Saturday, February 4, 2012

Actor Larry Laverty


Larry Laverty is an actor living in Oakland, California. Larry is known for the wide range of characters he plays and the unique way he brings his characters to life. He's appeared in over 100 films and over a dozen television shows. Most notably, he's appeared in John Frankenheimer's 'The Fourth War,' playing opposite Harry Dean Stanton, Gus Van Sant's 'Elephant,' 'The Hamiltons,' 'The Sanguinarian,' and 'Dead Tone,' playing opposite Rutger Hauer. His television appearances include 'Judging Amy,' 'The Practice,' 'Breaking Vegas,' 'The Tonight Show,' 'The Dating Game,' and numerous soaps including 'All My Children,' and 'Days of Our Lives.' Larry started performing professionally on stage at Oakland's Woodminster Theater playing in a number of Shakespeare's plays and numerous Broadway musicals. He prepared for his acting career by studying with The American Conservatory Theater, the Jean Shelton Actors Lab, The Groundlings, and Second City among others. He holds two college degrees, one in Business Administration, one in Political Science. Competitive in sports all his life, he ran on the track team at Oakland's Skyline High School, and spent 11 years competing in speedskating and bicycle racing. Larry was born in Berkeley, California and grew up in nearby Oakland.

What is the current project you are working on?

Early in my career, I had the great good fortune of working on two films with Irish filmmaker Dermot Tynan who was living temporarily in California at the time. We've kept in touch for the twenty years since that time and finally, we get to work together again, this time in Ireland. Dermot is feverishly writing away and I'm anxious to get a look at the script very soon. He knows how much I enjoy playing oddball characters and he has a dandy in mind this time around. The film will be titled 'Green Star Liner.' We have no dates set yet but it's not too far off, especially since we've both been waiting for twenty years so far.

What is it like working with Gus Van Sant and Rutger Hauer?

I had just taken a leave of absence from Hollywood to focus on independent films all over the country. My agent in Portland, Oregon called to say she had an audition for me for a film called 'Elephant,' to be directed by Oregon resident Gus Van Sant. I went and later worked a week on the film. The timing was good as I'd recently spent a number of years studying Improv which was a good thing as Gus encouraged us to flesh out our characters from the script in our own ways. It was such a pleasure being given free reign by a director of Gus' stature. He's such a calm spirit and very supportive. A few months later, I visited Gus in his downtown Portland office where he was cutting 'Elephant' and I look forward to the day we work together again.

Rutger Hauer is yet another story. I'd grown up watching 'Blade Runner' and a couple of other Rutger Hauer films so I was well aware of his legendary status. Funny thing though, the first day I reported for work, I couldn't find anybody to check in with except a hand full of the salty drivers who move the equipment trucks around. I hung out with them for a few minutes and then noticed that one of them looked familiar. It was Rutger, just hanging out with the Teamsters like I was. Later, on the set, he held court as most veteran celebrities seem to do, fielding a stream of autograph seekers and recalling stories from various well-known films he'd worked.

Did you always want to be an actor?

That's funny! It never dawned on me to even try acting until I was 24 years old and took an acting class on a whim during my last year of college. It just never crossed my mind and I actually thought the whole acting thing was strange. I'd been on a couple of children's television shows when I was a kid and had sung in church choirs all my life but I was far more interested in sports and doing things outdoors. What worked for me was that acting allowed me to explore all sorts of things that people do in life, a pattern that I'd gotten into as I worked a wide variety of jobs to pay my way through college. Never say never, it is said. Now I've been acting professionally for over 20 years, exploring all sorts of careers and many aspects of humanity, and I really can't imagine myself doing anything else.

What is the best thing about being an actor?

I love the art in it all. I love creating these characters I play. I love taking a script, chewing on it, and bringing the images on a page to life. And I get to travel to all corners of town, to every corner of the United States and Canada and later this year to Ireland to do it. I've always fed on challenges in life and it took a good ten years of performing before I actually felt like I'd gotten fully in touch with my imagination and felt justified in calling myself an artist, an actor. Ten years! Along the way, I've worked with lots of wonderful people and animals and I love the collaboration that goes on in making a movie. It's really inspiring when a group of talented people come together to make something. But there are more challenges I'm facing in the works, and that's OK, like re-establishing myself in Hollywood. I trained in Business and worked in business before becoming an actor so my mind's suited to the business side of acting too and its going to take every ounce of what I've got to get back to where I was in Hollywood before I left to focus on indie films.

