I recently got the chance to talk to Billy Slaughter about his role in ‘Colombiana’. Here, Billy talks about what it was like working with Michael Vartan and how he got into acting in the first place….
Hey Billy. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘Colombiana’ is currently in cinemas right now…
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
‘Colombiana’ is a classic action-revenge drama. After Zoe’s character witnesses her parents’ murder, she devotes her life to assassinating those responsible.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play Ryan – the best friend of Danny (Michael Vartan). Ryan’s one of the few quirky characters in the film. Like the gravediggers in ‘Hamlet’, I’m there to lighten the mood just before the shit hits the fan.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I auditioned with the New Orleans casting director, Meagan Lewis, and was actually booked off the tape. Since physically I’m about the furthest thing from an action hero, I never expect to get roles in action films; but when I saw that I was reading for the comedic relief, I knew I had a good shot.
How would you say this film is different from other action films?
Style. A lot of action films want to be as gritty and macabre as possible. This film is beautiful – in everything from the settings and action sequences, to how Olivier shot the film, and certainly our heroine. And it’s refreshing to have a female action hero – I think it brings a lot more depth to the film in terms of emotions, relationships, etc. This movie is far from action fluff.
The film stars Zoe Saldana, Jordi Molla, Lennie James, Amandla Stenberg and Michael Vartan – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
It was just me and Michael on the day, and since we were playing best friends who go way back, we basically spent all day in the trailer together, so we could establish a genuine comfort and rapport and make it feel real. We knew a lot of the scene would depend on our relationship. The one downside to my experience was not getting to work with the rest of this great cast. They really put together a fantastic ensemble, down to even the bit parts. I’m still waiting to meet Zoe, so I can at least apologize for what I did to her in the film (call me, Zoe).
Let’s talk a bit about you Billy. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
I was looking for something to get involved with in high school, did my first play in my Freshman year, and I was hooked. I went to college, then got a nice break when I was given the opportunity to stand-in for Dustin Hoffman. He invited me out to L.A., where I was his personal stand-in for a few years. Working with Dustin put my own acting career on hold, but I knew it would pay off in the long run. I’ve always tried to make long-term career decisions and having the chance to be on-set with and learn directly from some of the best: Hoffman, DeNiro, Hackman – shame on me if I didn’t soak up every minute.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Be specific with your goals – make sure you know what you want and be realistic with your expectations and motivations. Set weekly and monthly goals that you can attain. Literally do something to further your career every day. The minute you slack, there are a hundred people itching to take your place. And remember the model of “Show Business”. There are two parts: the craft/performance side and the business side. If you’re only focusing on one, you’re holding yourself back.
What is currently on your I-Pod right now?
The new Chilli Peppers album. They’re one of a few groups I grew up with that are still going strong – I really respect longevity in the entertainment world.
If you could have a dinner with three historical guests, living or dead – who would they be and why?
Let’s go with Jesus, Aristotle, and Stephen Hawking. You’d get some pretty stimulating conversation. We could start with the basics, like the meaning of existence. Then after a few drinks, move on to some guy talk – sports, movies. At the end of dinner, Jesus would finally give Steve the Theory of Everything, then heal him. This would put everyone in a good mood, so we’d do another round of drinks, which we wouldn’t even have to pay for, because Jesus would just multiply the wine…good times.
What has been the most interesting piece of local / national news you’ve heard in the last month or so?
Was paying a lot of attention to the 10th anniversary of 9-11. Wasn’t optimistic about something going down. My hat off to those who have worked for the past decade to make sure nothing has.
What’s coming up for you in 2012? I hear you’re in the new ‘Battleship’ film!
Yes, that’s true! The big ones are: ‘Battleship’, ‘Parker’ and ‘Robosapien’. Also due out are ‘Snatched’, ‘The Philly Kid’, and ‘The Shadow People’. You’ll be seeing a lot more of me next year (call me, Scorcese).
Thanks for the interview!