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L O S  A N G E L E S  -  Interview - Brandon Karrer  


LOS ANGELES, CA - Recently, Maestro Arts & Reviews correspondent, Michael Upward, sat down with Brandon Karrer (IMDB listing) for a one on one interview about his budding career as an actor, writer and director. 


Michael:   Brandon, thanks so much for taking the time to meet for this interview.

Brandon:  No problem.

Michael:   I understand that you are currently playing the character of Johnny 3:16 in Taking the Jesus Pill at the King King Theatre in Hollywood.  How did you come about getting this part? 

Brandon:   Well, the writer and creator, Charlie Terrell  found me in a bar one night, and we started talking.  Iím not sure if he realized that there was something in me that reminded him of a younger ďCharlieĒ or it was something that tipped him off to the character, but he said to me: ďYou have this kind of aura like this character that I wrote. Would you like to come in and audition for it? Are you an actor?Ē I said that I was, but I didnít lead on that it was what I actually did. I downplayed it, and said ďsure, Iíll come in a read for it.Ē So I auditioned along with some other guys, and I got the part. It wasnít like the traditional audition process. He just ran into me that night.

Michael:  It sounds like it was meant happen.

Brandon:  Yeah, it feels that way too.

Michael:  Have you done a lot of live theater?  

Brandon:  Yeah, I have...Iíve done quite a bit of theater. But I got a little disenchanted with theater in Los Angeles because itís really hard to get people to come out to see theater unless youíre down at the Ahmanson or the Taper. Little theaters in L.A. struggle to get people out to watch them. They struggle to find an audience. Itís not like a San Francisco, or a New York, or even European cities where theater is just something that people do.  Itís not like that so much in L.A. because the entertainment business draws so much focus away from it.  In the past I had done plays in L.A., but had really been disappointed with the turnout.  When youíre doing a play, and you believe in the play, and everyone in the play believes in it, and yet only 10 people show up, itís really hard to get behind it. I mean, you want people to show up. Like any artist, when youíre doing something, and you love it, a little validation goes a long way. But, you can only get your friends to come see the play only so many times. Now, I had done equity plays in Berkeley and prior to that, and I really enjoy performing in theater. I love the audience and the feel.

Michael:  Yes, itís nice to get feedback right away rather than waiting for a year for the release of the movie you are working.

Brandon:  Right, like film, you have to wait so long. I think about these people in these award ceremonies winning awards for parts they did 12 months ago. How odd that must feel. With theater, you get instant gratification. You get to touch the people right there: you move them. Thereís also an intimacy with theater that I think if you create itís really magical. But with movies, with directing, cinematography, and so many other things that need to come together to get that magical feeling with the acting. But, movies are great, because you if you get a little recognition, you get a lot of opportunity. With opportunity, your options become open, when bigger theaters will ask you to do bigger plays.

Michael:  Speaking of movies, I recently the USA film called Focus (aka Shot) that you starred in. 

Brandon:  Oh right. (chuckling) That was done so long ago. As any artist looking back over their earlier work, I am totally susceptible to critiquing myself. Itís so difficult to watch my performance in that. If Iíd known then what I know now, I would have done the part much differently.

Michael:  Well, the character in the movie seemed quite innocent about the violence and the world of gangs, that maybe it fit that you didnít analyze your performance too much at the time.

Brandon:  Yeah, it worked for that. But in the years since that movie, I have really strived to hone my craft. I feel like a rookie baseball player looking back to the time when he stepped up to the plate for his first game in the major leagues. I have a lot more confidence in myself as an actor now. When I watch that film, I see myself as an actor who has talent, but doesnít have much confidence. And confidence goes a long way when you just let go, believing in yourself, whether you hit or miss.

Michael:  Well, it seems that it was good experience for you.   

Brandon:  Oh yeah, it was a great experience. It was fantastic: to be the lead in the first film Iíd ever done, it was nice. And Iíve always been such a fan a movie making that I was never in my trailer. I was on the set watching what everyone was doing. I became a real fan of all the departments.

Michael:  Whatís the role that has had the most impact on your life or your career?

Brandon:  Looking back on it.. Iíd have to say it was first [role] Iíd ever done. A little back story: I was 19 years old, living in a house with a bunch of drug dealers, and on my way to work one night,  I walked past this little theater house about 10 at night. I noticed that the back door was open. I walked in the door and asked the guy who was setting up the stage what they were doing, and I told him that I had always been interested in being in actor. He said they were doing Little Women and that they were auditioning tomorrow. So, I found a copy of it, looked over the part of the main character, auditioned, and actually got the part. The part itself didnít bring me a lot of recognition. There really hasnít been a role that has impacted my career, as of yet. I did a small part in the Cameron Diaz film last year, and I got a lot of attention in People magazine and the Enquirer and my photo was all over for a couple weeks. But, even though this first part didnít do a lot for my career, it impacted me more than anything, because it validated what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. It changed everything for me. Here I was living there with a bunch of drug dealers wanting a different way of  life. I realized that thereís more to life out there, and I wanted to start wrangling my dreams instead of sitting back and daydreaming about what I want. This play helped me realize that ďI can do this. It doesnít just have to a daydream.Ē So from that point on, I kept auditioning for plays, moved to L.A., and found a better place to live.

Michael:  I take it that you didnít have any formal training before that part?

Brandon:  No, I didnít. Itís kinda weird. My upbringing was sort of like the Outsiders. I was out on my own very early on, living with my older brothers. They were eighteen and nineteen and I was around fifteen. There were women, drugs and booze, and no parental figure. Everyone was looking out for themselves, and your friends are your family. So, at that point there was no formal training. Where was I going to get it? I was just trying to survive. When I did this play, it was based solely on instincts. Whatever raw talent I had, I guess the director saw something in me. She really took a chance on me. I had never taking an acting class or a drama class. It was want I wanted to do, but there hadnít been chance for me to pursue it.

