Today I talk to actress Reagan Pfifer who recently won awards for her performances in the short films Sarah Divided and Skyline.
So Reagan, what would be the first thing anyone should know about you other than the fact that you are an actress?
(Laughs). I am probably the most persistent person you will ever meet. I feel like that is a good thing to get to right off the bat so you won’t be surprised when I pester you especially if you are someone I want to work with. I’ll do it to everybody though. I’ll ask if they’ve tried this great restaurant and if they say no I’ll ask them every time I see them if they’ve gone yet.
So are you from Vegas?
I am actually. One of the four people. Born here, raised here, my whole life.
Do you have plans for L.A. in the future?
Probably at some point but being married makes it much harder to just get up and go.
Let’s do some easy/hard questions. What’s your favorite movie of all time?
That’s a hard one actually. Favorite of all time…I have like a billion so this won’t be my all-time favorite but I’m going to say Closer. The acting in it is spectacular.
What was your favorite movie of 2012?
I know it is kind of cliche but I loved Silver Linings Playbook. I loved Django. Also loved Moonrise Kingdom. Loved the writing. Loved the acting. Super good. That didn’t get a lot of credit so let’s go with Moonrise Kingdom since the other two have been beaten to death.
Not really, but I would say there are actor’s work that I do admire. I think everyone is on board with Daniel Day-Lewis. Amazing.
There are some really underrated actresses out there though. I really like Rachel McAdams because all through her career she has played all different kinds of ages and all different kinds of parts and I think she actually does all of them relatively well. It’s a nice career to cultivate. Also Jennifer Lawrence because it would be cool to have a career like Jennifer Lawrence where you are not really known and you do an indie film and then everyone says “You’re amazing! We want to put you in everything!” That would be cool. I’d be okay with that kind of career path.
Clive Owen is another underrated actor. That’s why I think Closer is amazing because of the level of performance that he is able to layer and at the same time the control he has over his emotions is incredible.
What are you plans for the future? What do you plan on doing?
In theory, I have a feature that is raising funding right now. you can only get hold of the director once of month because he’s always gone doing something. I managed to talk to him the other day and he has a couple of big meetings coming up. He said he thinks it could be happening soon around mid-April, early May. I’ve had several leading roles fall through because of funding or so and so wants to do your part and they’re a bigger name so we have to go with them but hopefully it will happen. If not, then I’ll still be shooting shorts and working on a feature with my husband (London Mace). Eventually get an agent that works more out of L.A. and eventually make the transition out there. Right now most of my researching is going to preparing for the role in the feature.
Do you have anything coming up in the near, near future?
Yes. I just submitted to an MFA program in Florida for a role. It’s Clinton Cornwell’s thesis film. I’ll hear back in the next week or so if they will let me read for it. That would be cool.
Another friend asked me to film something that he wants to submit to Sundance. So if the feature ends up not shooting I have a few things to keep me busy.
I also wrote something that is going to be filmed. I want to get that done for Spring Flicks. which means I have to pretty much start shooting it now.
You’ve been doing a lot of producing lately. I’ve seen the music videos you have produced which you also acted in. How has producing been and what was your experience before this?
There is a book series called Wicked Lovely, it’s about fairies. It’s totally awesome. I was going to film some scenes from the book and pitch it to a director or even as an audition. I was trying to organize the location and the director of photography as well as the other actors and extras and it was a total nightmare. I thought “this is stupid, I’ll just film it myself with a single camera”. That was my previous experience.
Recently I read a bunch of self development books and they got me all fired up to get stuff done. I got let go from my previous job a year ago and I all of a sudden had all this time. I had no excuse and thought “I’m just going to go for it. My career. Balls to the wall. Got my husband and told him this is what we have to do.” I made a list. We have to do this, this, this, and this. We have to get some music videos and blah blah blah. Once we started making them he kind of took the reigns on the first one as it was just the two of us there. He operated and I acted. When it came to the second one, because I was more into the Vegas film scene, I had more connections so it was easier for me to go to so and so and find a connection to a boxing ring and putting together people who I thought were really talented and they would bring their own people.
The Oscars just passed. What were you happy with and what were you not so happy with?
I would say that my biggest disappointment with the Oscars would be Leo (Leonardo DiCaprio)being overlooked. I always call him Leo. My husband makes fun of me for it because I don’t even know him. But it was a huge disappointment not to see him nominated because of the commitment to the character that he exhibited. It wasn’t an easy character to play for him. As a person he had a really hard time with it. When you look at it on camera it’s effortless and he somehow makes this character that you like but don’t like. He’s kind of a cool guy and you kind of want to hang out with him except he’s evil. I’m really disappointed he didn’t get more attention for that.
Christoph Waltz did, and I love Christoph Waltz. His character is super subtle. Some of the moments he manages to create are underrated but absolutely beautiful. I don’t love the Anne Hathaway win, I saw Les Mis and it was fine, it wasn’t a bad film. I just felt like her performance, while good, was like the emperor’s new clothes. It’s cool to like it, so I like it, so you like it, so everyone has to like it…
Like it was an Oscar bait role?
