The most versatile actor Larry Laverty

© Larry Laverty by Joe

Larry Laverty is an American actor, worked as lead and supporting roles in over 100 films and numerous TV shows. 1989’s “Deadlock” was the beginning. While starting out, Larry also was involved in an 11-year attempt to make the U.S. Olympic Team in speed-skating and raced bicycles but once his athletic career was over, he started spending time in Hollywood and immediately began landing roles in TV and bigger films. Larry was active in the Boy Scouts throughout his youth and earned the rank of Eagle Scout at age fourteen. He has been associated with Woodminster Theater in Oakland, California, for 25 years and now volunteers there regularly.

Interviewed by Stephen M. Thompson, Ph.D. 

Welcome to OpenBeast. Could you briefly introduce yourself?

When I was a kid, I had trouble making up my mind what I wanted to do in life. I loved all the jobs I’ve ever had so when I finally gave acting a try at age 24, it dawned on me that as an actor I could get a taste of all sorts of careers and get a taste of what its like to be all kinds of different people. So here I am, twenty-five years into it. I’ve played the good, the bad, the ugly, doctors, lawyers, swindlers, and serial killers. In over a hundred films and several TV shows, I’ve played the human spectrum. 

How and why did you get into acting?

I took an acting class during my last year of college, on a whim really. It had never crossed my mind to even try acting until then. Well, the instructors in that class had performed on Broadway and I had a lot of respect for them as human beings. During the critique of my final performance in that class, they got their heads together and announced that I was a natural, a born entertainer. At the time, I thought they’d been drinking their bath water, but in looking back I’m very grateful for their vote of confidence that helped get me started. You see, I’d really set out in the early years of my adult life to make it in Business so that I could then somehow make a positive impact on saving our environment and animal life. I’m still most passionate in my life about saving animals and preserving our natural world, but I go cross-eyed every time I look in the mirror and see myself, an actor of all things.

What is your best gig thus far?

After about ten years at this, I finally found my game and for the first time felt justified at calling myself an actor, an artist. In the ten and something years since that point, I’ve been able to flex my artistic muscles with several characters of the many I’ve played that really peaked my imagination. I just can’t say though that any one character or film project surpassed all the others. It’s funny, my supporting roles in Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant” and The Butcher Brother’s “The Hamiltons” brought me the most notoriety but the characters themselves were only allowed to show one or two dimensions in the story.  It’s in starring roles like Franky in the upcoming release of “Sisterhood of Death” that I get the most fulfillment, as I get to visit so many places in a character’s life. Thanks to the way the story and my character are written.

Talk to us about your athletic career.

When a few of my buddies back in grade school were going off to rehearsals for the school play after class, I headed over to the playground and competed in after-school sports. That started in the 4th grade. I played Little League baseball and ran on the track team in high school. I even went out for my college football team at the running back position but both the backs ahead of me were so good they went on to lengthy pro careers. I’d been blessed with a lot of leg speed so when I neared the end of my college years, I wanted to put my focus in life on athletics to see just how far I could get at the national level before I got too old. One day in my early twenties, I went ice-skating with my sister who was a competitive figure skater. A few months later, I saw this event in the Winter Olympics called speed-skating and decided that was the sport for me. I traveled to Wisconsin and Montana and Canadato train and race and live. In the summers I raced bicycles. I tried to make the U.S. Olympic Team and 11 years went by. I didn’t reach my dream but I’m sure grateful that I had the opportunity to try. I met lots of wonderful people along the way and worked as an actor in TV Commercials and films and always returned to California at the end of each skating season with more money in my pocket than I had left home with.

Why is that we don’t hear any controversy or juice rumors about Larry Laverty?

Well, until recently, I really didn’t participate at all in the marketing of the movies I’m in.  That’s one reason why I’ve been somewhat invisible. Also, I’m often not easily recognizable in films as I change my appearance from movie to movie as part of how I go about creating these different characters. I guess mainly, I just approach this acting business as a job. I’m always focused on finding films to be a part of, preparing my roles, and going out to do the shoots, one after the other. Period! When I’m a part of a project, I really don’t get too far away from the character I’m playing and that usually requires that I keep to myself, stay focused.

I just shake my head when I hear, or see, all the bad behavior of so many celebrated actors. While it might be fun to get into some mischief in my hours away from work, I’m just too much of a workaholic.

Any Bollywood plans?

I’d love to work with filmmakers fromIndia. I know that we Americans like to think that Hollywood and our celebrities are the center of the universe but I’ve been well aware for years, back to the 70’s, that India has produced just as many films if not more than the US, that the film industry in India started about the same time as ours here, and that the same amount of passion, financial and artistic, goes into the movies made there. Films that have had a significant audience here like “Lagaan” and “My Name is Khan” have gone a long way to call attention to Bollywood and I hope that some day I’ll visit the country, there as a part of a movie project.

If given all the power, what one thing would you like to change in your industry?

I’d like to see every film that’s made evaluated and appreciated for the quality of the story and so on, as opposed to how it generally goes with movies only being recognized for which celebrity happens to be headlining in it. I realize that branding is a big part of how our culture works and we all love our movie stars but audiences miss out on seeing countless, countless movies that have incredible value to the human race just because they don’t have recognizable names and so less marketability to the distributors. I took a break from Hollywood for a number of years to work solely in independent films around the U.S. and I experienced for myself the wonderful spirit and exploration of film as an art form that goes on out there, outside of Hollywood.

Any upcoming projects or initiatives you would like to disclose?

I’m especially proud of the goofy guy I play in “Sisterhood of Death” that will be coming out in the first half of 2012. It’s a comedy with a touch of horror and the second film I’ve done with Antony De Gennaro. I know folks will laugh at the character I play thinking he’s pretty far-fetched but he’s actually very real as I borrowed a number of his mannerisms from real people I know. Also coming out in 2012 is a family-oriented film called “Treasure State” that I worked on up in Montana with Andy Wiest. It’s the second project we’ve worked on together as well and my character is a decidedly disagreeable guy who goes through a change of heart. And, sometime this year, I should be going up to Canada to shoot the Derek Milton film “The Scorpion’s Kiss” playing opposite beautiful Brenda Bakke.

What’s your leisure time activates?

I like making things, working in my garden, other people’s gardens, carpentry. And I love going for walks with friends in nearby parks in the mountains and along the beach. I love exploring this country of ours and take a road trip with my sister each year. Ever since my days as a kid in the Boy Scouts, I’ve felt a connection to my community so to this day I pick up trash and help out my favorite charities, the SPCA and the Nature Conservancy.  But the fact is, I really don’t give myself much free time. I’m always reaching out to new filmmakers I haven’t worked with yet and keeping in touch with the many I already have.  And then there’s my effort to get back into prime-time TV. 

Finally I got a significant question: McDonalds or Burger King?

When I was first starting out in acting, I needed to supplement my income so I interviewed for this job as a clown. For the next three years I worked parties and restaurants, doing what clowns do and making balloon animals. The company I worked for had been founded by the original Ronald McDonald. So out of respect, I should automatically say McDonald’s, but I’ve got to say there’s just something about the Whopper I love.

Thank you 

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