The season premiere of “Justified” on FX is still almost a month away. For fans of the series, co-star Nick Searcy, better known as Raylan Givens’ boss Chief Deputy Marshal Art Mullen, has taken to the web to teach aspiring actors the secrets to being a Hollywood success with his new series “Acting School with Nick Searcy.”
There are undoubtedly many aspiring actors who dream of having a career in the entertainment business but fear they will never have the chance because their conservative beliefs are shunned by the Hollywood intelligentsia. Who better to turn to for career advice than a conservative actor who has achieved that dream despite the odds being stacked against him?
Searcy was kind enough to spend some time with me to talk about his career path, “Justified” and his new comedy web series.
Are you familiar with Big Hollywood?
Yeah, you know, I used to write for it under a pseudonym long, long ago when it first started. I used to write as Mr. Wrestling IV. I had four or five columns up, I think. Andrew [Breitbart] kind of encouraged me to do that. This was at the beginning when they were just getting started. It wasn’t as tough to get articles posted as now, I’m sure. It just got to the point where I didn’t want to keep publishing under a pseudonym. I started to feel like I was being chicken.
You wrote under a pseudonym. Was there ever any hesitation of career impact once you did come out and start voicing your conservatism at all?
Yes, I guess is the short answer. Although, I must say, I was always open about being a conservative, mostly because before I realized that it wasn’t cool to be one, it was too late. When I started acting I was in North Carolina. There are a lot of conservatives around there. It’s not like you’re some kind of leper or something in North Carolina. So by the time I got out here I just sort of assumed people were the same everywhere.
I always shot my mouth off at work about whatever I thought anyway. But when I started writing, it was more that I wasn’t really confident in myself as a writer more than it was that I was afraid about being conservative. I was kind of like; well I’m not really even sure that I’m any good at this, so I’m going to do it under a pseudonym in case I’m terrible. It wasn’t really so much that I was afraid to be known as a conservative. People who know me already knew anyway.
You got a relatively late start to your career in Hollywood. Your first credit is “Days of Thunder” in 1990 when you were 31.
I spent a lot of time in New York in my twenties trying to get started the conventional way, doing a lot of theatre. I remember when I was in a class up there in my twenties, this casting director came to the acting class and said “you know, you’re probably not going to work until you’re 32 or 33, but then you’re going to work a lot.”
I was 27 at the time going, “that is insane. That is just absolutely not true.” Then, of course, it was completely true.
I didn’t really get started until 1990. I was 31. Then pretty much after “Days of Thunder” I didn’t have to do anything else. I made my living as an actor from then on.
Have you gone back and done any theatre since then or has it all been television and movies?
I haven’t had the chance, but this coming March, as soon as filming for “Justified” ends, I’m going right into rehearsal for the first play I’ve done in probably 20 years. I’m doing a production of a new play called “Billy and Ray” that a friend of mine wrote and we’ve been trying to get started for a couple of years. It’s a play about Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler who wrote “Double Indemnity” together. I’m going to play Raymond Chandler and my friend, Kevin Pollak, is going to play Billy Wilder. It’s at the Falcon Theatre, Garry Marshall’s theatre in Toluca Lake.
How did you become involved with “Justified?”
I’ve known Graham Yost, who created the show, since “From the Earth to the Moon.” Graham was one of the producers on it. He and I always got along pretty well. So for 15 years I was writing him and saying “don’t you ever think about me? You’re doing all this great stuff and you never think about your old buddy Nick? I thought you liked me.” After 15 years of that I think he finally had to cough a role up for me. He actually told me later that when he first started the project he kind of had me in mind for this part from the beginning.
Which do you prefer, film or television?
To me it’s sort of the same. The bigger films, the pace of them is different and the size and scope of them is different. But some of the smaller independent films the pace is very similar to television. I think I actually prefer the pace of television. You get more done in a day, it keeps you more focused. Sometimes on a big feature film it seems to take far, far longer to do things than it should.
Any insight for our readers on the upcoming Season 4?
It’s a different year than the other three, I would say. We’re sort of taking it in a new direction. I don’t want to give too much away. It’s not really a big bad guy year. In the past it’s always been one big, vocal bad guy. We’re not doing that this year. There’s still a through line, there’s still a story. It just doesn’t center around the bad guy. Basically, we just all protested we’re sick of the bad guys coming in and winning Emmys and then leaving.
Before the new season of “Justified” airs in January, fans can get their fix of PeabodyAward-winning International Film and Television Star Nick Searcy (which is the title you prefer) thanks to your new web series “Acting School with Nick Searcy.” What can fans expect to learn from you?
“Acting School with Nick Searcy” was created to cover a lot of things that other acting schools don’t teach like how to deal with your family and how to deal with fans. And how important your parking space is. And how important it is to cut in front of the crew at lunch so that everybody knows who’s boss, those kinds of things.
Was this your brainchild or are you working with somebody?
I have a partner in crime in this. My friend Chris Burgard sort of helps me put it all together. It’s basically he and I and whoever else I can talk into doing the crazy things we come up with. We’re planning to make at least 10 episodes. We’ve got six already shot. Basically I’m going to make 10 and then see what happens with it. See if anyone wants to continue.
My friend Stephen Root, character actor, came in and did an episode with me. There’s some coming up that Timothy Olyphant makes an appearance in. We also just shot an amazing episode with Iraq War veteran and author Bryan Anderson, who is a really great guy and a damn good actor too. That episode is so crazy it might get me kicked off the internet. We’re still trying to figure out exactly what information aspiring actors really need to know.
Is it mostly scripted or is it ad lib?
It’s mostly scripted, but things occur. And some are more scripted than others. Like the Stephen Root episode, there’s an awful lot of improv in that one. There’s an episode called “Workout Time” about my exercise regimen, and how I look the way I do, and that one was pretty tightly scripted. Each one’s different.
Is that really your wife in the show?
It’s funny, everybody always asks me that. Yes, it’s really my wife, it’s really my son. Basically everybody in the show plays themselves. I don’t change any names. The funny thing is my daughter, who appears in the first episode, she started her own show, too called “Chloe and Zoe." A friend of mine said our house is like web series central. We’re covering all the demographics here. We’ve got one for the young people; we’ve got one for the older demographic.
Do you have any desire to direct or write?
I directed an independent feature film back in 1995. I enjoyed it. I also realized how much timeand work it was. About halfway through it I realized I really liked that little job I had where I sat in my trailer, learned my four or five lines, griped about what was on the craft services table, and then just went home after my bit was done. I really liked that job. I’m going to go back to that job.
In a sense, me doing “Acting School with Nick Searcy” kind of fulfills that director, creative urge for me. To be a director in television or any sort of big budget entertainment like that,you’re really collaborating very closely with an awful lot of people. And I don’t have patience for that. I like calling up my friend Chris and saying, “I’ve got a funny idea, let’s go shoot it” and him saying “I don’t know if that’s going to work, but let’s go.”
The fourth season of “Justified” begins Jan. 8, 2013 on FX. Please follow Nick on Twitter @yesnicksearcy