Ric Reitz – (Safe Haven – 2013).

I recently got the chance to talk to Ric Reitz about his role in ‘Safe Haven’. Here, Ric talks about how he got involved in the project and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…

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Hey, Ric! Thanks for taking time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Safe Haven’.

My pleasure, Matt. “Hello!” to you and all your readers.

What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?

‘Safe Movie’ is the latest movie adapted from the novels of Nicholas Sparks – (‘The Notebook’, ‘Dear John’, ‘A Walk To Remember’, and many more), which is primarily set along the North Carolina coastline. Katie, an abused young wife, seeks refuge and “safe haven” in the quiet village of Southport after a terrifying encounter in Boston. She attempts to establish a new life, but is slow to open up to the locals and Alex, a handsome widower with two children. Over time, the two slowly let their guards down and begin a romance that could be destroyed by Katie’s dark past. Julianne Hough plays Katie. And, Josh Duhamel plays Alex.

Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…

I play Southport’s Chief of Police, Rhett Mulligan, who is also Alex’s best friend. The character was not in Sparks’ original novel, but was deemed necessary for the film adaptation. Most story protagonists need someone they can open up to and trust, a buddy. And, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to play that role.

How did you get involved in the project in the first place?

I had been working on several other movies and television series in the U.S. in early 2012, but happened to have a break in my summer schedule. That’s when casting directors reached out to my agent. I put together a quick video audition and got a callback to see director Lasse Hallström in person. He directed classics like ‘Chocolat’, ‘The Cider House Rules’, ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’, ‘My Life As A Dog’, ‘Salmon Fishing In The Yemen’, and the list goes on. So, I jumped at the chance to meet him. Luckily enough, he liked my work and cast me.

How would you say the film is different and unique?

Sparks is well-known for his romantic storytelling, but with ‘Safe Haven’ he added elements of a classic thriller. I’m a fan of his body of work and this was such a fresh approach I couldn’t resist.

The film stars Julianne Hough, Irene Ziegler, Jon Kohler, Tim Parati, David Lyons, Josh Duhamel, Giulia Pagano and Juan Piedrahita – with Lasse Hallstrom on-board as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?

The stars couldn’t have been more friendly and generous. Each is a gifted actor in their own right, but it’s always gratifying to learn that they are also good people. I have to say there was a really good vibe on the set, which was a blessing, and the stars kept things lively. The crew, a combination of wonderful craftsman from LA, NYC and North Carolina were also fantastic. Naturally, a director like Lasse Hallström attracts top talent. The team, from the producers to craft service, were absolutely first-rate. I would work anywhere on the planet with any of them in a heartbeat.

I suppose I should relate a story that Josh Duhamel loves to tell. We were shooting dockside for several weeks and many locals would come out to watch, including people who owned every type of watercraft. Unfortunately, some would get too close and appear in the background of our shots, which became frustrating over time. Well, here I am on set with an authentic Chief Of Police wardrobe, complete with gun belt and badge. No one asked, but I jumped up and proceeded to strut to the end of the dock and order everyone away. It worked in an instant. The cast and crew were hysterical, because the voyeurs had no idea that I was just an actor in costume.

Let’s talk about Ric. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?

I’m from New York and grew up in a family of performers, so my love of the arts came early and organically. I first appeared on stage with my father at age 11, but I didn’t get really serious about acting until I reached the university level. After graduating from Bowling Green State University (Ohio), I moved back to New York and worked primarily in musical theater. In fact, it was not until I was 25 that I even tried to act on film or in television. Luckily, I’ve never had to look back, and I’m still here. Knock wood.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?

Get training. I see far too many young people in the industry these days that don’t have the foundation for acting or the chops. Be versatile. Try as many things as possible to stretch your ability and craft. There are no bad experiences. You can learn from everything and everyone. Bad situations simply teach you what not to do, and that can be good. Work, work, work. Career actors are always working at their craft and either taking classes or working with acting coaches to stay sharp. You never know when opportunity will knock, but if you are not ready, the opportunity will pass. By the way, there is never just one opportunity when you work hard and stay focused. Be persistent. The day you stop is the day you are done. Have a positive outlook. That speaks for itself, and people like being around other positive people. And, live an interesting life away from the craft. Life experiences are the gold we mine when we step before a camera or live audience.

You’ve been in a number of different films and TV projects. Which actors or actresses have been your favorites to work with so far and why? Any good stories?

I’m happy to say that over 35 years I have had just a few bad experiences with other actors, and they shall remain nameless. However, I do have many favourites. The list is long in that regard; so let me mention just a few at the top of my list. Burt Lancaster. Yes, I’m that old. I got to work with Burt just before he died and he opened up to me about his legendary career. He had tips and tricks that you can only get from a super star with that kind of film presence. Priceless. Karl Malden. He was in the original Broadway cast of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’  and so many other great plays, TV shows and films. He treated me like a son and we talked every day about acting techniques. I use his advice to this day. James Garner was as affable off-screen as he was on. He’s just a genuine human being. I played him as a younger man during WWII in a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. His first words to me on set were, “Thank God I was a handsome young man”. And we never stopped laughing. Jon Voight. I worked with him in the movie ‘Rosewood’. He loves to rehearse and craft a scene, and we hit it off immediately. He was kind enough to add dialogue for my character and even got director John Singleton to give me more close-ups. Not many stars do that. Finally, Kevin Kline. I just finished working with him on ‘The Last Of Robin Hood’, a biopic about Errol Flynn’s last years. Kevin is an actor’s actor, a gentleman artist who relentlessly researches and works hard to bring his characters uniquely to life. What a pleasure! He treated me as an equal, and we were able to bring his Flynn together with my Melvin Belli in what I hope will be some memorable work.

What’s currently on your iPod right now?

A rather eclectic mix. Bruno Mars. Adele. Fun. Mumford and Sons. The Lumineers. Carrie Underwood. Rascal Flatts. Eric Clapton. A lot of classic rock. Again, I’m that old. And, a lot of symphony music. To me, that’s the most emotional music in the world. I work and prepare for roles with symphonic music. It has a rich soul. Without lyrics, it leaves me free to concentrate and create. I also create original symphonic shows for children, so a lot of my passion is directed to that genre.

If you could have dinner with three guests (living or dead), whom would you choose?

Christ. Da Vinci. And Einstein. Imagine an evening of conversation centered on faith, art and science with them. As a writer, I would love to witness and retell that encounter.

If you could choose a fictional literary character and will it into existence, who would you choose and why?

Atticus Finch from ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. Here’s a guy who stands up for what he believes. His centre is human and timeless. Two of my favourite quotes by the character are: “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience;” and, “Best way to clear the air is to have it all in the open.” Need I say more?

What’s coming up for you in 2013?

I already mentioned ‘The Last Of Robin Hood’, starring Kevin Kline, Susan Sarandon and Dakota Fanning. It’s a really interesting drama. We’ve just wrapped, but I understand that may come out later this year. ‘The Loft’. It’s a remake of a terrific Belgium thriller, starring James Marsden and Karl Urban. That comes out in the fall and the script simply leapt off the page.

And, ‘The Devil’s Rapture’, starring Rufus Sewell and Colm Meaney comes out before Halloween. It’s a very unusual horror film, and I won’t say more. Otherwise, I’m looking for some new screen or stage challenges, and I’m writing two feature films.

Thanks for the interview!

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