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” This past May he starred opposite Mila Kunis and Peter Dinklage as a man who is mistakenly told he has 90 minutes to live in “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn.” The Internet Movie Data Base lists three remaining projects (including the third “Museum” film) to be released.

I’ve tried my best to sum up the highlights of a thirty-six year career in these past six paragraphs. I’ve hit the high notes of a career that also had low times. Williams, along with Robert DeNiro, were with the late John Belushi the night the comedian overdosed and died, and that experience supposedly scarred Williams straight for quite a while. He recently had a couple of return trips to rehab, which proves nothing except that he was human. But I’ve chosen to remember the best about Robert Williams. To me he will always be the young man in the bright suspenders, standing on his head on the closest chair and exploring the world with the wide eyes of a child. He had so much to learn, and so much to teach us. Good night, Robin. God bless you!