Gary Ray Moore has been acting for over 40 years on TV, film, theater, and voice over. He’s celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary this year with wife, Marilyn, with whom he has four sons (David, Daniel, Michael, Matthew) and now two daughters-in-law (Lija, Spring).
10 Questions with Actor Gary Ray Moore
- Where would we have seen you?
The most notable work around the world would be my role as Kevin Spacey’s neighbor, Jack Warton, in House of Cards…..he killed my dog. Many college age kids and their parents know me from my old TV show, The Help at Home Live Show, that I had the honor of hosting for several years. It was an educational variety show that I just copied the great Johnny Carson on. I had a very talented producer from Australia named, Chris Davies, and he and I couldn’t wait to get to set each show! One of my films is getting out right now called, Return to the Hiding Place. It has the great actor, John Rhys-Davies and tells the true story of Hans Poley, a teenager during WWII that helped save thousands of Jews from the Nazis. I play “Lars” a resistance fighter.
- When did you first start acting?
I grew up in Chicago always tagging along with my older sister, Debbie, who was a professional ventriloquist. She would perform all over the place and even on TV. When I was in second grade I remember wanting to get in the school play. I had so much fun performing that there wasn’t a school play I missed, except for the musicals because I can’t sing. Actually, in one college play I even played a non-singing guard in, “The Sound of Music”….and was asked to lip-sync.
I followed a girl to college and one week before I left for school, I was offered a small role in a movie that was shooting in the Chicago area with the great star, Danny Kaye. It was called; “Skokie” and I turned it down because I was leaving for college in one week. I often look back on that decision and wonder what would have happened if I had done that film instead.
I majored in acting throughout college and even helped pay my college tuition from traveling on a drama team for the school. After I graduated, I got married and moved out to San Francisco to start life. I had to get a real job to support my new wife and acting habit. As an actor, I was natural for sales jobs and excelled in them.
My heart was still yearning to act though, but I didn’t have time to do any stage work, so I thought well maybe I could do some commercials since they usually shoot in one day. Of course, I never had any training in front of a camera. I found a commercial acting class taught by, Jim Bressi, at Elite Modeling in downtown San Francisco. My wonderful mom, who has always supported my acting desire, paid for this class and I would take BART to class every week.
Jim Bressi, was one of the original Marlboro Cowboys in modeling, however, he had extensive TV and film credits also. Jim had a major job taking me from the big acting of stage to the intimate acting for camera. To this day, he is my friend and supporter. With his help, I landed an agent and started doing many commercials. Camera work is all about look and I guess I looked like the guys who worked in grocery stores because I did about every one of them.
- What do you love about acting?
It’s funny to think about that really. I wasn’t exactly a “good” boy growing up in the Chicago area and I think acting really helped me escape life, it gave me a feeling of accomplishment when I could actually entertain someone else and help them escape the worries of life for awhile also. It was also the only thing I really loved besides, women and skateboarding. I was a pro skateboarder back in the 1970’s but even then I was acting in everything I could. I heard an interview with Peter Sellers and he was asked this question and I loved his answer. He said what he loved was the actual “take” of a scene when you are really responding to what’s going on around you. I actually have to take it even further than that, I love being on set around people that love what I love! I show up early, know my lines, hit my marks, talk to crew, get to know the other actors, and then I go home late. I think I love just being on set as much as I love acting these days.
- If you couldn’t act, what would you like to do?
I’d like my 20 year old body back so I could skateboard like I use to. There really isn’t anything else I would like doing but acting…..maybe learn directing someday. I was with the great Charles Robinson on an episode of The Game on the BET Network a little while ago and he’s acted for years so I asked him why isn’t he retired yet? He just smiled and said, “As long as I can remember my lines, I love acting!” Recently, I did a film, Mountain Top, with Barry Corbin who is 75 years old and obviously doesn’t need to act for the money anymore, but he loves acting just like Mr. Robinson does. I think that’s the way I’ll spend my retirement just having fun being on sets and talking with other actors.
- Do you have a favorite type of acting? (Theater, Film, or TV)
I grew up in theater and loved it but after I started learning camera acting, I think I really fell in love with it. It seems like TV pays the best with all the residuals but I have to say I love film acting over all others. There’s something about being a part of a film that will be around for a long time and impact others with different emotions. It’s shot different than TV shows and I like that too. I got to spend a day with the late Eddie Albert and asked him that question. He told me that he loved film acting the best also but not modern film because when he did films back in the 1940’s and 50’s, they took their time shooting a scene. He told me they never rushed a scene back then and he really missed that.
