I recently got the opportunity to talk to Grainger Hines about his role in ‘Beneath The Dark’. Here, Grainger talks about the film, how he got into acting in the first place and what’s coming up for him in 2011….
Hey Grainger. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘Beneath The Dark’ will be having it’s DVD premiere in the UK on July 4th.
What is the general premise behind the movie?
The film is very surreal, first off… is it reality or is it not? That is the question one keeps asking as they watch the film. It is in the eye of the beholder and many people will see it different ways until they realize the director’s vision at the end. Simple plot… people driving across America, end up in a very strange motel in the Mojave Desert. Force or fate has brought them to this point and they, then, must face a reality, with a strange undefined cast of characters… for me, what is so interesting is that they (the characters) are all connected with one another from their past experiences in life. The past and their actions in the past has brought them together… and now they must face the consequences of their actions.
How would you say this film differs from other thrillers this year?
I have to say, ‘Beneath The Dark’ is unique. I was in the film and yet it caught me off guard when I saw it. I have to attribute that to Chad (director) and his vision of the film. He could have gone a lot of different ways and, many times in films, those roads are obvious to the viewer. Like I said, he completely caught me off guard. I can usually predict a line or what is going to happen. I have been doing this for a long time and so many films are just plain predictable. I think Chad accomplished a lot by avoiding this predictability. You are constantly trying to figure out what is going on and not in a confusing way. Chad gives you just enough to almost put the pieces together but not fully – until the moment he clearly lays it out for you. For me… that keeps it interesting. It truly is a thriller.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I think if you haven’t seen the film it would be an injustice to tell you too much about it. It is a film one should go into with an open mind and not have too many preconceived ideas. My wife, (played by the absolutely lovely actress, Jeannetta Arnette – you will remember her from “Boys Don’t Cry) and I are traveling across country and end up stopping at Roy’s Motel in the Mojave Desert. That’s all I’m going to say.
The film stars Josh Stewart, Jami-Lynn Sigler and Chris Browning. What was it like working on-set with them?
My work was only with Josh and Jeannetta and I absolutely loved working with Josh. I think Josh is on his way to becoming a huge star. He has a very interesting quality and his focus is the work. Jamie-Lynn was not on the set when I was working but Chris was and we hung out a good bit. He is another that has such an interesting history and is going to be around for a long time. I have written several scripts and when I am working on them these two actors always come to mind. I loved working with Josh and I loved getting to know both him and Chris and I hope to work with them again very soon.
Let’s talk a bit about you Grainger. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
Well – it was a long time ago to begin with. I still think of myself as twenty and at times I feel as if I am just starting out and I think that is because the excitement of being an actor has never left me. I absolutely love it and can not imagine doing anything else. The reality is I have been doing this for thirty years. I can not imagine having any other life. It is tough… and it can be rewarding but ultimately, it is for the thick-skinned… especially if you are a journeyman like myself. I’m in it for the long haul, so to speak. I was playing in a band… and we were pretty successful but deep down I was not happy or satisfied. I was so young and I am not even sure why I was having these feelings but something was definitely missing. I was living in Atlanta, Georgia and I saw an audition notice for a play called “The Zoo Story” at a theatre in Atlanta. It was a lark… I went to the audition… I did not know anything about auditioning… I just went… they gave me this material and asked me to read… I am sure I was terrible but for some reason they asked me to come back and do it again and eventually they offered me the part… to be honest… I have not looked back since then. Within several months I was out of the band and pursuing this new career. For a year in Atlanta, I went from play to play, non stop work and even did my first little bit part in a film there. I started studying acting and then I moved to New York and eventually ended up out here in Hollywood.
What advice would you give to actors wanting to get into the industry?
I get asked this a tremendous amount and I actually have given some thought to it. It is such a crazy business. It is so difficult and unlike anything you could think of. First, study. Do theatre. Do as many plays as you possibly can. Play as many parts as you can. Read literature. Classic literature. Read the great writers and know their plays. Especially when you are young… study acting. Find a teacher that works for you. That is the technical side of it and one can become pretty good by doing this but there is another element and so many people want it for the wrong reason. It is the celebrity factor… I absolute hate it. People that just want to be famous for the sake of being famous. With or without the fame I think to be an actor you have got to want it more than anything else in you life. If you don’t have that mind-set… then save yourself a lot of time by doing something else… I hear all the time people say… “Oh… I am going to give myself.. two, three years…” Do yourself a favor… don’t even do that… find something in your life you love and stick with it. Acting is not for everyone and it is hard and it is a tough life. Everyone wants to be a star… a few want to be actors.
