Hi, this is Adrian Paul, and you're listening to Highlander Rewatched.
Hello, this is Beatie Edney. I played Heather in the original Highlander film, and you are watching Highlander Rewatched!
This is Andy Armstrong. I was the 2nd Unit Director directing the action units in New York on the original Highlander, and you're listening to Highlander Rewatched.
Hi, this is Anthony De Longis, also known as Ottavio Consone from the Duende episode of Highlander, and you are listening to Highlander Rewatched.
Hi, I'm Elizabeth Gracen. I played Amanda on Highlander the Series, and the spinoff called Highlander: The Raven, and you are listening to Highlander Rewatched!
Everybody involved with Highlander has stories; and they're great, great stories! This is John Mosby, the author of Fearful Symmetry: The Essential Guide to All Things Highlander, and you're listening to Highlander Rewatched.
This is Ken Gord, producer of the Highlander Series, and you are listening to the podcast Highlander Rewatched.
Hey! This is Stan Kirsch. I played Richie Ryan on Highlander, and you are listening to Highlander Rewatched!
1:33 Welcome to Highlander Rewatched, the podcast where each and every week we talk about another facet of the Highlander Universe. I'm one of your hosts, I'm Keith!
And this is Eamon!
Keith: And this week is a very special episode. Usually we're talking about the Highlander television series or films, uh, and this is one of our very special chronicle episodes where we interview people that are intimately involved with the Highlander franchise. This week we are joined by actor and director Stan Kirsch! Welcome to the show, Stan!
2:00 Stan: Oh, thank you, Keith!
Keith: Thanks so much for taking the time to join us! Um, we figured we'd jump right in--well actually, let's--let's not even jump right in! How are things going with you? It's been a... a little while, I guess, since a lot of our fans have maybe heard from you, so... what's--what's new in the world of Stan Kirsch?
2:16 Stan: Uh... Things are good. Um... I guess that you guys know um… My wife and I own and operate Stan Kirsch Studios in L.A., and we're extremely busy on a day to day basis coaching, training actors and, ah, it's really become, hahah, an immensely fulltime job.
Eamon: We, we follow you on Instagram uh, and I think it's really cool that with your students, you like, promote when they're getting new roles on like, TV shows and things like that. I think that's really awesome. Does that--is that fulfilling to you? I imagine it is.
2:55 Stan: Oh thanks! Oh it's very, very much. I mean, I've seen people with no credits, or virtually none, who... in a matter of just a couple of years are on a CBS television series, and it's not something that happens all the time. But watching somebody book something, or, you know, have their career propel on--you know, into another level, it's always very gratifying. And it was actually my wife's idea to promote that stuff, and frankly it's also good for business. Because actors are seeing, "Oh! People are actually working! There are results."
Keith: Can you tell us about how you got into acting in general, first?
3:31 Stan: I... was an actor when I was a little kid, ah, about four years old, in New York City, where I grew up... And it happened very much by accident. I did a--I did a couple of modeling jobs. I... did one or two commercials for Campbell's Soup, and so that's where it started. And then, um, I was too young to really know what was happening. And my parents said "This is not gonna be your life, and we want you to g--either go get an education." And then in high school I got a little bit more into it, I took classes, I was in plays. Went to college thinking I was gonna go into business, or law, something practical. And then the same thing happened again, I fell into it, and went through a pretty rigorous... It was almost like a conservatory within the university, and uh, came out of it and... My family was supportive, and I said, "You know, I think I'm gonna give this a shot." After college I moved back to New York City, and I did a couple of Off-Off Broadway plays, I got my SAG card through an MCI commercial, and I met with an agent, and um, around the same time I auditioned for this ABC TV pilot, and I ended up getting it. And I went out to L.A. to shoot it, and I never went back. *laughter* The pilot did not get picked up but I stayed in Los Angeles, and I was off and running! Haha!
Keith: So, after that, how did you get into Highlander? Did you know anything about Highlander before you auditioned for the part?
5:03 Stan: You know, I didn't. Hah hah! *Eamon chuckles* I didn't know anything about it. I had heard of it, and it was my college roommate's… I think it was his favorite movie--
Keith: Oh wow!
Stan: --the original one. But I had never hear-- I had never seen it. And after I got the part, that's when I actually--ah, uh, and going back that far, I had to go rent the VHS tape and *laughter* it was very different--
Stan: --and that's when I saw the movie and I was VASTLY impressed, and I thought "Oh my god, I'm gonna be part of THIS world!" And, and knowing that Christopher, uh, Lambert was gonna be IN the pilot, that was incredible... incredibly exciting. I mean, he... As such a talented, unbelievable actor to watch right up close, and such a nice guy, on top of it. He was just great.
Keith: So, the role of Richie Ryan, I guess, he kind of wears a few hats in the show. I mean he's like, comic relief…
Stan: Yeah! *laughing*
Keith: ... he's kind of like, he's got a lot of jobs sometimes, week to week, in the uh, the earlier seasons. So, can you tell us about... a little bit about... I guess what it's like to play like a supporting role in a series, as opposed to a lead. I'm sure that's gotta be a different experience for an actor.
