Martin McCann, Olwen Fouere and Mia Goth talk about “The Survivalist” at Tribeca Film Festival

Stephen Fingleton’s post apocalypse drama, The Survivalist held its NY premiere at the Tribeca Film Fest on Thursday April 16th with the stars and director in attendance. Martin McCann takes center stage in the film as the survivalist who has a small farm in the woods and a strict solitary routine to keep himself alive.

Lauren Damon: Was it daunting for you to receive a script where your character spends so much time in silence?
Martin McCann: No no, I just think when you’ve got a silent script, you’ve got more of an opportunity to appear a better than you actually are. Because most actors mess things up when they’ve got lines! [laughs]

The Survivalist’s routine is broken by the appearance of mother-daughter travellers, Milja and Kathryn, played by Olwen Fouere and Mia Goth.

LD: Did you two have a backstory worked out for this pair of characters?
Mia Goth: Well you know, you never actually find that out in the movie either so you sort of, you know–which was a lot of fun–you get to create your own idea of what that character was and who she was as we lead up to where we meet her in our story. And I think I kind of just got the sense that she was just a normal girl, an ordinary girl, thrown into like extraordinary circumstances. And she, I don’t know, just shows great bravery and resiiliance and that was one of the things that I found most compelling and [made] me wanting to be involved in this. I thought it was very empowering.   
Olwen Fouere: We sort of did, yeah. We sort of did together and seperately. You know, I think what I thought was important was that we would each have a very strong internal life. So we would have individually worked towards that…And I think that it was also important that there was sort of a distance between the two of them as well, you know, because one of the points of the film is how it overthrows societal norms and the whole idea of family values, which of course is a whole idea that’s falling apart now anyway.

LD: The Survivalist adds to a long string of recent bleak post-apocalyptic views of the future on film, what do you think the appeal of that genre is?
McCann: Sometimes the truth hurts. And even though it’s a science fiction idea, you know post-apocalyptic and in the future, the inevitability of the life we’re living is that resources will run out. So I think there’s a weird sort of effect that that has.
Fouere: Well I think perhaps the world is starting to question the fact that with the explosive of our population, of the human race, and that the human race is becoming the greatest virus on the face of the Earth. So I think maybe people are beginning to realize that and you know, I think that’s what happens at a critical time is people start to envision what might happen. What the future might hold and how you might address things.

You can read my review of The Survivalist here.

Martin Freeman talks about his role on FX’s new series “Fargo”

Martin Freeman is known best by some as Tim Canterbury in BBC’s “The Office”. Some know (and love) him from “Love Actually. He has also donned the hat of Dr. John Watson in BBC’s “Sherlock”. Or if none of those ring a bell, he is also in a (quite unknown, rather small) trilogy called “The Hobbit” where he plays a young Bilbo Baggins. Either way, Martin has had such a diverse and incredible career to date and though his latest role could also be his best. He is making his U.S. television debut with FX’s “Fargo” playing the role of Lester Nygaard”. The show is an adapation of the 1996 cult classic movie. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Martin about the show, working with Billy Bob Thornton and his character.

Mike Gencarelli: What attracted you to the role of Lester Nygaard in FX’s “Fargo”
Martin Freeman: Well, just the fact that it’s well written. The script itself is well written, the whole thing, the whole first episode, which is what I based my decision on. It was a lovely episode. And with Lester I just got the feeling that this was going to be a role where you could give rein to a lot of stuff, to play a lot of stuff. Even within that first episode the range that he goes between is really interesting and so I knew that was only going to grow and expand in the next nine episodes and so it proved to be. In all the 10 episodes I get to play as Lester pretty much the whole gamut of human existence and human feeling. He does the whole lot and that’s exactly what you want to do as an actor. Noah [Hawley] treads that line very well between drama and comedy and the light and dark. I like playing that stuff.