- How do you prepare for a role?
Well it seems that it’s getting harder to get the whole script these days. You start out with just the sides that you audition with, then you finally get your Deal Memo, then I end up begging someone to send me the full script! I like to read it over and over and over sometimes several times a day. Before I really get into dissecting a scene, I always go to my acting coach, Eric Kline, who runs the Film Actor’s Workshop in LA. He’s just a genius when it comes to breaking down a scene and then helps me get the why my character does what he does. In this modern age, I use the great Rehearsal App on my iPad to help me learn my lines. It’s fantastic because it was made by an actor who knows what actors need.
- What advice would you give an actor starting out?
My acting coach, Eric Kline, has given me some wonderful advice over the years, but some of his best was using music to get me into the emotions I need for scenes. He taught me that there is nothing as fast as music to change your emotions……and I’ve found he’s right. I find songs and music that go with my different scenes and have my headphones on the set when I’m between takes. It has helped me tremendously! Eric says some really good directors know this and will have the right music playing for everyone on the set, but I’ve yet to experience that so I bring my own.
Never talk trash about other people on set. I learned this the hard way on a commercial I did in California during the OJ Simpson Trial. Between takes I was talking trash with the DP about a famous person in the trial. Well suddenly the girl, that was playing my wife, stormed off the set. I asked, “what’s up with her?” The crew informed me that she was currently dating that guy I was trash talking. After I took my foot out of my mouth, I apologized and tried to never do that again. Other than that, watch out for the tons of scammers out there. It’s sad that so many people try and take advantage of actors with all kinds of scams. Also, know what you will and won’t do in acting. Just because someone wrote it in the scene or a director wants you to do something, don’t take the job if you aren’t comfortable doing that. I’ve turned down many roles in my life because I didn’t want to be a part of something I didn’t believe in or was just plain junk.
- Do you have a favorite director that you’ve worked with?
Well, I’ve had the privilege of working with several directors over the years. Enough to know what I like and what I don’t like anyway. When I got the callback from House of Cards, I stepped into the room full of CD’s, producers, and David Fincher. David literally flew over his desk and met me at the door thanking me profusely for coming to Baltimore to meet him. The great thing about Fincher is that he loves actors! I finally saw him admitting that in an interview after I had shot with him. Some things about why I loved working with him are that he doesn’t yell at actors from the monitor tent, he comes up to each actor in the scene and really talks to us about the take and even asks us what we think about it. When a director loves actors, actors know it immediately. I have to bring up Gary Wheeler also because even though he’s never met Fincher, he directs almost just like him. I’ve been in a number of films with Wheeler and it’s just as fun as the last one every time! He gets great actors because he treats them right, pays everyone fair, and directs them respectfully.
- Do you have a favorite actor that you’ve worked with?
That’s very hard to narrow down. I have to say when you act with a really great actor; it makes your job so easy! Kevin Spacey (American Beauty, House of Cards) makes lines so real that you simply find yourself responding naturally to him and forget you’re even acting. There’s a reason he has two Oscars. Robert Forster (Jackie Brown, The Descendants) was also incredible. He would come in at different times just to keep things fresh and natural. Ted Levine (Shutter Island, Monk) was fun because I felt like I was on a Monk episode with him. And I had a blast with Danny Trejo (Machete, Spy Kids) in The Bill Collector! One day we were sitting outside his trailer between setups and one of my sons called me on my cell phone. Danny said, “Let me talk to him.” Well, needless to say, that made my son’s day and mine.
- Where can people keep up with what you’re doing?
Hopefully, they want to cast me and can contact my agent, Barbara Garvey, at East Coast Talent. IMDB is great but not always up to date on current projects. I’m on Facebook and Twitter where people can usually keep up with my latest. The film I mentioned before, Mountain Top, will be out later this year and you won’t want to miss that!
Personal Website: http://www.garymoore.me/
MovieComing Team had a great time with Gary Ray during his exclusive interview with us. His acting career is marvelous and really inspiring for young actors. We wish him best of luck with his acting career.