Who has been your favorite actor to work with so far? I am sure ‘Rocky II’, with Sylvester Stallone must come high up on the list. Perhaps even William Shatner?
My favorite actor that I have worked with? Well I would have to put Robert Mitchum at the top of that list. I got to do two films with him. One was ‘War and Remembrance’ and the other was ‘One Shoe Makes It Murder’. Others favourites include: Rock Hudson, Alec Baldwin, Dennis Quaid, Faye Dunaway, Goldie Hawn and definitely Shatner. He is such a fun guy to be on set with. I first worked with him back in the eighties on a series called ‘TJ Hooker’ and then a year or so ago we did one of the final episodes of ‘Boston Legal’ together. Stallone was pretty cool too. He was the only guy in all my time in Hollywood that ever gave me the job on the spot. He said, “See you on the set.” I thought that was pretty amazing.
What does a Grainger Hines day usually consist of?
Mmmm… well I am an early riser. Love the mornings. It is quiet. I do a lot of writing and that is my favorite time to do that work. I have been spending a lot of time the past few years writing screenplays or doing re-writes on screenplays. I think about six in the last couple of years. So, a good bit of my day is dedicated to that work. I usually try to catch up with my son, Austin, at some point, either meet him for lunch or just go visit, and if I am lucky, I will have an audition. The other passion in my life are my horses. I am a polo player and I usually go to the barn in the afternoons to spend time with them. I don’t care what is going on in my life – if it is stressful or if I didn’t get a part I wanted… or whatever… a few hours with the horses makes everything all right. I usually leave the barn with my universe in order. I love polo and have been playing for a number of years and hope to do so for many years to come.
What has been the most interesting piece of local/national news you have heard in the last month?
I am a news junkie and when events such as the turmoil in the Middle East unfolded I was glued to the television. From country to country it was like a wave coming over them. Now, it looks like Greece is going to be the next spot. Television brings it to us in real-time. It is amazing to watch history unfold. American politics is starting to gear up for the Election and I fear it is not going to be pretty. I am reading ‘John Adams’ by David McCullough right now and I look at CNN and other news outlets, (I try to avoid Fox News), and I think of the ridiculousness of it all and the focus on the unimportant…for me it is the opportunities missed because of partisan politics. The idea of working together to accomplish something for the greater good is an art long forgotten… that is why I try to remember it by reading books like ‘John Adams’.
What is coming up for you in 2011? I hear you’ve finished two projects – one called ‘Bloodline’ ( I actually interviewed the producer/ casting director Julianne Gabert recently and she mentioned this project to me in passing) and ‘Slightly Single in LA’. What can you tell us about those projects?
Yes, I did ‘Bloodline‘, actually they had a premiere for that film the other week in California. I attended with several of the cast and the movie was quite good and it was a fun event. I don’t think they have distribution yet but I feel confident that it will get a release. ‘Slightly Single in LA’ is a film that was produced by one of my dearest friends, Alejandro Salomon and his company Helios Productions. The film was already completed and this was a little scene that was added. Alejandro called me up and asked if I would play a small part of a cop in the movie. I could not say no and so, I am now in it. I am not sure what the plans are for the film but I believe it is completed. In October of 2011 I will begin, ‘Lincoln’ directed by Steven Spielberg. Daniel Day Lewis is playing Lincoln, Sally Field is playing Mary Todd Lincoln, Tommy Lee Jones is Taddeus Stevens, David Strathairn is William Steward. Also in the film are James Spader, Hal Holbrook and John Hawkes. The film is based on the book, ‘Team of Rivals’, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The screenplay is by Tony Kushner. My character is Gideon Welles who was the Secretary of the Navy in Lincoln’s cabinet.
Thanks for the interview!