MG: Talk to us about your character’s relationship with Billy Bob Thornton’s character in the show and how it developed over the 10 episodes?
MF: Well, yeah, again it was those initial scenes with Billy that really, really attracted me to doing the role because I thought they were just mesmeric. I really loved that it was like little doing plays, little two-handed plays. It develops without kind of saying too much and a lot off-screen. There are moments of on-screen development, but throughout the series it’s sporadic. But Lorne Malvo, I suppose, is a constant presence in Lester’s life because of the change that Lester has undergone as a result of meeting him. So, everything that Lester does, every way that he develops as a character, for good and bad, you could say is kind of down to that initial meeting with Lorne Malvo. So, there is a development. We don’t get as much screen time as I would like. I think we both really, really loved sharing actual space together and doing work together and we don’t get to do as much of that as we would want, but there is more to come.

MG: Did you do anything specific research about Minnesota or Minnesotans in preparation to play Lester?
MF: Not specifically, no. Ideally, what I would have wanted to do was spend some time there pre-filming because what I wanted to do was not, definitely not do a caricature and definitely not do something that was just comic or a way of going, oh, aren’t these people funny kind of thing. So, in an ideal world I would have spent a couple of weeks hanging out in bars or just speaking to people. The ideal world doesn’t exist and I wasn’t able to do that. But I worked very hard on the accent because, as I said, I didn’t want it to be like a comedy sketch. I wasn’t playing an accent. I was playing a character who happened to speak like that and to be from that place. So, not specific research. I listened to a lot of Minnesotans, put it that way. I listened to a lot of actual Minnesotans in an audio sense, I mean a visual sense. That’s why I didn’t really go back and watch the initial film with Fargo, love it as I do, because I wanted to, for my research of accent-wise, I wanted it to be actual Minnesotans and not actors playing Minnesotans. Any more than I would expect an actor who wants to play a Minnesotan should study me. They shouldn’t study me, they should study a Minnesotan. So, that was the kind of extent of my homework on that. So, rather than thinking what is it that makes Minnesotans different or specific or whatever, I think Lester is pretty universal. There are “Lesters” everywhere in every race and walk of life and country. There are people who are sort of downtrodden and people who are under confident and all that, so that was more a case of tapping into that in myself really.

MG: You’re no stranger to shorter TV series formats, like “Sherlock”; so what did you enjoy most about having “Fargo” be a limited series of 10 episodes?
MF: Well, I think my general outlook on life is that things should be finite and things are finite. You know, we all die. Everything ends. And so for me the idea of things going on and on and on, I don’t always find very attractive. But if it’s a show that I love and it keeps going on and it retains its quality then I’m delighted to be a viewer of it. But I’ve never done things that have gone on and on. Again, like you say, “Sherlock” is a finite job. We spend a limited time of the year doing that. It’s not even every year. “The Office” was 14 episodes totally by design because precisely of what I’m talking about, the attitude of retaining quality and leaving people wanting more rather than leaving people wanting less. This 10 episodes was kind of a clincher for me. When my agent sent it to me it was with the understanding that she said, you know, “You don’t go out for American TV because you don’t want to sign on for something for six or seven years, but this is 10 episodes. See what you think”. So, that was a big attraction. And then I read it, of course, and thought, well, man, this is going to take up four or five months of my life rather than seven years and I’m in. I like moving on, I like going on to the next thing. I like having something else to look forward to as well. I do have a low boiling pressure. I just want to do other things. I think that’s basically why it is and I want to leave something, hopefully, leave something behind that people go, oh, that was great, as opposed to, oh, why did they carry on with this? It was good for the first three seasons and then it all went wrong. I’m well aware that some things don’t go wrong after three seasons. Some of my favorite things are fantastic for a long time. But, yeah, for me personally, I like the hit and run approach. I love doing this for a bit and then doing something else for a bit and then doing something else for a bit. That’s the way I’m hardwired I think.

