George Katt is an american actor who I first came across because of my friendship with fellow actor Michelle Page. He talks why he became an actor, what is his favorite role to date,how he prepares for role. His thoughts on why fellow actor Michelle Page is an actor to watch out for, which I agree with. So read on.
1. How did you get into acting?
I was studying filmmaking at a young age during high school year. At the time I was really into Elia Kazan, John Cassavetes, Scorsese, etc and my film teacher suggested that if I truly wanted to some day be a great director, I should have a great understanding of actors and of the craft of acting itself. He recommended I take an acting class.
I did. That was it. Some sort of magic apparently happened in my first improvised scene in front of the class and my drama teacher, Verna Lauria, at the time saw something in me and then pushed me, guided me, pulled things out of me. In a way she became my Stella Adler. She turned me on to amazing films, actors and work… She spoke about truth in the craft, emotions, not faking anything but living the moments. It took hold of my heart ever since.
2. What has been your favorite role to date?
I don‘t have a clear answer to that. I can say that the recent work and films I have done this past year have absolutely been my favorite roles. It’s most likely because of the growth I have gone through as an actor and person. They say actors are like wine… better with time…
I do have to mention that I just finished a beautiful feature film called "Conquering the Rose" and my role, Jeremiah Mouthy, has been one of my favorite roles to work on to-date because of his intricacies. His complexities and the arches he goes through within the amazing and powerful story by Jenna St. John were extremely different from previous things I’ve done character-wise. I say I left a piece of my heart in that film. I feel it was a blessing of a project I had the opportunity to do.
I take on very different roles because I believe an actor should challenge themselves, grow, and play with different paradigms. I gravitate towards that. I used to be very internalized and it took time for me to work on the characterizations. The films I completed in 2010: In Montauk, Delta Zulu, Leave Day, The Man Who Would Live, Being Patient, The Shade, Father’s Day, and Conquering the Rose I am extremely proud of. They have given me a chance to step outside of myself in many ways.
I did a lot of research this past year. That’s also a wonderful thing about acting. You experience so many different things. I got a rapid education on so many different topics and subjects this year. I studied and researched art and artists like Pollock (Conquering the Rose), the economical downfall effects on people and areas (The Shade), silent films of Keaton and Chaplin (Leave Day), war veterans (Father’s Day), journalism, apocalypse and war (Delta Zulu), and I used my imagination… stepped outside of myself into a really dark arena (The Man Who Would Live)… I mean it’s always an amazing once-in-a-lifetime journey… I even had my education on parenthood, pregnancy, IT work and what it feels like for a couple that is trying to conceive but can’t and the turbulence and stresses it can cause to disrupt marriages (In Montauk). I love it man… I absolutely live for this stuff and I love all of it.
But I won’t ever play the same thing twice. I refuse too… unless it’s a sequel or prequel of sorts… Delta Zulu (wink wink)… but even if I had to revise a role there would always be a different approach for me… a different story to tell and a different way to tell it.
3. What do you do to prepare for a role?
I put myself through hell… (laughs) It’s a lot of work for me. I like to do a lot of prep work. I like to originally go with my instincts because they are always right… then I build and build off of that.
I take what I do very seriously.
4. Any techniques you use to remember lines?
First I need to know my character really well. I have a tendency to work out and memorize at the same time… it’s a subconscious embedding of sorts. But when I know my character’s intentions it is much easier. God knows the lines I’ve had to learn this last year… tremendous amounts. But it’s like a muscle. You work it out and it gets easier and easier. I also try not to worry too much about the lines. It never helps to worry too much about them. I like to adlib in the moment a lot in film. Sometimes the most brilliant moments aren’t scripted and no words to… it just happens in the moment and magic.
5. If you could work with anybody, who would it be?
Listen, you know… everyone has their wish lists of people to work with… I’ve been really grateful and blessed this last year… I’ve worked with some actors that deserve to be up there on those A-lists… extremely giving and talented actors like Leonard Dozier, Meissa Hampton, Nina Kaczorowski, Kera O’Bryon, Jenna St. John, Francis Abbey, Vinny Vella, Bree Michael Warner, Samara Kelly… directors like Kim Cummings, John Michael Whalen, Sean Nalaboff, David McKay, William Heins, Chris Hickey, Harold Jimenez… I’m mentioning these people because I WANT to and feel I need to… they deserve it to the utmost degree. They are true loving artists and creators…true indie spirits… whole-heartedly passionate about what they do and what they believe in. They aren’t selfish people. They gave back during the work. They guide and give… with heart, man… that’s how it should be when you work with true artists and good people. You give and they give back. You build together. I absolutely adore so many people I’ve had the opportunity to work with this last year.
