Actor Philip Martin Talks To Us About Working With Al Pacino On Thier New Film Phil Spector

Rising talent Philiop Martin was kind enough to speak to us about his new film, “Phil Spector”. The movie will debut on HBO and stars starring Al Pacino, Helen Mirren and Jeffrey Tambor.

Photo credit: Richard Wright

What can you tell us about your character and what attracted you to the part as well as the casting process?

I play James Lee, who is a young lawyer on Phil Spector’s defense team. He also Bruce Cutler’s (Jeffery Tambor) protege. What attracted me to this part was undertaking , researching, getting to the meat of what drives a person to chose and dedicated themselves to becoming a Lawyer. I found it fascinating to seeing the exact parallels of becoming a trained actor and the language and the use of it to create perceptive or a strong point of view/ case.

How did you get into acting and what was your big break

I got into acting when I was 16. I was a bit of troublemaker, confused overweight kid looking for some purpose in this world. When I stumbled on to acting the bigger picture of life started to make sense. Most of all, it made hard work, determination and passion have purpose for me. First big break was getting in NYU Tisch School of the Arts. The school give me an understanding, tools and opportunity to learn how to be the best professionally trained actor I can be. Second Big Break (industry wise), HBO’s Phil Spector. I’m very grateful to say that because of my work at NYU and getting the opportunity to show my work to David Mamet I am not able to show my work to the world thanks to “Phil Spector.” A dream come true which I will be forever grateful to David for.

What sort of research did you do for the role and how did it compare and contrast with past roles?

I decided I wanted to really research what drives a human being to defend other human beings. So, I did a few days of shadowing my friends who are lawyers in LA. I took the time to understand the long process of discovery, how 99% of the work is paperwork, and that being specific in aspect of the case is essential to the outcome for your client. The way lawyers speak to one another in a rapid spitfire pace, while having three other arguments loading in their brain ready for launch and the readiness to counter every point the other team present, all while projecting an air of calm, cool and collected persona was something I learned that helped me take on the character of a lawyer as well.

What do you look for from a director to help you give your best performance?

Well, first off the director is the Captain of the ship and as an actor I’m just the sailor who is doing my best to be of service to the Director/writer’s vision. So I ask my self, ” How can I bring my best performance to the director, so he can shape, tweak and adjust my character to fit his vision of the story”. It’s about being of service to others. That’s my goal.

What were some of the more memorable moments on set and how was working with the cast?

Having the opportunity to work such high caliber cast is a dream come true for my first job. As a newcomer, I really learned a lot from Al , Helen and Jeffery. They taught me, through their actions, how to be a professional, support your cast mates and how to dig deep to bring the truth to the screen. I also learned that I had something to very special to offer to the mix.

My most memorable moment was doing my first professional close up with the lovely, gracious and amazing Oscar winner Helen Mirren. It was like I was daydreaming back in school expect I could have never of predicted this. Then, of course I dropped into character and I was dealing with Linda Kinney Baden who came to my territory and is trying to make a fool out of James Lee. Not on my watch. LOL. That’s what’s great about film-making.

If given carte blanche, who would be your ultimate cast and director to work with and in why type of project?

I would love to work with Paul Thomas Anderson and Joaquin Phoenix . PT is one of the best directors out there and should have an Oscar for his work on Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood or The Master. Joaquin’s work in The Master and Walk The Line inspired me to keep moving forward and I think it would be fun to act with him on screen. Lastly, Robert Downey Jr and Terrance Malick. RDJ has always been someone I look up too and learned from. Malick, he just understands actors, life and the power of cinema.

Do you have a preference to comedy, drama, or action and why?

Drama and Dark Comedy. I love real life and bringing that to screen has always been my motivation. Why? I think the power of cinema to engage an audience and teach a lesson through characters and conflict is important. It is essential to gain a new cultural perceptive that we are connected to and have to ability to have peace within ourselves and the world around.

What can you tell us about your upcoming projects?

Right now, I’m working hard for the next opportunity. I have strong desire to return to stage in New York. Off broadway, Broadway. Also to work with HBO again would be pleasure. I grew up on HBO and their TV shows. To be on Broadwalk Empire, The Newsroom , Girls or Game of Thrones is a goal of mine. Also Film is why I am an actor, the opportunity to work with a great directors again like David Mamet or David O’Russell or the next upcoming Sundance star director would be a dream. Really finding those artists you flow with and love to create with is what make this tough journey of story telling worth it.

What do you like to do in your free time and which movies are on your to watch list?

I love to surf, cross fit, play basketball and help others. Spiritual work always keeps me grounded. On my watch list right now, two films this month are Spring Breakers and a Place beyond the Pines. Harmony Korine is one of the most engaging voices in current modern cinema and his films always seem to have the pulse of my generation. Ryan Gosling, is one of the best actors of this current generation and to watch his raw, organic and truthful performance inspires actors like myself to dig deep. Combined with director Derek Cianfrance’s unique vision and direction makes The Place beyond the Pines is a must for any artist.

Final question, what is the one thing about acting that most people are shocked when you tell them?

It takes 10 years of hard work , persistence, passion and faith…. atleast, that is my experience.

Photo credit: Richard Wright