Matthias Clamer/FX

MG: Lastly, was there anything about Lester that you added to this character that wasn’t originally scripted?
MF: I suppose, yeah, because I think there always is and I don’t even know what is specific, what I could answer to that. But my job I feel is to take a good script and somehow make it better. And that’ every department’s job. It’s the camera department and the design department, you know, to make this script, which is hopefully very good, to make it even better. So an actor’s job is to put flesh on the bones of the character because even though it’s fantastically written you don’t just see the script up on screen. You know, that would be quite boring if you just read the script. You have to flesh it out and just the physicality, the placement of the voice, yeah, I mean all of that stuff can only be done by an actor. Sp yes, the answer is I hope I would have brought a lot to it, but specifics, I don’t really know. But I mean everything that you see on screen, some of that’s Noah and some of it’s me.

DVD Review “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts: Complete Collection”

Actors: Dean Martin, Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Don Rickles
Number of discs: 25
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Time Life Entertainment
DVD Release Date: October 25, 2013
Run Time: 2400 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

StarVista Entertainment/Time Life is behind this complete collection of the best-selling releases of “The Dean Martin Variety Show”. This marks the first time that most of these classics from the Golden Age of TV will be released on DVD in a single collection. Featuring all 54 roasts from both “The Dean Martin Show” and “The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts”, this release is a must have for any fan of Dean Martin and these classic roasts. These roasts featured the top names ranging from 20th century’s most accomplished performers and athletes, politicians and personalities in the business giving their best jabs, put-downs, insults, slams and zingers. This beautiful set is packaged in a very sharp collector’s box and includes a 44-page Quote Book with rare photos, anecdotes, behind-the-scenes stories and memorabilia.

Who doesn’t love Dean Martin? Especially as we enter into the holiday season, his voice is just mesmerizing and so amazing.  Dean had this certain aspect about that that you can’t help but love…and admire. The guy is a legend and always will be. This collection includes an enormous about of talent as Dean surrounds himself with an amazing group of people…and never stops entertaining.  There is absolutely no shortage of talent included in this collection. These roasts are classy…yet a little raunchy like you would expect from Dean and also a whole lot funny. This is also something that you can watch and watch over and over!

There are 54 roasts here including Ronald Reagan, Hugh Hefner, Ed McMahon, William Conrad, Kirk Douglas, Bette Davis, Barry Goldwater, Johnny Carson, Wilt Chamberlain, Hubert Humphrey, Carroll O’Connor, Monty Hall, Jack Klugman & Tony Randall, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Leo Durocher, Truman Capote, Don Rickles, Ralph Nader, Jack Benny, Redd Foxx, Bobby Riggs, George Washington (portrayed by Jan Leighton), Dan Rowan & Dick Martin, Hank Aaron, Joe Namath, Bob Hope, Telly Savalas, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Sammy Davis, Jr., Michael Landon, Evel Knievel, Valerie Harper, Muhammad Ali, Dean Martin, Dennis Weaver, Joe Garagiola, Redd Foxx, Danny Thomas, Angie Dickinson, Gabe Kaplan, Ted Knight, Peter Marshall, Dan Haggerty, Frank Sinatra, Jack Klugman, Jimmy Stewart, George Burns, Betty White, Suzanne Somers, Joe Namath, Joan Collins, Mr. T, and Michael Landon.

If you want more then you are going to love the 15-hours of bonus material included as well. There are eleven newly-produced featurettes including: “Ladies of the Dais”, “Beauty & The Beast: Ruth Buzzi vs. Muhammad Ali” and “Roast in Hell: Politicians Under Fire”. There are also several interviews including Phyllis Diller, Ruth Buzzi, Shirley Jones, Tony Danza, Angie Dickinson, Carol Burnett, Sheila Kuehl, Jimmie Walker, Abe Vigoda and Fred Willard. There are classic Dean Martin TV Specials including “Dean’s Place” and “Red Hot Scandals of 1926”. There are some Rare and Exclusive Home Movies from Dean’s Collection. There are bonus comedy sketches and also two Dean Martin Variety Show DVDs featuring Bob Hope, John Wayne, Peggy Lee, Rodney Dangerfield and many others included.