6:10 Stan: Your job is to service the show, and this show, you know, being called Highlander, you know, I mean… It revolves around Duncan Macleod and his character, and so… week to week knowing that your job is to either, you know, push his buttons or, uh, do something wrong so that he can come in and save the day, or have him teach a lesson. You're… you know, sort of um… I guess I would equate it to basketball. You're kind of throwing up the alley-oop so that he can dunk it, if that makes sense. *Laughter*
Eamon: Yeah. Hahah.
Stan: Um, yeah. When I'm working with actors now, I tell them, you know, that's a similar analogy that I'll use, and then I'll even say guest-starring is like basically going to someone's... someone else's house for dinner. You don't have to cook, you don't have to clean up, but you don't get to choose what you eat or where you sit. *laughter* You know, you just sort of... Yeah. And then, being the lead is sort of like: everything falls on you, you're very re--you're responsible for everything. You're pretty much there all the time. And then, a supporting character would fall somewhere in between there. You know, you're choosing maybe like an appetizer, and you're organizing some of the seating, but you're not in charge. Hahah.
Keith: That's a good analogy.
7:25 Stan: Yeah. Yeah.
Keith: Uh, how was the chemistry on set?
7:27 Stan: The chemistry was great. I mean, fortunately because... we never shot a day of the series in L.A. I'm... I mean, I don't even think in the United States, now that I think about it.
7:36 Stan: And... I mean, it was very exciting to get, you know, flown off to Vancouver, in 1992, and, you know, I'm gonna shoot for nine months in a row... It was very exciting and surreal at the time. But fortunately, Adrian and I got along really well, and... we... made a really great effort, and I gotta give him credit--he was more familiar with this--really tried to make all the guest stars who came on the show feel very welcome, and warm, and not all sets to be frank, are... like that. So, but we also knew... The show would be better; their acting would be better; our scenes would be better; and we'd just have more fun. You know, the producers, eh, you know we, we just sort of all had a--had a pretty tight-knit family. Don Paonessa and I became very close, and to this day we're still very close, and he produced the first short film that I ever directed, and also ran a camera on it, and so ... And, and him and his wife, Renée, they were like my aunt and uncle. Almost.
Keith: Oh wow!
8:40 Stan: And, uh, yeah. Renée would joke like, "Oh, I'm his second mom!" That was great. And he taught me an immense amount about, not just acting, but the whole process. There were days when I wasn't shooting, and he would say, "I want you to come to the editing bay." And it wasn't really um... a normal thing that actors would go. And he would do it to show me how the show was cut, and also to pull up clips of, you know, things that I'd done that were good, and, like... "This is why this worked," or... "This is why this didn't work." And, you know, clips of other actors, and... who were more seasoned and, you know, show me, you know, how subtlety came into play. And I learned a lot 'n that's--not just about acting, even though Don wasn't really on the set too much, I learned a tremendous amount from him and the entire film-making process.
Eamon: That's really interesting. Like, we recently talked to director on the series, Clay Borris, and he mentioned like--
Eamon: --knowing editing is really helpful in the process of like, making a television show and, like, knowing--
Stan: Oh my god, it's key
Eamon: --to do the right thing. So th-th-that's really fascinating.
Stan: It's key. It's key. Because you have such little time, and you can't go back. I mean... technically you could... reshoot a scene at a later point in time, but it's... it's not like doing a movie. You're ending one episode on a Wednesday, and you're starting the next one on a Thursday, and... you've gotta be SO organized, know what you're doing, and you've gotta--as a director I realize now--be editing the show in your head as you go. You don't have time to really pick anything up. And TIME is crucial. You know you gotta know where you're... gonna spend a little bit more time on a scene, where you're gonna be able to move through a scene a little bit quicker, where you're gonna do more coverage, where you're gonna do something in a one-shot. And then, hopefully the actors enable you to... move along. I mean, you know I had a good chemistry with all the directors, with some I did more episodes than others--but I also learned that when you're in a TV show, even if you're a lead, or supporting... you know, supporting lead as I was, ultimately, just move the show along. And... pick your battles. If you're--if every scene you're doing you're asking for another take, you know you're just holding things up. And you know, "Oh, I don't wanna do that! I don't wanna sit there. I don't--I wanna move!" You know, pick your battles. I mean, if there's a particular scene where something is very important, great. But other than that, it's really best to just let the show move along. I mean, the producers and the director are doing their best to try to make twenty-two movies a year... It's an incredible job. The pressure is immense.
Keith: I can imagine! Did you influence the character of Richie Ryan at all? Like, what was the character presented to you as? And then obviously it went through a lot of incarnations... Uh, you became like a motorcycle racer at some point. Was--was there any of your own personal interests, uh, involved in that?
11:24 Stan: Um, not mine. I had... ridden a motorcycle for another TV series that I did prior to Highlander. It was a uh, Saturday morning TV show called Riders in the Sky, that played at like 7AM in the morning, um... and had live action puppets'n... it was pretty neat, but it was for kids--
Keith: Oh wow!
Stan: --and I was meant to ride in the show, and so they had me ride around the lot and... The riding wasn't difficult. Uh, on that show--it was all on one sound-stage--what was difficult was starting the bike and sixty feet later having to land on a mark while there's four cameras right in front of you.
Eamon: Oh, hahah!
