Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Henry Rollins On Acting & Cinema

When one thinks of Henry Rollins it is only natural to think of his work as a singer, a writer, and a spoken word performer. However, he has also put together an impressive resume as an actor, working with directors as diverse as Michael Bay to David Lynch. When Mr. Rollins speaks of his work as an actor he usually does it with self-effacing humor but his recent turn playing the character A.J. Weston in the Kurt Sutter creation Sons Of Anarchy suggests that Henry is an actor to be taken seriously. I recently had the opportunity to ask Henry a few questions pertaining to his work in film.

1) You have been quite self-effacing when it comes to your work as an actor however your work playing A.J. Weston in Sons of Anarchy proves that you have chops as actor. How do you prepare for a role that is the complete opposite of everything you stand for? How do you decompress from a days work?
The role was relatively easy because the guy was very free of emotional complexity. He is an unapologetic killing machine. He doesn’t ask many questions. The only pulse he has is that he likes his children. Past that, it was a process of eliminating emotion and getting to the thoughtless, order taking sociopath he is. I don’t really decompress. I just leave the set and go do something else. I usually have a lot of other things going on, so I go do it post acting work. 

2) I think your work for the documentary H for Hunger is one of the most important things you have done. Could you talk about how you became in involved in the documentary? How can people see this film.?
I am waiting for the crazy director to put the thing out. I don’t know if he will get it together to do so. I think we did a good thing and I financed half of it and would like to get my funds back so I can do something else with them. I got involved when this psycho asked me to. It seemed like the right thing to do. It was. Too bad he’s not a rational person. 

3)  For H for Hunger you put up half the money, would you consider producing any other film projects?
I have some other film projects that I want to get active on next year. I don’t know when I will have the time but I will try to get at least one of them happening. 

4) When one looks at your filmography one cannot help but notice some of the folks you have worked with, David Lynch, Michael Mann, Adam Rifkin, to name a few, what is something you have learned from these directors that you continue to apply in your film work?
I have learned to be very aware of what’s happening in a scene to hopefully be completely in the moment. The more I am prepared, the more I can forget I am acting and be more pure in my actions and reactions. I think that all great directors are like conductors. They already know the story will go and they need the actors and the cameras to do their thing. I like to fall into the bigger picture. Some directors are not all that good and they are just getting the shots like they have to turn it into some boss, they have no real vision of what the thing will be. There are a lot of directors like that. They are like teachers who teach to the test. No one really learns and in the case of a film, nothing really happens but what’s on the script. 

5) What does cinema mean to you? Do you think films can affect people and help change people's perceptions?

I think films can have a massive effect on people, peoples, nations, etc. Film is more influential than music. I think it is a hugely inspiring medium. It’s also very manipulative and controlling. You put in the right sympathetic chords of soundtrack at that moment and half the audience cries, etc. You have to be careful with that kind of power. You can make great statements like Milk, or not great ones like Birth Of A Nation.


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