Interview with Tyler Blake Smith

 Tyler Blake Smith_indieactivity

I was born in the military. Both my parents served in the British Army and i was in fact born into a sporting family on a British military base. Acting was never really on my radar until i went to the Burton Borough School in Newport, Shropshire. It was here i was introduced to the idea of studying drama and so i decided to take Drama as one of my GCSE’s. i remember having to play the part of the Inspector in ‘An Inspector Calls’ and flopped BIG TIME. delivering my lines in the wrong order and completely overacting.. it was clear that even at this young age that the work had just begun. These early errors have instilled in me an acting work ethic and mentality to embrace the mistakes. mistakes are one of the most important tools in an actors tool box. (just make sure to use them in your prep and not your performance) 😉

How did you become an actor
After Drama class, i went to University to attempt a degree in Sports, and put acting deep into a place of me that i didn’t think it would surface again. I remember then seeing my friend from School, who i took Drama with, on TV back in the UK. HE HAD ACTUALLY DONE IT…. he had taken this passion of his, and instead of being scared of it (as i was) and looking for a qualification that can get him a ‘real job’, he studied harder to get what he always set out to do. It was my ‘ah-ha’ moment. I hope he is reading this interview so that he knows his impact on me and my career so far. (James Sutton, Hollyoaks)

Once i moved to Toronto, and realized it was somewhat a mecca of Film and TV i decided my actor within had been dormant for far too long and started to self apply to castings. My first job in Canada was one the groundbreaking World War II Documentary ‘Dieppe Uncovered’.

Tyler Blake Smith_indieactivity

What acting technique do you use
I believe as actors we have to be as flexible in our approaches as possible. When talking about ‘Acting Technique’ it is hard to really pigeon hole a single style or approach as i have grown up learning from the Stars i see on the screen and all have studied many different types of acting. For example, i have taken on a Method acting style from watching Daniel Day Lewis for specific roles that may require me to drop that much deeper to find the character. Some characters jump off the page right into me and from the very second i am reading their story i am living it. This, in part has to do with the writing, but more with my emotional connectivity to the role or character. There may be times where i am having a little more trouble ‘finding him’ and may have to work harder. Techniques from Stella Adler, or Lee Strasberg or from whoever connects me to the person. I think it is important for an actor to have an understanding of all methodologies and utilize them in different ways.

What wrong impressions do actors hold about acting
I saw an interesting picture the other day of an ‘Acting Iceberg’ which indicated ALL the work and prep under the surface and behind the scenes an actor must do in order to be ‘seen as successful’. For their 15 minutes of fame so to speak. The wrong impression most Actors make is that they measure their success by being seen on TV. I remember the feeling i got when my friends started to see me pop up on their screens and were messaging me with how proud they were and how great it was to see me and it was amazing to feel special, But then there were months of nothing and the messages stopped coming in. FOR ME, my successes are in the classroom, in front of my peers and my Coach. My successes are in the moments where i break down a little bit more of surface Tyler and allow more people in. My successes are the moments i realize i am deep into a scene and not just reciting what is on the page. and THOSE successes last a lifetime.

Do you take courses to improve your craft
I am constantly in Classes. What a lot of people don’t realize is that Acting is hard work. The real great actors make it look easy, because their performance is so natural. whats easier than being normal right? but the art is in making someone believe you are living in the now. For example. when you read a script, often you read it all the way through and start to memorize your lines and so on. The mistake there is that something might happen in the scene that is supposed to be a shock to your character, but because you have read the entire scene, it is not a shock to YOU. you now have to make people believe you’re shocked. Its like when you KNOW what your getting for xmas and you unwrap it and have to look like you had no idea HAHA It is for this very reason that some Actors, like Charlize Theron, don’t memorize their parts and kinda just ‘go with it’ on the day

Tyler Blake Smith_indieactivity

What acting books do you read
There are many Acting books i think are important TO read. ‘The Art of Acting’ by Stella Adler for one. but for me just reading ANY books that take you somewhere is of the utmost importance. That feeling of going on a journey with the author and trying to understand them can really help you connect with other writers and get an understanding of what they are trying to get across. My favourite books are ‘The Alchemist’ – Paolo Coelho and ‘The 5 People you meet in heaven’ – Mitch Albom. No other stories have had me ‘live them’ quite like these. I met a life coach when i was backpacking through Southern Africa who once told me that ‘if your reading a book and are disappointed with the ending it is somewhat frustrating but acceptable as it is someone else’s story, but if your at the end of YOUR OWN story, your own life, and are disappointed with the ending then that is a life wasted.

