For some reason, a slight southern undertone never fails to put the listener at ease. Peeking out here and there, in the swings between vowels and constantans, softening the blow of the end of a word, a hint of Dixie means there's more; a whole other life set aside in a quest to achieve something different. When Stacey Souther speaks, it's akin to a charming, well-behaved boy in a candy store. He's not gobbling up goodies by the handful, straining his pocket seams with butterscotch buttons, rather, he's awestruck by the sheer everything presented – the compartments, jars, all the individually-wrapped morsels in between -- and is eager to share.
Print it Out and Be the First on Your Block to Have Your Own Souther Pic!
In the as-yet-to-find-distributor film, THE ESSENCE OF DEPP, Souther portrays Tom Hanson, a man devoted to embodying all that is Johnny Depp and who is eager to share his small world with the rest of the world. Having adored the film, I can only imagine great things to come for it. A year from now, two years from now, I'll be lucky if Souther's agency has time to respond to my queries with even a "Best Wishes!" photo. So, best to get all my questions answered while his days are still free. Must say, too, interviews are generally conducted after one has arrived, so to speak. So, wouldn't it be an interesting read, a person who is currently in the trenches, hoping for opportunities – but more than that, really. Someone who actually has a great product burning a hole on a shelf, and is sitting on the wheelbase, nearly within touching distance of the wings of arrival?
Souther: Oh! We should've had wine for the interview!
Me: Or a martini. Mmm – an apple martini!
Souther: The best martini I ever had was a tangerine martini.
Me: Really? Tangerine?
Souther: Yeah! You wouldn't think so – but it was so good.
It occurred to me at this point, five minutes in, with that Flaming Lips song clanging around in my head, I might not be an interviewing wunderkind. But, to Mr. Souther's credit, we toiled on.
Hailing from Dalton, Georgia ("The carpet capital of the world!" Souther didn't quite exclaim), deciding to become an actor was problematic. For one, there's not a huge call for 'dem movie actors in Dalton, Georgia...
Did you act at all, while living in Georgia?
Souther: Not really. I'd done two small plays – but I didn't want a lead part or anything. I didn't know what I was doing, so I just wanted a small part, to learn instead of embarrassing myself onstage.
But you just pulled up stakes and set off for LaLa Land? That took some brass tacks.
Souther: Well, I didn't want to be seventy-five and say, "what if?" You know, people go to school and date the girl and get a job, then retire. Then they go to Florida. Not knocking them – I have a lot of friends and family at home living that life... but there's so much more out there. I wanted to see more.
You know, Brad Pitt never acted, things worked out. I considered that, and thought, maybe I'll see what happens. So, he inspired me, in a way. Granted, he got lucky – won the acting lottery, so to speak. But he studied and worked hard. So, I never really acted back home, but had to see for myself. I had a little landscape business back home. I'd always wanted to move out here, and so I thought, I'll just go and see what happens. Go out there, get a teacher, learn the craft. Who knows? Maybe it'll work out, maybe I'll meet a girl – so I moved.
The locals must have been shocked!
Souther: It's funny you'd say that – it's kind of weird. It's not even about being an actor. It's kind of like a small town mentality. People aren't really that supportive of things. You know, "you'll be back", or "things aren't better out there." They're not, "oh wow – that could work out." There's
just not a lot of positive. But no one can say you can't go. So, some people just set you up to fail, in a way. However, there were friends of mine who were genuinely awed by it. Friends just about to get married, bogged down in their job, saying, "Oh, man, I wish I could do that."
That Scene-Stealing Dog -- Dylan
You know, everyone has dreams – grow up to be a cowboy, or an astronaut.
But then you should grow up, right?
Souther:Yes, exactly. Friends of mine I know who have all sorts of responsibility, sometimes I look at them, and notice, my God, they're old. But things age you – being free keeps you young.
So, the big move – but then the learning commenced?
Souther: Things have a way of working out – falling into place. I was subletting an apartment, and I met some girl. We were talking, exchanged numbers and emails, but I was supposed to meet her once, and she flaked on me. Then she called me out of the blue, gushing, "Oh, I told my friend all about you – he's an agent, he wants to meet you." Crazy! I thought, we only spoke for, what, twenty minutes? What could she have possibly told him about me?
