Mark Povinelli – (Water For Elephants – 2011).

I recently got the chance to talk to Mark Povinelli about his role as Kinko in newly released film – ‘Water For Elephants’ – where he stars alongside Twilight’s Robert Pattinson and the gorgeous Reese Witherspoon. Here, Mark talks about the film’s general premise and what it was like working on-set with an elephant….
 
 
Hey Mark. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk to me – we’ve got you here obviously to talk to you about your new film, ‘Water For Elephants’ – which is out in UK cinemas right now – what is the general plotline surrounding this movie?
 
Basically it is the story of a young man (Rob Pattinson) who upon hearing of his parents being killed in a car accident, ditches his final college exams and jumps the nearest train. It turns out the train is a second-rate traveling circus. He falls in love with the star attraction (Reese Witherspoon) who unfortunately is married to the owner of the circus (Christoph Waltz). Conflict ensues.
 
The film’s actually based on a book / novel isn’t it – had you read it before you signed on?
 
Yeah, the book is based on Sara Gruen’s NY Times Bestseller of the same name. I hadn’t read it until I got the call for the audition and then scrambled to finish it. Actually, it is a great read so finishing it in a day and a half was no problem.
 
How well do you think the book has been adapted into the movie?
 
Any time you are adapting a book into a movie, people are going to cringe because what takes you twenty hours to read has to be truncated into two hours. I think Richard LaGravenese did a remarkable job of keeping the soul of the book in and all the essential plot points.
 
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the film and his role within the movie…
 
I play Kinko (aka Walter), a hardscrabble circus clown who is forced to take Rob’s character (Jacob) in as his roommate. Through the course of the movie they form a close bond and he ends up being one of Jacob’s only allies. 
 
The film stars Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. What was it like working with them on-set? Obviously Twilight fans will be coming to see this movie…
 
Really, Rob has fans??? We hardly noticed. Honestly, despite the fact that both of them are huge stars and on the cover of every supermarket magazine, they quickly show themselves to be really intelligent, sweet, positive people who take acting very seriously.
 
Did you get a chance to work with the elephant? I hear it’s become quite a celebrity….
 
Thai, the elephant, quickly became the biggest star on set. Being near a creature that magnificent would take your breath away. I think it was one of the most positive and vibrant projects I’ve ever worked on and certainly some of that credit belongs to the fact that we got to hang out with a 9000 lb, beautifully agile, behemoth every day.
 
Let’s talk about you Mark. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
 
Since it is not really clear from this interview, I am a little person, about 3′ 9″ tall. From a very early age, I realized that every time I went out into public I was on stage in a certain sense. People would stare at me and point, watch me do mundane things. Subconsciously, I decided that if I was going to be getting this much attention, I might as well try and gain some control of it and literally get on stage. I found it very empowering.
 
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in acting?
 
I would encourage them to really get to know themselves. People often think that acting is a way to get away from yourself and dive into another character but I feel it is very much the opposite. The only way to explore others is to truly understand yourself. Purely in a business sense, it is vital to know what skills you have as an actor that separate you. It is imperative to know how others perceive you too. Unless you know who you are yourself, it is hard to prove you can be anyone else on-screen.
 
You’ve worked alongside many great actors, such as Kelsey Grammar and Tom Hanks – what have been your favourite moments or experiences of your career thus far? 
 
Man, there have been so many. I feel very fortunate to have been able to do this for so long and for having such a diverse range of experiences. Though my favourite experience must be when I found myself in an acting class taught by Marlon Brando. Amidst a catalogue of surreal and fascinating moments in that class, the capper had to be when after lunch, Marlon sat down in front of us and proceeded to put his false teeth into his mouth one by one. It was perhaps the best 10 minutes of theatre I have ever seen in my life.
 
Would you say you go for a specific type of role?
 
I wish I was at the point in my career where I have the ability to select what I want to do. I think there are very few actors who can sit around and say, “Today I’d like to play Hamlet. Tomorrow, a Judd Apatow comedy.” The challenge of this business is to try to make the most of the opportunities when they arise. Sometimes they will be your dream role, but often they’ll be usually a less than perfect developed role that you must fall in love with and shade with as many colors as possible.
 
I’ve heard from IMDB that you’ve just finished work on another film, with a somewhat interesting title: ‘Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea’. What can you tell us about this project?
 
It’s actually a pilot for a half hour sitcom for NBC, based on the Chelsea Handler book by the same name. Laura Prepon plays a fictionalized version of Chelsea Handler. The story picks up just after Chelsea gets arrested for a DUI and realizes that it’s time she grew up and straightened out her life…slowly. I play her friend that works in the same bar as her.
 
Maybe a stupid question, but it’s in the title of the film – are you a fan of vodka? 
 
I usually stick to wine and beer. But a couple of years ago I was performing in Moscow, where the vodka comes to your table in a pitcher and is the cheapest liquid on the menu. I definitely became a close and personal friend of vodka.
 
What else is coming up for you in 2011?
 
I’ll be heading off to Montreal in June to begin shooting ‘Snow White’ based on the Brothers Grimm version, starring Julia Roberts. It should be an absolute blast. In October, I’m performing at the Kennedy Center in Mabou Mines’ DollHouse as Torvald Helmer.
 
Thanks for the interview!
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