Yeah. She cut her hair, she lost a bunch of weight, she cried, so let’s give her an Oscar. Anne Hathaway winning and Leo not being nominated were my biggest disappointments.
I knew Argo was going to win but I was kind of hoping it wouldn’t because to me I feel that a best picture is something that I would want to watch again. I wouldn’t have given best picture to Lincoln for that same reason. I watched it once and I thought it was awesome but with the exception of fast-forwarding to Daniel Day-Lewis’s parts I’m not going to watch it again. Same thing with Zero Dark Thirty. I don’t know if someone is going to put that on for funsies. Others, like Silver Linings Playbook, are awesome. I’m going to own it and watch it over and over. It’s amazing, the nuances are super subtle, it’s brilliant.
What did you think of Seth Macfarlane?
I thought he was okay. To me, it felt like one of those performances that you see sometimes where there’s nothing wrong with it but there’s nothing going on behind the curtains. It wasn’t bad. It was better than James Franco who was actively bad. To me the best Oscar host is always going to be Hugh Jackman. I watched his Oscar bit the other day and I was so excited.
What was your time like at LVA (the Las Vegas Academy)?
I liked being at LVA as I did get to learn a lot theater skills and when I graduated I knew that…not that theater wasn’t for me, but that I preferred screen acting. I have a theater personality but I think I am better suited for film. LVA felt like a mini version of LA. I was really able to get a handle on those internal demons that are what take out most actors. You get to LA and you aren’t booking roles and you’re not getting auditions and you self destruct. Reading hundreds of books on acting and famous actors talking about acting, it’s the same story for Sylvester Stallone, same story for Al Pacino, and it’s the same story for me. Stuff happens and then nothing happens for a long time. If you’re not working on yourself and not okay being with you and knowing that you are doing the best work that you can do and eventually something will happen and maintaining that confidence then you will literally self-destruct. You’ll quit or start or accepting roles that garbage and suddenly you are bikini girl number four in Lord of the G-Strings.
The thespian festival, I think it was called the Unifides, was something I went to while attending LVA, where there would be twenty-five colleges and you would do a thirty-second comedic monologue and a thirty-second dramatic monologue. The tour bus of people who went were there doing a show. So it’s me and every person who was ever cast over me a billion times in the van. Of everyone who went on the trip, twenty-one of twenty-five schools called me back and the nearest person to me had only seventeen so I had by far the most call-backs of everybody.
That was the moment where I stopped worrying about whether or not I was doing a good job and stopped worrying about not being cast because up until that point I’d had good auditions and directors would say that the only person who presented a real audition was Reagan…but then I still wouldn’t be cast. So I realized as long as I am doing my job then I will get noticed and if they aren’t noticing then they just aren’t the right somebody. So at sixteen I was able to drop that baggage most actors carry with them forever.
What’s the most challenging role that you have done?
Hm. That’s a really good question. I’d have to say that I haven’t actually filmed it yet but the one that I’m going to do for this feature is something that I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around. It’s a high schooler that is having to deal with a lot of stuff that is way above her age. She has to basically be the grown up that takes care of herself and the rest of her family. She’s really in over her head. The way she is written, she’s tuning out, almost like she is on autopilot. She gets done what needs to get done without self-destructing. There’s this whole dichotomy but a human being needs to have struggle. Even people who are numb still have a struggle but they’ve just turned that emotion part off. I’m trying to make my brain have this reservoir of emotions going on but to also not show it or show something else when they are doing something. I’m doing hours and hours of research on characters and books that I’ve seen that are ostracized and going through a lot.
How do you normally prepare for a role?
In general, I would consider myself to be an actor the tries to spend as much time as the character as possible on the set before shooting.
I also find whatever about the character is hardest for me to reach emotionally and then I will focus on finding some way to access that specifically. So when I’ve played characters that were sadistic, I focused on finding a way within myself to be truthfully sadistic. With the feature role that I’m preparing for I’m trying to find a way to navigate myself to a place where I am trying to keep it together while at the same time trying to keep that a secret while secretly hoping that somebody notices and wants to help me…there’s a lot of layers going on…(laughs).
Basically, my specific approach will be different for each character as the struggle will be different for each character, but the general approach is the same, which is find a way to reach the unreachable aspects of the character and then when it comes time to shoot, spend as much time in the character as possible. I will also usually try to find some external link that ties me to the character. Some characters smoke, some characters wear certain makeup that I don’t wear normally. I’ve even faked piercings and tattoos for characters that weren’t expressed in the script just because I felt that it was more accurate to the character and would help me create that person out of myself, apart from myself.
My routine would be to read the script many times and to start to build the character. Then memorize the lines and continue to build the character. Then go to set as the character and live as the character in their world. And when the camera rolls, live as that character.
Thank you so much Reagan. Best of luck on your upcoming projects and we hope to hear more from you soon!
imdb: Reagan Pfifer
Reagan Pfifer twitter: @ReaganPfifer