Interview with C. Martin Croker

C. Martin Croker is an animator and voice actor on various Adult Swim programs like “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” & “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with C. Martin about his work with Adult Swim.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you get involved voicing both Dr. Weird / Steve for “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”?
C. Martin Croker: I had done both Zorak and Moltar for “SGC2C”, so I’m sort of used to doing characters that converse together. I had worked on the first go-round of design and animation for ATHF, but when the call came for additional design work (which wound up being Dr. Weird and Steve) I was busy with another project. Matt Jenkins and I had split all the original designs for the show up to that point and since the designing of the two scientist characters went to him, they very democratically threw the voicing of those characters to me. When I initially came in to record Dr. Weird, Dave and Matt had me to try like a Paul Frees/Haunted Mansion type voice. They kept saying, louder LOUDER until it morphed into my “the-band-is-playing-but-I-want-the–bartender-to-hear-me ¬voice”, voice. Steve is totally in that Daws Butler / Mr. Jinx vein, but a bit more subdued.

MG: Did you have an improv control when it came to some of your classic lines?
CMC: Har! What classic lines are you referring to? Usually when I record v/o for any given [adult swim] show I’ll read the line as written three or four ways, then do some variations. About half the time the supervising producer (who might also be the writer) will ask me for my own take or if I have any other ideas for what the character might say in that situation. Most of the time I never knew what they chose until the animation for that episode was in place… Sometimes I didn’t know until the episode actually aired.

MG: Besides voicing characters, you also have worked as Cel Animator for the show; tell us about that?
CMC: If we’re talking about Aqua Teen, I got a call from Dave Willis and Matt Maiellaro, two of the writers from Space Ghost Coast to Coast, who wanted me to meet with them and talk about a new project. Matt mentioned that they were the human-sized food items he and Dave had pitched as a Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode a season earlier (I had been the directing animator on SGC2C Coast so I’d been working with Matt and Dave for a few years at this point). On a rainy Sunday in 1999 we met at “The Highland Tap”, an underground watering hole in Atlanta and we began to hash out some ideas. A fair amount of what we came up with that day stuck. Within a couple of weeks Matt Jenkins (who had assisted me previously on SGC2C)had done some takes on the main three “Aqua Teen” characters and that helped solidify the look. When we divvyed up the main characters for animation the first go round, Matt wound up animating Shake, The Rabbot and Carl (who he designed) and I did Frylock, Meatwad and the ever-lovin’ Danger Cart. Matt, as I said, designed Dr. Weird and Steve in a second go-round that my schedule didn’t allow me to participate in. So, I think voicing them instead, wound up being my consolation prize (which I accepted with Daffy Duck-esque glee). Since then, I’ve designed and animated all manner of additional animation of the main characters for the show and tons of new ones including; Mothmonsterman, M.C.PeePants (all versions but the cow), Paul, Tera Patrick, the 100 Monster, the Pod creature, The Robot Babysitter, Everywhere Robots, the Bayou Boo-ya, some Bats, Vampires, Bears, and… a bunch of other stuff I forget.

MG: Why did they stop those openings back in 2003 and how does it feel to have them back now for season 9?
CMC: They (Dave and Matt) just felt like they wanted to try something different with Spacecataz. And [The Dr. Weird and Steve opens] were only back for like one episode… but it was still nice to see ‘em again.

MG: You were Animation Director and Lead Animator for the “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” film, what was your biggest challenge compared to working on the TV series?
CMC: It was about seven times the work to begin with… And obviously the animation needed to be a bit tighter and more detailed for the big screen. For any given ATHF episode in addition to designs and animation I provided I usually scanned and painted my own cels and loaded them into after effects before delivery to Williams street. In the case of the movie, I actually drove the stacks of animation cels and exposure sheets over to Radical Axis (The Atlanta production house that puts the show together) so that all the elements for the film would be executed with the same scan and paint system. It ultimately equaled a lot less work for me… but I had a lot less control of how the stuff I had animated looked onscreen.

