Monday, March 26, 2012

175. Interview with Jeremy Rishe (NYU) - Part Three (We Are All Hypocrites)

More...mOrE...MORE on NYU Grad Acting, getting feedback from the universe, and the ultimate First World Problem: HYPOCRISY.

This post is a continuation of the fantabulous interview that was conducted at Park Ave Plaza, NYC on February 3, 2012.

The one...the only...Jeremy Rishe.

Jeremy: There was one time in the movement class [at NYU] when we went on and on for like 15 minutes, and finally the teacher was like, "I’m just going to stop you because this is clearly not going anywhere." Because we couldn’t agree on anything.

And I really think having those experiences of bumping heads, being too polite, not being polite enough, saying no,...failing and not failing. It really led me to a place where I feel very confident that I know how to collaborate. And I think that’s the key to doing something very interesting...collaborating.

I’m not confident enough to sit down, write something, give it to a bunch of people and say, this is what it is going to be, and it’s going to be awesome because I wrote it. This is not how I work. Some do that work that way, but I know that if I’m with the right group of people, it’s going to be good.

So I think it’s really about finding the right group of people and learning how to collaborate. And I really think NYU taught what it is to collaborate. It sharpened my creative intuition in a way. I know the type of people that I want to collaborate with. There are people that have no artistic aesthetic, or their sense of what is quality is very different than mine. And I just don’t want to work with those people. They may go off and do something with their group of friends that is awesome, but it’s not what I want to do.

So I do feel, yes, that I actually have a skill set that has trained me to find the right people, to know how to work with them, know how to create something that is at least interesting to us, and that’s kind of all you’ve got to do to win, I think, is create something that you want to be a part of and you want to see.

And if other people want to see it – I have no control over whether they want to see it. I’d like to think if I know that I’m doing something I know if it is good or not, and maybe I’m fooling myself. So, yes, I know it sounds arrogant, maybe, to say, yes, I do feel like I could create something that is good. Whether anybody else thinks it’s good or chooses to watch it is up to them. But for my aesthetic, yes.

Virginia: But I think it’s great because... what I’m getting from what you’re saying – correct me if I’m wrong – is that you’re coming from a position of power in creating your own work and going, "You know what? Hey I have a point of view, and this is what I want to show."

Jeremy: It’s not an egoic, "Yes, I know"...It’s a self – what’s the word?

Virginia: It’s a self-knowing.

Jeremy: Self-knowing.

Virginia: You know yourself well enough to know what you do well. And you don’t have to do everything well, but these are the things YOU DO WELL and that you enjoy doing.

Jeremy: Yes.

Virginia: I feel like a lot of times as actors, we spend a lot of time figuring out what other people want us to be rather than thinking about who WE WANT TO BE for the world.

Jeremy: I feel empowered enough to say, "This is who I am, take me or leave me." You know?

Virginia: Yes. Yes.

Jeremy: Which I think you have to be as an artist. You have to be like, "You like it or you don’t.... Fuck it. I don’t give a shit. I’m doing it for me anyway."

Virginia: Something else I want to talk about is...diversifying your career. On your website, I saw on your resume that you’ve done T.V. and film and obviously you love theatre, now you’re doing this web series, ... you also do voiceover too. How important do you think that it is as an actor nowadays to be able to do all that stuff?

Jeremy: I think that’s kind of what it is to be an actor. I mean, acting, at the end of the day, to me, is just pretending to be something you’re not. And whatever form that takes, that’s the form it takes. It’s weird 'cause in the last three years, the more I empower myself, the more I realize what I really want to do – at the heart of it – I really want to refine my craft as an actor INTO INFINITY.

There was this thing in Newsweek. It talked about how to be smart...whatever. And it talked about if you always read the New York Times, or read the Wall Street Journal, you know...It listed of all these -- like telling you if you play video games it’s good for blah, blah, blah. Do this or that. Blog. Learn a second language. Play an instrument. All these things. One of the things it said was... master something.

Master one thing.

You know, you could do all this other shit...but find one thing that you’re going to MASTER. You know, it could be, law. So I’m like, "Oh, I’m doing most of these things"...minus – I need to get Rosetta Stone....But yes, I think all these things, they’re like little sandboxes, little tools for the actor like, you know, practicing voiceover stuff, doing a play, working in front of a camera. Which is no different, in my opinion, whether it’s the web or T.V. You know, a camera is a camera is a camera. The size of the screen might change. Whether it’s sitting around reading Shakespeare with your friends, It’s doing anything, anything you can, just to like keep refining that muscle.

