Gary D Lopez is an actor who appears in the film Desert Drive; here is a link to his IMDB page:
Q: What made you interested in acting?
A: Cartoons. “The Flintstones” in particular. That Barney Rubble! What a pro!
OK, maybe it was my tendency to mimic what I heard growing up, you know, impressions and such. Character voices, then foreign accents, and music… Always music, and singing with the radio. My Dad listened to the Top Forty stations, KHJ, KRLA, and KFWB before they changed to an all-news format. Shame.
Flash forward to 2013 when I executive produced a crowd-funded movie with director Frankie Latina that has had multiple titles—“SnapShot”, “Colombia” and now “China Test Girls”—and had Danny “Machete” Trejo starring in it. Spent three days in Milwaukee filming, the result of which, I was “killed” by Danny. They told me I “died” great and that gave me the bug.
Q: What is Desert Drive about?
A: A great little ditty chronicling the road trip of a foursome of twenty-somethings on their way to Coachella. Like Life, it’s about the journey and not the destination. I really liked the fact that Coachella never appears on screen!
Q: What role do you play?
A: A hapless restaurant patron who gets robbed by the funniest criminals since Congress.
Q: How did you become involved with Wickid Pissa Films?
A: Josh Mitchell, Director Extraordinaire, and I went to different schools together! It was fate apparently.
I met a producer in Palm Springs who knew an actor who knew a massage therapist moonlighting as a production manager who knew Josh. And it’s been a fast and fun ride ever since, let me tell you!
We’ve done “Desert Drive”, “Hemorrhage”, “The Convicted” and “My Father’s Teeth” since we met in April 2015. Josh is very talented and prolific! Our optimism levels feed on themselves.
So actually it was networking, something I’ve learned that actors do even more than acting. I’ve been schooled in networking by being a member of the international organization Business Network International, BNI, and I now teach business owners better ways to network as a Director Consultant. This has helped me immensely in this industry. It’s really all part of a plan…
Q: What sort of day job do you have and how does it effect your ability to pursue acting?
A: I’m a self-employed freelance graphic artist, and have been since 2001. When I decided to pursue acting I stopped and thought, “Guess I’ll have to quit graphics and get a job waiting tables!” Fortunately, this was not the case.
Since I set my own schedule and I’ve achieved my goal of a few great clients as opposed to a bunch of good ones, I can get away when I need to be somewhere else for my career building.
Q: What has been the most challenging role you have ever played?
A: Probably being that hapless restaurant patron being robbed in “Desert Drive”. No lines, had to look scared with just my expressions while trying not to laugh aloud at the hilarious ad-libbing of the female robber played by the excellent Libby West! I was terrified of losing every background restaurant patron role for the rest of my career!
Q: Who are some of your acting influences?
A: I enjoy actors who can be diversified in their choice of characters. Some just play the same role repeatedly while others just play their marketed and publicity-crafted personas.
One actor in particular has impressed me with his submersion into his roles, and that’s Paul Giamatti. Not the most famous, but when I see him, my attention is undivided! Watch him in “Sideways” which is good, then see “The Illusionist” and watch and listen to his performance. Genius!
Brad Pitt has played a great variety of characters from the range of his roles in “Se7en” as the hot-headed, inexperienced rookie cop to his portrayal of an Irish terrorist in “The Devil’s Own” and then out to the left field of comedy in “Burn After Reading”. Throw in his Achilles in “Troy” and you’ve still only scratched the surface of his career.
And while I wouldn’t want to compete for a role with her, Julia Roberts’ facial acting in the opera scene in “Pretty Woman” is inspirational to watch. It used to be intimidating to me as a would-be actor, but I’ve channeled it differently.
Q: What is your strangest audition story?
A: I contacted a production company to get a foot in the door to get this acting thing going and I was invited to a casting call for that weekend. I thought “Great! Here we go!”
I get to the casting call—turns out to be a vampire story and it was being held on the patio of a local restaurant… there’s a few red flags that went unheeded— and as the day wears on, I realize they’re looking for 20–40 year olds! Well, with my 20 year surplus in Life I’m thinking “I’m really gonna have to do some great acting to get anything going on here!”
Then I read the script and realized the writer was from Brazil and did not have a great command of “the English” and “how she is spoke”. But I happen to be in love with words and semantics and I’m doing my part to keep English alive by correcting everyone on Facebook in my role as RGN, Resident Grammar Nazi. So I ended up being a script editor on that project.
Ask me that question again in 5 years…
Q: What famous film role would you most like to attempt?
A: Charles Kane of “Citizen Kane” comes to mind because of the epic proportions of the role, but the “why” factor, which is, again, diversification, also brings to mind the role of George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Orson Welles and Jimmy Stewart are stellar in those roles, respectively.
Both of these roles run the gamut of our deepest and most intense emotions. To be able to convey that and do it so well is the true measure of an actor.
But let’s go with the happy ending today and say George Bailey! And that’s my final answer… today at least.
Q: What would you like to change about the film industry?
A: The monopoly of power that exists in certain arenas of the industry, and I cite that solely because of the multitude of great movies that never were seen and ended up in oblivion due to personal differences, special interests or someone’s pocket not being lined with enough green for their greedy needs.
But on a poz note, as I’ve a tendency to accentuate, I really like the resurgence and level of quality that the sci-fi genre is experiencing. This and the Horror genre being some of my favorite pastimes in movies, it’s great to see some excellence in this area. Of course, there’s always been “StarWars“, “Star Trek” and the like, but movies like “District Nine”, “Gravity”, “Elysium”, and others have kept the standard high and rewarding.
So to ALL the directors that are considering sci-fi for your next movie, I once played the Klingon Commander at Universal Studios Screen Test! Crushed it!
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)