1. As an actor, you must travel a lot. How do you take care of your pets when you're away from home? Do you take them with you, have a friend look after them, or board them in a kennel?
On the occasions when I just can't take my pets with me I've been very fortunate that timing has worked out for a friend to be needing housing right at the time I need to be out of town. Fortunately, as well, I have a house friends really like staying in and pets friends like spending time with. So, to date I haven't had to board a pet. Phew.
2. I think your new bio is the first I've heard of a dog. Can you tell us anything about him or her? Breed, name, personality? And what does Chalupa think of the new addition to the Lowell family?
Unfortunately my cat, Chalupa disappeared while I was away last summer working in the Berkshires and I can only suppose she has found a new home with either another family or in a coyote's belly. I spent about six months hoping and mourning and finally decided I needed to move on. So I went to a wonderful dog rescue organization called "Beagles and Buddies" in January and saw a sweet little 6 month old puggle (pug/beagle mix) with a cast on her front paw (she fell off a bed) and fell in love. Her name is Gertie (after my favorite great-aunt) and she brings the love ... to babies, kids, every other dog and especially the ladies! I'm proud of my gay dog!
3. A friend of mine cannot understand the challenge of acting. She's a cool person but she thinks it's all a piece of cake and it's hard to convince her that it's not. Can you express what the "challenge" is for you and what distinguishes a good actor from a less talented one?
I've been getting riled up since I was a kid by people who feel like "anyone can be an actor." It used to make me so mad when I would see athletes like (to date myself) O.J. Simpson in "Towering Inferno" get acting jobs JUST 'cause he's O.J. Simpson. I do understand now that in Film and TV a "non-actor" can get by on personality alone, as most performances can be made (or destroyed) by editing. So you'll see many wonderful performances by people "just playing themselves" or versions of themselves. Case in point, my favorite film of the year so far "Once" features lead performances by two "non-actor" musicians. But what they have that not everyone does are a creative sensitivity and imagination. If you have those qualities and the character is very close to who you are in real life then yes, you may be able to give a successful screen performance. The challenge comes when the character is not at all like you and you have to find your way to melding you and the character into one in an interesting and truthful way, and to be grounded enough in who this character is that you can tap into him and maintain his integrity over a length of time. That's one of the reasons why it's easy for trained theatre actors to adjust their performance techniques to film work but VERY hard for actors who have only done film or TV work to go do theatre (the other reasons involve vocal and physical techniques that are unique to stage work and need to be learned). If you're only used to maintaining a character's integrity for 1-5 minute long takes on film it's hard to do it over the course of 2-3 hours. So just like anyone (myself included, see question 5) can dab some paint on a canvas and some can actually do a very credible job on just innate talent alone, it is the trained artists' works who stand the test of time.
4. How was it working with Peter Paige again on Ping Pong Playa? And what can you tell us about the movie?
Peter and I had a blast and very quickly fell back into our old rhythms and work habits. Although this time the dynamic of our roles were very much reversed, as Peter plays the clever one and I play the complete moron. Jessica Yu (the wonderful director) was very encouraging of our ad-libbing (especially since I really didn't have too many scripted lines in any of my scenes). The film turned out really well, I have to say, and is a very funny family film in a "School of Rock" kind of vein. Go to the website for more.
5. You mentioned in your new biography that you enjoy painting. Do you think you'll ever photograph some of your work and share it on your website?
Well, as I hinted at in question 3, I'm a dabbler. I paint when the inspiration hits me and I do it as well as I can ... but it's still pretty feeble. I did do a special painting recently for an auction thrown by a theatre company out here in LA and I'm pleased to say it fetched a whopping $100! Maybe when I have a body of work worthy of being seen by people other than my family and friends I will share them on the website.
6. Do you have any insights on the possible writers' strike? Do you think it's inevitable or will a deal be cut at the last minute?
Well, as I write this the deadline is 3 business days away and Federal mediators have just agreed to step in on Tuesday to help. So by the time you read this I could already be proven wrong. My gut feeling is that there will be a strike. The length of it I can't say. But the issues at hand (the same ones that actors and directors face this coming summer) are vital and need to be resolved. Unfortunately, most of them involve guessing what the future of film and television distribution will look like and no one has a clear answer. The last time there were major contract re-negotiations, both cable TV and DVDs were in their infancy and equations for proper compensation for writers, actors and directors were not figured out, nor were their future growth taken into consideration. This time out everyone on the creative side wants to make sure not only that compensations are brought up to what the current state of affairs are but to make sure that as things shift and grow in the future that we won't be left behind again. The producers, as business people, naturally want to protect (or increase) their profits and feel like the other side is more than compensated enough already. Two VERY different points of view with a big stake in the future of the industry. My feeling is, the writers (and later actors and directors) realize the stakes are too high and they won't settle for crumbs this time. These strikes, of course, could all be brought to quick conclusions if the "big guns" in the writing, acting and directing world would step up and stand by their lowly union brothers and sisters who are the ones REALLY affected by these contracts and who make their living off residuals, etc. But the "big guns" have remained silent in the past as many of them are also producers now. Let's see what happens this time.
7. Hi, fellow Heroes fan! I am very excited to see you are a fan. Who's your favorite? What do you think of the season 2 newbies? Do you like them or do you think they're taking too much time away from the original heroes (and villains)?
Really hard to pick a favorite as they're all so good and different, but the closest to a favorite I have is actually a non- hero: "Claire's" dad "Noah" (Jack Coleman). He always keeps you guessing what side he's really on. It's never black-and-white with him. As far as the new characters go, I'm always happy to see ol' Stephen Tobolowsky in anything (I've been lucky enough to work with him twice) and it's always cool to discover new powers, but I'm not thrilled (at this point) with the power of "death by runny mascara." I'm also sad to see my old pal Leonard Roberts's character go.
8. What are your favorite kinds of cheese? I'm partial to gorgonzola and havarti.
At the moment some of my favorites are "Humboldt Fog" (a goat cheese variety), Gruyere and sini fulvi sottoecenere w/truffles. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
9. In your last Q&A you mentioned testing for a role in a pilot but the producers decided to make the character African-American. Can you tell us if the pilot got picked up and if so what show it is and who got the role?
It did not get picked up.