It’s a craft. It’s like building a house. It’s a skill like anything else. You know, if you want to know how to juggle, you’re going to have to practice how to juggle. If you want to build houses, you’re going to have to study engineering and physics and practice building. You’re probably going to want to get a hammer and a nail and some wood and practice building stuff.

Virginia: So how do you deal with it when you’re not good at it? You know, obviously when you first started you weren't so sure...Maybe it's your first time in the voiceover booth and you’ve got the headphones on and it’s weird to hear your own voice. And then suddenly you’re at an audition and you’ve got the copy and you’re like, "Whoa, I’m trying to pretend like maybe I know this better than I actually do --"

Jeremy: You just said it right there. How do you deal with it? You pretend. You pretend like you know exactly what you’re doing and you just keep doing it. 'Cause acting is just pretending, and I think the key is just to keep doing it. Like really just to KEEP DOING IT. And who cares if you’re in the booth and you’re like, "This sounds like shit."  Someone’s going to say something. They’re not going to say, "You sound like shit."  They’re going to give you a note to make you sound better or they’re not. I don’t know. They may or may not.

But just by virtue of doing it, you’re going to start getting feedback from the universe. And it’s not necessarily going to be feedback like someone’s instructing you... “All right you need to underline these.” However, you figure out how to do it.

The feedback will start to come. And feedback will come in really weird places just by doing it. Like it will come from your head because you look at that bar and you’re like... "Ugh, I need to be smooth like the metal."...Or a friend is going to say something to someone else, or you’re going to hear a conversation on the subway, and you’re going to be like “That’s exactly what I needed to hear about voiceover work!” or whatever it is. You know?

Virginia: Yeah.

Jeremy: Because something someone once said to me,....I went into a voiceover audition -- it’s like my first one – I’ve auditioned for like three voiceover things in my life. And I’d actually put together my own little voiceover demo. And I was always like voiceover, voiceover, and everyone’s like well, try, but it’s a really small community. So I went in for this book on tape, and something the woman said was that it's a misconception that people say you have to talk really intimate. But actually it’s more like theatre. Like the more animated you are with your body, the better it’s going to be. I’m very monotone so I want to be more like [makes a large gesture] so your mom doesn’t have to get bored listening to my monotone voice. [laughs]

So last week, a friend of mine who directed a film that I was in – same thing – I didn’t have to audition. He was just like, “Let’s make a movie!”....We were doing ADR work which is when you have to rerecord the dialogue cause it was scratchy. And that’s kind of like doing voiceover work only you’re voicing over your voice to your face.  'Cause more often than not I’d say something and they’d be like “louder, louder.” 'Cause when you’re trying to be louder, you’re going to be more animated. Whereas if you’re trying to match to the image on the screen, it’s going to sound flat. The reality is... in the moment you’re actually allowing yourself to be very expressive.

Although, there’s this weird thing in T.V. and in film now. I think it happens more on T.V. where everybody mumbles and everybody talks real quiet. I’m like, "You don’t need that."  'Cause if you watch older movies, watch old actors who we think are great like... I’m talking about people from like the70s, like Al Pacino. Oh, my God, who’s the guy – who’s in The Apartment? Jack Lemmon. Watch those great actors. They might as well be on a stage. They’re not dumbing it down for the camera. My point is that there is something about acting that’s a little bit larger than life no matter what the context is....Even if it's in front of a camera or just your're on a stage, obviously.

Virginia: So you feel like the tools that you’ve learned at NYU helped you to be able to translate your acting into any medium?

Jeremy: Yeah, I do. And I think there’s just...confidence, sheer confidence. That’s a big thing. It really boosted my confidence... Somewhere in my mind, I walk into any audition in any room in any reading, part of me is like, you fuckers have no idea what I know. Whether that’s true or not –

Virginia: Right. Well, you spent three years --

Jeremy: -- three years in acting bootcamp.

Virginia: Intense. Yes. I must say, after going to the alumni talkbacks at NYU that first year [2010] where we met, that confidence of everybody up on the stage even though everybody was at different points in their career -- certainly some people had different showcase experiences so on and so forth. But everybody was super confident in the fact that they had something to give, something to contribute to the industry, and they were completely unapologetic about it. And I feel like a lot of students in the room who were there looking to further their training, were inspired by that very thing. Whether they maybe caught it or not, it’s like, "Oh, my gosh, these NYU actors look like they know what they’re doing. And man, I want to know what I’m doing, too!"

