One of the best things I’ve done in growing Sonic Cinema over the past 6-7 years has been embracing the idea of filmmaker requests of films they’re in or have made. It started slow– one in ’06, one in ’07, two in ’08 –but in 2009, the requests began coming in so fast it was difficult to keep up, and it’s been going that way ever since. One of the most prolific people in their requests, if not the most prolific, has been an actor named Timothy J. Cox, whose website you can check out here. It’s a good bet that you probably haven’t seen anything he’s been in, but if you’ve followed my reviews the past several years, you’ve no doubt seen his name several times. Some of his films I’ve reviewed on here include: “My Father, My Don”; “That Terrible Jazz”; “It’s Not You”; and “Trouble” are just some of the films he’s been in that have crossed my eyes. It’s always enjoyable to watch him in a wide variety of roles, in a wide variety of films. He is, truly, the definition of a character actor, never really playing the same character twice. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for me in the future.
I emailed Timothy some questions recently for a brief Q&A, and here are his responses.
1) Who/what inspired you to become an actor?
That’s easy: Jack Lemmon. Lemmon was the reason why I became an actor, specifically his performance in ‘Days of Wine and Roses’. He was so familiar up there on screen, like a relative, so natural and honest. Whether it was a comedic or a dramatic role, he brought so much variety and humanity to the work. When I saw that performance and saw that you could move an audience, as well as entertain them, I knew that I was an actor and that I was going to be one for life.
2) Is there particular material, or a type of role, that you find yourself gravitating towards?
Honestly, I do love supporting roles. It’s where I fit and where I have had success. It’s fun to play the shrink or the lawyer or the romantic lead’s best friend who says, ”Go get the girl, stupid”. I’ve always said that I’d take the role of the Gravedigger over Hamlet any day of the week.
I just worked on the film ”Bulldog,” here in New York yesterday, where I played this school principal for two scenes. Both scenes were brief, but fun and then I was done. That’s what I like. I like to come on, do the job and then go on to the next one. A good supporting actor comes on, scores their points and then exits.
3) Do you prefer working on film or in theatre?
I’ve always been 50/50. Nothing beats the live reaction of an audience in the theatre. There’s something truly magical about the shared experience between actor and audience, but I also love the feeling of stepping onto a film set. It feels like home. It’s a different energy than the theatre. There’s a lot of waiting around, of course and you have to remain patient and ready, but when everything is firing on all cylinders, it’s quite exciting.
4) I’ve seen you in a lot of short films over the years, but very few (if any) feature films. Is there something that draws you to the short film format over features?
Shorts are a nice way for filmmakers to get their foot in the door in this business and for me, it’s been a fun way to work in a wide range of genres and roles over the years.
I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great filmmakers, like Sean Meehan and with Sean specifically, on every project, it just gets better and better. More risks and challenges are being taken, which is great. Sean is someone that I know is going to make great shorts and features in the future. I just hope he keeps hiring me.
5) When it comes to bringing a character to life, do you prefer a script where all the information is on the page, or do you prefer having some blanks to fill in?
To me, it’s all in the script. The script has to be solid. If the script is good, then it makes your job as the actor so much easier. You just trust the material and the people around you. When the material is not so good is when you have to push up your shirt sleeves and then it becomes work. Acting shouldn’t be work. I mean, it’s called play for a reason. To me, acting is extended recess time, playtime for adults.
Thank you very much, Timothy, not just for your time in answering these questions, but also for sharing your craft with me. I can’t wait to watch more films with you.