For this week’s Fast Forward Friday, we interviewed actor-director-teacher-author Michael Bofshever. As an actor Michael has appeared in countless theatre, film and TV projects including A Dog’s Purpose, United 93, Scandal and Breaking Bad. Michael recently made his film directorial debut with the award-winning short Echo Park Blues, which will be playing at The Garden State Film Festival in Asbury Park from March 22-25. To learn more, visit www.michaelbofshever.com.
Q: What are your currently working on?
As an actor, I recently appeared this season, opposite Viola Davis, on two episodes of How To Get Away With Murder. Next up, I will be seen in Bill Haders’ new HBO television series Barry, in which I guest star opposite Bill, Henry Winkler and a troupe of wonderful actors playing actors.
As a director-producer, I have hired screenwriter and good friend Steve Armour (All Saints), to adapt an award winning short story by novelist Donald Lystra into a feature film. The story takes place in Northern Michigan, where my family has a multi-generational summer cottage. It has been a goal of mine to film a story there for quite some time. My short film, Echo Park Blues, in which I made my directorial and writing debut, is finishing up its festival run, having been recognized in Europe, Canada and the United States with wins in all cinematic categories.
Q: What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?
Having been an actor for over 40 years, but yet to direct a film – I have directed for the stage and have taught acting class on and off for decades – I did an inventory of myself and felt that if not now, when? This motivated me to approach a dear acting friend of mine Allan Wasserman to see if he would raise the money and executive produce a short film. With him jumping on board immediately, I approached another long time actor friend of mine turned writer Rick Lieberman. Rick and I wrote Echo Park Blues around Allan, who is a talented journeyman-jazz saxophonist. Having taught at the University of Southern California School of Cinema, I brought on my department heads for the film from a very talented group of filmmakers that I previously worked with or were recommended to me. The success of the film has exceeded any expectation I may have had when I first created this endeavor. To see it come to fruition, has been one of the most rewarding highlights of my professional career.
Q: Who are your artistic heroes?
Artists who think outside the box, that are daring, innovative, willing to share, expose who they are within their work. Those with humor, passion and commitment. I love watching actors who give a revelatory performance on stage or film or even in the classroom. It inspires me to be brave and challenge myself to be the best that I can be.
Q: What keeps me motivated?
My motivation comes from an internal drive to succeed, a need to be creative, a desire to belong to a group of like-minded individuals that appreciate the need of living an artistic life. I have had the good fortune to have been able to earn a living as an actor throughout my career. To me, that’s a remarkable accomplishment.
Q: What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision?
Sometimes it is the absence of being creative, when I am out of work, not knowing when I may be cast again; then I feel like chucking it all, until my wife or a close friend reminds me, that after all these decades, you are an actor, an artist and you will get through this period. The opposite holds true as well. When I am on set, feeling like I belong to a group of fellow artists, all working for the same goal, when I’m in rehearsal and my fellow artists are struggling, discovering the material, when I recite poetry or Shakespeare just for myself, so as to express what is going on inside me, I know this has been my true north.
Q: If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing?
I would be in pre-production; scouting locations; hiring department heads; casting exciting, talented actors; and preparing to direct my first feature length film. And I will also be playing the lead character. Doesn’t hurt to dream big!
Q: What has been your biggest obstacle in achieving your vision?
On a personal level it is fear. That insidious, critical voice that artists have, I struggle with that. At times it prevents me from realizing my full potential. And as much success as I have had, I still do battle with those inner demons, seemingly on a daily basis. But when I give myself permission to be whole, I find that I can soar in my endeavors.
Q: What is your favorite piece of art?
We have a painting in our bedroom, from our younger daughter who was a Fine Arts Major in college. It is a self-portrait of her looking in profile out into an empty space, seemingly an unfinished piece of art, with a few additional paint strokes in the corner of the canvas, as if testing what color is to be used next. To me it is a story of a young woman seeking her future, not yet completed but recognizing her potential with an optimistic outlook. My wife and I many years ago visited the Rodin Museum in Paris and his sculptures still inspire me.
Q: What person do you most admire, living or dead?
My creative role model has been my acting teacher, mentor, colleague and friend Michael Howard. His compassion, theatrical knowledge and unique understanding of the creative spirit molded me into the artist I eventually became. It was also in his class that I met my wife, 40 years ago. Lucky me!
Q: If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?
My two beautiful daughters, Jessica and Katie, now married, whom I am most proud of. They are the very best parts of my wife and myself.
Q: If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?
Q: What is your guilty pleasure?
Spending time with my family at the dinner table, eating, drinking, laughing, sharing stories.
Q: If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say?
There is still so much more to accomplish. Keep striving, never give up. So much to look forward to.
Q: Where would you most like to live?
Anywhere my family is, now here in LA, so we are always close by each other.
Q: What is your idea of success?
My healthy family, being able to find balance between my life and profession, internal well-being, continuing to grow as an artist.
Q: What is your idea of happiness?
Finding joy in the moment, giving back to my artistic community, being available to listen with humor and patience.
Q: Final thoughts?
It has been a great journey of discovery, a few setbacks but many more accomplishments. I continue to persevere. “ And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.”