Alex Walters Interview and Movie Review
A. About myself, I am currently a 21 year-old student at California State University, Fullerton where I am double majoring in Theatre Arts and History with a minor in Philosophy. I was born and raised in Manassas, Virginia and lived there for the first sixteen years of my life, so I am a California transplant.
My career, as of right now, is that of an eager student soaking up the experiences and wisdom that my professors and their classrooms have to offer. I haven’t been too keen on pursuing “the acting industry” yet as I have been discovering so much about myself while at college that I haven’t felt a real rush to try and “make it.” I’ve been accruing some wonderful experiences, though, that have helped me to develop my artistic viewpoint and my artistic vision overall. I currently intern at Improv Olympic West in Los Angeles as well as serving as the Director of House Management at CSUF.
Funny enough, and I feel like this is a good detail to add, the audition that I had for the role of Stanley Minor (The Big G) was my very first film audition. Ever. I had never auditioned for commercials or music videos, I was fresh to California from Virginia. I had only existed in the world of theatre up until that point. It was my senior year of high school in Riverside, CA (early February 2010) when my theatre teacher, Mrs. Pipitone, tells me she randomly received a phone call from Denise Chamian Casting saying they’re seeking actors to audition in their open casting call for this role of The Big G. They haven’t been able to cast him since August 2009. Mrs. Pipitone and I were trying to figure out why they had called so far away from L.A. Long story short: after my brief audition I received a call from Denise Chamian saying they wanted me to drive out to L.A. again and meet with Mike Pavone, who was the writer and director of the movie, to read some scenes with him. Next thing I knew, I was on a plane to film in New Orleans for the next couple of months.
Q. What are some of the Pros and Cons of being an actor?
A. One of the cons of being an actor is that it is not steady work. There isn’t much job security. Once a project is wrapped, it is over and you have to move on and seek the next job. Other than the technical side of it, though, of having to financially support yourself, a con of acting can be how emotionally draining and challenging it is to tell a story through the body and eyes of such a stoic yet deeply damaged character. This leads into the pros part, however, because I find myself learning from The Big G. As an actor, you may play multiple parts and varying characters, but they become extensions of yourself. These characters grant you the ability to investigate and discover so much about your own identity that it is freeing.
Q. When did you start acting? Were you in school plays and local events before you starred in movies?
A. I actually started with taking improvisational courses through our local arts center in Manassas, VA. Those then evolved into acting classes, Shakespeare workshops, auditioning workshops, etc. that fueled me to pursue theatre through middle and high school as well as our local community theatre. I’ve always had a deep appreciation and awe of movies. I’ve always wanted to be in them, but I am extremely grateful that I have had my beginnings in theatre – nothing can quite capture the electrifying thrill and adrenaline that live performance surges with.
Q. Did your parents influence your passion for acting?
A. My parents have been (and still are) the greatest supports, the greatest mentors, and the greatest allies in my life. I used to take a lot of drawing and painting classes through various art centers growing up, but one summer, my mom asked if I wanted to take an improv class for kids. I said yes, and after one week I told my parents I wanted to be an actor. They never tried to steer me away or convince to continue down a path with more “financial security.” They have always been behind everything I have done one hundred percent.
Q. Do you think happiness is determined by the success of the films you star in or are there other factors, like being with the people you love?
A. The success of the film was extremely exciting for myself and I am appreciative of every experience it offered me, but the greatest source of happiness I’ve received overall from playing The Big G is having people come up to me in supermarkets, in theatres or on the street (even one of my own history professors approached me) and have them share with me, without any provocation on my part, their own bullying stories growing up as children. They are moments that are so priceless to my human experience – to have the honor of these strangers telling me their stories is humbling and invigorating. It always leaves me with wanting to do more to help let others know that they’re not alone. I have found a deep level of happiness in just living and remaining open to what is around me – there is a lot of beauty in this world and our capacity to tell stories seems to get at the heart of that.