What is the estimated number of projects you've worked on?

From the early days I started doing this professionally, I became aware that some actors have careers that amount to only a few dozen films or select Tv shows. And then there are others who like to be working all the time and end up working in over one hundred or even two hundred films. I've now worked in over one hundred films and over a dozen television shows and I feel like I'm just getting started. When I was in L.A. the first time, I focused on television, but once I left the establishment to work

only indie films, I had to find work in as many as I could to make it pay financially.

There were times where I was preparing three or four films at the same time. It was crazy-making. I'd spend an hour or two a day prepping one character, take a break, and then go to work prepping the next character and so on. I loved it, I was doing what I loved to do and doing it all the time. But then the economy turned a few years ago and investors backed out of independent films in large numbers. So I'm working in fewer films these days and am aiming to supplement the film work with a few television roles.

How has your life changed since becoming an actor?

When I was working my way through college, I really had no firm idea what I was going to do for a career. At first, I thought I'd work my way up through a corporation like so many other folks. Then, after getting a good taste of the corporate world, I thought I might work in the public sector, trying to positively affect policy toward our environment and animal life. After a thorough search, I eventually drifted into the arts and found acting. I do my best whenever I can to support others who care about our environment and animals but I became consumed by the challenge of being an artist, both technically and financially. About five years into it, I felt I'd never be able to work in an office again. At ten years into it, and having fought hard for legitimacy, I knew there was no turning back. Having experienced all that I have and experienced it so fully, I know that acting has made me a much more aware and sensitive person. Sometimes the pain in life finds its way to my core a little more readily than I'd like.

What do you like to do besides filmmaking?

I love exploring places with friends. One of my favorite past times is going for a walk in a park, a park like Yosemite, Yellowstone, along the beach, through the forest, with someone I feel close to. I love sharing the sights and sounds of our world with other people. And in the same vane, I do what I can to make our world a little better place. I pick up litter, I help anybody who needs help, and I support those who are doing good deeds also. I'll always love being out on the road on two wheels, on a motorcycle or on a bicycle. And I love hanging out at coffee shops, catching up with old friends.

Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become an actor?

Let's see. I've delivered newspapers, maintained a botanical garden, checked groceries, sold keg beer, worked for a moving company, worked in a window factory, milked cows, worked in a warehouse, driven a forklift, been a telephone operator, a bank teller, stocked women's shoes, and mowed people's lawns. Most of these jobs involved a fair amount of sweat and I have to say that I'm grateful that I don't have to sweat very often as an actor.

How would you describe your film education?

There was that first acting class, during the time I was finishing up my second degree. The two instructors were veterans of New York and thought I had something special. To them, I'm forever grateful. Their comments and support planted a seed that really didn't sprout until several years later. After doing a few plays, I figured I'd better get to work and figure out what acting was really all about so for the next ten years, I was in and out of scene study classes, university classes, and classes about Improv. Then I ran across an interview of Anthony Hopkins in which he described the way he went about what he does and the lights bulb went on for me, there were fireworks. Between having reconnected to my imagination through Improv and realizing that absorbing the dialog of a script could be effortless, it all came together. At the same time, I'd been supplementing my acting income by working low-level crew positions on big-budget films with Academy-Award winning directors and cinematographers. From the hundreds of days on set with those folks, I got a feel for the process of making movies and soon felt just as much at home on a set as anywhere else in the world.

Furthermore...

Acting is just plain great fun, most all of the time. How wonderful to be paid for doing something that you'd almost be willing to do for free! But there's a catch. For me anyway. I'm well aware of lots of nasty things going on in the world and they bother me every day of my life. The pain that some human folk cause to animals. The way some human folk have no respect for the natural world, for their communities, for other folk. I've seen and experienced more than my share of terrible things and I imagine I'll see a bunch more while I'm here. So as a carefree actor, I'm smiling at the pain, laughing in the rain, and keepin' on smilin.'

Two films of mine will be released this year, 2012, 'Treasure State", a wonderful family film, and 'Sisterhood of Death,' an outrageous comedy, despite its title.

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Thanks for doing the interview Larry. Below are some stills Larry sent me from family film "The Wylds" he  stars in:

[slideshow]