411 Movies Interview: Marc Blucas
Posted by Tony Farinella on 01.11.2008
411's Tony Farinella sits down with Marc Blucas of Buffy fame!
Marc Blucas' story is an interesting one, to say the least. His first dream in life was to play basketball, and when that dream didn't work out, he was going to go to law school. Well, after being a part of Eddie, he got the acting bug, and he hasn't looked back since. Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marc, and we talked about his new film, The Killing Floor, which is currently out on DVD. We also talked about his time on Buffy and his playing days with Tim Duncan. I hope you enjoy my interview with Marc.
TONY: When you first read the script for The Killing Floor, what were your initial thoughts?
Marc Blucas: This guy's a dick, and I really hope I get the job. (laughs) Because we all want to play against type, because usually I'm playing the All-American nice guy, so to get an opportunity to play a guy that thinks he rules the world and has a confidence problem in that he has too much of it and that needs to kind of get put in his place, it's appealing. Every actor wants to go against type.
TONY: Was it pretty easy to get in the mindset of this character? In The Killing Floor, your character is always worried about someone watching him. In Hollywood, you deal with that as well.
Marc Blucas: I really didn't equate it to that as much as you do those situations in your life where you literally feel cornered, because that's ultimately what happens to him. It's someone who is so used to being in control, and, all of a sudden, he gets that taken away from him. You're throwing gas on fire, and you don't know how that person is going to react to this. So, it's interesting, to me, to think, "What would Marc do in those big moments that characters face?" It's like, "Hey, if that situation happens to you, would you respond the same away?" And that's usually my first step in creating a character. I need to see some of those big moments and find the one that maybe makes sense for me, and then I can go make the absurd ones make sense.
TONY: What was it like filming in that house?
Marc Blucas: It was an unbelievable residence. You know, they used that house for Sex and the City and Hitch. It's like an eleven-thousand-square-foot loft right in Manhattan. That place is unbelievable. Like before we started shooting, I said to the filmmaker, "Hey, I need to stay a night in there by myself." And he's like, "Go ahead. I'm not getting anywhere near there. That would scare the shit out of me." And it actually didn't. It was more important for me to feel like the master of the domain. I wasn't afraid. I mean, I was out on that patio with a robe on. I was acting like Dave Lamont. I was like, "Hey, this is my kingdom." It was more important for me to get that feeling.
TONY: You spend a lot of this film acting all by yourself. As an actor, what's that like? Is it hard when you can't bounce ideas off another actor?
Marc Blucas: You know, so much of that is the relationship with the filmmaker. It was a nice piece that way, because usually you are with other actors. It's very seldom that you get an opportunity, as an actor, to hold the screen by yourself and hopefully do something engaging and interesting. Luckily, the story was well-written. There were well-written beats in there that this house is doing, and you never felt like, "OK. We're watching paint dry here. What is happening?" I felt like he was always using the house as a character, just like New York City is a character in that movie, to push the plot. I mean, when I'm in bed and I get woken up by a sound and I go out to the pool, and there's a chair in it and the screen starts dropping down and I see the video of myself sleeping three minutes ago, it's a great sequence. It's like a four or five minute sequence that, as an audience member, you would shit your pants if it happened to you. To me, it's my favorite sequence in the movie. It just really works.
TONY: In your own career, have you ever encountered someone like Dave Lamont?
Marc Blucas: No, that kind of ego doesn't exist in Hollywood. (laughs) You need to come and visit L.A. Come on, you've spent too much time in Chicago with Midwestern normal people. You know what, let's just say there's been some chance run-ins with that kind of personality. I saw it as an athlete, too. That god complex is not uncommon in certain professions.
TONY: Personally, how have you remained humble in Hollywood?
Marc Blucas: One, I don't take myself too seriously. Two, I feel like I have the right family and friends. Just like any movie experience or any experience in life, it's all about the people you're with, and if you surround yourself with the right people, then I think you come away growing as a person. For me, every job I wanna grow as an actor and as a human being. So, it's all about the people that you surround yourself with, so my family and friends won't let me get away with shit. They'll put me in my place if I slip up, trust me. Plus, Tony, I have two dogs, and I pick up their shit in a bag.
TONY: I thought it was so fascinating that one of your first big movies was Eddie, because you played a lot of basketball in your early years. What was that like?
Marc Blucas: The honest answer is I actually had a full scholarship to law school, and I wanted to be a sports agent, and Eddie happened the summer before law school. So, I was just gonna go be in a movie to say I done it. Kind of like, "Hey, kids, look, your old man was in a movie once." And the cliche happened. I just caught the bug and fell in love with it and had the right encouragement from the right people that I met on it and started to pursue it and study it and take it as seriously as I did basketball, which was my first passion in life. I was like, "I wanna go to law school because of a Few Good Men, not because I love the law." I was just too dumb to figure that out.