MG: Out of all the great characters you play, Moltar/Zorak/Dr. Weird/Steve do you have a favorite?
CMC: Zorak’s the obvious choice here. He’s like Don Rickles but more sardonic. I would hope he has a fifth of Don’s longetivity.

MG: How did you find the voice for characters like Zorak and Dr. Weird? What is your process?
CMC: I had put Zorak and Moltar in the original show pitch to play the “imprisoned foes” angle and give the show some ongoing internal conflict. Zorak was originally done by legendary voice-over master Don Messick. When Don wasn’t available to do Zorak for this incarnation the role was up for grabs. Horrified that basically someone awful would get the part I stepped up to the plate. Zorak had been my favorite SG villain since I was a kid and I had actually recorded a Zorak message on my answering machine, so I’d been playing around with that type voice for awhile. Soon as I blurted out my impromptu audition for Mike Lazzo and Company, they said “Okay… You’re Zorak. That solves that problem”. It was really about that fast. Andy Merrill was slated to do Moltar’s voice as sort a a Hillbilly version of what became Brak’s voice, but just a couple of weeks before air they decided that wasn’t working and had me come in and redo his tracks with what started off as being a Ted Cassidy-type voice and quickly morphed into modern Moltar.

MG: Which did you prefer working on more “The Brak Show” or “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast”?
CMC: I enjoyed both immensely , but for different reasons. It’s a tough call but Moltar would be pissed if I didn’t say “SGC2C”.

Interview with Martin Sheen

Years from now, should an alien species find a time capsule of America, they may think that Martin Sheen was one of our greatest presidents.  He’s played practically every member of the Kennedy family except Jackie, narrated the film “JFK” and earned numerous Emmy and Golden Globe award nominations (he won the Golden Globe in 2001) for his role as President Jed Bartlet in “The West Wing.”

Born Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez (he changed his name to Martin Sheen to avoid being typecast as a Hispanic actor), Sheen began his acting career with appearances on such 1960s television programs as “Route 66,” “The Naked City” and “The Outer Limits.”  In 1968 he earned a Golden Globe nomination for his supporting role in the film “The Subject Was Roses.”  He continued to work steadily for the next decade, scoring acclaim for his work in such films as Terrence Malick’s “Badlands” and the television film “The Execution of Private Slovick.”  In 1979 he starred as Captain Willard in Francis Ford Coppola’s epic “Apocalypse Now.”  The shoot was so intense that Sheen suffered a heart attack during production.  The heart attack was serious and almost threatened to shut down the film.  In the documentary “Hearts of Darkness” director Coppola is overheard on the phone speaking to a studio executive – If Marty dies, I wanna hear that everything’s okay, until I say, “Marty is dead.”

In the three decades since “Apocalypse Now” Sheen has starred in such projects as “Gandhi,” “The Dead Zone,” “Wall Street,” “Cadence” (which he also directed), “Catch Me If You Can,” “The Departed”  and, of course, “The West Wing.”  He is also an award winning director, winning an Emmy for his work on the CBS Schoolbreak Special entitled “Babies Having Babies.”

Before I begin my questioning I offer Mr. Sheen my thanks for a kind gesture he made several years ago.  While helping with a charity event I contacted several celebrities asking for an autographed photo to be used as silent auction items.  Mr. Sheen not only provided a photo for the auction, he also included one personalized to me, which now sits on my desk.  As Mr. Sheen began answering my first question I noticed that my recorder was on “pause.”  Embarrassed,  I had to interrupt him and ask him if he would please start over.  He reached out and jokingly “choked” me with a hearty laugh.