Give me Robert Duvall, Johnny Depp, Daniel Day Lewis, Sean Pean, Forest Whitaker, Robert Downey Jr., Marty Scorsese… any day… I adore them… but it wouldn’t mean a damn difference to me in comparison to these people I mentioned above.
6. Have you had any bad experiences yet?
In the span of my career… hells yes I have… it comes with the territory. You take the bad and learn from it. You don’t run away from it. You turn it into a powerful thing to work to your advantage. We all have bad experiences.
7. Are you excited about directing your first film?
Oh yes… oh yes… oh yes… it will be an accumulation of everything I‘ve been working for. It will be a climactic point in my life and career and a dream come true. It’s what I intended for in the first place. It will be fantastic when the time is just right and that shouldn‘t be too far away.
8. Are you looking forward to be working with Michelle Page?
Ofcourse I am. Michelle is very similar in her choices. She’s never the same. She challenges herself and she is an amazing actress. Another one that should be up there. Mich has a great edge and strength to her. It’s rare to find in a lot of female roles and she plays that so well. We have been friends for a couple of years now and I adore her.
9. How has internet helped with your acting career?
It just made the transition easier from the days of carrying around black and white headshots in 4 feet of snow to cold calls for theater auditions in NYC to staying a little warmer and making things more colorful… (laughs)
It’s just a more extravagant and flamboyant headshot and resume on a boob tube.
It does make things easier. More accessible. Less hassle. Good way to show your stuff and a great way to communicate and pursue things. But the internet doesn’t help or progress your ‘career’ persay… you do… the actual ‘work’ does. The internet is helpful and informative is all but the WORK is what moves an actor’s career along.
How would the internet help your career if you have nothing to show for it?
10. Do you think it’s a valuable tool in promoting and generating work?
Yes it’s great for promoting. Generating work… maybe… it helps because you have the access in looking for work. Again, no one is going to cast you because your on the net. It’s helpful in seeking work and auditions and great projects but in the finality of things… you’re going to have to audition or act or have something to show.
But yes, great for promoting because people put a lot of weight into the net nowadays. The industry definitely does.
11. What your views on Celebrity Bloggers and Tabloid Magazines?
Fuck ‘em. A modern-day gladiator arena. Love to build people up, just to tear them down. Devil leeches. Only lowlifes are paparazzi and tabloid writers. Karma is a bitch though… they have to live and die with themselves and look at themselves in the mirror morning, noon and night.
I feel really bad for some celebs that are invaded. A contradiction for this country to have such things restraining orders given out freely as if they were fucking tic-tacs for civilians with a simple complaint… but yet our laws and government allow these fuckers to do as they please and invade private lives and humans with families. It takes away from their lives. Then people file fucking suits for emotional distress… can you imagine what emotional distress these guys cause celebs?
We are so ass-backwards in our ways with laws. But it will never change… and you know why? Because it’s money. Everything is a business… and the money runs us – these money-making machines of our corporate-owned-and-run country.
13. Is it hard to make an independent film in this day and age?
Not at all. When all we had was 16mm or 35mm film to use it was difficult… film is very expensive. A big reason why independent film has flourished has been technology. More affordable, more efficient cameras that have amazing picture quality nowadays.
You don’t need big crews or huge action sequences. You can tell a beautiful character-driven story. Indie film is some of most beautiful work I have ever seen.
Anyone can make an indie film… but it’s ’what’ you make… does it have Meaning? Value? Performance? Story? Will it affect an audience?
14. How has the film industry changed in the last 10 years?
It’s changed tremendously. Everything about it. The net, reality tv, the windows of studio work have gotten smaller. Indie film has flourished. Films can be made cheaper… contracts have changed… the studios have changed… tv has changed… distribution has changed… NY and LA have changed… I’m making movies all over the U.S. now…
In the last 10 years we have seen tremendous shifts in our industry. It’s been rapid and intense. An overflow and a cramming.
One thing I do know though that has stayed the same… my love for the work itself.
That will never change.
Go to www.georgekatt.com for more
Thanks for the great questions Chris.