12:01 Stan: And uh... yeah. So, I learned a little bit there, but, it was not really something _I_ did, and so there was hon--*laughs*--there was honestly quite a bit of doubling, on the motorcycle riding, especially considering how... great they wanted my character to be. I remember, to this day, watching the clip where... that ended up in the opening credits, where I supposedly go through the glass on a bike--
Eamon: Go through the window? Yeah! *laughing*
12:27 Stan: Yeah! And I--I... and I think the guy that was doubling me at that point was a professional motorcycle rider/motocross racer and... I couldn't believe what he did, and I thought "Oh my God, that's ME. That's awesome!" *laughter*
12:42 Stan: But that one really wasn't something that was an interest of mine. I did pitch to the producers, "Hey, if you REALLY want me to do this, why don't--you know--you pay for some lessons, and, you know, pay for me to properly do this in the hiatus," but not--that never came to fruition, so...
Eamon: No, no professional development fund?
12:59 Stan: I think it was--I think it was easier on them to just, "Well, we'll just double you, when we need to." *laughs*
Eamon: I was, I was curious, since you did have, you know, so many transformations as a character on the show, I wondered: Did you ever wish like, you got to have flashbacks and like, use an accent or dress in like, a goofy outfit like some of the other Immortal characters? I shouldn't say goofy, but... *Keith laughs* Yeah. Different time-period outfits?
13:21 Stan: Um... you know, at the TIME I... that never really... uh, came to mind. But looking back, that would've been pretty cool. Um... At the time I wasn't really... I guess--I guess I wasn't thinking about that. I mean, as soon as they would go into a flashback, I knew, you know I had a few hours, or I wasn't working that day--
Keith: Right! *amused* *Eamon chuckles*
Stan: --And uh, yeah at the time I was, you know, I was young. I was in my early twenties, and be it Vancouver or Paris, there were SO many things to do, so... You know especially at the beginning of the show I... I had a good time in the off-time. Later, as the series progressed, I... wanted to be working more, acting more, outSIDE of the show, so... Our contracts were changed, and I... and no... no... As you guys know: No character at that point was... All Shows Produced--which means you're in every episode--except Adrian.
Eamon: Right. Right. Like sometimes you'd have Joe, or Charlie, or Maurice or whoever.
Keith: *chuckling* Mmhm! Right!
17:14 Stan: So for most--Yeah. Exactly, exactly. But I--but like I said, at the time I never really thought about it, but looking back it would've been pretty cool.
Keith: Uh, you--you mentioned filming in Vancouver and Paris. You're a guy that's gotten to experience a lot of different facets of this industry. Can you tell us about what the differences are about like the L.A. scene, the Vancouver scene, which is actually pretty big in the-the entertainment industry, and then filming in Paris. What are all the-the differences and challenges working in these places?
14:40 Stan: Well, L.A. is... the biggest scene. I mean there's, there's--the industry's so big, and... It's very different now, than when we did Highlander. Eh, and it... it sounds basic but... the Internet changed everything. It changed... with the way agents are communicating with actors. Things are moving so much faster. Also at the time, you didn't really have access to scripts, or breakouts for roles. You had to go literally pick up your material if you were auditioning... Now everything moves so fast, and there's a gazillion people here, in L.A. Vancouver... When we were there it was really at the inception of what's become like a mini-L.A. and now... I haven't been there since we did the show, but I know there's an immense amount of production going on. And it's really just a slightly smaller version of Los Angeles. But, at the time... As far as I knew, 21 Jump Street shot there, and Wiseguy, which Jim Byrnes was on...
Keith: Oh yeah.
15:40 Stan: ... with Ken Wahl. They were doing um... *laughs* You guys would know. The David Duchovny show...
Eamon and Keith: Oh yeah, that's X-Files--
Keith: --is shooting up there too, yeah!
15:48 Stan: X-Files! Yes yeah, yeah. They started doing that. And then more shows manifested as we were there, but at the time, it was kind of a new scene, and... To the point where... the city wasn't that congested. We could literally shoot in two locations in a--in a day. Pack up the entire... you know, all the trucks, everything, you know, go from the city into the country. And now, as I understand it, you could never do that.
18:11 Stan: It's... there's so much production. The city is much bigger. It was advised to me at the time, "Hey, maybe you should think about buying an apartment here." And it's... "I--I-I-I don't need an apartment. I--I'm--I'm staying in a hotel." Uh, looking back, that would have been a-a very good investment. *Eamon chuckles* *Keith laughs* And Paris was just... insanely exciting. I mean, being right in the middle of the city--and I grew up in New York City, so... I mean it's that kind of energy. I mean, L.A. is, you know it's a very big city but it's really one massive suburban area. You have to drive everywhere. And Paris is, you know, a walking city you're... you're-you're on the subway, the Metro, but that was... just it's so exciting. I will say: the novelty did wear off a little bit. At the beginning, you know there's a lot of exploring, and a lot of things to do, but Vancouver was a more... practical place to do a show. If... if this makes sense, like: It was not easy to get to a gym in Paris. You know, I would go to the concierge at the hotel, ask, you know, "Will you--Hey can I get to a gym?" and... it's very different in Europe! *Eamon makes agreeing noise they laugh together* And they were like, "A gym? Why would you want to go to a gym?" *Keith and Eamon laugh* "And what, you know, what do you do?" You know. Yeah, it's very different. And Jim Byrnes would joke, uh, "You know I can, I c'n go downstairs and go around the corner and buy a Cartier watch, but, you know, I don't know where I'm gonna, I'm gonna get a cup of coffee."
