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Rich Williams is a local actor who has recently been in the Hollywood spotlight as he’s featured in the film Tammy starring Megan McCarthy. He figures prominently in the film’s trailer and has given local audiences (who don’t fast forward commercials) the chance to say, “Hey I know that guy on TV!” for several weeks running. He’s been seen in smaller roles in numerous films and TV shows and has worked locally with Wayward Actors and Little Colonel Playhouse.
Brian Walker: Hey there superstar, got some time for some local press? I have 17 questions for you if you’re willing?
Rich Williams: Sure! I’d be happy to!
BW: Great! You’re my first movie star! Alright, number 1. What role do you play in the film Tammy?
RW: Larry; who works at a fast food restaurant called Topper Jack’s.
BW: Number 2. What was the process like landing the role? Did you have to go to multiple auditions or was it pretty easy?
RW: One taped audition here, and a callback in Wilmington, N.C.
BW: Number 3. What would most folks be surprised to know goes on during a normal day of shooting a Hollywood film?
RW: All the down time between scenes.
BW: Number 4. Do you have a single memory from the experience that sticks out as your favorite?
RW: The whole scene that was added later in L.A. that plays during the credits. It was really nippy that night and lots of funny lines from Ben Falcone, the director, co-writer and Melissa’s husband, threw out, plus some funny ad-libs. I hope some of that makes the DVD.
BW: Stay through the credits folks! Number 5. Did you get to meet Susan Sarandon, and if so was she as cool as she seems like she would be?
RW: I met her briefly at the premiere party. Very nice, but a little re-served. She had her son with her so no personal pictures, but I completely understand.
BW: Number 6. And what about working with Melissa McCarthy, did you guys have fun or was it all business?
RW: Mostly all fun. We had a structured scene with dialogue, but they added things as we went along. We did get to improv a lot and it was a blast.
BW: Number 7. Do you do much local theatre anymore or have any plans to do a play in the upcoming season?
RW: I used to do a lot of theatre in Orlando, Los Angeles, and here, and I’m on the board for Louisville Repertory Company, but have cut down to about 1 play a year. This season, I performed at the Little Colonel theatre in I Ought to be in Pictures by Neil Simon, and I’ve tentatively agreed to do one next season, but would rather not mention it until it’s firmed up. I do now request that the director has a back up plan. I would hate to mess up my fellow actors in a play, but opportunities like Tammy don’t come along every day. In fact I missed a lot of rehearsal time in pursuing callbacks and auditions.
BW: Number 8. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to break into the business but not wanting to move to New York or LA?
RW: First, it’s only for you if you’re so passionate about it you have to. I have sacrificed a lot of income over the years by taking much lower paying jobs that allowed flexibility for auditions. But I have the passion to tell stories and be around people that also feel that way. If that’s you, you need to get all the experience you can; whether it be 48 hour film festival films, local horror films; regional films, etc. Just be sure that the director promises you a tape or DVD of your scenes. Some will promise but still will never get you one. If they don’t, just never work with that person again. While you’re on the films, even when you’re not on, watch how everything is done. If there is a more experienced professional actor, watch them work. Do not under any circumstances try to strike up a conversation with them before they do their scene. They sometimes have a process for getting into character and have many more lines than you to remember. Never go to L.A. without your S.A.G. card unless you’re a cute little teen that can play 2-5 years younger than your real age. Get a competent agent if you can. Do not join an agency that wants upfront money from you. They may suggest you need pictures, but the honest ones will give you a choice of a couple of people they use, and will accept if you go elsewhere as long as they’re professional looking.
BW: Number 9. Is it possible to be a working actor in Louisville, KY?
RW: It is possible now due to the ability to most often tape the first audition. But you better have the time and money to drive to Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, and Wilmington, N.C. etc. for a film callback. And most importantly, be able to take rejection.
BW: Number 10. If you could star in the remake of any film ever, what would the film be and whom would you play?
RW: I’m a character actor, so most of the leading men roles don’t interest me. I guess, because of my background and upbringing, I would have to say, The Apostle that starred Robert Duvall. However, I don’t think there’s any way in hell I could match his performance.
BW: Number 11. What’s your prep work for a role like? Do you do a lot of research or prep work before you walk onto a set?
RW: For the smaller roles that I’m usually up for, I usually just make up a back-story for my character. I’m sure if I got a specific larger role, I would have the time and resources to research it.
BW: Number 12. What’s your favorite Louisville hangout?
RW: At my age, most people would expect I say the ER or nursing homes, but there are a few restaurants or pubs that I like: Havana Rumba, Drakes at the Paddock, The Silver Dollar; any craft beer pub when I’m out of town.
BW: Number 13. Has there been someone who has sort of helped you or mentored you with your career along the way?
RW: Every one of my friends in Louisville after Tammy; which I want to thank for being so supportive. Also the casting director, Jackie Burch, went out of her way to make sure I made it to the premiere. And a constant support is my two great agents: Heyman Talent here and Atlanta Models ant Talent in Atlanta.
BW: Number 14. What was your first paying acting gig?
RW: I was an extra in the movie Parenthood, directed by Ron Howard. I made a cool $60 a day.
BW: Number 15. Is there something you’ve learned recently about the business you with you’d learned a long time ago?
RW: Always put a little of your own personality into the role and take a deep breathe and relax. And don’t fret about rejection. I probably only book one out of every 25-30 auditions.
BW: Number 16. What’s next for you, any upcoming roles or shoots?
RW: I’ve had a few auditions, but right now I’m just another unemployed actor.
BW: I’m sure that will change soon enough! Okay, finally, number 17. Who is someone who inspires you and why?
RW: Great character actors like Robert Duvall, the late J.T. Walsh, Emmett Walsh, Chris Cooper. As for leading actors: Denzel Washington and Leonard DiCaprio.