JOHN HUFF: What drew you to write about what you write about? What got you started?
SCOTT VOISIN: I started writing for The Phantom of the Movies' VideoScope magazine in 2001. After a few years of reviewing films, the publisher, Joe Kane, asked me if I'd be interested in interviewing Brad Dourif for a feature article. He was the first actor I ever spoke to, and he really shattered the illusion of glitz and glamour most people have when they think of Hollywood. Dourif made it clear that acting is anything but glamorous, and he went into great detail about how difficult it can be to make a living in the industry.
After that discussion, I started thinking of other character actors I had grown up watching, guys like James Karen, Ronny Cox, Clancy Brown and Bob Gunton. They're the backbone of the movies and TV shows they work on, but they haven't enjoyed much mainstream attention for their efforts. Most people recognize their faces but have no idea what their names are. After having several conversations with these gentlemen, it occurred to me that compiling the interviews into a book might be of interest to aspiring actors, film buffs or fans of the actors themselves. From that, CHARACTER KINGS was born.
JH: We met you through CHARACTER KINGS; how is that series going?
SV: It's going well. My publisher, BearManor Media, asked me to produce a sequel, and I'm about halfway through it. So far, I've talked with terrific actors like Stephen Root, Jeffrey DeMunn, William Atherton, Tony Todd and James Hong. I've also spoken to some guys who have a lot of experience behind the camera as well, such as Charles Martin Smith, Duane Whitaker and Dale Dye. In addition to CHARACTER KINGS 2, I'm working on CHARACTER QUEENS, which focuses on the great actresses who have managed to carve out long and lasting careers in Hollywood.
JH: In your VideoScope debates with Tim Ferrante on sequels and genre perfection, what are your core principles? What is your accounting for satisfaction? What does a movie have to do for/to you, personally, to get you?
SV: Our column is called "Split Screen," and we mainly debate the pros and cons of original films and their remakes. There are some exceptions, but generally speaking, I hate remakes, especially when money seems to be the only motivating factor in producing them. In my mind, if there isn't a valid, artistic reason to try and improve upon the original, there's no point in doing it. That being said, I try and approach every movie with an open mind. All I ask is that it delivers on the most basic level: If it's a comedy, make me laugh. If it's a horror film, scare me. As long as a movie can meet those modest expectations, I can usually find something to like about it.
JH: Scott, this is a very important question: If space-aliens reveal themselves this year, generally and broadly to us all, CNN and the works, what extra-terrestrial movie or TV episode do you think will most fulfill the template of that experience?
SV: I think it will be like the Twilight Zone episode, To Serve Man. The aliens will come to Earth and offer to solve all the problems that our politicians can't or won't fix, but some conspiracy theorist blogger who everyone thinks is crazy will eventually figure out what their agenda is. At least I hope it's something like that... I think that scenario is much more dramatic than just getting attacked out of the blue like in War of the Worlds or Independence Day.
JH: What are you going to do for yourself today, just for you, in your field of interests?
SV: I'm going to watch a movie. One of the great benefits of doing CHARACTER KINGS is that before I interview an actor, I try to watch or re-watch as many of his movies as I can. As such, I've been exposed to some great films that I otherwise never would have seen. On the flipside, I've also seen some movies that are best left forgotten, but every film furthers my cinematic education. Plus, you never know when or where another great character actor will show up and give me an idea for an interview.