An agent is an agent, though, so I met him. He was nice, looked over the pictures I'd brought, but said I had to get some new shots. I was so new in town, didn't have much money, which he well knew. So, he told me to call this guy, "He'll give you a good deal." But he didn't. Back I went. "He didn't? Really? Oh, well, then call her. She'll give you a good deal."
He connected me to Audie England (FREE ENTERPRISE) – I called her, and she was great! Such a relief! We spoke on the phone, had a terrific conversation. I ended up going over, checking out her portfolio of headshots. There was a Clayton Rohner one in the mix. When I pointed it out, she explained, "That's my boyfriend." Then she went on, "You have to meet him! I think you two would get along..."
Rohner was doing GvsE at the time, but had a couple of days off. So, we met and became really good friends – he's like my family.
He was teaching an acting class then, and told me, "You've gotta come and take my class." So, I did. The rest is history.
Did you learn a lot in Clayton's class?:
Souther:He's a great actor, and a great teacher – and I think he would push me even harder, because we are friends. Being nice doesn't help you any, you know? You want somebody who is going to tell you the truth, tell it like it is. Acting isn't this really nice, sweet thing. It's really hard. Acting's a bitch.
If you're friends with someone and really close to them, you can learn a lot from them. I was really fortunate, when I moved here, to get hooked up with him and to start this friendship with him.
Was there a point, after you moved, and were taking lessons, meeting actors, that you rethought your decision?
Souther:Hmm... no, I don't think I really have. I mean, you have good scenes and bad scenes. You'd have people whose work you admire – people you've seen in movies or on TV – after class, they'll come up to you and say, "Oh, wow – I loved that scene you did!" It gives you a high for days. But sometimes, when you fuck a scene up... you feel down, but you work on it, and hopefully, the next time you come in, you'll do better.
People will ask, "How long you gonna give it?" How can you say something like that? Oh, I'm going to give it six months, or so. You measure it like that – there's no time limit. Maybe I'll want to try something else eventually, who knows. But for now, this is what I'm doing.
What about the absence of the strong Georgia twang? Did you do away with it on purpose, to get gigs, or did it just fade in time?
Souther:Oh, wow, when I first moved to L.A., it was pretty heavy. I mean, it would sound as if I was saying, "ass cream"
instead of ice cream. Or "raaayice" instead of rice. But I thought I'd keep it, you know, it'd make me different – stand out. But finally, it was Clayton who pointed out, "Dude, you've gotta drop the accent."
Souther as Depp, Before He had a Keen Fashion Sense
There was an interview with Rohner I came across, in which he spoke of his class. Of his students, he surmised there were three types: Really lazy, lazy, and dedicated. He went on to say that even the dedicated ones would exhaust themselves with it periodically, be off their game for a couple of months. Do you agree?
Souther: (laughing) Yeah, that's totally true. But I'm pretty dedicated when it comes to that. You know, I'll fall of the wagon now and then, but pretty dedicated. But I agree with Clayton – you can only work so hard for so long. Then you have to recharge, I think – find your inspiration again. But I think it's true for all artists. ... I think that's a lot of reason for all the alcohol and drug abuse among artists, all through the ages. I mean, look at Kerouac or Hemingway. The trick must be to try not to get lost while finding the inspiration. Take an actor who just devoted months on end to doing a film. After concentrating on a single project, every day, they have to decompress some way. I mean, you're doing all that for months and months, and suddenly, you don't have anything to do. What do you do? It's tricky. Keeping your wits about you.
Do you hit the audition circuit a lot?
Souther: "Haven't been out on anything in a long time. My last manager was a great one – discovered a lot of talent, Reese Witherspoon, Tara Reid, etc. But she was having some health issues, and the business was at a weird spot, with the strike coming up. Then the strike came... she pretty much dropped everyone. Don't have any representation right now. But the strike will balance out soon, and things will change. Things were grinding to a halt in anticipation of the strike, and with virtually nothing shooting now, no one is taking on new talent. However, once things are settled, I'm sure there will be a thirst for some fresh people.
So how did ESSENCE come about?
Souther: One day, my friend Susanne Robbins called me up. We'd been coming up with ideas for different things, and she'd always say, "We really have to do something for you." Nothing ever came of it though. But then, she was helping a friend, and was going through headshots, happened to see one of mine and a line flashed in her head, "Being Johnny Depp." She wrote a short script – and called me, "I've got the perfect thing, and it's for you." And she goes, "I'm just going to tell you the name, nothing else though." So, I read it, loved it. We added things, hammered out some details. Just fleshing it out. Adding characters and questions...