How do you keep fit as an actor
WORK… to me helping a friend out with a scene, or by being their reader for a self tape is important for me to ‘stay loose’ and keep ‘feeling like an actor’. Find short films to work on, or a small part in an indie feature. I recently played a Dr in a small scene in a movie called ‘The Meaning Of Life’. But it meant i got to be in the scene with Sergio Di Zio and Krista Morin who are both incredible actors and i was often just floored by their work. They were like my Acting sparring partners. THAT is what keeps me fit as an actor.

When you’re offered a role, what do you do next
I like to read the script in its entirety first of all. My brain translates it into a movie in my head and i get to watch it. i try not to ‘study’ the script, but to just absorb it. after some advice from my coach, Lewis Baumander, i tend to read the scripts right before i fall asleep. The place where i am kinda awake and kinda asleep. This is where my mind is free to explore without barriers. Anything is possible in that mental state. If i wake up in the morning with the script still in my hand i know it was a good session and can’t wait to know what i took in!!

How do you take a character in a script to a honest, believable and breathing person
Well there must be a part of yourself present in any character you play. Johnny Depp said this is important because ‘otherwise you are not acting, you are lying’. So when i see a guy on a script, i try to just picture me in those certain situations. my first read, is 100% me. How would Tyler Blake Smith react? then i find the little idiosyncrasies between me and the character and then work on how that may or may not change my natural and organic reaction in the first place. This way all reactions was born from an honest and truthful beginning.

How do you stay fresh on set
Personally, i try and have fun on set. I will banter with the crew and other cast members and generally just soak in the experience. It really is a blessing to even have the opportunity to be on a set and see the magic that goes into what you see on your screen. It is a collective effort of creative individuals. Being surrounded by that much talent and creativity is highly addictive, perhaps 10 minutes before we are called back on set i will be in my trailer just scanning the dialogue again which i find helps me connect to my prep, but anything can happen with my scene partner in the moment so i don’t give too much time to rehearsing.

Describe a memorable character you played
I play the lead role of Nate in an upcoming feature called ‘Gear’ which will be out in the Fall 2016. Nate is a drug runner for a Russian Syndicate who has to prove his loyalty to the Russian drug lord Roman by transporting a package from Montreal to Toronto, but soon realizes that the ‘package’ is a person who he knows and by delivering her to Roman would mean taking her to her execution. My most recent role however is Dad… MJ is 16 months old now. Walking, talking and making us laugh. She is my most beautiful work ever.

What do you want most from a director
Basically a Director who loves what he/she is doing. I am very affected by people’s energies. it is one of my greatest tools but also my biggest downfall. I need to surround myself in energies that will elevate me.

What advice would you give to actors
I would somewhat piggy back off something Bryan Cranston said about the biggest mistake actors make is that they think they are AUDITIONING for a job when in actual fact their job is to AUDITION. I watched an episode of Chopped Canada, a cooking show with four amateur chefs and a panel of judges, each contestant was given a box of the same ingredients and were told to make something out of it. The Judges were to pick which one they thought incorporated the ingredients in the best way and as a result the one they liked the most. That to me is a great metaphor for the auditioning process. Each actor is given the same set of sides the night before. and it is up to US as actors to put our own flavours and spices into those ingredients to help make the casting agents decision easy.

Briefly write about your career
I’m an English Actor living in Toronto, you may see me on episodes of Dark Matter, Reign, Mayday, Petrol and more recently the feature films ‘The Meaning of Life’ and Gear.

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