What happens when a little mad, gets mixed with a deck of cards, a lit cig after a fever-pitched rouse in the west wing of sex, while roaming the halls of Congress, pulling some bad aces from your public enemies and flying aboard Air Force One? Only the very beginning's of all the roles mastered and portrayed by actor of both Television, Movies and Stage... Spencer Garrett.
Never stopping long enough to find out what's next, Spencer has created the last 25 years of his acting career into the thrill of his life. Imagine someone still so passionate about each opportunity given, and embracing the doors he has procured in diligence, all while still showing his excitement and appreciation for his peers. Undaunted, a life long learner of his craft, this is a brief glimpse into Spencer's passion for his love of acting.
29/05/2015- Song RiverLink: (Vents Magazine)
Song: Creativity never sleeps. I lost count on how many roles you've had. As a third generation actor, and parents who were very involved in one form or another in film, tell me a what drew you into acting?
Spencer: I think I resisted it for a long time, I was uncertain about it, growing up in the industry and seeing the peaks and valleys, well I wanted to avoid the valleys. I went to college and studied public policy and philosophy, worked in Washington DC on Capitol Hill, worked for NPR, wore a suit and carried a briefcase to work, and all the while I kept feeling the tug of my family business. So, I woke up one morning and said, “Yes I want to be an actor.” (laughed) I remember my dad was little freaked out when I told him I was dropping out of Duke University to be an actor, and he called my mom and said, “Did you know Spencer wants to be an actor?” My mom replied, “What did you expect? An astronaut?” So when I decided to join the family business, or circus because it really is, I went full-blown. I moved to New York City and began studying under Sanford Meisner, who was my teacher for many years. Meisner was actually one of the original founders of group theatre in the '30's with Lee Strasberg. That for me was a pivotal moment in my acting career, and I have never looked back.
Song: Have you ever actually worked alongside any of your family?
Spencer: I was directed by my mom (actress, Kathleen Nolan ), very early on. The AFI (American Film Institute) Women’s Director Workshop had given a certain allotment to prominent women in the entertainment industry, this included not only my mom, but Maya Angelou , Lee Grant and Margot Kidder. My mom was the president of the “Screen Actors Guild”, and several of these women were given essentially 400 bucks to create a student film, and I had a couple of lines with Laura Dern, who was a couple of years younger than I and her mom, the great Diane Ladd.
My grandpa and grandma actually raised my mom and my aunt on the Goldenrod Showboat on the Mississippi River. It may sound hokey, but those are really my roots.
Song: How many more TV projects can you possibly juggle at a time? And who does your scheduling?
Spencer: I am losing count, you get a little schizophrenic. (laughed) But I am so grateful. I have five recurring shows now, it's almost unheard of. I think the hardest part is keeping all the dialogue straight in my head. Finished two shows here in Atlanta, and just shot a new pilot, with Don Johnson.
Song: Speaking of this new series and pilot with Don Johnson, “Blood and Oil,” which was just picked up by ABC. I was watching the trailer for it, and it seems to focused on a common thread of good vs bad, rich vs the underdog...but it has an element that made me want to watch and root for the young married couple.
You had a small guest appearance towards the beginning of your acting career on the show Dallas, how much does this new series, “Blood and Oil” remind you of that TV show and what role are you portraying in "Blood and Oil" ?
Spencer: Well, it reminds me a lot of “Dallas.” “Dallas” really was one of my first jobs when I came out of theatre school.
In "Blood and Oil" I am playing the role of governor of North Dakota, or should I say the guy who wants to be the governor of North Dakota. Whether or not he gets the gig remains to be seen, but it has a lot of the same elements. I mean it has a lot of beautiful people in it, oil's involved, and Don Johnson is the patriarch of this wealthy family. It really has a little something for everyone. And I think people are really going to enjoy it. It's like a guilty pleasure, the way “Dallas” and “Dynasty” were. I am really happy to be a part of it. It's a good late night soap.
Song: You really get to play dress up, don’t you?
Spencer: (laughed) Well, think about it: I get to dress up in a 5,000 dollar tuxedo and run for governor... things that are never going to happen in 'real' life, it's silly, but this is why I love my job so much. I get to play dress up everyday! To be able to do this, I can't say how much I just love it, and appreciate it. It is much more interesting than being me, believe me! (laughed)
Song: "Satisfaction" on USA picks up again this fall, second season, correct?
Spencer: Yes, that's why I am here in Atlanta now, as that season picks back up and for “Survivors Remorse”, where I am playing a southern lawyer with a big thick silly accent.
Song: Talk a little about the character roles you have played.