Q. In your career as an actor was there a pivotal moment you would change and take a different road?
A. There have been many situations, events, circumstances, and people in my life that have left me feeling utterly powerless, frustrated, angered, and demeaned, yet in retrospect, I wouldn’t change any of that as it all has a way of coming back and crafting me into the person I am today. I love the choices I have made for myself.
Q. You’ve taken part in the WWE Studio Film, That’s What I Am, from the 1960’s, if you could pick a time and place to live in where would it be?
A. This is a dangerous question to ask a history major as we are excitable about our areas of study. Hands down, I would pick Ancient Greece. I am a fanboy when it comes to Socratic, Platonic, and Aristotelian dialogues so I would love to just be a fly on the wall getting to hear any them of them orate and hold those initial discussions on existence.
Q. Who are some of your heroes, personally or professionally?
A. (I apologize for listing so many folks!)
Laura Jane Grace of the punk band Against Me! is by far the greatest heroine in my life. Her ability to storm the stage with such thunderous energy and articulated craft is nothing short of humbling, yet invigorating and inspiring. I’ve avidly listened to her music since I was twelve and in middle school – her lyricism, her musicianship, and her passion are absolutely unparalleled in my eyes.
Ian McKellan’s performance as Gandalf the Grey in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) is what finally put it into my head as a young 10 year-old that I wanted to be an actor. There is no performance that has been (or still is) more captivating and comforting to me. I think I would crumble in his presence.
Charles Raymond Lansford was my grandpa (my mom’s dad) and is a human being I strive to emulate every day.
Evelyn Carol Case is my acting professor at California State University, Fullerton, but much more than that she has been my mentor, my supporter, and my ally all while I’ve been discovering myself through college.
Ed Harris was the greatest thing to happen to me during my filming experience of That’s What I Am. To say he is kind, genuine, thoughtful, and caring is an understatement. His presence fills the room and he exudes this captivating energy that is so positively infectious. As a young actor working on my art, he is who I look to.
Q. What are some of the things you do to calm down when life gets stressed or busy?
A. Major nerd warning here, but I like to read Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy, Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus, or any of Tolkien’s work (mainly The Lord of the Rings) – these three texts never cease to inspire the artistic humanism inside of me. They help to ground me all while stirring me to reach out and create. I also endlessly watch The Lord of the Rings trilogy as those movies age like wine to me. 13 hours of movies back-t0-back in one day? Yes, please!
Q. Name one thing that we would be surprised to learn about you.
A. I can put both my legs behind my head – I’m convinced I have rubber bones.
Q. What are some of the places that your work has taken you that you never thought you would visit?
A. This is going to sound frightfully cheesy and I apologize, but this is the answer to your question: myself. As a young person, never did I guess that playing roles would leave me absolutely in awe of how little I knew of myself and just how little I ever bothered to think about myself. You spend so much time learning your lines, breaking down your character, and figuring out their past that at the end of it all (especially when you’re done playing them) you realize that you’ve never spent that kind of time with learning yourself.
Q. What projects do you have up and coming?
A. I am extremely excited about this question. Currently, I have my second showing of Alyxandria, which is a solo performance that I wrote. It will be this May 17th, 2013, 7:00pm at California State University, Fullerton’s Clayes Performing Arts Center in the Young Theatre for free admission. The whole solo performance explores my journey of gender questioning and self-identity through my own personal stories and experiences. It is funny, it is tragic, and it gives me the opportunity to lay myself out open to an audience of strangers in another attempt on my part to let people know they are not alone.
That’s What I Am is a little jewel I found on Netflix. It has the simple message of being yourself and not apologizing for that. It had an innocence that most films have lost and I found it refreshing, without being corny. I also thought the cast (full list here) was stellar with Alex Walters, Chase Ellison and Ed Harris at the helm. I give this film 5 Flowers and recommend it for all ages.