Protagonist of this month’s web interview is Michael Vlamis, known for having played a small role in the television series “New Girl”, now he is seeing his career taking off thanks to Michael Guerin, the character he plays in Roswell, New Mexico, series created by Carina Adly Mackenzie and inspired by the Roswell High novels written by Melinda Metz. He recently produced and starred in his first feature film 5 years Apart and is currently engaged in several projects as a writer and actor. In this interview Michael talks about his passion for acting, his first difficulties in playing dramatic roles and his character in Roswell New Mexico. Through his ironic and light narrative, Michael advises emerging actors to follow their truth and honor their uniqueness, without forgetting to enjoy life to the fullest.
1)Roswell New Mexico will arrive in Italy in September 2019. Can you tell us more about your character and the plot?
Bout time! But seriously, I’m excited for all of you. Our show centers around three aliens living amongst humans in secrecy in small town, Roswell, NM. After being away for 10 years, an old flame of one of the aliens returns to town and begins to uncover the truth behind her sister’s death, which leads to us potentially becoming exposed. It’s a fun, wild show that has romance, action, sci-fi, and more. I get to play Michael Guerin – an alien bad boy with a heart of gold. Yes. I just said that about myself.
2) Have you ever seen the original series of Roswell, or read the Roswell High novels? If so, did Michael’s characterization inspire you in any way?
I was familiar with the 1947 UFO crash in Roswell, but I hadn’t seen the show or read the novels. Once I booked the role, I did research on both to have a feel for the original properties, but I preferred to not dive in too deep, especially not into the original character. It was easier to bring a fresh take that way. Ignorance is bliss. But I have heard the original Michael and myself both have wild hair. So there’s a similarity.
3) In the series, topics such as immigration, its social consequences and sexuality are discussed, were you expecting the reactions that fans had about the Malex couple?
I had no idea what to expect! This was my first show. And the first time I’d be getting intimate with a man. All I knew was that I wanted to honor the story and the character as truthfully as possible. I poured everything into our scenes, as did Tyler Blackburn, the other half of Malex. He was an absolute joy to work with and a huge reason people have resonated so much with our relationship. I receive messages on social media daily from fans who say our characters inspired them to come out to their own families, which means a lot to me.
4) Where does your passion for acting come from?
There’s nothing I love more than story telling and as an actor you’re constantly telling a story. I also love being honest and living without a filter, but that’s not always acceptable. When I act, I can do anything I want because I’m in character and I’m “acting.” If you aren’t living your truth, you’re holding back, and holding back is the worst thing you can do on screen. I relate and feel so much when I watch great actors and I can only hope I’m doing the same for our fans. The truth is what fuels me.
5) Have you ever had second thoughts or doubts about not being able to realize this ambition of yours? If you hadn’t become an actor, what would you have wanted to do?
I didn’t realize I wanted to be an actor until my senior year of college. I was studying business and playing baseball at the time, but was always getting hurt. After my second knee surgery, I decided to hang up the cleats and audition for a short film. I booked the role and after acting in the film, I knew it was what I wanted to do. And to be honest, I never had a doubt I wouldn’t be successful. I was so naïve, but I think it’s important to be naïve sometimes. If you live life practically, you’ll never achieve your dreams. Because dreams aren’t practical. They’re dreams!
And I never knew what I wanted to do, even while I was in school, so I really don’t know. Probably a writer, director, or producer, which are all just has hard! I got really lucky. And I recognize that every day. But I think it’s important to note that even if it took until 90 to achieve my dreams, I would say I got lucky.
6) Did you have any difficulty in embracing new roles that didn’t belong to comedy?
Oh, yeah! I got in my first acting class when I was 25 and it messed me up. The first four weeks I performed comedies and then my teacher, Sandy Marshall, started giving me dramas, which I struggled with. After a scene, she once said, “Michael, that was good. But we don’t have good actors in my class, Michael.” She was saying she only had great actors. She was very tough on me because she saw potential and one day, I had a breakthrough. Something clicked. I realized there’s no “right” way to do a scene. All you have to do is make the circumstances real and live truthfully from moment to moment. Sounds like the easiest thing in the world, but it was surprisingly hard for me to recognize. Once I did, I never looked back.
7) Have you ever encountered difficulties in identifying yourself with a character with completely different life experiences than yours?
I haven’t because the character, no matter how different, is made up of my own life experiences that may not be similar, but do relate. For example, the character I play in Roswell grew up in the foster system and was severely abused. He’s also an alien! Obviously, I’m not an alien and I didn’t grow up in foster care, but I was a fat kid longing for acceptance and felt like I had a lot to prove. I bet Michael Guerin felt similar. As for scenes where I have to portray something I’ve never experienced, such as losing a parent, I convince myself what’s happening is real. I have to, otherwise I feel phony. The difficult part is going to a place so deep and dark you feel sick to your stomach, but that difficulty is my favorite thing to do.
8) What would you recommend to a beginner who would like to pursue this career?
Don’t be afraid to break the rules and never compare yourself to anyone. That’s a dangerous road and gets you nowhere. Everyone has a different story and all the things that make you unique are what are going to give you a career. Oh, and get really damn good at acting. That’s your only shot. Unless you have an aunt or uncle in the biz or something. If you do, let them know I’m down to be in their next film. Thanks.
9) What gives you the right charge to start a day of shooting on the right foot?Music and coffee. In that order. I also always drive to set with the windows down, even when it’s snowing. Adds a little bounce to the curls. Kidding. But maybe not…
10) Are you currently working on other projects?
I recently produced and starred in my first feature film, 5 Years Apart, which should come out next year. In addition to that, I have a TV show I co-created that’s getting some great traction, and a feature film I wrote just got optioned by a big producer. In 2017, I wrote every day out of desperation. Now, I’m known as a writer and those projects are taking off. Life is hilarious. Enjoy it.
interview by Ludovica Mucci @ludovicamucci
editor-in-chief Marta Forgione @martaforgione
Photography Davy Kesey @davykesey
Actor Michael Vlamis @michaelvlamis
Styling Spencer Waldner @spencerwaldner
Grooming Dixon Prewitt @dixon_prewitt