From Angel Magazine
Vincent Kartheiser - Angel Magazine Interview
By Miss Blueberry
samedi 8 novembre 2003, par Webmaster
Sorry it took so long for me to type up. Hope you all enjoy it.
It’s amazing what a little trip into Hell Dimension can do to you. Just look at Angel’s son, Connor. Holtz took him into Quor’Toth as a little baby, and a few days later (our time) he emerged as a brooding teenager ! Actor Vincent Kartheiser talks us through Connor’s troubled time on Angel.
By Paul Simpson
Angel Magazine (AM) : How did you get involved with Angel ? VK : I got involved with the show towards the end of 2001. I’d been doing features most of my career and I’d done a couple of guest star [roles] on TV, but I wanted to get a little more routine in my life, so I decided to do some television. A couple of projects came to me before Angel, but I passed on them. I wasn’t interested. What really made me interested in Angel was the idea that as a show, it changed so much and all the characters could change so much. One week there could be a spell where you were acting completely opposite than every other episode you had done. It wasn’t that clichéd kind of ‘show up, do your thing, go home’ all the time. There was always a new kind of twist. Every week I got a script, and I opened it wondering what was going to happen not only with my character but on a broad scale. So I went in and met with Tim Minear, who’s a wonderful man, and Joss Whedon. I did a read, then David Greenwalt brought me back, I met David Boreanaz and there we were.
AM : Did you follow Buffy or Angel before you were cast ? VK : No. And I [didn’t] even follow Angel [when I was] on it. I’m the type of person who really enjoys sports, and really enjoys the Discovery Channel and The Learning Channel - shows about going into the depths of the ocean. I do drama 15 hours a day. The last thing I do is go home and flip on dramatic show ! Before I started Angel, my agent sent me all the tapes of the show, so that’s what gave me all these inner eyes into what I was getting myself into. After they showed me the pilot episode and couple of other ones, I was sold.
AM : What did you get told about Connor when you started ? When I came into the project it was for three episodes, with the option to pick me up for as many seasons as they liked, which at that point was five because that would make it concurrent with everyone else’s contracts. They never really let me know that it was going to be a one-season thing. I felt that it was anyway. There were some things that had happened before I came on. When Connor was just a baby on the show, they said, ‘The father will kill the son’. That was one of the things that Wesley found. So I always had that in the back of my head.
As the season went on, we never really got to deal with the relationship problems between me and David. I never really got the opportunity to bond with any other characters. There were a couple of scenes which I thought were the start of something. I remember J. [August Richards] and I did this scene where we’re digging a grave and I looked over at J. and said, ‘This is going to be the beginning of our bonding relationship’. Then the next episode we were back to being competitive enemies again. So I started getting an inkling fro it about halfway through the season, because I was thinking, ‘Where are they going to go ? My character doesn’t fit in with Angel because we’ve never dealt with the issue’, and no-one seems to like the character of Connor too much.
AM : Connor seems to scare the hell out of them. VK : Yeah, and he’s also afraid of them. He’s not used to this world and he’s really not one of them. While they all have this relationship with each other, he’s very much away from that and very angry. He’s not willing to open up to this kind of group happiness that everyone else is so inclined to be apart of.
AM : What did you make of the life that he’d had away when he was growing up ? VK : When I auditioned for the role, the script they gave me said ‘street kid’. It said nothing about being Angel’s son, and said nothing about Quor’Toth. So about two weeks before I started filming they sent me the script and it said that he’s a demon slayer from another dimension. For me, it was like, ‘How do I do this ?’ So I turned off all the lights in my apartment, I got stark naked and I crawled on my hands and knees killing imaginary demons. I showed up for work the next day, and my character was kind of bent over, and I had this real living-in-the-brush kind of ‘failed being’ attitude, and they said no to that straight away. They cut that out ! They were like, ‘No, no, no ; stand up straight, normal voice’ - they wanted what I did in the audition, which was ‘street kid’. They just wanted a regular character to come on. That halted my process where it had begun and I had to start over.