Keith: Yeah hah! *Keith and Eamon laugh*
17:30 Stan: So, it was great, it was exciting, but as time wore on, it did sort of lose a little bit of the... the novelty. Also, the show was much bigger in Europe. So, a--as we got into Seasons 4, 5, we were more well-known there. Which was, at the time, it was... it was fun, it was exciting. We walked down the street, people are turning their heads. Which was NOT the case in L.A. And a little bit more in Vancouver, but... in Paris the show was really big. And so, especially being young and being... my first lead in a TV show, it was--it was fine.
18:04 Stan: Yeah. And obviously pre-cellphones and everything you do and being reported, uh, we probably got away with some stuff.
Keith: That's really, uh, funny you bring that up, because... we talked to Adrian a number of months ago, and he was talking that, uh, you and him would play a lot of like, pranks on set. He told us about, like a crazy food fight you had. What was kind of the camaraderie like on the set? Are there any crazy stories you want to share, uh, with our audience?
18:24 Stan: Uh, I didn't remember the food fight until you mentioned it, but yes. We did... Now that you mention it, we had a huge food fight, I recall. In Paris. I think the producers got a little annoyed because this food got all over the clothes, and like, you know. There was sometime where, I put a sign on his back, and he was walking around the set for a... a considerable amount of time, didn't know the sign was on his back. There's a story to tell there in that: One time I dressed up as a woman, to see if he would buy it, and... He claims he didn't, but I think he bought into it for a little while.
Keith: Whaaat?! *laughing with Eamon*
18:57 Stan: You know, so th-the-there... There was a considerable amount of practical joking, yeah.
Keith: Awesome! The arc of your character obviously changed a lot. Can you tell us a little bit about when you left the show? Uh. Wh--Actually, we should give you a little bit of background.
Stan: Go for it.
Keith: Uh, so, the premise of our show is we've been watching... basically every single episode of the series, in order, and we talk about it in detail, and we kind of give an analysis of it; what we think--
19:17 Stan: You guys probably remember a lot more than I do.
Keith: Right. Yeah. Well it's funny because well, both uh, Eamon and I, we grew up watching this, like, when we were teenagers, now, and... this whole podcast came about because we were like, "Hey, we should revisit this, like, show we loved when we were kids!" Which has been really great to do!
Stan: Well thank--
Keith: Yeah, but we're about halfway through Season Three. But of course, as many of our listeners know, your character leaves the show! Uh, in Season Five. Can you tell us about like, were you happy with that arrangement? Was that something that was... you know, mutual? Did you like the way your character departed the show?
19:49 Stan: It was a bit sudden. I mean, it wasn't really something that I... knnnnew... was gonna happen... you know, a-a-a long time prior to it happening, but I wasn't at all disappointed. I was doing other things in L.A. and I think the producers knew that. I know I had done a Friends episode, and I'd done a couple of TV movies I think and I... I can't recall exactly. But, I think all good things must come to an end. So, they presented it to me, and I thought, "Okay." You know, that's that. I mean, we'd done five seasons and... you know I felt like... the character and the time that I'd spent on the show, had pretty much run its course, anyway, at that point. So, it was very amicable. I didn't really know that it was gonna happen until slightly before it did, I believe and... you know, I don't know how much I'm supposed to say at this point, but I think that they didn't know if it--the show was gonna get picked up for a sixth season--
20:42 Stan: --and they wanted to make a big dramatic end at the end of Season Five. And now, having been in the business for a long time, I know this is what shows do. You know, and sometimes it means killing off a character, and that actor is, you know, they're the one getting killed but it's really gonna bring a lot of ratings to the show, and it's gonna, you know, be a big dramatic moment, and there's always ways to bring people back, should, should one want to. But I had a good time with the episode, and yes, it was very mutual and it was fun, and it was exciting, and it was, you know, surreal at the time. But I was already, in a sense, moving on and doing other things anyway. So it was... it was totally fine.
Keith: Awesome! Well why don't we talk a little bit about what you're up to now. Uh, you obviously did a lot of guest roles, after Highlander. Can you tell us a little bit about your move to directing?
21:26 Stan: In the early 2000s, I was interested--and it sounds cliché--an actor wants to be a director. I had an opportunity to teach, and I, I started teaching and coaching actors on the side, while I was still what I would call "an actor for hire." Meaning I had a manager, I had an agent. You know, they would call, "You have auditions," Uh, they would field offers if there were... but I was more interested in being a little bit more in control and, a friend of mine and I came up with this idea to do Straight Eye: The Movie. At the time there was a show on BRAVO called "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and--
22:00 Stan: --we just came up with this idea. What if we just spun it around… And, once we got the idea, it happened pretty quickly, and I was able to assemble a fantastic cast. Alan Dale, David Hornsby... Kelly Mantle, who came out in a big movie this past year, and, I'm sure I'm forgetting other names but, it was very exciting to put that together, and every single person worked on a volunteer basis. You know, we paid for the entire shoot, and, and everything but, you know, Don Paonessa, as I mentioned before, he came in, he produced it, he brought in some camera guys, and a lot of people worked for free, and it was really touching that people would spend that time and moos... It was a long two-day shoot on a weekend, and... He and I edited it for about six to nine months, *laughs* which was an arduous process for a fifteen minute movie!
