I recently got the chance to talk to Michael McKiddy about his role in ‘Dead Man Down’. Here, Michael talks about how he got involved in the project in the first place and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…
No problemo! Thanks for having me.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
First off, I get annoyed when actors who are barely in movies talk about movies as though they’re an integral part of it (laughs), so I want to start out by saying that I’m only in about a little over a minute of this movie tops. I really enjoyed the film though and am beyond happy and proud to be able to say I’m in it. It’s a tricky one to sum up though; it basically centers around Noomi Repace and Colin Farrell trying to get revenge against some bad people who have wronged them.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play a FedEx employee who delivers some very important packages from Colin and Noomi to the villains of the film. I’m in two scenes – and if you blink you’ll miss me in the first one I’m in (laughter), but in the second scene I’m featured a little more and was super shocked my scene didn’t get cut out of the movie since it’s a little more comedic.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
Long story, but I had auditioned in Philly previously and a casting director there became a good friend of mine and brought me in for it. Niels – (Arden Oplev – the director) watched me in a film I played the lead in called ‘DeadHeads’ and cast me once he realized I was the same guy who auditioned for ‘Dead Man Down’.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
Niels is a true professional and brings a unique and compelling vision to everything he does, so even though there have been hundreds of thrillers about revenge before, this film has a voice and a style only Niels can deliver. Cliché answer, but true.
The film stars Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, Dominic Cooper, and Isabelle Huppert – with Niels Arden Oplev onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
Unfortunately I was only on set for a day, I was leaving as Colin was arriving so I just missed meeting him which is unfortunate because I’m a big fan of his and really enjoy his work – (especially in the film ‘In Bruges’); most of my interaction was done with James Biberi – (he plays Ilir in the film) and with Niels, who is seriously the nicest guy ever. The shoot was really professional and everyone was awesome to work with. You can never get used to how incredible it feels to be on a big budget movie set. It’s exciting and scary and so many things at once, but ultimately amazing.
Let’s talk a bit about you Michael. What made you want to get into the acting industry in the first place?
Starting at around 4 or 5 years old my parents would take me to whatever the latest movie showing was almost every night. No joke, I watched every single eighties movie ever released from 1984 to 1989 in the theatre upon its release. That changed my life; I literally grew up in a movie theatre and there just wasn’t any other option for me except to be a part of making movies as I grew up. I’d film with friends and write scripts starting at around age 7 and I just always knew it was what I’d always do in my life.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
Oh boy, no clue where to even start there…I’m still learning myself how to answer that question and I’ve been at it for about 15 years (laughs). It’s a brutal business, there’s a reason everyone says that who’s truly experienced it. I’d say pursue it if you’re pursuing it because you love it deep down in your soul, not because you “want to become famous”. And only pursue it if you have an intense amount of patience, because nothing comes easy in Hollywood, you absolutely have to pay your dues – (I crack up when people move to L.A. after a few years and get mad or frustrated that they haven’t “made it yet”). And even when you reach a point where you’re booking TV roles and acting in features that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be working in a year – or even a month – from then; it’s a constant battle even once you’ve “made it,” so you have to reach a point where the rejection doesn’t faze you and you can continue to have fun doing what you love, in whatever capacity that may be, even if you’re at a point where you’re struggling to find work. It’s a town that’s entirely about who you know, every single project I’ve ever booked out here has been because someone on the project had seen me in something before and brought me in for it, so I can’t stress enough how important it is to just plan on being at it for a while just to meet people, prove yourself, and make those connections.
The best thing you can do is create your own opportunities though. If you’re sitting around waiting on the phone to ring then you’re wasting your time. No one is ever going to call you unless you give them a reason to call you. But if you truly love the film business then you have to give it a shot, my good experiences in Hollywood far outweigh the bad; I’ve seriously gotten to live my dream and have stories from this town that no one would ever believe if I told them.
You’ve been in a number of different films and TV projects – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with so far and why? Any good stories?
I’ve actually had the privilege of working with some incredible and experienced actors that I really admire (on stage too), many who have been in some of my favourite movies and TV shows of all time and who I consider friends now, which is freaking weird (laughs). I recently had a meaty scene with Milo Ventimiglia in the new Sony series ‘Chosen’ and he was incredible, nicest guy ever and a true pro, we really clicked and I look forward to working with him again later this year. I also worked with Michael Rooker a few years ago and he was just a cool cool dude, had a lot of laughs with that guy and really respect him. I’ll never forget when he sat me down and was like “hey man, check out this new show I’m gonna be on, think it’s gonna be good”, and it was a trailer for ‘The Walking Dead’.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
I’ve always been obsessed with music since I was a kid – (my mom used to sit next to a speaker and play Barbra Streisand songs to me before I was even born), I even write music, sing, and have been playing guitar for 20 years (you can check my music out under Right On Wagner on iTunes), so my I-Pod is jam packed full of all different kinds of music from classical to rap to rock to country to jazz to reggae to electronic. I love it all. My favourite bands and musicians though are Wilco, The Smashing Pumpkins, Pete Yorn, Sufjan Stevens, Guided By Voices, and of course, The Beatles (among a million others). Currently listening to The Nationals new album “Trouble Will Find Me,” which I’m digging; as well as the new Camera Obscura album “Desire Lines”.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
Oh wow, that’s so tough to pick three. Paul Newman would definitely be my first, mainly because he’s my favourite actor of all time and he seemed like the coolest guy ever to hang out with. He was so down-to-earth and I’ve heard so many stories of how incredibly kind he was. Second I’d have to go with Jesus Christ, I’m spiritual but not religious at all but it’d be pretty incredible to actually sit down with the guy and hear his side of things (laughs). Third I’d either say Lucille Ball or Stephen King, both of them have been such a big part of my life – (I’ve been a huge ‘I Love Lucy’ fan since I was a kid – Ball was a comedic god and a huge inspiration of mine– and King created worlds that I feel like I’m a part of, that dude’s brain just makes me happy and I’d love to sit down with him and shoot the shit). Next week though I’d probably throw Albert Einstein into that mix…and John Lennon…and Natalie Wood…
Which film was your favourite of 2012 and why?
Based on what I watched last year (there’s a lot of films I still have to check out, especially ‘The Master’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty’). I’d have to say ‘Skyfall’, just because I’m a huge James Bond fan and I really loved what Sam Mendes and that whole team did with it. The movie was packaged so perfectly and was just a ton of fun.
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
I’ve been fortunate to be able to stay busy in this crazy town; I can be seen as a character named James ‘Cable’ in the upcoming AMC show ‘Low Winter Sun’ – (premieres August 11th after ‘Breaking Bad’) opposite Mark Strong – (another amazing actor to work with) and then I’m also gearing up to play the lead in a comedic feature that I wrote called ‘Maybe Someday’. Really excited about it, we’re close to getting some really great actors on board (Alley Mills from ‘The Wonder Years’ is attached to play my mom in the film and I couldn’t be more excited to work with her, that’s without question my favourite show of all time). I’m looking forward to hopefully directing more stuff in the future too.
Also have my movie ‘DeadHeads’ which I played the lead in currently available on Netflix instant streaming and also airing on Showtime sporadically throughout the year. Also a series regular in a new series coming out later this year opposite Jane Lynch and being produced by Lisa Kudrow called ‘Dropping the Soap’. And then a second season was just announced for the Sony series I’m in starring Milo Ventimiglia called ‘Chosen’, that shoots around September and my character from the first season is rumoured to be coming back for more craziness. And then there’s more exciting things I don’t want to mention in case they don’t happen (laughs), but I’m staying busy and not sleeping much, so I’m happy.
Thanks for the interview!