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Category:    Home > Interviews > Acting > Entertainment Industry > An Interview With Actor Cuyle Carvin

An Interview With Actor Cuyle Carvin

By Fred Grandinetti, FulvueDrive-in.com

Cuyle Carvin is best known for his roles in the horror genre and independent films. In recent years he has surfaced on various television programs including Law and Order SVU, NCIS, The Mentalist, Ironside, Hawaii Five-0 and NCIS: Los Angeles. I had the opportunity to speak with Cuyle regarding his film & television roles and the advances in his career.

Fred Grandinetti, FulvueDrive-in.com: What films are you in which have been released on DVD?

Cuyle Carvin: Dragon Day, Alien Opponent, Assault of the Sasquatch, Mineville, Branches. The End of Something comes out end of 2014.

FG: You have played parts in the mystery, horror, science fiction, family, and the comedy genre. Has any particular role been a challenge to portray?

CC: Generally, every project has had some kind of challenge involved but the challenge doesn't always stem from 'an actor prepares' standpoint, sometimes it's the logistical challenges of filming that are the toughest to get through. For a long time, I'm talking the majority of my professional career, I didn't have a 'method'. I didn't have any kind of specific routine when preparing for a role and it always made me nervous that I wouldn't be able to perform to certain standards. So every time I landed a role, it was a mix of happiness, excitement but also terror that I just wouldn't do a good job. My very first indie film, Person of Interest, I almost turned down because of that exact reason. I was brand new to the industry, I'd never acted in anything other than a handful of college plays. I auditioned for the film and ended being offered the role. I told the director, Christopher Ward, that I'd have to think about it. So Hollywood of me right? Honestly, I was terrified of doing it. I literally called my friends and family and asked for advice. I told them if I do this film and suck, it would be the end of my career. Ultimately, I decided to do the film and it was a fantastic decision but before it all started, I was terrified. It's a funny memory now, looking back and seeing how bright eyed and naive I was about the situation. Thankfully, I don't get that way any more. There's still some nerves present for auditions and showing up to set for the first time, but it's at a natural level. Now I still don't have a definitive 'method' in the way that some actors have or that you hear about, but I definitely go in with a loose game plan now. The most different character I've played is either my role in The End of Something or Fog Warning. I play a goofier, gregarious, hipster kind of guy in The End of Something and a cold blood killer in Fog Warning. I personally think my performance in The End Of Something is one of my best because the role was really close to who I am at heart, so there wasn't as much searching for that one. Usually I play serious characters, a lot of military, which are actually a little tougher to play for me because they require certain perspectives that I just don't have since I was never in the military.

FG: The web series you star in, Revelations, has received a lot of attention. What is the series about and how did you become involved with the project? Was it the creator's intention to leave it open-ended or is a conclusion to the series on the horizon? Will there be a DVD release of the series?

CC: Revelations is set in the present day except it's as if there's been a Biblical rapture. Demons scour the earth looking for any remaining humans. I love the project because it's a cool spin on a flooded apocalyptic genre. I got involved in the project through the run of the mill auditioning process. We shot the first few episodes but then lost some key crew members and funding. I loved the show and part so much that I offered to help the creator of the show, Robert Ryan, produce the remaining episodes. So we ended up shooting six more episodes. Three of those are online, the last three episodes may or may not be released depending on the interest of the series being turned into a feature film. If it is released as a film, the episodes won't be released online and you'll have to see the film to see the story in it's entirety. Either way though, it will eventually be online for viewing. I'm proud of the series, especially considering the very low budget and the limited manpower in getting it done. Robert did a great job from start to finish on this. The conclusion of the series is interesting and I think it is somewhat thought provoking and up for interpretation. I'll be interested to see what the reaction will be like.

Go to http://revelationstheseries.com/?page_id=59 to keep updated on Revelations.

FG: Is it true you started out as a nude body double to Robert DeNiro? This answer needs some explanation.

CC: My first experience with a big Hollywood movie was rather memorable. I was living in NYC and I got a call to be an extra on the movie The Good Shepherd [the second feature film DeNiro directed]. The casting office needed to see a shirtless pic of me to see if I'd work. I sent it off to them and then they called back and said, "Mr DeNiro approved." I thought that was pretty cool at the time. On the phone casting told me that they needed a nude body double for one of the actors in the film and that I'd have to be comfortable showing my ass on camera. No problem with me, I do squats. In the scene there's a character that commits suicide by jumping out of skyrise. Of course this character is naked when doing so. I was to be the naked version of him.

