Sean Cameron Michael: The Heart of a Gentleman

I was lucky to have a wonderful talk with actor Sean Cameron Michael.
Thank you for granting this interview. I think the fans of “Blood Drive” and “Black Sails,” as well all your other fans, will enjoy it. I know I will.
 
I don’t think that a lot of people realize you’re an award-winning actor. This year, you were awarded “Best Performance by an Actor” at the Boston Scifi Film Festival for your portrayal of Sam in the indie film “Broken Darkness.” AND the “Jury and Audience Award for Best Actor” at the SciFi Underground Film Festival in Munich, Germany for your lead role in “Tears in the Rain.” How does that feel, to have your hard work awarded?
SCM:  Broken Darkness and Tears in the Rain were both filmed in Johannesburg, South Africa and I’m incredibly proud of the local filmmakers Christopher-Lee Dos Santos and Christopher Grant Harvey who spent years getting their passion projects off the ground. Making independent movies is such a tough, uphill battle and requires endless commitment in the various stages of production.  To finally get these movies completed and then distributed around the world, in a highly competitive arena, is already a feat to be respected.  To be acknowledged by your peers with numerous awards is the “icing on the cake”. It certainly creates awareness and exposure which is so important and inspires us all to continue “the struggle”.
 
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You’ve been in big budget films, but tend to hang out with the Indie film crowd. Do you prefer one over the other?
SCM: Having bigger budgets means that you usually have a larger support team and resources to help bring your project to fruition. I feel though that’s it’s important to support and promote indie filmmakers – It’s my small way of giving back to an industry that has kept me alive for the past three decades. Also, you never know when a young, new director is going to become the next Spielberg, so it’s vital to pay it forward. Ultimately, I strive to be working the whole time.  My passion for the craft, courses through my veins, so yes, in-between those multi-million dollars TV series and movies, I work on as many short films, music videos and indies as my schedule allows.
 
Congrats on your role in “AST.” It was just announced recently. Can you give us a few hints about the movie and your character, Gideon?
SCM: I’m really excited and honored to be joining the AST franchise.  Writer/Director/Producer Joël Colburn has assembled a fantastic cast which includes the wonderful Jesper Christensen (Spectre, Quantum of Solace), Luna Rioumina (Spartacus), Robert Maillet (Sherlock Holmes, 300) and Jemma Dallender (I Spit on Your Grave 2).  Along with a highly experienced producing team in the States and UK, Joël also has an award-winning composer and highly respected stunt co-ordinator on board for the high-octane action-adventure spy thriller.  The three films that I’ve signed on to do, follows femme fatale Alexandra Duval (Rioumina), a skilled and seductive operative getting up close and personal with her targets. AST plans to be a fresh take on the female assassin storyline.  I’m playing Gideon, Alexandra’s mentor and boss.  He’s the powerful leader of a black bag operation for the CIA, made up of skilled operatives from around the world.  There’s definitely more than meets the eye with this character and is bound to be my most challenging role yet.  We’re hoping to start rolling cameras on the first instalment before the end of the year or early next year.  The producers are considering locations around the world, including Toronto and Ft. Lauderdale.  
 
“Black Sails.” If we don’t touch on that, I’ll get hate mail LOL. How did you win the part of Richard Guthrie? Was the character written to be an ass, or was that something you added? I loved your portrayal….very convincing. 
SCM:  Thank you. They auditioned all over the world for the main cast of Black Sails.  The producers and creators of the show had seen my previous work and I was asked to cast for the role of Richard.  When I booked the job, it was one of the highlights of my career. Yes, the character was written as a cold, hard father.  We later discover in season 2 that Richard always wanted a son, which explains his lack of support and love for his daughter.  I always try and bring some sort of honesty, depth and perhaps vulnerability to characters I portray.  I was actually shocked by the audience’s strong reaction to Richard. They understandably really hated him and the way he treated Eleanor.  Fortunately the two seemed to mend their relationship prior to his death, which was great for their story arc.
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How was the cast and crew of “Black Sails” to work with? Any good, juicy stories about some of your fellow castmates you can or care to share?
SCM: The cast and crew were fantastic to work with.  All very down-to-earth, talented and passionate filmmakers.  Truth be told, I tend to play a lot of baddie roles where the character is very much an outsider, and a lot of my scenes were shot together in a day or two for each episode. So, in reality, I didn’t actually have a lot of time on location to bond with many of the cast members during the filming period, which obviously I would have loved to experience.
 
