I recently got the chance to talk to Leslie Hippensteel about her role in ‘Broken City’, Here, Leslie talks about how she got involved in the project and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
Billy Taggart, (Mark Wahlberg), was a cop, who was forced to leave the force because of a police-involved shooting. Now he’s a private investigator who was recently hired by the Mayor Hostetler, (Russell Crowe), to investigate his wife, (Catherine Zeta-Jones), because he thinks she’s having an affair. But as Taggart continues to investigate, he discovers that this runs much deeper and more convoluted than mere spousal infidelity. Politics, secrecy, money, deceit, selfishness and murder all weave together to punish some and save others in the end.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play a server at a hotel for very formal events, which in this case is Mayor Hostetler’s campaign fundraiser. During the delivery of food and drinks amongst the regular patrons, “someone” gives me a hotel key to give to Billy Taggart and relay that the desired meeting is urgent.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
My wonderful agency in Louisiana, Trinity Talent, got me an audition. I was working on an indie film in Oklahoma at the time, so I had to do a video audition. I got the director of the film to do my video audition right before filming and I sent it in and like, two months later, my agent told me I got the part. It was kinda weird. Normally, you have to do live auditions and/or callbacks to get parts, so this one was a real surprise.
The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Alona Tal, Natalie Martinez and Michael Beach – with Allen Hughes onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
It was great! It’s always good to be on a super-professional set because you can learn a lot! Allen was really nice, told me I did a great job, which is awesome, because in small parts like that, if anyone is like me, they’re kind of freakin’ out LOL! Watching Mark and Russell work was great too – seeing them bring the words on the page to life, the things they add, the characters they created…all very different from what I imagined in my head. And as on any movie set, everyone was hard-working…and tired. My part was only a couple of lines so for most of my shoot day I was just “hurrying up and waiting” in a different room than where they were filming. One of the producers was there, a couple of the actors, and a couple of girls (now my friends) were on set because they won a contest to be on set with Mark Wahlberg. Talking with all them was really nice, hearing their experiences. And at some point, a birthday/astrology book made it into our area, telling us all our strengths, weaknesses, love desires, futures and blah blah…and that was pretty fun. We had a good time hearing all about ourselves and each other from a book! Me and the producer guy were a little invested though! LOL!
Let’s talk a bit about you Leslie. What made you want to get into the acting industry in the first place?
Well I’ve always loved performing, and I started out in musical theatre. I went to undergraduate and graduate school for music, but unfortunately graduate school was a pretty bad experience for me, so I wanted nothing to do with singing when I got out. Well, I was graduated though, and still needed to work, and I didn’t really feel I had any other skills than performing.
So, take away the music, and you still got acting! So I stumbled upon some film opportunities in Oklahoma (where I went to grad school and where I was living at the time) and just charged into them! Film acting is different from stage acting, but it was still very fun, the people are awesome, and it pays a WHOLE lot better. But yes, I’ve just always loved performing.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
Oh geesh! That’s a loaded question. And I could say a million things, but at this point in my life, right now, today, I’d say to really know what you want. It is perfectly okay to want to be on a 10-year TV series, it is also perfectly okay to work as “that guy” on multiple different projects and it is perfectly okay to work in low-budget and indie projects in your geographical area. This is a hard business. The rejection, the lack of opportunities, or the “slumps” you feel you get in, are hard to take. And as much as we try not to, you do measure yourself on not only how you did in your auditions and callbacks but also if you book the gig or not. Getting to high levels is difficult for most people. And if you’re lucky enough to get there, there will be challenges at that level as well.
I guess just, you really need to know what you want for your career AND for your person. Are they equal? Is one way more important than the other? WHY do you want that for either? Does one help the other or hurt the other? Do your plans for your career line up with your plans on who you want to be as a person and vice versa? You have to just really sit down and think and decide on what is meaningful to you and how hard and long you’re willing to work, because it will determine your life, your career and WHO YOU ARE! And just know, that there is nothing wrong with not being famous. As long as you are working, you are successful. OK, I think I’m just rambling now but a few last tidbits I live by: don’t let people cheat you, trust your instincts, and remember, you are a person before you are an actor.
You’ve been in a number of different film and TV projects – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with so far and why? Any good stories?
Hmm, I’ll just keep it to one ‘cause that’s what popping out to me now. I worked on the movie ‘Just Crazy Enough’, starring Chris Kattan, directed by Lance McDaniel, as the Principal’s Assistant. Now, my part was cut from the movie, but not because it was terrible or anything (thank god!), it just didn’t fit for functional purposes. But working with Chris was really enlightening. I’m not sure I can even explain it, but, well first of all, he was super nice, but we had one scene together and we ran lines a few times before and then filmed it a few times on set. And I guess it’s because he’s so experienced, but working with him, I felt the perfect balance of being prepared and in the moment. And for me, that’s a really hard balance to strike sometimes. But it’s exactly what you need in acting! It was wonderful and it happened every time we ran our scene, it was satisfying and freeing to feel that, just being…just existing, and allowing whatever wants to come out, to come out. It was different every time, yet consistent at the same time. We connected well and he was very encouraging, and I think that makes a big difference when you’re performing as well. Acting is extremely vulnerable, so when you have an acting partner (and director) whom you feel you can trust and who trusts you – it brings a whole new level of possibilities.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
I don’t have an I-Pod, I’m kind of old. My husband did make me get an I-Phone a few months back and my niece put Pandora on it. See, everyone’s gotta get me up to date. But right now, I think I have Bruno Mars, Adele, Jack Johnson, Christian Aguilera, Maroon 5, Blake Shelton type stuff?
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
Hmph! Well, the first guest would be my husband, because I love him, AND I could give him the coolest gift ever of having President John F. Kennedy to dinner. He’s obsessed with him, and if I could give him to John (my husband) for an hour, not only would that make him happy, but also…I could do no wrong for the rest of my life! I would win in the marriage, every time no matter what! And then I guess I would have my choice, and hmm…I am thinking about this way too hard.
I’m terrible about making decisions. Let’s see, Meryl Streep, Marilyn Monroe, Jesus, Barbara Streisand….Ah, hmm, it’s between Jesus and Barbara. Probably Jesus, ‘cause I’m going to assume that if he comes to my house for dinner, he’s gonna give me some answers! What’s the meaning to life, what’s MY purpose, is there anything I need to get started on to solidify this salvation thing, oh, and of course, did Oswald really do it? Wouldn’t it be great to find out the answer to everything you’ve ever wanted to know?!
If you could choose a literary character to will into existence, who would you choose and why?
Oh man, I don’t read much…like at all. Can I just will Ryan Gosling from ‘The Notebook’ into my existence? And into my life? And Channing Tatum from ‘Magic Mike’? That would be good. And I’d will them here for nothing more than their intellect and sensitivity….duh.
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
Well 2012 was a big year for me in my personal life (moved states, my hubby and I both got new music jobs, we got engaged and got married, bought a house) so I’m just looking to continue enjoying and furthering those elements. All I have scheduled for now is an indie comedic TV series for the latter part of the summer and my couple of ongoing spokesperson gigs. And just like every other actor, I plan to audition, audition, audition!
Thanks for the interview!