Keith: Right! *Eamon laughs*
22:50 Stan: Um, and I learned a lot from him there. You know at some point he--he has this thing that he taught me: "Is it gonna be different, or is it gonna be better?" Heh. And we tried a lot of incarnations of it, but my eye was moving away from, you know, being in--in the piece to wanting to really be outside the piece, control more things... and fortunately it came out well. And we won an award at a film festival. I... The Griffon International Film Festival, I think it was in Missouri. And we... actually ended up cutting it into segments to do a sort of a... web mini-series but we to this day haven't put it out there. And it's something we really should do! *amused* I dunno how relevant it is anymore. At the time, I was sort of at a crossroads. I was either going to delve further into directing, and really make, you know, a valiant effort at that point to... spend a lot of money on a great website, and put all my stuff out there and do that. And then the studio just sort of happened organically. You know, people I--I had been teaching for a while, and coaching for a while--like I said, on the side. And then people just started calling, and, you know, "Are you gonna do this? You're gonna do this." And it was definitely a leap for my wife and I to say, "Okay, we're gonna do this. And we're gonna go get commercial space, and..." Uh, eventually she had to put HER acting and hosting career on the side, and... We had no concept that it would get as large as it has, and now we've got three studios and, a lot of teachers, and--
24:11 Stan: I mean it's been... It's been ama--It's been amazing. It's been great. Uh, it's been a tremendous amount of work. So I just sort of had to put all of that on hold. And that's something I definitely would love to revisit, as time goes on. More directing.
Keith: Cool! Cool!
24:26 Stan: And then we would shoot reels for actors. I did a commercial for Qualcomm, and then this short film, Us One Night, that you had mentioned--
Keith: Yeah, definitely!
24:35 Stan: Yeah. And that was really the first time someone came to me--I did, well, the commercial--and said, you know, "You know, I'm gonna fund this thing, and I wanna--" When you--when you start directing, essentially you have to self-fund everything. Nobody's just gonna give you money to go do something. And then you get to a point where, okay, well, you're not directing, you know, a TV series for NBC, but people are coming saying, "Hey, I want you to do this," and I'll assemble all the parts, and do it to your liking, and-- So that was a fun and exciting thing too. Although, the guy that produced it... Well, I guess we both brought people to the table, but he brought a good cast together. There was Alison Brie, who now has blown up, she was on Mad Men--
25:15 Stan: And she was also on Community, I think--
25:17 Stan: And, uh, Liza Weil, who was on the Gilmore Girls now is on How to Get Away With Murder. So we had a really good cast, and... that was a tough shoot, because we had to do it ALL in one night. And it took place at one party, and essentially we shot the... end of the movie first. Because the sun was setting, we made it look like the sun was coming up--*Eamon laughs*--and then, we shot the entire film indoors, and then as the sun was rising, we shot the beginning of the movie as if the sun was coming up. But we were under the gun. We had to get it done cuz we had to get out there and get the first scene of the movie I think at like, 5:30 in the morning.
♫Princes of the Universe!♫
25:58 Kyle: Keith. I am a die-hard Highlander fan. I love Highlander so much, and I am a huge fan of this podcast, de facto, 'cause I'm a member of it. How can I show my support and get some really cool shit in the process?
Keith: Oh! There is one really great way you can support THIS podcast AND support your love of Highlander by heading on over to our Facebook page, and picking up a set of our awesome new Highlander Magnets! Uh, which are available for the price of $25 plus shipping and handling!
Kyle: What do you GET for that AMAZING price?
Keith: It's an awesome collection of five magnets featuring all your favorite characters! We've got Duncan MacLeod, Amanda, Joe, Methos, and a really cool alternate 1600s Scottish Highlands MacLeod!
Kyle: Awesome! Eamon! Who made these things? Like, what awesome artist somewhere made these things?
Eamon: It was ME!
Eamon: I made them! With the help of you guys, and Davis Panzer Productions!
Keith: Definitely. These are fully authorized Highlander merchandise from the Highlander Rewatched Podcast!
Keith: AND if you're an international listener, we can ship these internationally now. Uh, so don't buy them from our Facebook page, but head over to Etsy.com, and just search for Highlander Rewatched. And if you place your order through Etsy, we can ship anywhere in the world! Well, I--pretty much. Wherever Etsy can ship. Wherever FedEx, or whoever's gonna ship it can ship. We c--
Eamon: We can't ship to the Planet Zeist, though.
Keith: Nope. No shipping to Zeist!
♫Princes of the Universe!♫
27:21 Keith: So, you run an acting school now. Can you tell us... exactly what is your acting school about? Like, what is Acting Coaching? That's a little different than if you went to collect to study acting, right?
