Nate Uhlig headshotToday I am interviewing Nathan Uhlig who I have had the pleasure of working with in the past on the web series The Magical Forest of Bob the Clown and Friends and other various projects.

Hey Nate. Let’s get this started! What is your favorite movie of all-time?

Hands down, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s just a perfect movie. AFI says Citizen Kane is the best movie ever made which is hard to argue with, but for me, personally, it is by far Raiders of the Lost Ark. It has everything you could possibly want in a movie.

How about your favorite movie of 2012?

I hate to give two movies but I’m going to have to. There are two movies that really stood out. The Grey, starring Liam Neeson, Joe Carnahan’s movie. That movie hit me like a freight train emotionally. I saw Red Tails just before which I was frustrated with so I was looking forward to just getting my mind away from that and seeing Liam Neeson fight some wolves in Alaska. Instead I got this emotional movie about dealing with life and death and all sorts of things. I was blown away by it, partially because I wasn’t expecting it. It was incredible. I’m afraid to watch it again because it deals with issues that I almost don’t want to deal with myself, but it is so, so good.

Nate Uhlig photoAnother movie that really got me was a movie I saw at Sundance last year called Safety Not Guaranteed.  It’s not as well made of a movie as The Grey but seeing it with a full capacity Sundance crowd at the Eccles, the biggest theater there, was the best movie-going experience of the year for me because of the crowd and how much everyone loved the movie and yelling and cheering throughout. Seeing the filmmakers afterward for the Q and A made it even better but overall the Grey was my favorite movie of the year.

What movie are you looking forward to most in 2013?

Right off the top of my head I would have to say Star Trek 2. I’m a big Trekkie and huge J.J. Abrams fan. I love the stuff he’s done on TV as well as the features he has done.

…And you are going to like Star Wars, right?

Eh, we’ll see. I’m kind of over Star Wars after the whole prequel thing. As a kid I was a big Star Wars fan but as I got older I got more into Star Trek because I’m a big sci-fan in general.

So is JJ Abrams your favorite director?

No, no. He’s just someone who has risen up very recently that has caught my attention. I like everything he’s been doing lately but if I had to pick one director, it’s a bit cliché, but I’d have to say Steven Spielberg. I grew up watching all of his incredibly entertaining movies. Another director making waves for me in recent times is Christopher Nolan. I remember watching Memento for the first time when it was out on video and saying that I had to watch every movie this guy makes from now on. I’m also a fan of Fincher.

I tend to lean toward the directors who make the big blockbuster summer movies because I like to be entertained. If a movie isn’t entertaining then why make it? Even if it’s a drama or documentary, I feel it still needs to have some entertainment factor.

So, if you could only pick one, favorite actor and actress?

Hmm, I’d have to say my favorite actor that I just love to watch in the movies would be Harrison Ford. Indiana Jones, the Jack Ryan movies that he’s done, Fugitive, Star Wars of course. There’s just this huge list of awesome movies he’s been in. He’s just so damn cool that you can’t take your eyes away from him when he is on-screen.

He’s done some good movies lately, and I know people are going to hate me for saying this, but if you get to see Morning Glory, check it out. A total chick flick romantic comedy but Harrison Ford plays this Tom Brokaw disaffected newsman type who gets thrust into this super happy morning news show and he is just so damn funny. I normally hate rom-coms and the only thing that kind of made me want to see this was Harrison Ford and he brought the house down. Hilarious. Something absolutely worth watching just to see him.

I’m not sure if I really have a favorite actress. If I had to pick one it would have to be Anne Hathaway. She’s done a lot of great stuff recently. She was the best part of Les Mis. Catwoman in the The Dark Knight Rises. But I don’t really have a favorite actress. I go through phases with my favorites. If you were to ask me two years ago I would have said somebody completely different and in two years I will probably have somebody different again. It’s whoever catches my interest at the time.

What are your future plans?

I’m getting together my acting reel and hopefully one day soon get some kind of representation and get some paying gigs. “Paying” being the optimal word in that sentence. I’ve been doing short films and Indie films here in town and while I have loved every minute of it, I am absolutely ready to move on to the stage of working professionally and getting paid for it.

In the immediate future I’m still working with friends out of UNLV and have a few shorts coming out in a few months or so. Other than that just working and saving money.

Have you ever thought about getting behind the camera?

I already tried that when I went to UNLV. I did acting in middle school and high school in theater but I really wanted to make movies. I much prefer acting in film than I do the theater. When I went to school I figured I would be a director because that’s what people do when they go to film school. I found out pretty early on that directing was not my forte. I was even worse at cinematography. I liked editing but I wasn’t really computer savvy so that was out. That’s what’s great about UNLV. I was able to try out everything. What I liked the best and what I was best at was writing which I focused on the last year, year and a half at UNLV.