TONY: Do you ever have days where you wake up and you miss basketball and wanna get back into it?
Marc Blucas: No. When I'm not working, I'm kind of a Spurs groupie, because I played with Duncan in college. When I see those guys and I'm that close to it and maybe practice with them or see them in their game, I'm reminded why the little 6'2" white kid should not do that. It's been a strange thing to lie about my whole life. As an athlete, I was 6'4", and as an actor, since everybody is short, they're like, "How tall are you?" And I'm like, "Oh, like 5'11". I mean, what an odd thing to lie about my whole life.
TONY: What was it like working with Whoopi Goldberg on Eddie?
Marc Blucas: She was terrific. Again, I was so starstruck. I had not met a celebrity before, and, yeah, she was exactly what you think she's gonna be. She's a comedian, and she just puts it out there. It's like, "Here it is." I just did a movie with Eddie Murphy, and it was the same way. That was a big deal for me, because I've been an Eddie Murphy fan. The hardest part about that movie was one, keeping a straight face, and two, not quoting him the whole time. Every time I saw him, I wanted to throw out an Eddie Murphy quote. I'm like, "Hey, looking pretty good in those jeans." And I'm like, "No, don't say that, Marc! Stop yourself."
TONY: In your career, you have worked with a number of talented female actresses. How do you feel about the pressure that a lot of women are under to look good? Do you think it's out of control?
Marc Blucas: It's definitely harder for women than men, but it's really everybody. I would even include non-actors, because it's just a town of good-looking people, and that pressure exists with agents, executives, and everybody else. That obsession doesn't bother me, because that's a personal choice. Someone can choose to look how they wanna look, and that's up to them. The one ridiculous thing about this business that I can't stand is this obsession with celebrity and paparazzi.
TONY: In some ways, have you been able to kill two birds with one stone? I mean, in some of your films, you have been able to show off your athletic skills.
Marc Blucas: Yeah, it's actually one of my most fun things to do is to be able to incorporate that kind of physicality in all of them. A thriller that I shot this summer called Animals, it's kind of like an Underworld-type movie, and I did all my own stunts. I was up on a harness, flying across buildings, did all my own stunt driving, and I had the time of my life. I got my ass kicked on it, and I had to get stitches. I mean, it beat the crap out of me. I thought I was playing pro-basketball. But I had the time of my life doing it, because, again, the standard joke that I always crack all the time is, "Hey, compared to professional athletes, I am a slug, but compared to actors, I am a phenomenal fucking athlete." Because, let's face it, most actors were high school drama dorks. It's just what it was. It's just that I got into it a different way, and so they have some skills I don't have, and I have some skills that some others don't have. I have a physicality about me, so you have to play to your strengths. When I have those opportunities to incorporate that or do it, I enjoy doing it.
TONY: What can my Chicago Bulls do to turn this season around?
Marc Blucas: You know, I'd be really speaking out of turn, and let's face it, I'm a Spurs fan, so I don't want them to improve. I have selfish motivations here. I mean, if I'm really speaking for the Spurs, then I think that they should trade for Kobe, to get Kobe out of the Western Conference, and that helps my cause even better. That's a tough one, because they're a bunch of young hard-working guys, so everybody has a theory as to why they're not succeeding right now and whether they should blame Skiles for it or whether they just have bought into all this pressure with all these trade talks and what they're supposed to be this year and all this other stuff. I ultimately don't think the NBA starts to really matter until after the All-Star break. Obviously, all the teams are trying to win, and that's what separates the average from the great. You look at San Antonio, and they take their shit seriously now. And Phoenix and Detroit, and obviously Boston this year. So, I think it will all settle down, and they're gonna go on a little run after the All-Star break. That's my opinion. They're a good team, but they just haven't found their rhythm yet. It's a silly example, but it's just like doing a big dramatic scene. You just kind of have to find your rhythm with the other actor, and the nuances will work themselves out. So, it just takes a little while sometimes to figure that out.
TONY: When you first met Tim Duncan, did you know he was going to be a star?
