I recently got the chance to talk to Garland Lyons about his role in Gus Van Sant’s new film, ‘Restless’. Here, Garland talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and how he got into acting in the first place…
Hey Garland. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Restless’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
A girl, played by Mia, meets this boy…Henry’s character…who likes to attend funerals. She falls for him and he takes her on a journey…they start attending funerals together. The twist…she is dying of cancer. Oh, and there is a dead Japanese pilot that looks out for Henry’s character. I thought it was kind of a twist on ‘Harold And Maude’.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
The main character, played by Henry Hopper, lands in the hospital after getting beaten by unknown assailants. I play Officer Miller, who comes to the hospital to find out what happened – get more information, etc.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I knew that Gus Van Sant was directing another film so I asked my agent to keep an eye out for any part that I could play in my age range. This role seemed to be one of the only that actually fitted me so she submitted my headshot for consideration. I auditioned for the local casting director who then submitted my tape to the L.A. casting director and I got the email about a week later saying that I was cast. Interesting that there was no callbacks…they just based the casting choice on my one audition.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
The film puts together a whole mish mash of different themes that are shot using the backdrop of Oregon’s landscape. Many love stories I see focus so much on the story that they forget about capturing the beauty around the main characters. Van Sant’s cinematographer is amazing…truly amazing. Some of the shots are absolutely beautiful.
The film stars Henry Hopper, Mia Wasikowska, Ryo Kase, Schuyler Fisk, Lusia Strus and Jane Adams – with Gus Van Sant onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
Van Sant always tries to use local crew if possible. Portland’s TV and film work has been exploding recently…with ‘Grimm’, ’Portlandia’ and ‘Leverage’ shooting here. The crew was very nice…very supportive and even listened to me when I suggested a certain camera angle.
Henry was great to work with. Knowing who his father is, he could have easily had a little attitude on set. He was very humble and had a charismatic charm about him.
Gus was very quiet and would usually deliver his direction..whether it be to the actors or crew – directly to them rather than out loud in the room. He pulled me aside a couple of times to give me suggestions. Very focused and calming presence in the room.
Let’s talk a bit about you Garland. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
That is a very good question. I am not sure I know how to answer that. I never really grew up watching movies and thinking…wow, that’s what I want to do. My acting started as a freshman..so, about 13. A friend of mine was signing up for the beginning acting class and urged me to join him. I was really hesitant at first but he talked me into it. I tended to be a class clown in school so my father encouraged me to channel that energy into something other than cracking jokes in class. I remember the first play I ever auditioned for, ‘The Imaginary Invalid’. I ended up getting cast in a small role but…that feeling of opening night…the anticipation right before you step on stage….the energy in the room. There is nothing like it in the world and I got hooked. I have been acting ever since. Film and TV work came much later. I dabbled in a couple of low-budget productions but it wasn’t until I moved to LA that I truly became interested. Once I moved to Portland, I immediately got an agent and started auditioning for any project I could.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Don’t wait. Do it now. Start going to see theatre…watch a lot of film….and really watch the acting. Learn from watching. Audition….take acting classes…read books…learn as much as you can. Ask questions. Tame your fear. Move outside of your comfort zone. It is frightening to audition, it truly is. That’s why you have to calm your nerves. Audition for everything. Do THEATRE. Seriously, I have learned more about acting just doing it than reading books. Do some extra work and really watch what is going on. When on the set, they really expect you do know what you are doing so the more prepared you are, the better.
And…have fun! Don’t ever take yourself too seriously and never take rejection personally…because there is a lot of it in this business.
What is currently on your I-Pod right now?
HA! All of my music is on my I-Phone. I listen to a whole range of music from Death Cab For Cutie to Erasure to Stone Temple Pilots to Nine Inch Nails. I listen to music to put me in a particular mood…not the other way around. If that makes any sense.
If you could have dinner with three guests (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
- Honestly, I would love to have one more dinner with my Dad. He died in his sleep suddenly and I would just love to talk to him one last time.
- Brando – I know the dinner would mostly be stories that he told but it would truly be fascinating.
- Sam Shepard. One of my favourite playwrights. I could see us at some dive bar happy hour knocking back drinks and just chatting. He seems like that type of guy. Nothing formal about it.
If you were stranded on a desert island – what three things could you not live without?
- Seriously…I know it wouldn’t work on the island…but I would die without my I-Phone.
- My Dad’s pocket knife. Has sentimental value and would come in handy.
- Grandfathers old pocket watch…super old…so, it winds – no battery. I could at least keep track of the days and time.
What’s coming up for you in 2011/12?
I will be appearing on TV in January but am not allowed to tell you what it is…sworn to secrecy. Taking a break from theatre in the winter but hope to be back on stage in the spring. Then…there is ‘Grimm’…which is shot here in Portland. I have auditioned for that a few times so I am hoping that it gets picked up for next season so I can have the opportunity of working on that show.
Thanks for the interview!