It wasn’t until my last semester when I started to get into acting. I did scenes for classes. Professor Marcotte asked me to be in his film even though he had never seen me act. He knew I had done theater and said I had a certain look and convinced me to try out for a role that I ended up getting. It wasn’t until after I graduated that I got more and more into acting. The more I did it the more I realized how much fun it was and how much I liked it. About a year ago is when I decided I wanted to give acting a go full-time as I liked it more that anything else.

I won’t rule out directing again though. Now that I’ve worked with so many great student directors and professional directors if I were to try directing again I would probably know a lot more about what the hell I am doing and would probably end up with a better end product than anything I did while at UNLV.

So do you think going to film school as an actor has helped you?

Absolutely. Having knowledge of everyone’s job and what everyone needs to do certainly helps. It doesn’t help you get into character, but it let’s you know what needs to get done and how to make your day so that you can help everyone else do their job the best they can and hopefully they can help you do your job the best you can.

Do you have any interests other than acting?

I love to read as much as possible. Going to movies of course. It’s hard to have a hobby these days when I’m trying to save for the future for a possible move to LA. If I had to have a hobby it would be the same one I had when I was a kid: Legos. They have so many kick-ass lego sets now.

What is the worst and best thing about being an actor?

The best thing is that I get to live out my fantasies, not in a weird or kinky way…when I was a kid playing Star Wars or something outside I would always say “Oh yeah, I want to be an astronaut,” or “Oh yeah, I want to be a doctor”. I was always constantly changing my mind about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Then one day I realized “Holy crap, if I go into movies I can pretend to do all these things without actually doing all the hard work comes with doing them.” So getting the chance to play and pretend like when I was a kid  is the best part whether that be playing a clown or detective. It’s a lot of fun. I’m still a big kid, just ask my girlfriend.

Worst?

There have been shoots I’ve been on that have been bad experiences and I question myself about why I even put myself in these situations but even then it’s not so much about being an actor but dealing with a situation that is less than ideal. I’ve yet to discover anything that is really bad about just being an actor.

What is one thing you wish every director knew about working with actors?

That’s a tough one. I’d say to not be afraid to let the actor do his own thing. I’ve worked with some people, I’d say that you are one of them, who have a script and a character and let you try different things and sometimes they get something out of you that they didn’t expect or that they like even better.

I’ve also worked with some people who are very particular about the way the lines are written and how things need to be said. They have a very specific vision of how things are supposed to go and that’s fine, I respect that,  but when that happens I do feel a bit constrained whereas if I am working with someone who wants to try this or try that and try to mix it up a little bit, it just feels so much more relaxing. And like I said, you may discover something that you never thought of before and end up making it better. Don’t be afraid to give me the chance to try something different or play around with the material a little.

To trust you in a sense?

Yeah, yeah.

What’s the worst thing a director can do to you on set?

Forget about me. If they get too focused on something or someone else and forget about everyone else in the scene that are trying to make the scene or movie better in their own way, that can annoy me. Being a director is hard because you have to focus on so many things but try not to forget about everyone else in the scene. When a director completely forgets about you that can be kind of annoying.

So you have acted in mostly comedies. Do you have an interest in working in dramas at all?

Nate seriousYes. Absolutely. I definitely do. There was a while there where I kind of got pigeonholed into being in goofy or quirky comedy shorts, which is fine, I love doing it especially if it is something that is well written or being directed by someone I like who I know will pull it off, but I at least want to try a little of everything. I’ve never played a villain which is something I have always wanted to try. I’ve done a couple of dramatic movies, not many, but it’s been a good experience. But I definitely want to push myself in another direction than what other people have already seen me do.

I was going to ask if it has been harder to get dramatic roles but you already seemed to have answered that.

Yeah. I’d love to do more dramatic roles but I’m not trying to say I’m tired of doing comedies, because I’m definitely not. It got to a point where people wouldn’t even want me to read for dramatic parts. I always get comedy offers, and I’m sometimes a little hesitant to accept now, but when I’m there on set I love it and have a lot of fun.

How do you prepare?

I always scribble notes in my script. But I don’t like to completely memorize my lines and have them embedded into my brain. I don’t like to be too reliant on my memory. By not having things completely memorized it makes me listen more to the other characters in a scene.

It helps to make them your own too.

Yeah. But I’m listening and reacting more like in real life.

In the moment.

Exactly. Reacting in the moment.  I also like to write notes on how to do the same line different ways. If the editor has the same take of you five times that are all identical then what’s the point? I like to give the director and editor as many options as possible.

What is the one piece of advice you would give actors just starting out?

Act as much as possible. If you don’t do it for a while it will take you a while to get back into it. It’s like a muscle. Even De Niro takes acting lessons to stay sharp.

That just about wraps it up. Thank you Nate for the interview.

No problem, sir. Thank you.

A list of some (not all)of Nate’s credits on IMDB

Once Nate finishes his acting reel I will post it up on this site!

Tomorrow is Short of the Week!

-Tony