Marc Blucas: The other captain and myself, this kid Randolph Childress and I, they wanted to redshirt him, because he came in as a 17-year-old. After the first scrimmage and the first week of school, we all played a pick-up game, and we were like, "We gotta go down and tell him." We were like, "Look, he's raw, but he needs to start for us. Don't redshirt him." They were like, "No. He's not ready." And we're like, "No. He's ready." I mean, hell, he only weighed 215 pounds at the time, but you could just tell his basketball instinct was just off the charts, so, of course, he ended up starting for us, and the rest is history, as they say. It sounds even stupid to say, but I'm this token white kid from this little town in Pennsylvania, as one of the captains as a senior, and here comes this kid from the Virgin Islands at 17-years-old, and we just immediately hit it off. We were kind of the two outsiders of the group. It sounds really stupid to say, but here I am trying to take the kid under my wing, and it's like, "Yeah, sure you were, Blucas. He's a three-time MVP. Sure you did. You take credit for that one. Way to go." But we just had that initial bond, because of both us feeling kind of like outsiders in a world we thought was bigger than us.
TONY: What was it like getting to know Tim Duncan? He seems like such a laid-back guy.
Marc Blucas: I'm obviously biased, but no one deserves it more than he does, and you would have absolutely no idea that he is who he is. No posse, no jewelry. He married his college sweetheart and has two kids. He doesn't mess around on the road. It's just not who he is, and he's not that guy. He comes to L.A., and we wanna go out to dinner, just the two of us, or go grab a bunch of food and go eat and sit and get caught up. It's like, "Let's not get caught up in the scene." Everything you see is not just an image campaign, it's the real deal.
TONY: What was it like having Forest Whitaker direct you in First Daughter?
Marc Blucas: It was so fascinating working with him as a filmmaker, because he always came about things from an actor's point of view in that he was always open to ideas and wanted you to bring them and let you try them, but it was so funny hearing his comments all the time. He was like, "Yeah, yeah, definitely try that. Let me see how it makes me feel." I mean, Forest is a brilliant man, like don't mistake this next line, but he's not coming from an intellectual place, first, in terms of character, story, and script ... he wants to see, "Does it feel right for the person and for the relationships?" It was great to work with him in that capacity.
TONY: What kind of work do you want to seek out in the future?
Marc Blucas: God, there's thousands, but what actor right now is not gonna say, "Hey, I wish I had my Bourne Identity?" Who wouldn't want a successful franchise where you play a title character that has that much conflict and that physicality? Those kind of roles kind of have it all. Who wouldn't want to do something like that? But, at the same time, I've had a year where I've had a chance to do broad comedy, great ensemble character pieces, thrillers where I'm playing either an asshole or the guy who gets to beat up the asshole. So, I'm getting the opportunity to play a bunch of different ones right now, so I really can't complain, and hopefully that sets me up for an opportunity to get a franchise like that.
TONY: What was it like being on Buffy? Do people still recognize you from that show?
Marc Blucas: Just yesterday, I was at a meeting, and the director was like, "Hey, before we start this meeting, my friend named their dog Riley." I was like, "Get them on the phone." That's the third dog now. I don't know if it's a compliment or an insult. It's a nice compliment, and I'm obviously proud of that on the resume. That was an unbelievable piece of television history to be a part of, and that's exactly what it was. The day I got the job, literally, they all sat me down and said, "Look, we can cast Brad Pitt in this, and they're gonna hate him. Brace yourself. You can't win." I was like, "OK. Good to know!" Then after about eight episodes and I was getting my ass kicked every episode, I said, "Am I ever gonna win a fight at least? They said, "No." I said "OK. Good to know." But, no, it's nice to get recognized from a hit show. It would be different if it was something that you wanted to erase from all memory and grab every DVD and burn every copy ever made and throw it into a black hole. I'm proud of it, whereas I was really green and didn't know what I was doing as an actor yet ... not that I've mastered it now. It was still a really valuable time in my formative years.
TONY: Who would you like to work with in the future?
Marc Blucas: Again, it's gonna be a list of every actor on the planet, but I'm gonna skew old, because, hey, let's face it, these guys aren't gonna be around forever, but who doesn't want to work with De Niro and Nicholson and Pacino? The list is obviously really extensive. I got a chance to work with Sam Elliot, and I could sit there and name fifty people in five seconds. I guess the dream would probably be De Niro and Nicholson.
TONY: Finally, what are your plans for the future?
Marc Blucas: Well, the one I'm doing right now, as you know, there's this ridiculous strike happening, not in ridiculous in that I don't support it, it's just that the business is in a ridiculous state, because the writers are striking and the actors and the directors are up next, so the business is in a real tornado right now. But I'm doing an improv-based Christoper Guest-type broad comedy right now, and I'm having the time of my life. It's 95 percent improv, and we're just going for it and having a great time. Whether the movie cuts together or not, I don't know, but the DVD is gonna be hilarious.