Friday, June 10, 2011

SUPER 8 Q&A with Emerson Brooks

We're very excited to have a Q&A with the very talented
EMERSON BROOKS who will be appearing in this weekend's Blockbuster release SUPER 8.                    
Writer/Director: J.J. Abrams
Producer: Steven Spielberg
Casting By: April Webster & Alyssa Weisberg

Despite my ham-fisted questions, Emerson graciously provided incredible insight into how one books a summer blockbuster written and directed J.J. Abrams's and produced by Steven Spielberg. So, I won't waste any more time getting to Emerson.

Breakdown: How did you get into acting?

Emerson: Wow, that’s should be an easy question to answer, but it is not. I guess I didn’t really get into acting…acting got into me. Unlike a lot of my peers, I didn’t grow up knowing that I wanted to do what I do today. As a child, I wanted to be a solider, as pretty much most boys do at that age. After spending some time as an Officer in the U.S Army, I subsequently became an engineer. As an adult, I happened upon the entertainment industry by chance. It was pretty much on a dare, and turned out to be a fortuitous one.

Breakdown: How long have you been acting?

Emerson: Professionally speaking, I have been in Los Angeles for 7 years. I dabbled in local productions for 2 years prior to moving here.

Breakdown: Was there a specific point when you felt you “broke in”?

Emerson: No, not really. Every time I have felt that I have made it through some pretty tough doors successfully, I look forward and realize that there are more doors with different types of locks. I think I may be able to successfully answer that question when I am in my 70’s and have a bit more perspective.

Breakdown: What kinds of training really clicked and helped you hone your craft?

Emerson: The best training I have ever received has been on set. Be it on a USC student film or a $200 Million dollar movie. Being involved in a production, with other actors is always an amazing education.

Breakdown: Looking back to when you started out as an actor, is there anything you would do differently?

Emerson: No.

Breakdown: Most actors experience rejection at some point in their careers. How have you dealt with that aspect of the industry?

Emerson: Most actors experience rejection? Ha! More like, every actor experiences rejection everyday! Ya know, that’s the nature of it. One has to maintain a confidence about what they are doing and not let it get them down too often. It’s impossible to not let it get to you sometimes, but that’s ok, too. I don’t want to be a machine. There are a lot of ways to look at it. I see rejection as 2-fold; one, just having the opportunity to be rejected means that someone was considering giving you a shot! If that’s the case, you’re probably doing better than most. Two, a “no” is an opportunity to reflect. “Did I bring my best me today? Was I prepared? Was I present? Was I centered?” If one can answer yes to all these questions, then they can be thankful for the opportunity and move on. If not, you better believe that someone else out there who wants that same job was, and you need to do whatever it is takes get yourself in gear and raise your game.

Breakdown: As you’ve progressed as an actor, what you have you learned about the Industry that you wish you’d know when first starting out?

Emerson: I wish I knew that if I just waited 4 more years to move to Los Angeles, there would be this wonderful gadget called an iPhone with GPS, Google Maps, etc. I had a thing called a Thomas Guide. It was like the phonebook of navigation; too many pages, too small print, and the ability to take massive physical punishment. Aside from that, it’s a process, and you can learn and incorporate what works for you. It seems like every actor in town “knows” and is always eager to tell you how to book the job, or get an agent, or whatever. I recommend creating your own process through critical thinking, logical analysis and effective execution.

Breakdown: How did your role in SUPER 8 come about? Did you audition or was it an offer? How did the process go for you?

Emerson: Hmmm, I think it was a little bit of both. I auditioned for a role that was ultimately written out soon after the read. Casting and production liked my performance and subsequently offered me another, similar role, which I accepted…of course.

Breakdown: I see you’ve worked with JJ Abrams in the past. Did that factor in booking SUPER 8?

Emerson: I don’t think working with Mr. Abrams in the past played too much of a role. It was the intersection of three things. A hard working agent, a hard working manager, and a fantastic casting director I had booked with before. I’m merely a pawn in the process. If not for them, people would be saying “Venti, please” to me instead of “Action!”