Mike Smith:  What drew you to this project?
Martin Sheen:  My grandson, Taylor, and I were in Spain in 2003.  He was my assistant on “The West Wing” and we were between seasons.  We had tried to figure out how he and I could do the Camino in two weeks and realized it just wasn’t possible.  Not only did we not have the equipment, we didn’t have the time and we didn’t have the experience.  So I rented a car and we drove it.  And we got to Burgos.  We stayed there and at dinner the family that was serving us had a young daughter.  She and Taylor looked at each other and they’ve been together ever since.  They’re married now and they live in Burgos.  So that was the first “miracle” on the Camino.  And it sealed it in our family forever.  So I came home and I tried to encourage Emilio to think about doing something on the Camino.  It was such a fascinating place and no one had ever done a movie about it.  There had been documentaries and such but no one had ever done a feature.  He had started going over to Spain to see his son because that was the only way he could see him.  And he became enamored of it.  He started talking to pilgrims and started walking the way.  He began investigating and writing scenarios.  And finally he came upon a father/son story.  But he needed a hook to get the father to the Camino and that would be the death of the son on the Camino.  And that was the scenario.

MS:  Actors are always looking for motivation.  And I actually had this thought back when you and Charlie were in “Wall Street.”  With Emilio, your son, playing your on screen son, is that an extra motivation…do you use that emotion as an actor?
Martin Sheen:  Inside each actor is a store of emotional wealth.  Of spiritual wealth.  We all carry a lot of emotional and spiritual stuff in our being.  And we go to that well when that motivation is necessary to play a certain character.  That’s called sense memory.  Every actor does that.  The audience may never know what it is.  But I go there and the audience thinks this character is going through this pain, but that is just one of the things that we are given to do.  It’s like you’re given a license.  “You can go there, mister, but you must do it in a proper way.”  In a film, a television show, a play.  But you can’t do it in a bar or on the street or you’ll end up in jail.  You’ll end up in the home!  It’s something very specific but all artists have it.  Writers have it.  Musician’s have it.  All people in the arts have it.  It’s personal.  It’s your well of spirituality – suffering, pain, loss- all things that belong to you.  You have your store of your history and I have mine.  So we go there on these occasions when necessary.

MS:  In reading interviews with you in the past I know you’ve been asked this same question but I want to ask it another way (note:  that question is “how does it feel to be directed by your son).  You’ve worked with some great directors.  You’re an award winning director yourself.  My question is: were there ever times on the set where Emilio may have suggested a shot and you said, “well, maybe I’d do it this way?”
Martin Sheen:  Sure.  Yeah.  He was very open and receptive to any possibility.  Some of the suggestions I made he used and some of them he didn’t.  And he would let me know why.  I was ruled by him and graciously so.  He’s the best director I know.  He wrote the part for me.  I wasn’t going to strain very far from his reign.  He knew where he was directing me.  I didn’t always see the end.  I was only seeing the moment.  But he saw the arc of the character…the distance he had to go.  And so I trusted him.  I’m very gregarious and outgoing and he told me, no, your character is shut down.  You have to earn your way through that growth.  And in the end you become yourself.  But we’re not there yet.  He was very, very specifically focused on how the character was developed.  We shot it in sequence so he knew where I was going.  More power to him.  I owe it to him.  This is the best film I’ve done…the best performance I’ve done…in a very long time.  Not many people are offering me lead roles in movies these days.  In fact, I can’t remember when the last one was (laughs).  But if this were my last film I couldn’t be happier that I’d go out with this one!


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Win an Autographed Poster by Emilio Estevez & Martin Sheen from “The Way” [ENDED]


To celebrate the release of the new film “The Way”, directed by Emilio Estevez and starring Martin Sheen, Media Mikes is hosting a contest to win a complimentary autographed poster from “The Way” and free tickets to a sneak preview in Orlando, FL.  If you would like to enter to win this great prizes be sure to following the directions below exactly:

Be sure to check out our interview series with Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen and review.

