I recently got the chance to talk to Bill Stinchcomb about his role in Gerard Butler’s new film, ‘Olympus Has Fallen’. Here, Bill talks about how he got involved in the project and gives an interesting Morgan Freeman anecdote…
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
Hey, no problem. I don’t know if I’d call it “my” movie. My family calls it that but technically it’s Antoine Fuqua’s, Gerard Butler’s and all the other movie stars’ movie. I’m basically hamburger helper but it’s my goal one day to be hamburger. The movie is terrorists attacking the White House. It’s bad guys, bullets and Butler. I think I have to say “Gerard Butler” though because legally his name is to be spoken as one word. It’s a shoot ‘em up.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
My dude is the Watch Officer in the Pentagon Crisis Room. He and his team basically run that room when something bad happens and coordinate with the other outside agencies to provide info to the decision makers at the big table so they can make…decisions. We were the dudes in the glass booth at the back of the room. It was myself, Hunter Burke, Ken Bradley and Robert the extra.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I originally auditioned with Glorioso Casting for the fighter pilot and a Secret Service role. Then I was booked for a sniper role but I had a conflict so I couldn’t do it. I was bummed because I really wanted to be in this movie, especially with it being shot in Shreveport. A couple of weeks later I got a call from my agent that I booked as Watch Officer. I really have to thank those who believed in me.
The film stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Finley Jacobsen, Dylan McDermott, Rick Yune, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser and Phil Austin – with Antoine Fuqua onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
I really only had contact with the actors in the Pentagon scenes. Antoine is a great guy to work for, straight forward and super cool. I got to watch the work of the great Morgan Freeman – (also to be said as one word), Angela Bassett is a genuinely nice person. Veteran actor Robert Forster was really engaging, he told us some great acting stories from back “in the day”. Sean O’Brien was awesome, he was just fun to be around. The guys with me in the booth were really great, we had a lot of fun.
Anecdotes? There was this line, my first one in the movie. Not that I had that many. Well, I didn’t know how to pronounce one of the words in that line. I mean, I had done my research, I knew exactly what it meant and how it applied to the plot and everything. I just didn’t know how to pronounce it. So we’re blocking out the scene. Morgan Freeman is sitting down at the head of the table, Antoine is standing beside him with the script and I am standing beside Antoine. I’m to come down from the booth and deliver the line to Mr. Freeman. After it’s all figured out, Antoine asks, “Any questions?”. I point to the line in the script he’s holding and ask, “Could you just tell me how to pronounce this word”. In unison, every actor at the table says, “Cerberus”. Morgan Freeman looks up at me with this disdainful gaze, like I’m some idiot and says, in his Morgan Freeman voice, “Greek Mythology” and turns away shaking his head. I wanted to say, “I knew that!”. I wanted to say, “I looked it up, I know what it means!” but what I said was, “Thank you”. And I went back to my booth. Humility, everyone should have some.
Let’s talk a bit about you Bill. What made you want to get into the acting industry in the first place?
I got involved in films by a fluke. I was shopping with my kids in Target, my oldest was with me and her sisters were somewhere else in the store. This guy approaches me and asks if he could speak to me. He had a couple of ID tags hanging around his neck. I thought he was store security and they had knocked over a TV or something. His name was Gavin, he was casting Kevin Costner’s movie, ‘The Guardian’ and was looking for military types to work as extras. So I said sure. That’s how it got started. About ten movies later I was working as an extra on ‘Private Valentine’. Thanks to Sherri O’Terri picking me out of a crowd and director Steve Miner taking a chance on me I was bumped into my first speaking role. The acting was good for me. Being a pilot and in the military I was expected to act the way everyone wanted me to. I was a tiger in a cage. I was always the one who wouldn’t behave. For me the whole thing is the creative outlet I need.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
I don’t really feel I’m in the position to be handing out advice. I’ve got a lot to learn myself. I would just say if you want to be an actor, take acting classes. Take…acting…classes! I don’t know how many people I’ve met who seem to think they’re naturals and no one can teach them anything. There may be some out there but I’m not one of them. Except for being a smartass, I’ve never been a natural at anything, I’ve had to work hard for the things I have. I think I will take acting classes forever. And, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
You’ve been in a number of different films and TV projects – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with and why? Any good stories?
I really haven’t been in lot, I’m just getting started. I don’t usually get to know anyone as a day player, I come in, do my job and leave. I don’t get to hang out with the stars. I did sit in the waiting area with Patrick Duffy on ‘Dallas’. He was beyond nice. And recently on my one day on ‘2 Guns’, I met Robert Burke. We had a great talk, he’s a fellow surfer and talked to me like I was human, which I appreciated. And sometimes they just put me in my trailer and lock the door from the outside.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
My iPod? The Pogues, Jimmy Buffett, Nine Inch Nails, Michael Franti, Limp Bizkit, Bright Eyes, Chili Peppers, Toby Keith, The Wallflowers, Bare Naked Ladies, Rammstein, Kid Rock…geez! I think my iPod may be bipolar!
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
First of all, I don’t know why anyone would have dinner with three dead guests. And I could have three really cool sounding picks but they could all turn out to be jerks and we’d end up fighting about how to split up the check. I know it’s not what you want to hear but I’d have dinner with my family. I’ve missed a lot of time with them chasing my career(s). I don’t think having an extra dinner together would be a wasted wish.
Which film was your favourite of 2012 and why?
My favourite of 2012, that’s a tough one. I see a lot of movies. I like to watch movies that are different in some way, away from the norm. Movies like ‘The Green Mile’, ‘Forrest Gump’, ‘Home Fries’, ‘Drive’, that kind of different. I voted for ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ in 2012. ‘Talladega Nights’ is still the best movie ever made so my bar is set high.
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
As for 2013 I’m going to keep going to class, keep auditioning and hope for the best! And learn French.
Thanks for the interview!