That was something that really shows the strength of the training there. Confidence. Everybody comes out of there being like, “Fuck yeah, give me your script. I’ll take it to the Oscars for you.”

Jeremy: Yeah, absolutely.

Virginia: Also, on a side note, which is your favorite First World Problem webisode? Obviously, you’ve got a million, but what's your current fave?

Jeremy: My current fave. Well, we shot one we call The Party, but it’s not out yet.


Jeremy:  I also like the Meetup: Citizens For Compromise playlist [sneak peak...only available through Apr 3!]...It gets really political, and that’s kind of what we want to do...We want to get a little political.

We want to like take the veil off the idiocy of our country right now... And personally, I think we make our characters look like complete morons.

Virginia: You mean you’re not REALLY complete morons? [laughs]

Jeremy: We’re trying to take on the whole political establishment...not just liberals, not just conservatives. To me, it feels like these characters are liberal-minded people, and so, here they know, bashing Republicans; but at the same time, if people are looking at it the way I look at it, then they’re listening to these idiot liberals who are total morons and sounding like assholes....So, you know, that’s why I like that one.

Virginia: I feel like you guys are really good at exposing hypocrisy. You don't TELL people about it, you SHOW it.

Jeremy: That’s good. I like that. We’re taking on a lot of hypocrisy. We end up going into slavery. It wasn’t even planned that we went that way, but – it ends on a slavery note....and the same idea: hypocrisy. People trying to do one thing but then actually doing another.

Virginia: When you guys are filming a webisode, do you start with a script or an outline? 'Cause it seems to be very improvisational from what I’ve watched, but I can't quite tell.

Jeremy: We started with a bunch of short scripts that were kind of like – they weren’t sketches...they were very brief snippets that were dealing with this issue of hypocrisy, I guess you could say. And then from there, we kind of put down the scripts, and our brains started to work more towards connecting story line dots combined with this feeling of “we’re all fucking hypocrites.” ... Wake up world. Wake up America.

I think it’s uniquely a first world problem that we’re all actually hypocrites. We say one thing, and then we go home and we’re like funneling all our money through Chase even though we’re like, “Down with the banks!”

Virginia: Our actions are not following our values.

Jeremy: Right. And so...the thread of it is trying to connect the storyline dots. "Okay, so these characters meet this way. These characters are going to get divorced. These characters are going to court." And then the dialogue is all improvised, and we riff a lot. There’s a few things a few times where we script things...There were very specific plot points where we would give people a script and say, “All right, say something like this, but make it your own.” It’s kind of a mix. But the majority of it is improvisation around a very solid idea of what we want to say and of what event needs to occur to connect this episode to another one, if that makes any sense at all.

Virginia: Yes. It does.

Jeremy: It makes sense to me.

Virginia: Yikes! We’re running out of time... Let me just ask one more grad school related question... What do you think is the best reason to go to a master’s program and what you think is the worst reason?

Jeremy: I think the best reason to get your master’s degree in acting is because you have to be an actor. Something in you is telling you that YOU HAVE TO DO THIS and there’s no other choice...combined with wanting to be a good person. Because I think that’s really at the heart of actor training.

I think the heart of any art form is about opening yourself up to humanity and embracing the world. And I think that’s kind of the same thing. It’s on you and on the program.

Are you going to go to a place that is not only going to help you become a better actor, but also help you to become a good person and to be ready to represent humanity as you see it? And I think if that’s your calling, then you should do that.

I think the worst reason to go would be – I don’t know – I think the worst reason to go would be because – because someone else told you SHOULD. That would be the worst. What a waste of money and time! “You should go to grad school."  "But I don’t want to, but they said I should." You know?

Virginia: Yes. That’s a great answer. 'Cause I feel like that’s very common. ...Time is up. Wow. Thank you, sir, for meeting with me, sharing your experiences and speaking so freely about your work.

Jeremy: Thank you.

Virginia: I am done with you. [laughs.]

Jeremy: I feel so privileged that you asked me to be a part of this.


<End of Recording>

(Awwww....Seeeeriously, Jeremy...It is I who am privileged to get to have an excuse to sit down and ask you allllll the questions I want to....all in the name of my blog! Whah ha ha ha ha!!!!...Cannot wait to see more First World Problem...exposing the hypocrisy of America...Stan and Annie style.)


P.S. Now here's a monologue for you... I can tooooootally relate to his First World Problem...Only, instead of that whole bit about the "restaurant"...insert the words "get me into f-ing grad school already."

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