But what I make of Connor’s past is that your past is what you know. If you were born in a third world country living in sewage, it’s what you know. I think there were times when he was in Quor’Toth that maybe he thought there was something better out there, but I don’t think he thought he could ever get there. Holtz would maybe tell him about it, but I don’t think he would ever really believe it, or could ever really see it. I think he had fun in Quor’Toth. I think he enjoyed killing demons. And I think the only reason he came to this world was to please Holtz, and to do what he felt he was born to do.
AM : Everything he’s told is a lie in the end. Did that become difficult to play ? VK : I guess the lie isn’t so hard to play when you believe it. With Jasmine, if your character believes the lie, you just play it like you believe it. And with the other trust issues, that’s not so much hard to play, as it’s hard sometimes to stomach. You’ll do one thing in one episode then the next episode someone else is writing and it will come at you from a completely different angle. You say, ‘That’s not congruent with that episode ; I had trust issues with that person, and now I’m opening up to them’. There was a while there when me and Charisma were together where I was trying to kind of turn her against Angel. And I was definitely not for him. But I still went to him and said, ‘You should go talk to her’. I was kind of opening up and bringing him back into it, and showing the good side of Connor, but it was also a little bit hypocritical. From week to week I am different. From week to week I am a hypocrite. So you just have to play in to that and that’s what I did.
AM : Presumably Charisma’s pregnancy must have changed the way you were going. It did change the season a bit. I don’t necessarily know where they were going to go with it, but I go know that whatever something like that happens, it’s going to change things.
AM : How much of a practical change did it make you on set ? VK : Not a lot. There are much worse issues than people being pregnant, unfortunately, in this industry. I’ve worked with actors with much bigger problems than that. You had to be sensitive about some things. I’m a smoker so I would have to go back to my trailer to smoke. We had to try to work around [Charisma]. Sometimes we had to shoot her out fast, but not a lot. Actually she had an abundance of energy for a working, pregnant lady who, right in the heart of her pregnancy, they put her in so much. I was so surprised. But it worked, and I think she did well with it. But to me it didn’t really change anything.
AM : What do you think you brought to the show as an actor ? VK : I have no idea what they saw in me. But I think as many people in this world, I feel that we generally think lower of ourselves than others do. Abraham Lincoln said, ‘I would never be with a woman who would have me as a husband’. It’s kind of that idea that you go into these things and you do your thing, then you walk on and you say, ‘Oh, I terrible. Who would ever want to work with me ?’ I rely on others to see something in me. I try not to focus too much on myself, because I think that part of everyone’s acting should be an ability to leave the body, an ability to forget your own insecurities. That all comes back when you’re driving home and you go, ‘@#%$, I should have done that totally different ! I just got an idea for that scene, and oh, I wish I’d done that.’ But on the day, you honestly do your best. I don’t know what I brought to it. But I brought to it !
AM : Do you think Connor brought a sharper edge into the show ? VK : Having Connor there allowed J. to change Gunn. I think with shows like this you constantly have to be surprising the audience. You constantly have to be bringing in new characters, new situations and new demographics, and a new energy to it. I like to think that all of us are different and all of us bring something. But I leave it to David [Greenwalt] and Joss to say what that is.
AM : Connor is not going to be a regular cast member in season five. Would you like to come back from time to time ? VK : Yes. It’s sensitive question, but I would love to come back. To tell you honestly, this is the best group of people I’ve ever worked with. I’m saying ‘people’ - as artists, they’re very accomplished and as people their set was so was so pleasant and I had so much fun, I really made some good friends there. It was nice for me to have that stability in life. I’m really going to miss that, and I’m really going to miss some of the opportunities that it gave me too, to stretch and to try some things. But I’m also looking forward to going on and trying new stuff. I never really wanted to do five seasons, so one season I feel was nice. And hopefully they do want me back. Tim [Minear] spoke to me about bringing me back for a few episodes, and I would definitely do that.
