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Interview with:

Jeff Fuell [actorman] 

What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
That is a really difficult question to answer because I have no idea. Yes, it was that long ago. I probably read most of the standard books that kids read growing up, but the first book that I ever recall really having an affect on me was "The Temple of Gold" by William Goldman. I was probably around twelve at the time and it was an assigned book that my English teacher issued. I also recall "The Pigman" by Paul Zindel having an effect on me. Those are two of my favorite books. I began to write in 1989 because that was when I discovered Stephen King. I read "Night Shift" and loved it and then started reading all of his other books. Around that time, I wrote a short story that had been rolling around in my head and then finally decided to put it to paper. The first people to read something that I wrote were probably either my parents or a co-worker at the part-time job I was holding at the time.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
If you would have asked me years ago, I would have said horror. Now, I really do not have one. As long as the story is good and holds my interest, I will read it. Besides fiction, I also like to read biographies on my favorite actors and musical artists. Just lately, I have read all of Dan Brown's books and think they are great. As of right now, I have had two books published and you can see them and read a taste of them at www.SynergEbooks.com.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
I probably do not work like most authors. When I have an idea for a story, it is probably something that I have been thinking about for quite a bit and when I sit down to write it, I only know how it will start, more or less how it will end, and a little bit of what will happen in the middle. That's it. I do not start off with an outline or a character breakdown or anything like that. Sometimes I have written ideas where I do not know where they came from or what gave me the idea to write them, it is just the process of writing that seems to bring them about. Instead of planning everything ahead of time, I let the story and the characters come to life as I am writing it. It is really as much of a surprise to me as it is to someone who is reading it.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
I really do not have a definite answer for that. Stephen King was my main inspiration for wanting to become a writer long ago, but I do not really have a specific genre or person that I can say "this inspires me to write." I just do my own thing and hope someone out there likes it!
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
I think the basic ingrededient is the most obvious - it has to be interesting. A story can have the most beautiful prose in the world, but if the story is not interesting, who cares? Also, characters that you can identify with, connect with and feel for. If there is no connection then, again, who cares?
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I have mainly written in third person because it seems the most natural for me. However, I am currently working on a project where I am writing in first person and I really like it. I also feel that a reader might have more of a connection with first person because it gives the sense that the author is personally telling you a story instead of writing it down for all to read.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Well, the authors that I have read the most are Stephen King, Dean Koontz, John Grisham, all four of the books that Dan Brown has written so far, and various comic book writers. But, I have read numerous other books from various authors. I admire any writer who can tell a good story and hold my interest no matter what genre or field it is in.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
I think this comes back to connection because finding a connection with a character makes them more human and easier to identify with. My characters seem to come alive as the story is told. I have to say, there is at least a little bit of me in everything that I write. If you write about things that you know and that you have experienced, people will sense a reality in the story and the characters and connect with them.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
I really do not think do. I feel that I am better at telling a story using the written word.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
First and foremost, I write for myself. I am doing something to make myself happy creating something that is completely mine. Hopefully, other people will like it, but I write for myself.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
I think at certain times it can be. A lot of writers can take things that are happening in their life or things that have happened in the past and find a way to include them in a story and explore what they are feeling by writing about them. Emotions may even come up about certain things that you thought you had never felt, but there they are because you are writing about them.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Of course. It certainly does not hurt. Sometimes, most of the time, a person needs an objective opinion because the person who is creating something is probably too emotionally involved with it to see things as clearly as a person would who is looking at it objectively.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I could really care less about competitions. I got into the Arts so I could have fun and hopefully make a living doing something that I love, not win awards.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
I may sound like a hermit, but I never show anyone a rough draft of anything I have written. Once I feel that something is done and is the best that it can be, I set it aside and start on something else until it is time to submit that finished project to my publisher.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I think people are always searching for "a voice." Yes, certain writers are known for writing in a certain genre or with a certain style, but I also believe that anything artistic is constantly a learning process that never ends.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Right now, I tend to write at any time of the day or night when either the mood strikes me or I have time. Since I am not writing for a living and I am writing what I want when I want, my only goal is to make whatever I am doing the best it can possibly be. When it is done, it is done and I move on.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Peace and quiet. When I am writing, I do not like to be bothered with anything because I am in the zone and I do not want to be pulled away from it until I am done for that period of time.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I write on a computer and I never print until the manuscript is done. I correct as I go while checking over everything that I have written the day before when I sit down for another day of writing. Once the first draft is done, I go over it two more times and then print my hard copy to keep around.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
