A Director’s Advice for Up and Coming Actors

Peter Foldy started his career as a musician who wrote and recorded a number one hit in Canada called “Bondi Junction.” After a move to Los Angeles, Foldy turnedp1 his sights on the film industry.  Before long he was was writing and directing feature films that starred actors such as Jan-Michael Vincent, Maxwell Caulfield, Virginia Mayo, Paul Rudd and Academy Award Winner, Louise Fletcher.

Hollywood Revealed recently sat down with Foldy and asked him what advise he had for young actors looking to get their careers on track for 2010.

HW Revealed: What are the key things an actor needs to do to succeed in this business.

Peter Foldy: First of all an actor needs talent. Unfortunately we have lowered our standards with the current crop of cheesy TV shows and many people get by on their looks and their limited ability. An actor needs to constantly act, whether it’s on a show or in a film, or in class. The more you do it, the more comfortable and better you become. The camera doesn’t lie. It really does see the truth. There is a certain skill in being open and honest in front of the camera and thirty crew members. Many people give great auditions but freeze up on set. Or have trouble dealing with the technicalities of film making, such as hitting their marks, remembering continuity, etc. All that comes with practice. Keep learning by doing.
Secondly, an actor has to understand the business. How it all works. I personally don’t put much stock in cold submissions to agents and casting directors. We live in Hollywood. Work hard at making contacts. Network so that somehow you can get through the doors. Get someone to help you. Find a mentor if possible. Again, being in class, being around other actors gives you a chance to find out what is going on, who is signing with who etc. There is no stock answer on how to best find an agent or a manager, but without one, life in this business will be difficult.
Lastly, never stop believing in yourself. If you give up, it’s over. It may be hard. It IS very hard, but if you believe, and you have proven ability, it can and will happen for you. It is always darkest before the dawn, and just when it seems that NOTHING is happening, something amazing comes along that can move your career forward. If you truly want this, put in the time and MAKE IT HAPPEN.

HW Revealed: What do you look for when considering an actor for a job?

Peter Foldy: Well, first of all, they have to be right for the part. They have to look right, and be able to deliver what we are looking for. They have to have some experience. I have been burned by people who looked right, gave good auditions, but could not deliver on the day.
Actors have to be easy to get along with. With films costing what they do, in the millions, there is no time for people who are difficult. It is stressful to make a film. Ask anyone who has directed one. It’s like going into battle. You want to surround yourself with positive people who can work as a team to give the project the best chance possible at success. Ideally their agents and managers will also be team players and not be “the bad guys” in negotiations, with exorbitant demands. I’ve seen it happen and it can make your relationship with the actor strained. You can’t help thinking, I wonder if he is the one telling his agent to be the jackass.

HW Revealed: Name the three favorite actors you’ve worked with and why?

Peter Foldy: Well, this is tough, but I would say David Warner, the great English actor who you might know from “Titanic.” He was a huge star in England back in the day in a film called “Morgan.” Working with him in a film I directed called “Tryst” was awesome. He brought something special to the role, and I would always keep the camera rolling after the scene was done as David had a habit of giving you one little extra moment. A gesture, a look, a reaction. Something cool. He was totally professional. Had no time for set politics and always got the job done.

Paul Rudd would be another. I worked him on two short films. His first time acting in front of the camera in something other than a TV commercial. Paul was very comfortable and easy going. It was kinda obvious that he might become a star. His acting ability was strong, and it has only gotten better over the year, again from doing it so much. It’s cool to know that I directed him on film before anyone else.

Number three would be Eugene Levy, the guy who played the dad in “American Pie.” Eugene was not very funny off set as most people imagine him to be. He was professional and perhaps a little distant, but in front of the camera he was awesome, giving a lot of himself, and not settling till we all felt that the scene was the best it could be. Eugene has this look and a talent that is very unique, and that is why he will work for as long as he wants to.

There are many other actors I loved working with. Some less famous than others, but you only asked for three. I respect actors for what they do. I have tried it and I know how hard it is to be good.

HW Revealed: What is the single most important piece of advice you could give to aspiring actors?

Peter Foldy: Never give up.

HW Revealed: In your opinion, what is the best way to begin a career as a professional actor?

Peter Foldy: Get GREAT headshots. Network. Meet as many people as you can. Take classes. Be nice, and not an asshole. Inspire others. What goes around comes around. Do as many of those cold reading workshops for casting directors as you can afford. Think outside the box. Back engineer someone’s career. If you think you could be the next Leo DiCaprio, study Leo’s career. See how he did it. Who did he know, or meet along the way? In Hollywood, it’s possible you will run into someone from his world, or just someone who can give you that break you need. You can’t do this alone. Don’t even try. You need a team around you after a certain point, so along with nurturing your talent, build your team. And make sure one person on that team is a CLOSER. Someone who can make the right deals for you, and get you though the doors you need to go through. Again, all this is assuming you truly HAVE THE ABILITY it takes to compete in this business.

HW Revealed: What makes a good actor in your opinion?

Peter Foldy: Talent, charisma and the ability to combine the two to create a viable, marketable entity that can “put out” in front of the camera or in front of an audience.

HW Revealed: What things does an actor need to do in order to succeed on a real movie set?

Peter Foldy: Confidence that he or she belongs there and can deliver on the day. The knowledge and the experience to know the technical side of film acting, such as hitting marks, working with props and understanding eye-lines. Lastly–and it always comes down to it, TALENT.