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Touched By Twilight’s Interview with Michael Welch!

March 31, 2009

source: Touched By Twilight

Touched By Twilight Interview

Touched By Twilight Interview

You’ve been in a lot of films and television shows. Which ones
were the best experiences with regards to your career and which ones
were just fun to shoot?

It’s a tough question to answer because having fun is a necessary
part of my work. It’s a strange concept but it’s true. If I’m not
experiencing joy on SOME level, my work falls totally flat. That said,
when things fall into place on a production in terms of personal
relationships and creative fulfillment, or a project comes along that
puts my career in a new and better place, it’s a remarkable experience,
and certain projects stand out.

“Twilight” is a rare example of ALL those things. I had creative
freedom, developed great friendships, and it’s been monumental for my
career. “Lost Dream” was probably the most challenging and rewarding
thing I’ve ever done (at least up to this point). If you’re talking
about fun in a traditional sense (dance parties, summer camp, and
roller coasters), “The Beautiful Ordinary” (aka “Remember the Daze”)
and “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” were the most fun experiences I’ve
ever had in making movies. “Joan of Arcadia” will always be special to
me on many different levels. “Stargate” was fun AND career boosting.
And the last play I did, “Speech and Debate,” was quite possibly the
most fun I’ve ever had.

What do you feel has been the most challenging role for you and how did you prepare for it?

Like I said in the first answer, I think “Lost Dream” was the most
challenging movie to make because it was my first lead role, and I had
to live in a pretty dark place for a while.

My character, “Perry,” comes from great wealth and privilege but
feels and sees nothing but emptiness and hypocrisy in the world, his
family, and himself. His idealistic, intellectual young mind, along
with his moral compass cause him to become completely depressed in the
face of the corruption, greed, dishonesty, and unhappiness he sees in
the world. He finds another lost soul, “Giovanni,” whom he appears to
have nothing in common with, and they take a journey together to find
answers, hope, and redemption.

How I prepared for that was to create Perry’s life, understand it,
and then live in it. I’ve been as full of doubt and hopelessness as
Perry at certain points in my life. It was just a matter of tapping
into that feeling and going on Perry’s journey.

As an actor, it’s fun for me to go on that journey (as long as I
come out of it, which I always do). The challenging part is that movies
aren’t shot in relation to the chronology of the story. So I have to be
very clear in my mind where the character is, mentally, spiritually,
and emotionally in every scene, in relation to that character’s
personal journey in the context of the story. This is the big challenge
in ANY lead role for film or television. And it requires total mental
clarity and focus, and a controlled vulnerability.

The scene in the diner, with Mike dancing outside the
window… improv or scripted? Were you encouraged to improve or did you
have to stick straight to the script?

There was a lot of improve in this film for the humans (Eric, Tyler,
Angela, Jessica, and Me). Catherine didn’t really care whether dialogue
or actions were improvised or scripted, or whether ideas came from her
or the cast. Her priority was to create something real, empathetic, and
entertaining for the audience. She always had respect for OUR role in
the overall story, and our purpose in Bella’s life. And having made
several movies on the subject, Catherine has a lot of experience in
trying to capture the essence of teenagers.

In the case of the diner, the process went like this… The script
said something like, “Mike waves and calls out, trying to get Bella’s
attention.” Catherine showed me where this will take place, suggested a
couple of ideas, and ultimately left it up to me to come up with
something that works. I thought of that dance (for whatever reason),
showed her, and she approved. Later in post-production, she had me come
into a sound studio to record some various, “Bow chicka WOW wow. WOO
WOOO!” whacky noises. She picks one of three choices, and there you
have it. Mike Newton in all his goofy glory, dancing for the affections
of Bella.

We’ve heard that you’d love to do more stage work, is there any particular play that you’d be interested in being a part of?

Ideally, I would love to do a play every year, or at least every two
years. At some point, I see myself spending five years or more in
London, New York, or Chicago doing nothing BUT plays. When I worked on
“Star Trek: Insurrection,” all of those actors told me that they DO
movies so that they have the opportunity to do plays. Movies were their
bread and butter, but their real love was with the stage. Actors love
theater because it’s raw. It removes all filters, and allows us to
communicate directly with an audience.