AM : We don’t know how he’ll end up with his new family.... VK : Yeah, hopefully we’ll see that arc. That’s the thing with Angel : I could presume everything I wanted, and chances are it’s going to be totally different than that.
AM : Of all the episode on Angel, do you have any favourite moments, scene, both as an actor and also as the character ? VK : When I first arrived, I love every fight scene, some more than others, but it was great to play a character that was truly badass. I’ve done fight scenes before on movies but it’s always been ‘punch, punch, fall down’. This is more like choreographed fighting. All of that was amazing for me. I really enjoyed the scenes with David when we did confront the issue between Angel and Connor. That to me is the soul of the character. The name of the show is Angel so it all comes back to him. For Connor, everything stems from this place with Angel and Holtz, and when we got the opportunity for him to let that out, I think he came out of his tough shell and showed a little bit of his sensitivity. He showed that he was hurt by his father and that he was hurt by Holtz. Those scenes I really enjoyed doing.
AM : What’s been the biggest challenged you’ve faced as an actor in you career ? VK : Myself. I’ve been the biggest challenge. In life I feel that we seem to self-sabotage. I have to deal with some of fear issues and I have to take more risks. There are times that I’ve really gotten down on myself for things, and I’ve really started to believe terrible things about myself. I’ve let whoever’s hiring me dictate my own feelings about myself and then let that fester and that’s become an envious or an ill-placed energy. It’s only made me stagnant and pushed me backward. As an actor the challenges are numerous when it comes to character development. It’s all in the details. Sometimes you situations where the detail is obvious. You can look at the character and you go, ‘Okay, I get it, this guy’s a punk, he lives on the street, here are the details. I want this kind of a shirt, I want this kind of wallet, I want him to ride this kind of bike’. Sometimes you read a script and it tells you nothing. It says ‘James, 22’ and the dialogue could be written for anyone. For me, a big challenge is taking that, reading the script over and over and finding what details are going to help me find a voice for this character.
AM : What do you think you’re going to take away from Angel to the next role you play ? VK : As an actor I think I leave the character behind. I did have some opportunities to stretch. There were parts of the season I didn’t have the opportunity to stretch, that it felt like I was doing the same scene over and over. Towards the end of the season I was really happy about the chances I was getting. I was really happy about the opportunities in the last episode. The scenes went really well and I was really glad. But generally what I take from Angel is what I take from every job, in a sense. Every little bit of information that you pick up every time you’re on a set helps you and pushes you forward. But character-wise, I leave it behind. You do your thing and then you have to leave it, whether your happy to our not with it, or whether it was good enough. You’re only as good as the next best thing you’re doing. I don’t want to stay back there, you know ; I’ve got to keep moving ahead.
AM : What do you look for in a script or project ?VK : Well, it’s changed. When I was young - 16,17 years old - it was all about the character for me. I really wanted to do things that I felt I could believe, and that I felt had an arc - a beginning, a middle and an end. The character grew. I always grew from those experiences. Whenever a character grows then I feel like I grow in sense. And although I always leave it behind I feel parts of that always stay with you.
As I’m getting older, character still plays a vital part in everything, but now I’m also looking to work with accomplished directors, to work with people who want settle for second best. I want to work with people who when I do something that it’s fitting or when I’m doing something that isn’t authentic really push me to go further. Not insult me and say ‘Do it better’, but they work with me to go further. It’s a collaborative thing. Whenever you show up on the set and you go to the director and say, ‘Hey, I know you’re directing this scene, but I have an idea’. Sometimes he’ll say, ‘That doesn’t work’, sometimes he’ll say it does. It’s the same with actors. I have worked with some people, as we all have, who don’t bring anything and leave it all in your hands. I’m not the kind of actor who’s going to come on to the set and feel over-secure about what I’m doing. I want to be pushed and I want to be pushed and I want to be stretched.
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