In the short “It’s Complicated,” you played a Fairy Godmother. How much fun was that role?
SCM: Hahaha.  Filming on the dark comedy was such fun.  The character is actually a “mysterious man” who has a conversation with the lead actor in a bar. We don’t know if the guy even actually exists. He jokes around calling himself “a fairy Godmother”, so yes, it was hilarious working on the short film.
 
Being from South Africa, you naturally have an accent. I don’t think people know that you’ve been a dialoge coach on a few movies. How did you learn to get the various accents down? To Americans, we never think of an “American” accent. How do you keep all the accents from mixing into one?
SCM:  I’ve played so many nationalities over the years, from French (24: Redemption), Polish (Strike Back), Dutch (Natalee Holloway Story), Russian (Shooter), British (Black Sails) and of course my natural South African.  I guess it’s my trademark playing “foreign” international characters.  Since I’ve been living in the States for close on three years now, I’ve been working very hard on perfecting my Californian American accent (mostly to open myself up to booking more US work).  It’s kind of become my default accent now and you’ll get a taste of it in Syfy’s Blood Drive.
 
You are called one of “Africa’s most successful exports.” How good does that feel? 
SCM: I guess it means that I’ve done a lot of work on the African continent over the past three decades and finally seem to be making inroads in a very competitive Hollywood market.  It usually takes actors many years to establish themselves internationally, so I’m honored to be following in the footsteps of other South African actors who’ve conquered in the US market.
 
I know you’re recurring on USA’s “Shooter,” but do you always have to play the bad guys? 
SCM: In my teens and my twenties I played a lot of normal, charming and sweet good guys.  The older I got, I wanted to be challenged more and have a go at portraying more intense and demanding, layered characters.  In Broken Darkness and AST I, however, play “”good guys.
 
With your musical theater background, is there any musicals in your future? We would love to hear you sing….maybe release an album?
SCM: Yes, I did a lot of musical theater when I was younger and still try to tread the boards when time permits. I’m actually busy collaborating with a few artists to eventually release a single or an album one day soon.  I’m also on the look out for a TV or film project which has a musical element to it, so watch this space.
 
Now..to the “Heart” of things: “Blood Drive.” I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, at least til Season 2. “Blood Drive” is a ground breaking series. What’s it like to be part of the first Grindhouse television series? 
SCM: It’s very exciting and I have to agree with you – Blood Drive certainly is a ground breaking and unique, brave TV series.  I think it’s exactly what audiences want right now and thus far, fans and critics seem to be loving it, which is fantastic.  I’m so proud and happy for creator James Roland.
 
Can you give us a clue about Old Man Heart? His name is everywhere. When will we get to meet him?
SCM: Old Man Heart is powerful, dangerous and undoubtedly one of the most complex, over-the-top and outrageous roles I’ve ever played.  Yes, there have most certainly already been some hints and references to the character in the first few episodes and I can’t wait for you to meet him either. Patience. It’ll be worth it, I promise.  
 
In “Black Sails,” they didn’t hold back on the murder and mayhem. “Blood Drive” doesn’t give a shyte about the censors. How is it to work on a series that is so free?
SCM: Creatively and artistically cable channels are giving writers and creators a lot more freedom to express themselves, where network television tends to understandably be more family-friendly (and acceptable to advertisers and sponsors). The minute I read the script for episode one of Blood Drive, I knew that I had to be a part of the show.  I could not be more appreciative and happy for the opportunity and experience.
 
What do you want the fans…YOUR fans to know about you and the work you have in the pipe that they don’t already know? 
Besides the fact that you were recently voted “Hottie of the Day” by the listeners of 5FM Radio, in South Africa. And that you were on billboards all over S. Africa as the character Miles in SABC’s “This Life.”
SCM: I have about seven feature film projects in the pipeline which are in various stages of production in South Africa, the States and Europe. Most of them are in the action and thriller genre, with very complex and challenging characters. Watch the press for details. There’s a lot more to come.
 
I’m grateful you took the time for my questions and I. Thank you.
SCM: It was an absolute pleasure. Thank you for your support.