If you would like to enter for the autographed poster:
Text the word JOURNEY and their zip code to 43549 for a chance to win a complimentary autographed poster from “The Way”. This giveaway will be open until 10/13 and one winner will be chosen and notified on 10/14.  The winner will have until 10/18 to claim their prize.  Good luck and thanks for supporting

If you would like to enter for the advance screening in Orlando FL :

Sorry folks, all of our tickets have been distributed.  Please make sure to enter to win the autographed poster to ensure future contests like these. Those who did get tickets, enjoy the show!

Interview with Charles Martin Smith

Charles Martin Smith is probably best known to film fans for his role as Terry “the Toad” Fields, everybody’s favorite tag along in “American Graffiti.” The son of animator Frank Smith (“Mr. Magoo,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas”), Smith began his acting career appearing in school productions. His early work includes “The Culpepper Cattle Company,” starring Gary Grimes and his soon to be “Graffiti” co-star Bo Hopkins as well as an appearance as the young man who sells Greg Brady a lemon of a car on “The Brady Bunch.” But it was “American Graffiti” that made him an actor to remember. He spent the majority of the 1970s making guest appearances in most of the popular television series of the time. He also returned to the role of Terry the Toad in “More American Graffiti” and co-starred with Gary Busey and Don Stroud in the Oscar winning bio “The Buddy Holly Story.” In 1983 he starred in director Carroll Ballard’s acclaimed film “Never Cry Wolf.” It was on this film that Mr. Smith tried his hand at writing, composing his own narration for the film. He closed the decade with co-starring roles in “The Untouchables” and the under-rated John Travolta comedy “The Experts.”

In 1986 he entered the next phase of his career when he went behind the camera, directing Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne in the horror-comedy “Trick or Treat.” He continued to direct episodic television programs, including “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Space: Above and Beyond” and “DaVinci’s Inquest” while still feeding the acting bug. In 2003 he wrote and directed the film “Snow Walker,” which starred Barry Pepper and James Cromwell. The film was a film festival success, earning Mr. Smith numerous nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay. His follow up, “Stone of Destiny,” was equally acclaimed, earning Mr. Smith the Best Director award at the Palm Beach International Film Festival as well as a BAFTA Scotland Award nomination. His current project, “Dolphin Tale,” is set for release this fall.

It was while doing post-production work on “Dolphin Tale” that Mr. Smith spared a few minutes to talk with MovieMikes about his career.

Mike Smith: Your father was a very successful animator. Did his work inspire you to seek an acting career?
Charles Martin Smith: My father was a successful animator, so growing up in Los Angeles I was around films as a child. But not around live action films, so that world still seemed mysterious and inaccessible to me. It was a great benefit, though, to live in LA, and to go to University here, as I did, at CSUN. I had great acting and directing teachers and had access to an agent, etc. My father, more than anything, taught me about art, and his amazing creativity and perfectionism as an artist…he was a sculptor and designer, and did many things besides cartoons…he taught me a lot.

MS: Your first television role was as the young man who sold Greg Brady a junk car on “The Brady Bunch.” Have you ever thought about buying something and then thought “caveat emptor?”
CMS: Caveat emptor? Ha, no not really. That was technically my second TV role. My first was a special also involving the Brady Bunch. It was made by ABC to advertise their new season of Saturday morning cartoons. I got those roles right after my first professional acting job, “The Culpepper Cattle Company”, a western for 20th Century Fox.

MS: You and Ron Howard were the only two actors in “American Graffiti” that were actually close to high school age when it was filmed. Did you have any idea that this little film would strike such a chord with the public?
CMS: “Graffiti” was a low budget film but it had a good pedigree. Francis (Ford Coppola) was the producer, and Universal was behind the film, at least to a limited extent. And George Lucas had a lot of buzz and hype about him. After “THX-1138” he was considered a hot young director. All of the actors in the film (and you’re right, Ron and I were both 18), believed in the movie, and in George. We were thrilled to be part of such a good project, as the script was excellent, and, as I say, George was so talented. We thought the movie would be very good, we just weren’t sure it would get noticed as it was so low budget.