27:31 Stan: Yeah. Okay. So, this wasn't really something that, to my knowledge, was around in the 90s, when I was really doing the bulk of my acting. And... it's now something that's much more prevalent. I mean, I know there are people that do this. What WE do is... Basically, the studio consists of classes, and private coaching. Private coaching is something that, for the most part, actors utilize when they have an audition. And they'll come in... they'll send their sides, which is the material that they have to do for the audition; and uh... myself or any one of our coaches will read them ahead of time. They come in, and whether it's a fifteen minute, you know, coaching, or... coachings can go up to a half hour, forty-five minutes, an hour, an hour and a half depending on the length of the material; and we'll go through, and basically, you know, answer questions... 28:18 I would say--if I had to put it in a nutshell--direct them through the audition. You know, "I would make this choice, here. Try this, here. Try that, there." So that they leave the coaching feeling as confident and as strong as possible, going into the room with the choices that they've made. I would say that's probably seventy-five percent of it, and then maybe twenty-five percent is people who've already booked things, and they wanna go through the material that they've booked. And, I mean, I've worked with people who are leads on series; and they're coming in every week or we're Skyping every week, if they're out of town. Going through the scenes. Going through, you know, the choices that they'll make. Talking about a character arc. That's the private coaching. 29:00 We also do something which is much more prevalent in the business now than ever, and I think it's only gonna augment, which is actors having to put themselves on tape for auditions. So we have two taping studios; they're lit, they're miked, the quality is great, and they'll come in, have to put themselves on tape for the audition. So we do that, as well. And then we also run classes. There's essentially three different types of acting classes out there. There's what's called scene-study, where actors are paired up with other people, and other actors and they're doing scenes for... anywhere from a couple of weeks to, you know, multiple weeks or even months at a time. And then there's what's called cold-reading classes where, actors are given the material right there, they have a few minutes, they come in, the teacher will give them notes.
29:44 Our classes are designed to replicate what happens to actors who are out there in the business, who are auditioning, who are doing this on a regular basis. So we're working with current film/TV material. We focus on the audition process; we don't assign scenes; and we're pulling all our materials from current film and TV roles that are casting at that given time. Like, for example, tonight I'm going to read two or three scripts for pilots that are currently casting. That's what the actors are going to be doing those roles, in class, tomorrow night, and... it's my job, or any of the other coach's job to... address what would be stronger choices. How do--How to, you know, navigate their way through the material as solidly as possible. And there's people in class who have been series regulars. They're not classes designed for a beginning actor. They're classes designed for people who've already had training, who are now at a point where they're ready to go out and audition--or have been auditioning, in some cases, for decades. And they--and in that case it's more like their gym. They come in on a weekly basis, cuz they want to keep those skills as sharp as possible.
30:54 The business has become incredibly competitive, and agents promote coaching and training for their actors more so than ever, because there's that edge that you need going in the room, and just a choice here, a choice there can make the biggest difference in booking a part, and can change one's career.
31:12 Stan: Does that help? *chuckles*
Keith: Oh yeah! Absolutely! Is there a particular uh, like Stan Kirsch-style of acting? Is there a, a philosophy you prescribe to? Is there a piece of advice that you always like to give your students?
31:22 Stan: Well... You know, years ago, I would... you know, you know, meet a waiter or waitress in restaurants and they'd say, "Oh, what's your method? Is it Stanislavski? Is it Mike--" and they're all these sort of old-school techniques.
31:35 Stan: And I would say, "Our method is, you know, go book a job." *laughter* Try to book a job. When actors come to the studio, they first take a class that we call the Boot Camp, where they're working on specific scenes that we've already selected, as teachers. All the teachers are working in the Boot Camp; and they're doing drama; they're doing multi-cam comedies; they're doing single-cam comedies; and they're sort of getting our terminology, our vernacular; the way we suggest approaching this material, and... addressing all the questions they have about, you know, how to make the strongest choices: Auditioning in front of a camera, auditioning in, you know, live in front of producers. And then from there they'll go into ongoing classes. But there's really not a "philosophy" other than... other than booking. We're very practical in our approach to the work. And I don't disparage anybody, but I don't... talk to anybody in class about: "Tell me who this person reminds you of," or "What was your relationship like with your father?" That's not what we do.
*amused Eamon noises* Keith: Right!
32:32 Stan: Our--We're more, as coaches, directing people through the scenes, so what... When I say that, I don't mean it facetiously at all. Like our method, our philosophy is "How to book a job." And, if you don't mind my going for another minute on this...
Keith: No! Of course not!
32:46 Stan: When I started in the business... Even when we started Highlander: in 1992 there were three major networks that were making com--half-hour comedies, one-hour dramas... They sort of all had a very similar pace, and tone, and... now we're in an era when there's hundreds of channels that are out there, there's... networks branding themselves on certain slogans like: TNT, they know Drama. USA sells Characters are Welcome. And now with the advent of all these other platforms: The HULUs, the Amazons, Netflix... It's imperative that actors are watching everything, they're... knowing and understanding the tones of different shows... or features, if they're going in, what that director's done before... and making the appropriate kinds of choices for that particular piece. Uh, I mean essentially--and this is a broad example, but--what will make someone brilliant, you know, in a Clint Eastwood film audition, will make them, you know, look ridiculous in a sitcom for Nickelodeon. *Eamon laughs* And then the reverse is true. And today, more than ever--and I don't think it's gonna change; it's only gonna increase--it is very incumbent upon actors to know these tones, be familiar with these tones, and make those kind of choices. And I do meet actors that are good actors, but they don't know the difference. They don't know... "Okay, what about here because this is an MTV comedy? Will I be making choices that are different than a TBS show?" Uh, and... you WOULD make different kinds of choices. Know when, maybe a little ad-libbing is appropriate; when that's NOT appropriate. And it wasn't imperative that actors really knew that when I started, and this kind of training didn't even exist.
