An Interview With Actor William Ngo

William Ngo  is a Los Angeles based actor whose credits include New Girl and Mr. Stache. Here is a link to his reel:

http://vimeo.com/46857941

 

 

Q: What made you want to become an actor?
A: I just fell into it. I went to UC Irvine, where I studied Sociology, then spent two more years at Cal State Fullerton studying Advertising. I pursued a career in advertising for a year, but didn’t really get anywhere. I ended up in a temp position at CBS Outdoor. I was there for three months, then my assignment ended and I was looking for a new job. I just thought it’d be fun to work as an extra in the meantime. Then I found that I could do that full-time. Then I thought, “Hey, it’d be cool to be an actor”, and I started going on auditions and booking roles (during my first week of acting class). My first role was a paying role and I was like, “Ok, I got some natural talent for this. I just have to hone my skills.” Things went really well. I got into SAG really quick and landed an agent really quick and I came to realize this is what I love and this is what I want to do and I don’t want to do anything else.

Q:  How did you get your first audition for your first speaking role?

A: I found it through craigslist. It was a short film that paid me $150 to say five lines. I lucked out. It was a very professional set with a full crew, cameraman, sound, hair and make-up, wardrobe, and craft services

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Q: What is your biggest professional accomplishment?

A:
It depends on what you mean biggest. There are four that I rank as my biggest. There is a national Toyota commercial that is the one job that I have made the most money from. I had a Co-Star role on MTV’s The Hard Times of RJ Berger, which was my first television Co-Star role. I did a film called Mr. Stache with Amy Smart (Just Friends, The Butterfly Effect), Rich Sommer (Mad Men), Ann Benson (Betty White’s Off Their Rockers), and narrated by Kali Rocha (Grey’s Anatomy, Buffy), which played at the Tribeca Film Festival and on Time Warner Cable Movies On Demand. It was the first time I had a trailer and worked with recognizable actors and in something that had the prestige of playing at one of the biggest film festivals in the world. Most recently, I had a Co-Star role on New Girl, which is probably the biggest, most recognizable project I’ve had a role in. It was the first time I had a Co-Star role on a network television show, one that is very popular at that and on the biggest network, and it gave me my first on-screen television credit.

Q: . What has your biggest disappointment been?

A: This is a difficult question to answer. The closest I have come to getting a part I really wanted and then not getting it was when I was put on a avail for an Under Five role on America’s Most Wanted. It was between me and one other guy, and I ended up not getting it.

Q: . What was your co staring role on New Girl?

A: I was credited as Asian Card Player in Season 1, Episode 21, “Kids”. There’s a scene where Winston (Lamorne Morris) goes to pick up his boss, Joe (Phil Hendrie), who was running from a house with a bunch of Asian guys chasing him. I was the one yelling at him in Chinese. The idea was that we were a bunch of gamblers and he owed us money.

Q:  You’ve appeared in a lot of stuff. Has anyone ever recognized you on the street?

A: Thanks. Actually, people have recognized me more from big movies I worked on as a featured extra, such as Yes Man and The Amazing Spider-Man. The Spider-Man gig was great though. They flew me First Class to New York and put me up in a Four Star hotel in Midtown Manhattan. I lucked out. I had a huge room with a great view all to myself and I got to go to Tribeca on the closing night of the festival to see Mr. Stache, the film I did with Amy Smart and Rich Sommer. I was only disappointed that I didn’t get upgraded to a principal actor on Spider-Man. I was hoping and thought I would since they were spending so much money on me anyways.

Q: . What does Jeff Goldblum’s Intensive Professional class entail?

A: They hold us to a very high standard at my acting school, but he held us to a particularly high standard. We were in his class twice a week and he wanted us to use all of our senses and to be very specific in terms of what we detect with our senses. We worked on scenes, improvisational exercises, which he called improvised scenes, and monologues, particularly those from Edgar Lee Masters’ masterpiece, Spoon River Anthology, which is very difficult material to work with because it’s written in very old language, but very beautiful and poetic, almost like Shakespeare.

Q:  Who is your biggest acting influence?

A: There isn’t one actor that I can say is my biggest acting influence. I actually draw from a lot of different sources to do different things, like famous actors or actor friends of mine that I admire.

Q:  What is your strangest work story?

A: Well, I’ve had some pretty crazy jobs as an actor. One time, I spent a week role-playing to train Navy Seals. I got to shoot at Navy Seals with assault rifles and also got interrogated. We got to play at a different location each night, an abandoned medical building, a vacant office floor, an abandoned neighborhood that used to be military family housing, culminating in our largest playing field, an abandoned correctional facility and there was a helicopter too. It was a big production.

Q: To a certain extent everyone who ever told a lie is an actor. What is it that sets what professional actors apart from non actors?

A: Well, yes, and no. At my acting school, we study Meisner Technique, and our definition of acting is, “Living truthfully under imaginary circumstances”. For us, there is no acting or pretending, but living, behaving, and reacting. It’s about truth and honesty, revealing the deepest truths of yourself and humanity and sharing that with the world. As I once heard an actor say, acting is about telling the truth to ultimately tell a lie. I guess, another way to answer your question is that when we’re acting, we suspend disbelief and actually believe what we’re saying to an extent. Plus, we have to do it on a stage in front of an audience or on a set in front of cameras and crew people watching us and we have to do it on cue and we get paid for it. That’s what sets us apart from non-actors.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

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