Sean McPherson is an actor who stars in the web series Family Problems; here is a link to his YouTube page:
Q: What made you interested in acting?
A: Ever since I was young, I had a fascination with movies. Being wrapped up in the story would always affect me on a deep level. When finishing a television show or leaving a theater, I remember strongly feeling many of the emotions that the characters felt. I was empathizing on a high level, more so than those who may have been with me at the time. Looking back now, it was my capacity for empathy that contributed to my visceral experiences with film. I thought it was strange when I was young, but I now know that it was a blessing, something that I can tap into when I am acting and it is also something that helps me relate to others whom I may experience on a day to day basis in a more compassionate way. Later in life, during my first year in college, I took an acting class that reawakened those emotions and that excitement. That is when I knew that acting could be a path for me.
Q: Who are some of your acting influences?
A: I have three influences that can I think of off the top of my head. First, Daniel Day Lewis inspires me because of his believability. Lewis is able to so fully become a role that he appears to be an entirely different person altogether. That is magic. There are so many famous actors that are just the same person with different character names…but they are just that. Lewis makes audiences believe. Second, Anthony Hopkins inspires me because of his stillness and simplicity. Some of his greatest moments on screen are when he isn’t doing anything. Although he is not speaking, the thought and emotion is apparent to audiences and we sit on the edge of our seats to see what comes next. That is also magic. Third, I am influenced by a consortium of characters and roles that I have witnessed over the years through film and television because that background knowledge informs me of what I think works and what does not. In an abstract way, my prior knowledge, based upon my life-viewing experiences, is a singular influence that gives me the context to which I judge my own performances and the performances of others.
Q: What is Family Problems about?
A: Family Problems is an exciting murder mystery web series that begins with the premise “Who killed Jennifer?” Seth Chitwood, owner and operator of Angelwood Pictures, has created a unique story about a family who is trying to survive their daily lives while living under extreme circumstances surrounding the murder of one of the characters in the family. One of the most fascinating aspects of this series is that it is “unstuck in time,” to borrow from Vonnegut. The events take place in several different time periods that unravel simultaneously. It is brilliant. The series has already been accepted twice to the L.A. Webfest awards and continues to receive accolades.
Q: What role do you play?
A: I play the role of “Adult Connor.” Since the series takes place in different time periods, I play the adult role of one of the family members. Connor is the youngest sibling in the family that the series focuses on. Since he is the youngest, he is innocent and vulnerable compared to the other characters. However, a series of extreme events happen to him that shape who he is as an adult. That is where I come in. Adult Connor follows in his father’s footsteps and becomes a lawyer, mostly so he can help his family with their problems, but also to have control over his life. I see Adult Connor as having a dual nature. He is, at the base of his character, a good person with benevolent intentions for his family. However, there is a darker side to him that is a result of his severely negative life experiences that gives him a particular edge. He is the good boy who could snap at any moment and rip your head off. But, he keeps that all in check and works as a positive force in his family as an adult.
Q: How did you become involved in the project?
A: One of my acting friends from an acting group I am a part of, Lasit Talent, headed by the talented and inspirational acting teacher, Kevin Lasit from Wishland Entertainment, informed me that Seth Chitwood was casting for his web series. I contacted Seth and went out to his home in Rhode Island to audition. We have been working together ever since. Seth is an amazingly talented filmmaker and I am blessed to work with him and the wonderful and supportive talent involved in the project. The project involves some fantastic individuals.
Q: What role did you play in Heat?
A: In “The Heat,” I play a Boston police officer. I am just background, but the experience was amazing. I got to work close to Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. I do not interact with them and I don’t have a speaking role, but my proximity to them allowed me to experience the movie making process closely, which contributed to my education as an actor. Also, the costuming was especially fun to experience. It was the first time that I was dressed in a police uniform, including badge and gun. Once I was all geared up, I could feel myself transform into the role. It was so much fun!
Q: What is your oddest on set story?
A: Oh my, there are many. The one that instantly comes to mind involves a student film. I was doing a movie with a group of Boston University students about an ordinary, blue collar man who is forced to kill another person for money. The scene we were shooting took place in high rise housing for students. When we broke for lunch, we had the usual fare that student productions offer: pizza. When we all sat down to eat in the living room, I looked for plates. No plates. I asked for plates. No plates. Napkins? Nope. Paper towels? Nope. A newspaper? Nope. Magazine? No. Anything to put the pizza on or wipe my hands and mouth with? Nope. Toilet paper? Nada. There was literally nothing to use but the couch we were sitting on to wipe my hands and face. I didn’t even want to think of what dilemma I might be in if nature came calling. It was the strangest thing. As a result, most of the time I carry a small bag to set with a couple of necessities. Lesson learned.
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your acting?
A: By day, I am a college English professor. This greatly influences my acting because I am on stage every day. I have a group of individuals with their eyes on me as I attempt to achieve the goals for the day. I must have good timing, pacing, and control. I must know my objective(s) and act in a way that incrementally achieves those objectives so as not to lose or overwhelm my audience. I must project and I must have personality. I am grateful that I am a teacher because not only am I helping others improve their lives, but I am also getting to continuously practice what it takes to be the focus of an audience. It’s a win-win.
Q: Why do so many people want to be actors?
A: Many people want to be actors because they see them in larger than life roles on screens that fill up two-story walls in dolby surround sound. They see actors’ fame and fortune in People and Us magazines in the checkout aisle at the grocery store. They see the same actors when they go home and turn on the television…well, you get the idea. The cliché, “the grass is always greener on the other side,” comes to mind. The life of an actor appears glamorous and lavish to them. However, what most people don’t realize about acting are two things: 1. The “famous” actors they see every day only comprise the top 1% of all of the actors out there. Most actors are simply trying to be “working actors.” Most actors that comprise the acting community do not appear on the covers of tabloids and do not get paid 20 million dollars for a movie (in fact, many actors work for free!). 2. Acting is a job. Actors must train, get experience, network, audition (imagine having to interview for your job over and over again and be rejected 95% of the time), work long hours, pay their dues by doing the jobs they may not have originally wanted, sometimes work for difficult bosses and coworkers, and be unemployed most of the time, constantly looking for work—all while keeping smiles on their faces. I once heard a famous actor say that it takes a truly insane person to become an actor. Luckily, I enthusiastically welcome the insanity and I love every minute of it!
Q: What famous actor would you compare yourself to and why?
A: To be honest, I am not sure. I shouldn’t admit that out loud because self-awareness is a key component to being an actor, but I really can’t call to mind who I am like. The best I can say is my type. I am usually cast as a lawyer, police officer, businessman, father, blue collar worker (I can grow a beard in only a week), government official, doctor, or host. That said, I hope that I am more than that. I strive to be as versatile as Lewis with the simplicity of Hopkins. I will let the audience decide on this one.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)