I have to play some Shakespearean characters before I die. Hamlet,
Puck, doesn’t matter to me. All Shakespeare is fantastic. I’d love to
work with David Mamet. His movies always feel like plays anyway. Neil
LaBute is always good. Anything from Tom Stoppard. My friend and I
really want to put on a production of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are
Dead.” Something from ancient Greece might be kinda fun like Aeschylus’
“Prometheus Bound.” You can never go wrong with guys like O’Neill,
Becket, Williams, Miller, Kushner, etc. The Irish have been coming out
with some killer stuff in modern years like “Doubt” and “The
Pillowman.” I’d work with either of those authors in a heartbeat. “Does
a Tiger Wear a Necktie?” is a brilliant play. And of course, if Stephen
Karam (“Speech and Debate”) ever wants to write a part for me, I’m here
and waiting, buddy-boy. I’m open to anything really, as long as it’s
well written. There’s not much worse than poorly written theater.

When Stephenie visited the set, she blogged back to her fans
that you can really dance. So does that mean you’re going to audition
for the next big dance movie?

I do like to dance. But I doubt that anyone will be hiring me to do
it professionally in the near future. Stephanie’s assessment of my prom
boogy stylings was very kind. But the truth is, anyone can dance. The
big secret is to just hit the beat. You can do whatever you want in
between beats, doesn’t matter. Just make sure you’re on top of the 2-4,
or in the case of salsa, the 1-2-3, and you’ll be just fine.

Have you ever imagined that one character would give you so
much exposure and gather you so many fans of all ages? How does that
make you feel?

Like a southern bell with a fancy new hat! No, it makes me feel very
humbled and appreciative that people would respond to me in a positive
way. Although, the higher up the pole you climb, the more everyone can
see your bum… Did I imagine this for myself? Not really. I always saw
my career going the way of someone like Ed Harris (in a good case
scenario). Great actor, well respected, works all the time, but
nobody’s screaming for Ed Harris. To experience thousands of people
screaming at you is totally indescribable. I never could have asked for
this but now that it’s here, it feels very nice and I thank you for
your intense and warm support. Not many people get to experience what
I’m going through.

What career would you be pursuing if you were not an actor? Or have you ever imagined yourself in any other field?

The only other field I can seriously imagine myself in at this point
is music. I’m a drummer. My hands aren’t really big enough for most
other instruments. I have the hands of an eight-year old girl… Who
knows, in another reality I could have been a teacher, a politician, or
possibly an anarchist. But acting fits all the requirements of a good
career choice for me. It’s what I love to do. I have natural instincts
and abilities that make me uniquely qualified for it. It’s what I’m
willing to work hard for, and I can make enough money to live off of
it. Check and mate, acting takes the cake. Boo ya!

Coming from fans of literature, is there any character from a book that you’d like to be cast as if it was turned into a film?

How old is the kid from Hatchet? He was like 17, right? Hatchet was
my favorite book as a kid (until I read James and the Giant Peach). I’d
love to play the main character in that, if I’m age appropriate. This
kid gets stranded in the wilderness because of a plane crash and has to
survive on his own. Sounds like a blast to me!

Any message you’d like to send to the Twi-Hards?

Hey guys and girls. Eat your vegetables, or my uncle Vinny is gonna
come down there, and give you a smack right on the gabagool!… No, just
kidding. Thank you for these great questions and thanks for your
patience. I know you’ve been waiting for my answers for a while. It’s
been a crazy year and I can only hope it gets crazier. Thanks again!

Mike Newton is Edward’s vision of the “regular guy” Bella
would be with if he wasn’t in the picture (this is the New Moon
perspective, prior to the introduction of Jacob as a major character).
Do you agree with Edward’s assessment?

I do. Next to Edward, Mike Newton is a joke. But without this
god-like creature around for Mike to be compared to, he isn’t such a
terrible catch. It’s high school for goodness sake! Mike is a
completely tolerable and decent teenage boyfriend. With no Edward, I
can see Bella and Mike going out for about three months. I don’t know
if it would last much longer than that because Mike is clearly WAY more
into Bella than she is into him. High school girls always get bored in
those situations.

Assuming you’ve read “New Moon,” What do you think Mike
Newton is thinking/ feeling during the first two books: if there was a
story from Mike’s perspective (a la “Midnight Sun”) would we see Mike
as the golden retriever he appears to be to Bella, or is that a mask
for deeper emotion? How will you convey this on screen?

I think Bella is to Mike what Edward is to Bella. When someone comes
along and affects you like that, particularly at that age, it defines
you in large part, and certainly helps define an era in your life. If
Mike were to have a “Midnight Sun,” we would probably see a more
vulnerable side to him. Other than that, honestly, I think maybe the
golden retriever is just who he is. I haven’t searched too hard for
hidden layers, conflicting subconscious motives, or other devices that
create depth in character. I think simplicity is the best way to
approach Mike.

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