I'd go over to her house, and we'd drink a couple of bottles of wine. She'd turn on her recorder and ask me questions – just off the fly, as she would in the movie, and I was guiding the character that way. Nearly everything of just her and I speaking, we came up with just sitting around. Most all of that made it into the film. Like the Serenity Depp Prayer, we were switching it around, coming up with crazy stuff. It was really fun – the whole process. Just getting together and working on it.
What was the best part of the filmmaking process for you?
Souther: It was fun, and more than. All these people like Clayton, people who've been around and are very talented. Working with Christian LeBlanc and David Lago – these award winning actors, doing their thing -- and I haven't really done anything. It's like playing tennis: if you're an average player, you can feel as though you're at your zenith in the sport – but then, if you play against someone who's more experienced, they suddenly up your game. They volley out things you didn't expect, didn't think about, but you toss it right back. Working with
people whose talent I really admired – just being in the scenes with these really great people."
What You *Should* See on a Shelf at your Local DVD Emporium
What projects are currently in the works?
Souther:Susanne was going to film a short, and I was going to work on it with her. Some of the same people from ESSENCE – Christian, Lago, Allie, and a couple others. It's still kind of up in the air right now, but I'm going to try to write some stuff on my own.
Do you write often?
Souther:Well, I've never sat down and wrote things on my own... but after working on ESSENCE, working through some of that. The hardest part is the first page. It's daunting, but if you're scared, you'll never start. I really have to be pushed to do things. Like, if I was going to box, and my trainer is there, telling me what to do, I'll do it. But at home? I wouldn't do the fifty pushups, I'd be sitting there, thinking, "Oh, I have to do my laundry." That's the good thing about having a partner – if I *know* I have to meet them at nine o'clock, I'll get up and go do it. But on my own, I'll just get lazy, and keep pushing it away. I guess I work better with others.
Anything you always wanted to have appear in an interview?
Souther:Boy, I don't know. Gosh, you ask some good questions.
Yes, my best question was, "what would you ask yourself?"
With remakes being so big, what's a movie that you would like to be in, if remade?
Souther:Maybe something like, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, or AMERICAN GIGOLO... it'd be a totally different movie now. Though, if they updated it the right way, it could be pretty cool.
As an actor, what would you like to be remembered for?
Souther:Well, I'd like to say I don't care about the money – which is true, as long as there's something in the bank – but it's the art. You know, I can't paint, but I can act. I'd rather be remembered more for my contribution to film, than for one, specific, role.
Since it's entirely possible some of our readers might be in the Tween demographic, here's some super-fun, printable factoids!
Favorite Horror Film:
AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
Favorite Movie Snack:
I love coconut, so a really good, chocolate coconut bar – not Mounds, but a high end chocolate coconut.
Me: How about those Samoas from the Girl Scouts?
Souther: Oh, those things are fucking good, man. When I was a kid, and it was Girl Scout cookie time, that was the only box I cared about.
Tester Film of Choice:
Maybe ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST – it was such a great film.
Pink or Grey.
(to clear up any misconception over color choice) Sexual Orientation:
Hetero. I like girls.
Hero or Villain?
Hero – but more the antihero. Someone you wouldn't expect heroism from, who had to overcome great obstacles to achieve it.
Lothario or Baxter?
Oh, Lothario, definitely. There are a lot of ways you could play it. Lots of layers you could explore, with a character like that.
So, if you happen to be shooting any films in the greater L.A. area, do keep Mr. Souther in mind – he's a bonafide sweetheart, and his salary is fully negotiable.
And he once helped move furniture for Patricia Arquette in preparation for a children's party she was throwing. (Of all the furniture I've moved in my lifetime, I've never had anything so interesting to say of it.)
For more info on Stacey Souther, check him out at: http://www.myspace.com/staceysouther
email this column to a friend
Comment on this Column:
|Sorry, you must be a member to add comments to columns.|
Join or Login.
Subscribe to MatchFlick Movie Reviews through RSS
Every other Saturday
See what falls out when a redheaded film junkie bangs her head on the desk.
If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Angela Mac by clicking here.|