Friday, July 25, 2014

Success Story: TALBOT PERRY SIMONS

Talbot Perry Simons was born and raised in the Bronx. He first began to study acting at Orange Coast Jr., College in Costa Mesa, California. Talbot quickly took over the theater department and was the first student in school history to produce and direct a main stage show, which before then was only done by the instructors. In 1975, his final year at college he was cast and played five characters in the play “Lenny” for which he was nominated for, and won the “Irene Ryan Award” for “Best Actor“ and awarded a scholarship. Using his scholarship he went on to study at the Lee Strasberg Institute in Hollywood, Ca. At the “Institute”, he studied with Pat Randall (who was Lee Strasberg’s favorite instructor).Talbot also studied with Vera Vlasova, from the original “Moscow Art Theatre“. Vera was a member of Stanaslavski’s original Prague Touring Group. The first Hollywood play he auditioned for character Pepper White in a revival of the classic Broadway hit “Golden Boy”. After Talbot auditioned the director ran up on the stage, hugged Talbot and gave him the part right on the spot. Since then he’s done over 30 plays and a dozen or so films in which he’s played everything from characters to co-leading roles. Talbot has been a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television Artists since 1975. He has been writing, and directing plays, writing screenplays, performing on stage, TV, and in films for over 30 years, but "Still the Drums" represents the first written work of Talbot's ever produced. "Still the Drums" marks Talbot's writer, producer, and director debut, while simultaneously playing one of the lead roles. Talbot believes that "Still the Drums" has been the hardest undertaking of his life and has given him a whole new respect for all filmmakers. Talbot has also performed stand-up comedy at some major clubs in Hollywood, on the Sunset Strip, like the "Laugh Factory", "Carlos and Charlie's", and the regular MC for Skippy Lowe's "Belly Room" at the world famous "Comedy Store". In 2011 Talbot won his second screenwriting award at the Los Angeles Screenplay Competition for his feature film screenplay "PLANES" (a gangster style Twilight Zone). He hopes to produce "PLANES" in 2014. Talbot is currently seeking Representation.


How long have you been on Actors Access and how has the service helped you?

Talbot: I became a member on Actors Access in 2006 but in 2007 I stopped using the service as an actor and I focused my attention back then on producing a feature film from my screenplay “Still the Drums” (a story about a soldier who is found after being M.I.A. for 39 years.) and I actually used Actors Access to help cast my film. Around the end of 2010 I started using Actors Access to submit for acting parts again. The first SAG feature film I submitted for was “Thursday’s Speaker” (written and directed by Gary Hebert), and I was cast as Hank, a crooked used car lot owner and got to work in 5 scenes with the lead actor Del Zamora. Del was the King of Warlocks on HBO’s “True Blood”. It was a great experience and a lot of fun. It was great to be back acting. This past year 2013 I was cast in two SAG-AFTRA films (both leading roles). The first was “Lou the Champ” written and directed by Jamie Napoli. I was Lou, a retired boxer living in a nursing home and the second film was “Who’s There?” I was Carter, a blind man who kills monsters. It was produced by Seraph Films and directed by Gene Blalock. Gene said they will be doing a feature later this year and that they would definitely cast me again. I just started 2014 with a bang and I was cast as Leon the lead in a USC short “Sharks”, as a homeless pool hustler trying to make a comeback. Personally for me, working without an agent or a manager, Actors Access has pretty much helped to keep me sane by making it possible for me to go out on auditions, get acting work and to feel like a working actor. I do want to say that I also feel it is both a shame and very wrong that dues paying, union actors without representation do not have access to the all of the real roles being cast in the business and I greatly look forward to the day that our union takes down the walls and makes it possible for all union actors to have open access to all parts being cast through Breakdown Services.

How did you get into acting?

Talbot: In September 1970 I left New York with two friends and drove to California. I was living in Laguna Beach (big difference from the Bronx) and was planning on going to college to take advantage of my military educational benefits as a veteran. I served 4 years in the Navy (’65 – ’69). In 1972 I was looking at the classes being offered at Orange Coast Junior College in Costa Mesa, California and I saw a class listing for Beginning Acting and I honestly thought to myself, “You mean I can go to college and take acting and when I graduate, I’ll be an actor? Is that how you do it?” Great! I signed right up. The first day that I had a class we did an improvisation and afterwards the instructor (John Ferzacca) asked me, “How long have you been acting?” When I told him that I had never done it before, he laughed at me as if I was lying and walked away. The second day in school I auditioned for the play “The Connection” by Jack Gelber. I read for the part of Ernie, a junkie who had hocked his horn to buy drugs. Well I am actually a trumpet player and being from the Bronx, I was street wise and I got the part. After that I was hooked for life. In 1975 the school did the play “Lenny” and entered the American College Theater Festival. The play was nominated for best play and I played five characters in the play and I was nominated for best actor and I wound up winning the 1975 Irene Ryan award for Best Actor and I received a scholarship which I used to go the Lee Strasberg Institute in Hollywood.