Breakdown: How important do you feel relationships are in the industry?

Emerson: Tremendously. This business is all about taking chances, at every level; from the student film to the studio executive. Generally, people like to mitigate their risk by working with people that they know and have proven reliable. If you’re not reliable and professional, people are afraid of that. Every time I step into a casting office, on a set, a make-up room, etc., I keep in mind that I am not just representing myself, but the people who got me there as well. Everyone from your representation to the casting office, to the production member that hired you. If you’re unprofessional, it reflects on them. I do everything possible to avoid that.

Breakdown: With SUPER 8 releasing this week, what’s going through your mind? Are you nervous? Excited? What’s going through my mind?

Emerson: Well, I saw the movie last week at a private screening and can tell you it’s awesome! Mr. Abrams and Mr. Spielberg did a fantastic job, as always. But I am currently working full-time on All My Children so my mind is filled with some very different types of emotions and lines, none of which have anything to do with Super 8 at the moment. Honestly, as long as my Mom likes the movie, I’m cool.

Breakdown: Has booking a summer blockbuster like SUPER 8 helped your career? Are you seeing more offers/opportunities? Emerson: Absolutely! I don’t think you’d be interviewing me right now if my HD-CAM short I filmed in my living room was coming out on the same weekend. As I said before, people want to work with people that make them feel confident the job will get done. When a production like Super 8 hires you, it gives confidence to future employers. I have been lucky with the big films. They are such an awesome experience to be a part of. Breakdown: You’ve got a lot of set experience working with talented filmmakers and actors; have you ever found yourself a little star struck? If so, how did you overcome it and perform? Emerson: Ya know, not really. I feel as if I belong here, belong in the picture. No matter if I am across from the average day player to Steve Buscemi, Christian Bale, or Nicolas Cage. I am respectful not deferential, but I always keep in mind that I have earned my right to be here same as they have, so that makes us co-workers, teammates who are both trying to bring our best to the project. I then become a sponge and absorb as much knowledge from them as possible! Breakdown: Do you have any general advice for actors who are just starting out? Emerson: Sure. Always think critically about the choices you are making. Be pragmatic. Balance your artistic mind with a business perspective. If you get the opportunity to do something cool, don’t believe your own hype. Always take advice from other actors , like myself, judiciously. There is no rule book. What works for one, won’t always necessarily work for others. Try to find representation that really believes in you. It makes all the difference. Wake up everyday committed to doing something, even if it’s only one small thing for your career and craft. Make that process a habit, your mantra. Remember that thousands of people want it as bad as you, so that night before the audition when you are tired and say to yourself “oh, I’ll look at the sides before I go in tomorrow, I have done this before”, someone else out there has made it the most important thing in their life, and will walk in more prepared, more professional, and ultimately more deserving of the opportunity. Always take responsibility for you actions and performance. The most tired lines to me are “oh, I wasn’t the right look” or “it’s not me, it’s them.” Be honest with yourself, be your worst (thereby your best) critic. And always remember, you belong here as much as anyone else, and it’s your job to prove it. Oh, and don’t be cynical about your journey, nobody wants to hear it. This is a beautiful thing we do when we get the opportunity to do it. Be proud you’re a part of it, no matter what stage you are at. I wake up every morning and say “F*** yeah, bring it”. SUPER 8 is in theaters TODAY. Get out there and watch Emerson!     Fandango - We've Got Your Movie Tickets! Visit Emerson's website at

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Ken Barnett
Booked: In Plain Sight Episode #413, "Something Borrowed, Something Blew Up" (USA Network)
Role: Carson Cistulli
Represented By: Tanya Kleckner
Casting Director: Ulrich/Dawson/Kritzer

See Ken in "Entourage" Episode "Snow Job"

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David Thomas Jenkins
Booked: Bulletproof Bride (Hallmark Movie)
Role: Robby
Represented By: Tanya Kleckner
Casting Director: Perry/Reece Casting