34:26 So, that's more and more why agents are sending their clients to... you know, places such as us. People are coming out of schools--in some cases Juilliard, Carnegie Mellon, CalArts; HUGE theater programs with an immense amount of training--but they've yet to get into a room and audition for... Big Bang Theory, or... The Last Ship. Or... a show like Casual. And they want... they want and NEED their actors to understand, know those--the tones of these shows and films, and how to go in and successfully book those jobs. And I hear it every day: "I represent good actors, but I need them to make the strongest appropriate choices going in the room." And that's where we come in.
Eamon: Like I was trained as an illustrator. It's like target marketing, almost. Like you have to know what your strength is--
35:10 Stan: YES! Very much like that!
Eamon: --and kind of go for that niche.
35:14 Stan: Yes! You know--knowing what you sell, your efforts, your strengths, and then knowing what you're auditioning for. We... we give out a lot of quotes, uh, and literature to our... to actors when they first come to the studio and... one that comes to mind is from a woman named Dorian Frankel, who's a big casting director. She was doing Parks And Rec, and she said: "I could tell within ten seconds, in an audition, if an actor understood the tone of the show. And if they didn't understand the tone of the show, it didn't matter how good they were. I couldn't even give them a callback. Because we don't have time to explain: This is what the tone of the show is. They already need to know that; they need to be familiar with that; and the tone of MY show," she said, "you know, is gonna be different than other shows. And I suspect it's the same, no matter what you're auditioning for." And it is. You know, on top of that it's our job as teachers and coaches, where WE work, to know what those tones are and be familiar with those, and NOT approach every piece of material with the same set of tools.
Keith: Awesome! That's brilliant advice! We've heard word that you're gonna be attending the Highlander 25th Anniversary Convention in L.A. Is that true?
36:20 Stan: Yeah! I'm very excited about it!
Keith: Awesome, yeah! It's very cool! Uh, also, speaking uh, for ourselves: We were kind of too young to attend a Highlander Convention when we were younger, so I know we're very happy and excited to--to be going to this, a little older now. Um--
Stan: I'm excited to meet you guys in person!
Keith: Yeah! Uh, so--
Eamon: Yeah, us too! *laughter*
Keith: Hahah. Yeah. So... It's also kind of crazy to think that Highlander was twenty-five years ago now. What, what is--
Stan: *dryly* Yeah. Tell me about it. *laughter*
Keith: Looking back on it, what is... what does Highlander mean to you? Uh, I mean like... it's, it's kind of remarkable that the... the fandom has, you know, persisted, which is really cool.
36:52 Stan: Oh my God, it's unbelievable. I would've never thought, in 1992, that twenty-five years later I'd be going to a convention. *Eamon and Keith laugh* Uh...
Keith: We also always ask our, uh, guests, you know, if... Would you want to be immortal? If you had the choice?
37:04 Stan: Would I want to be immortal... That's an inshu--interesting question. You know I... I don't think so. I think... you know, and being a part of the show, and seeing that... And even the movies! Which I've now seen... *laughter* Um, there's so much pain, and suffering, and so much... loss, that I'm thinking that would be very trying; very difficult. I mean the bonus is, um, you get to experience a lot, but I don't know that that's something... that I... would necessarily... choose. The show itself: it was definitely a pivotal and defining moment in my life, and my career. I was very young in my acting career when I started, and I met people like Adrian, and like Don Paonessa, that I still talk to, and I'm still close to. I had been working before, but that's where I really learned about... really how to navigate your way through a set. And really... having to take a role, and not just essentially shoot the scenes that you auditioned with, but get new material every week. Uh, I learned about adrenaline, and how to keep that going, not to waste too much energy too soon. And um, I really learned about the film-making process before then. And I was only in L.A. for a year and a half when I got the part, but everything was SO quick. You know I'd get a part, go to the set, shoot it and be done. And I came out of it a much more seasoned actor... I came out of it far more seasoned about the business, how things work, the politics of it... It was interesting for me personally because, when I started auditioning--and even the Richie character--I was auditioning for a seventeen-year old. I came out of the show, and was all of a sudden playing attorneys, and I thought, "I can't really LOOK that much different," but I was told by casting directors and, y'know, people that I was working with then at the time, that eh... "There's something different in your eyes." And I look back now, and I realize I had experienced so much, and especially... you know, going to these other countries, and y'know, shooting in these, y'know, various places... I grew up a lot. You know, as a person, and as an actor. A lot of that experience I take, and use, to this day.
Eamon: It's interesting that you mentioned adrenaline. I'm wondering, when you first started on the show, it seems like a lot of pressure. Like, you have to deliver on the show--
Stan: Yes. Yes.
Eamon: --week after week. Did you use adrenaline at first to kind of get you through having to deliver, and did that change over time? Or... I--I'm wondering what like, that evolution is.
39:27 Stan: Well, I remember sitting down with Peter DeLuise, who was a guest star in the very beginning of the series... Uh, it was one of the first few episodes...