MS: Did you already know how to play bass when you took the role of Ray Bob in “The Buddy Holly Story?” And did you ever meet or speak with Joe B. Maudlin (NOTE: Maudlin was Buddy Holly’s bass player in the Crickets), on who the character was based?
CMS: Yes. I had been a musician since age 8 when I began learning piano, then guitar, and all during my teenage years I was in rock and roll bands, joining my older brother Dan’s band while in high school. We played gigs all around LA. I played guitar mostly in the band. Dan is a bass player, and a very good one, although his career since he got his Doctorate in Public Health has been as a research scientist for the California Health Department. I gave up thoughts of a music career when I began getting acting gigs, but “Buddy Holly” was a natural for me. I had played around with my brother’s bass many times, and as a guitar player, it wasn’t too hard to learn it. I got the stand up bass 2 months before we began filming and taught myself to play. I played all the music in the film live, and sang backup vocals live as well. Great fun. I did meet Joe B at the film’s premier in Dallas. He was very nice…shy, and it was a bit awkward as they had mixed feelings about the movie. They meaning himself and Jerry Allison (NOTE: Allison was the drummer for the Crickets). But it was great to meet him, and I even got his autograph!

MS: In my opinion, “More American Graffiti” is very under appreciated. Do you have any ideas why it wasn’t as well received as “American Graffiti?”
CMS: Well, I think it didn’t strike a chord with people the way “American Graffiti” did. I think George had a better story and grasp of the 50s than he did of the 60s. I loved my role in it and the Vietnam story in the sequel was the best written part of the script, I think. I’m very proud of that movie.

MS: You were critically acclaimed (and deservedly so) for your performance in “Never Cry Wolf.” What are your memories about that production?
CMS: “Never Cry Wolf” was an amazing experience. I spent three years on the film. I could write a book about the experience. We filmed for one and a half years, largely without a script. Carroll Ballard is a very gifted artist, and it’s probably the most wonderful experience I’ve ever had in a film. He invited me to write the narration as well, and I was on the film all the way through post production. I could not have ever directed a film without having had that experience with him. He taught me so much, and I’m extremely proud of that film.

MS: You gave another acclaimed performance in “The Untouchables.” Was your character based on a real member of Elliot Ness’ team?
CMS: My character in “The Untouchables” was a sort of amalgam of a few people in the US Government who went after Al Capone, so no, it was not really based on a real person. It was a fun character though, and the shoot was a great experience. I learned an enormous amount from (director Brian) De Palma, and from Sean Connery. I saw Sean two years ago in Scotland as my film “Stone of Destiny” premiered at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Sean was the host of the evening, so it was a great reunion.

MS: You’ve grown into a successful writer/director. Do you have a preference of being in front of or behind the camera?
CMS: I enjoy both acting and writing/directing. I do love writing, and although it may be a surprise to people, I have actually done quite a bit of work as a writer, without acting or directing. I love making films, writing and directing them, but must confess that it’s much more stressful and challenging. Sometimes it’s nice to be an actor, without having to carry the burden of the whole film, and just to be able to focus on that job. I love being able to trade off.

MS: Can you tell us about your latest project, “Dolphin Tale?”
CMS: “Dolphin Tale” is based on a true story about Winter, a dolphin who was rescued in Florida. She was so badly injured that she eventually lost her tail. This is how dolphins swim of course, so her rescuers finally hit upon the idea of making a prosthetic tail for her. It’s a very heartwarming and emotional story, and in writing it, and directing it, I tried to tell a good story, with humor and heart. I was very honored to be able to shoot it with Winter playing herself! It’s a sweet film, and we will be in the theatres Sept 23, released by Warner Brothers.