Fast Forward to shoot day. I show on set and walk into what I thought was the right set location. I walk into a set of double doors and Robert De Niro is standing there, mid conversation on his phone. He looks up at me and shoos me away. I walked back out and found where I should've went. Costume put me in a jogging suit as it was easy to take off once time came. I was driven down into the middle of Manhattan and sat in a van for a couple hours while they set up the lights and such. Now this was January 17th, mid of winter in NYC. It was about 9pm and temperatures were in the teens. Naturally the huge lighting setup, street blockades, and cameras attracted all of NYC to the scene. Then I got the signal to go to set. They show me where I'll be lying, they have me lay on the street to set up final lights and such. They decide I'm going to be face up, not face down. So this changed everything, my ass was not going to get it's fifteen minutes, instead my dick was to be the star of the show. Naturally I became pretty nervous and a bit mad, but then I figured that no one knew me so what's the harm. So production said it's time, I ripped off my clothes and I was butt naked in NYC in the middle of winter. The worst part however was the crowds, the massive crowds that had gathered to see the film being shot all GASPED once they saw me take my clothes off. I still don't know if that was a good gasp or a bad one. Being a man, we always assume the worst when we're naked right? So I laid on the ground, we shot a few takes. Then we had to start over because the law says that I couldn't be naked in public. So they gave me this tiny triangle of sheer, see through fabric to cover my junk. We did a few more takes and that was it. I've never been as cold as that day and I'm actually glad it happened because cold is all relative to me now. I remember shaking uncontrollably by the time we were at our last few takes, they had to be done because I couldn't stop my body from shivering. Overall the filming took about 20 minutes, so I was only nude in front of thousands for people for a short time. If you watch the movie, I'm near the end. The way they edited the film, you wouldn't ever know it's me or anyone. You'll see they positioned me in a way that my leg was covering my junk, but I'll question you - do you really think that's my leg?

FG: Personally I have never felt comfortable with the term 'B' picture. A lot of my favorite films have fallen into this category but stood the test of the time. You have appeared in many 'B' movies but made a successful transition to roles on series television. Any formula for this or is perseverance the key?

CC: I don't mind the B labeling on many of the films I've done. It's just a classification, but I don't take any offense to it or think of it as insulting at all. Some actors spend their careers doing B movies and have very much success doing, and many B films go on to be cult classics in their own right. I'm not sure if there's really any kind of formula from doing smaller projects and then moving onto to bigger ones. Some actors do both, on purpose and accident. Danny Trejo is one of them. He does a ton of work, some it ends up in thousands of theaters across the world, and other projects of his barely make it to DVD and fit very well into the "B" world. I have a few friends who do a ton of B movies and nothing else, but that's not for the lack of trying. For me, I'm not opposed to that work but generally I've made the choice that I want to focus my energy into booking major TV and film. I'm sure I'll still end up doing so called B level films, but again, that's just part of having a career in this industry. If anything, I'd say that the only way to really transition to 'bigger' projects is to make the choice to focus elsewhere. Ha! That makes it sound like we can just work at will, I don't mean that at all. I just mean if someone really wants to work on network TV and leave behind the smaller indie stuff, it's just a choice to make and put it into motion.

FG: How have you found working with the more established performers? Do they greet you cordially or is their simply little time to get to know someone or the set of a television series or TV-movie?

CC: There's a saying here in Hollywood "The higher up you go, the nicer the people are" - And I have to agree. I mean, I'm still near the bottom of the food chain but as I'm making progress and meeting more 'names', I'm finding the majority of them are very nice, accommodating individuals. We all hear horror stories about Hollywood and I certainly have a few minor experiences of that nature but it's very few and far between. There have been a few stars I've met that weren't interested in talking with me at all, but I don't hold that against them. They meet tons and tons of people all the time and they never know people's agendas. Plus some are just very into their work so chit chat isn't on the table. I can imagine it's tough being a celebrity. People are probably always trying to meet you, get a quick picture, an autograph, etc... so it's fair to say that some of these stars would rather just recoil on set, relax while they can and not have to be in the limelight.

Most of the work I've done on TV has been 1 - 4 days of filming. Much of that time is spent in your trailer honestly. There are tons of people on set and the majority of them all have very specific jobs to do that require their attention the whole day. Actors, when not physically on set, are usually in their trailer if they're not at the crafty table - my favorite spot. So there's not much time for getting to know people anyway. Of course that'd be different if I spent more time on set, then there'd naturally be more time to meet people. I've gotten to know a lot people, cast and crew, on movie sets though. They're not shot at such a quick pace, so I'm usually around people more on movies.