Eamon: Yeah, I think that's uh, Family Tree. Sorry to interrupt!
39:38 Stan: Uh... yeah, no, I think you're right. You guys know. Hahah! *laughter* And he had just come off 21 Jump Street. Although he was a guest star, and I was at the time a series regular, I looked up to him. And... we became friends--friendly, I should say, and friends at the time. We went for lunch, or coffee, and I will never forget this. He said, "Can I give you a piece of advice?" I said, "Absolutely! You just came off, you know, five, six years on Jump Street!" And he said, "When you're not shooting, sit in a chair. Go back to your dressing room. You know it, it's exciting now, it's new, it's something, you know, that's like, 'Wow!' And so, you know, you wanna be sort of part of the action all the time. But you're gonna need that energy as the day goes on, and you're gonna need that energy seven months from now." And it was probably... we started in July of '92, I do remember, and so that was probably sometime in August, and HE knew enough to know that we'd be shooting come March! And it was a great, great piece of advice. And, hey y'know, like all advice I think when you get it, you know, you're sort of like, "Okay! That sounds great!" you know, and you apply it a little bit--*Eamon laughs*--and then as... Heh, when you really need it, you're like, "Oh, I remember Peter saying that." And, it was definitely something that I learned with time. How to not only hold onto that energy, like I said, for the day, you've sort... At the beginning, when you're shooting... You know it's---At that time it was a lot of master shots, and then closeups, and y'know I wanted to give everything right at the very beginning! And not realizing well HEY, the closeup might not happen for two or three hours! So I learned about that, and it's something I teach to actors today. You know, "Look at the whole picture! Ask what the shot listed! You know, if your closeup is coming, like, fourth of fifth, you know, relax a little bit! You know, you don't wanna be spent by the time that happens!" And then also, like I said: In the long run, when you're working on a series like that, you've gotta think three, four, five, six months ahead, and when you have time, take a break. Rest. Cuz you're gonna need that energy at some point, later. And especially with all the travelling involved.
Keith: Is there any crazy story you've never shared with anybody about Highlander at a convention or whatever, that you wanna like, share with our audience?
41:43 Stan: *laughs* A craz... Well, um, I love doing the conventions. I've always had such a good time at them. The fans were amazing, the conventions were fantastic. ... I don't know if these are really crazy stories, but... I think it was the last two that I did were... Well they were special to me because I was able to bring my wife. We purchased her wedding ring in Indianapolis, at the convention there. And so, that was an exciting thing for us, personally. And I do remember the one in Denver... And this was prooobably in the 90s... My sister went, and, uh... she's not a public speaker, and not one for, you know, being up in front of the crowd, and I sort of pulled her up on stage, and... She said, said a few things. I'll never forget that. *Keith laughs*
Eamon: Is it weird that conventions have kind of like, become a thing almost that actors have to go to? It's weird that it's kind of become like, part of a thing of like, promoting a show or something. I don't know if that's interesting or not. *Keith laughs* But it's just the thought!
42:43 Stan: I mean m... NOW, I have a lot of my clients, who will come to ME and say, oh, you know, they're on a, a, you know, big uh... animated series or... they're doing a show for Disney or something, and they, they mention like, "Oh, they want me to do a convention!" And I say, "Oh my gosh! Absolutely! You know, DO IT! Meet the fans! The fans are the people that are keeping you employed!" It's definitely something that's, I think a part of one's job and I... You know, I look at it as... a particularly exciting thing for people. Because to be frank, it's not like you could just sort of: "Okay, I'm gonna fly to..." you know, to Indianapols, say, "And I'm gonna meet Brad Pitt." It doesn't really work that way. *laughs* You know, but when you're on... you know, these shows like Highlander, that... you know, develop a cult following... People have the opportunity to go meet the stars of this show in person, and I know... how... special it is, for people to have that opportunity and, you know, get that picture, and... It seems like, oh it's just like, you know, another thing that you're doing, but people have really gone out of their way, and they've spent a--you know, in some cases--a considerable amount of their incomes to attend these things. I feel, as an actor, it's incumbent upon one to go and, and really give the most of themselves, because it means so much to the people who are there. And... it IS a part of the job.
Keith: Cool! Well, Stan, thank you so much for joining us! It was absolutely a pleasure to talk to you! I mean, we got to learn about the acting side of things, the directing side, the editing side, the coaching side! Like we--we got like a crash course, I think. *Stan starts laughing a little* We got our own like, mini, mini-coaching session on, uh--the industry tonight, which was really awesome! This was a true treat for us, and I hope the fans have enjoyed reconnecting with you, and also I hope a lot of the fans are making sure they've log on to highlanderworldwide.com to get tickets to, uh, meet Stan and the other stars of Highlander at the Los Angeles 25th Anniversary Convention, and also--
44:35 Stan: Oh, thank you guys. I had, I had a great time.
Keith: Awesome! Awesome.
Stan: It was my pleasure.
Keith: Very cool. Ah, well thank you so much, Stan, for joining us, and we will see YOU in October!
Stan: You're welcome!
Keith: Thanks again!
Eamon: Thank you, Stan!
Stan: I look forward to it.
Keith: Alright! See you!
44:57 Keith: Alright, see ya--
Eamon: Happy birthday! Happy future birthday!
Stan: Thank you!