I am concentrating on not playing around online so much because it takes up so much time when I could be working. However, I usually play around the most on Facebook.
What has been your experience with publishers?
I was fortunate enough to find a publisher for my first book within two months after I had finished it. So, I would have to say pretty good.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a project called "The Goatman." If you have read Stephen King's "The Body," which eventually became the movie, "Stand By Me," you will have a pretty good idea of what I am going for. Like that story, it is written in first person and I am also using things, events and people from my past in the story. I am having a pretty good time with it!
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Show them to some close friends or family members and ask their opinion, see what they think. Then, once you get some feedback, hopefully good, start submitting them and see that happens. Otherwise, you will always ask yourself "What If?" That would be a terrible way to live.
How did you begin acting?
I started doing stand up comedy, which only lasted briefly because I never really liked it, because I started working 9-5 when I was twenty-one. 9-5 sucks. I would rather try something that could be fun instead of just waste away in an office for fifty years and then die.
At what stage in your career did you realise that acting could be something you do professionally?
I suppose after my first play where, even though I was nervous doing it, I had a pretty natural ability to get into a character, memorize my lines fairly quickly and deliver them in a believable way.
Please list an Internet address where one can see something about you.
www.myspace.com./jeffthemighty. Once you see this, you will get a pretty good idea of who I am and what my interests are.
Please list the most important or defining jobs of your career.
Pretty much every play I have ever done. Those were the best times I have ever had in my adult life, both as an actor and a person. Everything since then has just been a pale shadow of those times and a way to make money.
Please list any famous performances that have helped you in reference to your evolution in acting.
I like to think that pretty much every play I have ever done has also been somewhat of a learning experience. The ones I am most proud of are Happy in Death of a Salesman, Paul in Barefoot in the Park, Nigel in A Sting in the tale, Vinnie in The Odd Couple, Skip in The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia and Gooper in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Please list three actors and three actresses that you like.
Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Kathy Bates, Jodie Foster, Meryl Streep.
What type of psychological, physical, and emotional preparation do you do before a performance?
Well, I work-out a good deal, so I consider that my physical preparation as well as relaxation. As for the others two things, that can vary. I may listen to some certain music or read a certain passage in something that means a lot to me. Most of the time, I am able to just slip into character and just do whatever needs to be done.
What is your criteria in determining which projects you select?
Are you kidding? It's not like I am a star or anything! I take what I can get! The only thing I really look down on is background work. Only amateurs do background work. Yes, it is where everyone starts and some good on-set experience and from time to time we all need to make some extra money, but I equate the words "extra" or "background" with "dog."
What type of communication do you normally establish with directors?
Here I am. What do you need me to do? Keep it simple don't be a prima donna.
What is the archetypal character in which you tend to be typecast?
I have usually tended to be cast in comedies. I love both drama and comedy, but comedies seem to be where I get the most work.
Has there been a role that has been especially difficult for you?
I once had to play an seventy year-old man when I was in my mid-twenties. It was a challenge getting the walk and the voice down.
Do you see yourself working in this field in twenty years?
I would like to see myself working in this field for a living now! Twenty years? Who knows?
What do you do to kill time during waiting periods at casting calls?
Talk with other actors or read a book.
Are you continuing to educate yourself through acting classes, seminars, or other courses? Do you combine this with your normal job?
I take in a workshop every now and then. This is something that other actors may argue, but I do not think that acting can be taught. Everthing I have learned about acting has either been in theater or life itself. Classes only touch the tip of the iceberg with that. In the classes that I have taken, I have learned some good tips about the business, but never anything about acting. Do a play. I guarantee you that you will learn more doing one play than in six months of taking classes.
Is there any fetish role you haven't interpreted yet, but that you have in your head to do one day?
I want to play McMurphy in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
According to your experience, please describe the best and worst of each medium: cinema, theatre, television.
Theater is the most fun and where the best actors in the world come from. The other mediums are where the money is. Unfortunately, the politics of the business take the fun out of it.
Is there any scene or role that you would never interpret due to personal morals, principles, or taboos?
Nope. Work is work.
Could you say that your tools as an actor pertain to a certain school or concrete method?
Not really. I memorize the lines, think about what I want to do and do it. It is that simple.
Which director would you like to read this interview? What type of role would you like for him/her to offer you?
At this rate? Anyone and any role! However, only Union prjects.
Have you ever thought of giving up on the profession? If yes, when and why?
I toy with that all the time because it is just not as much fun as it used to be when I was just doing play after play and having a blast. The industry and the politics of it has just taken the fun out of it. Sometimes I feel that the only reason I still pursue it is just because of wanting to get out of working some boring 9-5 job where I know I will be bored and miserable.
One personal reason why to keep doing this work
I hate 9-5.
How do you feel when people recognise you on the street?
It rarely happens, but I would have to say, "pretty good!"
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in acting?
Go to school. Be a doctor or a lawyer. That might sound bad, but it is the truth. As much as I love drama, the poilitics of the industry has really taken the fun out of it and I find that I am asking myself more and more if I am wasting my time. As important as talent is, this business is all about networking and who you know. I do not know anyone.

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Jeff Fuell
Las Vegas, NV

[actorman] Jeff Fuell
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