FG: In a recent interview for your hometown school paper you advised students not to pursue an acting career. Why?

CC: I'll basically repeat what I said to them... Basically I just want hopefuls to know that pursuing a legitimate acting career, one where you make a living, is unbelievably hard and the sacrifices you have to be willing to make are more than you will be comfortable with. The glitz and glamour that we are accustomed to seeing is just a facade for the years of struggle and sacrifice that you're about to embark on. Nothing can prepare you as it's an industry that you have to learn the hard way and sometimes, painfully and slowly adapt in order to make it. But of course if you love it, then that won't stop you.

"Don't do it. Find something else to do that you can be happy doing. It's not glamorous, that's only what you think it's like because of what you see and read in magazines and the Internet. There's no money in it, you'll be poor, poor to the point that every penny seems like $100. You'll have to leave all your friends and family behind at some point, if you truly want to pursue it on a professional level. You'll be rejected over and over and over and over again on a daily basis, countless times you will hear NO before you get out of bed in the morning. You can work and sacrifice for fifteen years of your life and never see a dime or even get a single part in a TV show or movie. If you can read all that and be unfazed, then you can start thinking about pursuing a career in front of the camera.

This is always a tough question to answer, one that I asked a long time ago too. And you'll find so many people saying the same things - DON'T. I never understood why established and successful actors and celebrities, who were obviously successful at what I want to do, advising hopefuls to 'do something else'. Now, over ten years of being in this business, I fully understand what they meant and whole heartedly agree with their advice. It's a tough, tough business. I don't think there's anything like it, no industry to compare it to. There's no corporate ladder to climb, there's no step by step process, you don't make money for a long time (if ever), and there's just no guarantee of a job, ever. It sounds harsh but that's the reality of this business.

To help paint a picture, when I started out, I didn't have any idea of where/how/who/what I was supposed to do - heck, some days, I still don't. It took a good two years just to get my bearings straight and even begin heading towards some kind of path I thought may be beneficial. I worked for free for many, many years, never saw a dime from acting. I worked various part time jobs to make rent and eat, spent tens of thousands of dollars that I didn't have (thanks Visa, MasterCard and American Express!) on classes, workshops, pictures and more. It's been doing this for over a decade and I'm still paying off the debt I created from many years of struggle. I was prepared to live out of my car, I never had to but I have friends that have had to, I know people who couldn't afford anything except bread and peanut butter for every meal, every day. Over a decade and I'm not a household name - my neighbor doesn't even know my name, I'm not a millionaire, there's no fame, there's no fortune. I'm rejected everyday, I fail daily. I get about 1% of the acting jobs that I audition for, out of more than thousand auditions which has spanned over more than ten years, I only have about fifteen legitimately professional credits. I still work a day job. Often times, there is no free time, no time for hobbies because of classes, workshops, working a job, studying, etc. For awhile it was and still sometimes is, eat, sleep, breathe acting business, and not even because you want to, but because you have to in order to keep your dream alive. The worst of it all, I've had to leave all my friends from high school and college, and my family behind. And I'm not whining, I'm telling you this because this is typical for any actor and it's what to expect.

Sure we all hear stories about someone plucked from obscurity and thrust into stardom for instant fame, money and "success", but that is not going to happen to you. One of my favorite quotes is, "How does one become successful? - Right Decisions. How does one know which are the right decisions? - Experience. How does one gain experience? Wrong Decisions." You will fail, hopefully over and over again until the doubt creeps in and you just want to give up. And that is exactly how you will succeed.

And honestly, there's no one path to take. Every actor finds their own way and I promise you, they're all different, all million of them. All I can really offer is that you keep consistent, do the work - no shortcuts, have patience, persistence, positivity and be yourself, not what you think others want or need you to be. And just know that this industry is full of opinions and don't listen to any one who tells you that there is only one way or the way to do it, including me. Believe in yourself, your talent and don't ever underestimate that you belong."

FG: What is on the horizon for Cuyle Carvin?

CC: Will I just booked a new HBO show called The Brink. I'll be filming that in early October. Also booked a movie called A Million Happy Nows which will probably be a straight to DVD at some point in 2015. That shoots in December and stars a ton of soap opera stars. Sometime this fall/winter I'll be starring in a Hallmark Movie called Mr. Fiction. I'm looking forward to that. Other than that, I'll be happy spending time celebrating Halloween year round.

FG: Here is a link to Cuyle Carvin's 2014 Demo Reel.


To learn more about the actor please go to www.cuylecarvin.com


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