As an actor, how is working in student films helpful to your career?

Talbot: As an actor I’ve always felt it’s better to be doing than not to be doing. Personally as an actor, with film and TV credits who is not currently being submitted by an agent or manager for work in TV shows or for major films, I find the opportunity to work in student films to be invaluable. For me both auditioning for and also acting in student films has helped to keep my chops up. Other than auditioning for and working in plays it’s a great way of networking and when cast in a role it's a great opportunity to grow and to also publicize that I am working. I highly recommend student films for younger actors who are trying to learn their craft and for actors with no film footage or credits to help build their resume and reel.

What is your audition process?

Talbot: Preparation! I like to prepare. Preparation makes me feel confident. I have studied with some of the best teachers in the world! Lee Strasberg, Pat Randall (Actor’s Studio), Vera Vlasova (Original Moscow Art Theater Prague Touring Group). I have a very strong technique and consider myself to be a method actor, meaning that I have a specific method of approach and exploration that I use to break down every script and character that I play. As an actor prepared, unlike most actors who show up to just read, I go into the audition ready to perform the part. I make sure that I have a clear understanding of the situation presented in the sides and in most cases I have learned the lines. I usually bring personal object to use for the character and maybe some simple props to work with. I like to dress and look like the character and I find that being prepared allows me the freedom to get physical with the character during the audition if I choose to do so and whenever possible. I also love to cold read. I use a fantastic technique for cold reading that I learned when studying with Pat Randall at the Lee Strasberg Institute. Pat was Lee’s favorite teacher at his school. I look at it as an opportunity when a casting director breaks out something else for me to read cold, because they can be very impressed when an actor brings something cold to life.


What has been your favorite experience as an actor?

Talbot: The hits just keep coming! Ha! What I mean is. I’ve had a number of very special and favorite moments as an actor. One was, in 1975, at the award ceremony, for the American College Theater Festival competition for the Irene Ryan Award, held at the Bonaventure Hotel in L.A. I was introduced by Jack Albertson and Ed Asner presented me with the Irene Ryan Award as the Region II winner (for the west coast). Later that year I performed in finals (for the USA), in Eisenhower Theater at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. I performed to a packed house of five thousand people with my mother (God bless her) sitting in the balcony. I did the very funny Christ and Moses scene from “Lenny”. As a kid I was a wild one and I got in trouble a lot and this was the first and only time my mother ever saw me perform as an actor and she was so proud.
A close favorite to that has to be when I won the top five awards at the New York International Film Festival for my feature length movie “Still the Drums”. I spent fourteen years making this film. I did it all including taking out the trash. I wrote the screenplay, created a partnership and raised all of the money. I produced it, cast it with all unknown actors (some from Actors Access), I directed it starred in it and composed and sang the lead song and I edited the film and I am proud to say that “Still the Drums” (available on Amazon) received the awards for best film, best directorial debut, best actor, best screenplay and best song and in 2012, I was recognized by Guinness World Records® as producer, writer, director , actor and composer and the only filmmaker to ever personally receive awards in five different filmmaking categories for one motion picture. The only other person to ever do this was Charlie Chaplin. To top that off, on February 27th, 2012, I had a full page in Hollywood Variety’s “after Oscar issue” announcing my world record. Variety was so impressed with the accomplishment they gave me page 2, upstaging all of the Oscar winners! Now that’s something and also a very favorite experience!

What advice would you give your fellow actors just starting out?

Talbot: Marry someone famous in the business or someone’s son or daughter that’s in the business! Done! Ha! Let’s face it, nepotism is running rampant in our industry, so if you are serious and are going to take your shot for the golden ring, and you have no relatives in the business to open the door for you, then make it your best shot. Be prepared for the opportunity when it arrives by studying your craft. Find a great teacher and become a sponge. You increase your odds by being prepared. Read as many plays as you can and audition for and perform for plays whenever possible. Write a play or a screenplay and do everything you can to develop your craft and talent. A quote that comes to mind for me is, “Hard work creates inspiration.” To be inspired is a wonderful thing. Inspiration can lead you to happiness and success. Break a leg!

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

Why hasn't the mass media or public heard or promoted "Still The Drums"?

Minekers said...

I can't help but wonder why the public has to be denied the pleasure of a great film (based on the awards) just because Talbot doesn't have the finances to compete with the "Big Boys." It seems unfair.

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