Spencer: I have played in so many roles, ranging from politicians to lawyers. No matter who I am playing, whether it's the guy from “The House of Cards” or the guy in “Oil...” I mean, since“Air Force One” in 1995 I have played guys that roam the halls of Congress. I feel I have played so many lawyers and politicians that I feel I should have a law degree, and wear one of those little pins on my lapel. But I find myself if I am playing like.. someone who is odious in the political realm, the last thing you want to do is 'wink' at the camera or comment on it. (laughed). My job is to play the characters I am given as honestly as I can play them.
Song: Do you favor one type of TV character role to play over another? One you might enjoy more than another?
Spencer: I did a movie called, “Lovely and Amazing” for the great Nicole Holofcener and I had one scene with Catherine Keener and I had played so many politicians and stuffed shirts for so long up to this point and Nicole said I want you to just go crazy with this guy. So, I just played him as this ridiculously swishy German, it was very over the top, I think it was the most fun though I have ever had before and since.
Song: What was the character's name?
Spencer: I think he was the West Hollywood Shopkeeper, and I wanted to name him. I asked Nicole, and she said what do you want to name him... I said Willy. I have no idea why, but he was “Willy the Swishy German Shopkeeper.”
It's just a wonderful film, great actors. Nicole always makes such terrific films.
And I think since you asked me, I'd like to mention too Michael Mann. He put me in his movie with Johnny Depp called, “Public Enemies.” I had gone in to read for the film, and was asked to audition for this 1930's Chicago gangster. I remember looking at this script and thinking I am never going to get this role, and I remember saying to the casting director, Bonnie Timmermann, can I just read for the role of an FBI guy or the lawyer or senator? She turned to me and said, "Spencer I have followed your career for over twenty years, I know you can do those in your sleep, I don't want to see you do that again." So I read for this character, who was different from anything else I have ever had the chance to play, and I read with Bonnie. As soon as I was done reading, Michael came through the door (I hadn’t realized he was watching me from the other side of the two-way glass) and he came in and said, “Welcome to the picture.” For me... that was a re-calibrating moment in my life.
Song: Would you describe yourself more as a TV or Movie Buff?
Spencer: I am an actor buff. I’m a story buff. I love a good story. I got sucked into “Breaking Bad,” I love “Mad Men,” which I was lucky enough to be a small part of. I was sad a bit when it ended, but it ended so well. I’m a story person... TV or Film or Theatre. If the story is good and the actors are bringing it to life, I am there.
Song: As I understand it various VOD platforms were available to viewers, and NBC's strategy was to set up the show to stream all 13 episodes at once, after the first two episodes aired on May 28th. Then of course each new episode of Aquarius the viewers can also tune into the same time slot and night to continue watching.
Talk to us a little about the new NBC series, “Aquarius,” and your role.
My character Hal Banyin , has so much meat on the bone. As the season opens you get this glimpse and as it progresses you start seeing the character's revealing, like an onion being peeled back... then towards the end it's like everyone's wheels come flying off.
I love watching great writers create, and without them, there is nothing. We have some great, great writer's John McNamara, Alexandra Cunningham, and Sera Gamble- really brilliant writers on Aquarius.
Song: How has it been working with David Duchovny, because didn't you work with him in X Files?
Spencer: Yes, yes we did. It was wild. I hadn't seen David in a long time, probably since that X file episode back in the early '90s. We walk in and we sit down at the table and David is sitting right next to me, and he looks over and he tells me the name of my character, and said, You played Harry Bring and the episode was... blah, blah, blah and it was season blah, blah and I just looked at him and said...”How do you?” He has this encyclopedic knowledge, he is obviously a brilliant guy. (Laughed) David just put his first novel out, so I am behind the curve in getting my novel out!
His character kind of reminds me of a Russell Crowe in "LA Confidential." He plays this 1950's throwback coming into 1967 kicking and screaming, while chasing Charles Manson. He isn't part of this 'free love' generation. He is old school, hard dude, detective. He is a fish out of water.
It's just a blast working with him, I like him as an actor, I like him as a guy.
Song: He seems to be someone who might have a quirky sense of odd humor.
Spencer: It's very dry.
Song: Would you ever consider a singular TV series with a lead recurring role?
Spencer: Right now what I am doing is so unusual, but my dream job is to be on "Law & Order SVU "for the next fifteen years... hey I'd be a happy camper. You never know, but now I am getting to bop around and work in Atlanta, Salt Lake, Malaysia, New York and getting to do these different jobs. Having grown up around this business, I am anything but jaded... I am such a fan of this business and of those I work for. Every time I get to work with someone... its like I am a kid in a candy store. I am thrilled. I have done this for 25 years, and every morning I just look up to the sky and thank whoever is up there for the gift to do this. I pinch myself.
I am now ready to get back to filming “Oil”, and maybe creating a drink named after my role of governor... if I get elected. Maybe something like, Black Gold.