Michael:  Have you studied acting or had any musical training since then?

Brandon:  Oh yeah, I have been studying at Ivana Chubbuck Studios for the past five years. I study with Ivana in her master class each week. Iíve tried to take those instincts that I believed in and that raw talent that Iíd been given and have tried to hone it, and to find freedom within the discipline. Not only did it build my confidence, but it also gave me the freedom to try new things. Itís not good enough to just learn your lines, you need to know what to achieve, your objectives and what the director is looking for. I really wanted to elevate everything to the next level. Being in this class for the past five years is part of the reason that I look back on that movie (Shot, USA) the way I do. I see so much growth as an artist and actor [since then], I see a man who can break down the script and see what the character wants, as opposed to just memorizing my lines.

Michael:  It does seem, though, that the instinct is a big part of this.  I have seen actors who have studied for years, following a set of rules, reading books and analyzing other actors, but still donít achieve true success.  

Brandon:  I agree with you completely. Instincts are a huge part. People often say that you got ďit.Ē But, you donít know what that ďitĒ is. What is that? There are a lot of people who just donít have those instincts, but they train their asses off. Thereís just something missing. Then there are those people who have a lot of talent and instincts, but they donít take the time to take that talent and hone it, and discipline it, and to give it an opportunity to soar. But, I think of the actors who have both: actors like Gary Oldman or Chris Cooper   or De Niro. These guys have great instincts, but at the same time they have studied their asses off. Itís not one or the other. I think itís both.

Michael:  You mentioned a couple of actors already, but I was wondering what actor or performer has influenced you the most.

Brandon:  I would probably say Sean Penn.  I look at Sean Penn, and I see what you strive for.  I watch him in Dead Man Walking and other roles, and though I donít try to emulate him, I think that this is the kind of work that I want to do. I heard him say once that at the beginning you try to do whatever part you can get, but when you get to a certain level, there is a responsibility to pick projects that you can stand behind. I look at an actor like that, who sees his position and takes those opportunities. Instead of just taking a part that he can get a lot of money for, he looks for opportunities to actually say something. Also, he writes and directs, taking matters into his hands.

Michael:  Is that something you are interesting doing?  

Brandon:  Sure. Actually, I have been writing in the past two years, and just finished up this short film that I wrote and directed and raised the money for. I have written a couple of movies and pilots that I am trying to get out there right now. What interests me is all facets of the movie business.  I am a huge fan of the entertainment business. Iím not just in it to be an actor so I can be famous and have money. No, I love story telling. As I get older, I want to tell stories as well. So, I took the opportunity to go out, raise some money, and shoot a short film.

Michael:  What was it called?

Brandon:  Itís Like Horse Racing. Just this week, we started sending it out to film festivals. We had a screening for it last month. I invited just a few people, but we ended up packing the place out. Tons of people were there. The reception was great.  

Michael:  Thatís wonderful.  What projects do you have coming up next.

Brandon:  I have a short film that Iíll be shooting after to holidays called The Late Bloomer. Iíve also been writing some pilots, and I just started working on an independent feature with a production company that I pitched it to.

Michael:  Do you have any acting roles coming up?

Brandon:  Well, right now, Iím writing a script about a guy who is in his mid thirties, but by the time it gets done, Iíll probably be about that age. So the timing might just work out for me to do it. (laugh) 

Michael:  Do you have any advice to give people who are just starting out, trying to ďbreakĒ into the entertainment world? 

Brandon:  I would say that...this town is made for dreamers. And, if you stick around long enough, youíll get a shot to make your [dreams] come true. I truly believe that.  You hear about people quitting or dropping out all the time.  But I canít do that. This is what I have to do. I canít think about doing anything else. Also, take chances. Try to put a little bit of power back in your own hands by writing stuff and making stuff. My advice to a lot of friends that come to town saying ďI want to try acting,Ē or ďI want to give it a shotĒ is to study and work at your craft. Acting is something that you need to respect, just like these guys who go to school to learn cinematography or directing. Respect the art of acting enough to take time to put something into it. Because what you put into is what you are going to get out of it. If you sit in acting classes year after year, slugging it out, doing scene work, paying the money week after week, then when you get your shot, youíre going to know what to do with it.

Michael:  We are sending one our reviewers to review your new show, Taking the Jesus Pill.

Brandon:  Itís a fun show. Itís really hard to describe, but when people see it, theyíre say ďwow, I had no idea...Ē

Michael:   It sounds like a part you can really pour yourself into.

Brandon:  Yeah, when they gave me the part, and I took it on, they really let me do whatever I wanted to do. They really


Brandon Karrer in Taking the Jesus Pill

opened up the door for me. They allowed me the freedom to discover a lot of things, and to play.  Thatís what my character is. He plays a lot. Itís a blast. Itís almost like a workout (laughing).

Michael:  Well, Brandon, itís been a pleasure meeting with you.

Brandon:  You too, Iím glad we were able to do this. Thanks.  


Donít miss Brandon in his current production of Taking the Jesus Pill at the King King Theatre in Hollywood.   Read the review by Maestro.


Printable version of the interview.


Return to Arts & Reviews Main Page


Michael Upward is a staff writer and the Chief Editor for Maestro Arts & Reviews. He is an award winning composer and musical director having worked in theaters throughout the Los Angeles area.  He currently performs with Southland Opera and Opera a la Carte.



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