I was in Phoenix the other weekend attending Phoenix Comicon and once again I was fortunate to do an interview with Sean. I’m very grateful to him for taking the time to do this. It means a lot to me that he appreciates the work I do and trusts me the way he does. I don’t take any of this for granted. It means so much to me.
Once again, I got to observe Sean with the fans and it’s always beautiful to see it. He really adores his fans. Phoenix Comicon was one where you could come up to Sean just to say hi without having to buy something like with some of the other celebrities and he didn’t treat those fans any different than paying ones. I love that. I also noticed that he would ask everyone what their names are. That is something that I find really awesome. That shows so much respect in my opinion.
I really had so much fun at this con. I got a lot of quality time with Sean and my friends and I am forever grateful for it.
I hope you all enjoy the questions and Sean’s answers. Let me know what you think of the interview.
Also, a huge thanks to my friend Maggie for beta reading this and helping me edit it.
#Whitewashing and #Oscarssowhite are hashtags we see so very often these days. POC roles often end up going to white actors. How can Hollywood do better? I know you have a lot of friends that are POC, so what are your thoughts on that?
I have very few friends that don’t fit into some sort of ethnicity or so. My best friends are gay, Jewish, black, Korean. I have a real smorgasbord of friends and that reminds me, personally, that there is no norm, really. There isn’t a “Oh, that’s the main stage.”
White males (and I say this as one myself) had it good for a long time, but it doesn’t really represent what the world is. If you’re making TV shows and movies, you should (at least I would want to) make them for everybody.
And while #Oscarssowhite happened, there was a natural ripple effect in our industry where lots of networks tried to cast diversity in lead roles that would normally go to white males. Which is good because it means that the fuss made over the Oscars actually had an effect on the industry.
Now obviously, I don’t wanna talk myself out of a job. But I wanna see TV that represents everybody and not just white men. I’m a big supporter of diversity on TV.
I know that whitewashing happens in this industry. For example, Kings and Gods with Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton. I understand why people got upset. The problem with $100 million projects is that you want a name attached to it, which was Ridley Scott’s explanation. But I don’t think we need to give those roles to white actors because there are so many brilliant actors from all races and ethnicity.
I have always believed there is enough room for everybody. I’m all about fairness and everybody getting their shot, even if it means talking myself out of a job. If the world’s a better place for it, I’ll survive.
What are your goals as an actor? How have those goals changed over the course of your career and what goals that you wanted to achieve have you achieved?
My primary goal is to continue working as an actor. It’s a very competitive industry and I never take for granted the good fortune I’ve had in my career. Obviously, I wanna try to play things that I haven’t played before. I wanna mix it up and do comedy and drama.
Most actors will tell you they wanna make feature films because it’s the holy grail in this industry, but I will say I feel proud that I’ve been doing this for 35 years and still have a job–or career, I should say.
I don’t look back much. I don’t look at the past much. It depends what comes across my desk, really. Sometimes, I’m offered things that I just don’t feel are right for me, or that I have done before, and it’s important to try and add something new to the repertoire, try to have new experiences and play new characters. So when I do look back at my career when I’m older, I wanna be able to say I played all sorts of characters and that I mixed it up and kept it fresh and exciting.
Are there any regrets when it comes to your career? Are there days where you wish you would have done something else, and what?
Yeah, there are. There are a couple of things I look back on and rather not have them on my resume.
And of course I have doubts like anyone else. Acting is a very unstable and competitive job that can be heartbreaking, but I think anything that’s worthwhile in life takes a cost. But, if it wasn’t challenging and occasionally heartbreaking I probably wouldn’t be as passionate about it and wouldn’t be as motivated to strive to try and do better than the last job.
So the things that I regret, I regret quietly and personally to myself. Sometimes things turn out better than you hoped and sometimes it’s like, “It could have been much better than it was.” But that’s just part of the job.
So if you weren’t an actor what would you be?
A lawyer. I think there are a lot of similarities between acting and law. You have to learn something, make your case for it and then sell it to a jury. Actors have to sell it to an audience. Being a lawyer is most definitely harder. But yeah, that or doing something political or just something that would make the world a better place.
Would you do another movie like Songs for Amy or a musical? Your fans really love your voice and your singing. I know Fiona Graham said that she would work with you again in a heartbeat.
Of course. After seeing LaLaLand, it made me want to do a movie like that because I do sing and dance and it’s been something I haven’t been proud of, but as I’m getting older I wanna kinda embrace that side a bit more. But it depends on the project. I loved LaLaLand. It was sweet and fun and it came at a time when the world needed a bit of song and dance. So yeah I would, but of course it depends on the script and director.
And yeah, I talked to Fiona the other day and they are writing something, but the problem with indies is that more often than not I spend more money on it than I make so it’s gonna be a labor of love. And also I don’t wanna be away from my family for too long now.
I’ve been asked to do a couple of things recently but I’m not sure. I’m just gonna be choosy at the moment. Also, my partner Alex and I are developing something that’s going in the right direction and I definitely wanna be behind the camera as I’ve said before.
Comedy vs Drama? What is easier for you to play, to write and what do you prefer to watch?
I write comedy more because my partner Alex and I love to make each other laugh and we have a comedy background. We naturally steer towards comedy. I think everything we’ve written together has been comedy.
To watch: Both. Depends on my mood. Sometimes I wanna be stimulated and think about things and sometimes I just wanna forget about the world’s troubles and enjoy something silly and funny. I like watching stand-up.
It’s really like apples and oranges. I don’t have a strict preference. I wouldn’t wanna do just one. I don’t know what I am gonna do next whether it’s comedy or drama. It would be nice to find something that maybe can do both. There are some good dramedies out there. You just have to find the project you want that wants you back.
What role would you write for yourself?
When I write I think about the whole piece and not just my involvement in it. I’m not the lead in the piece that we’ve written and are developing. That’s for somebody else and I’m one of the secondary characters. It’s not just about serving myself and trying to find a vehicle for myself. I want to do my best to get something sold and that is the thing we are currently developing.
You can be very hard on yourself at times so I was wondering: Have you ever gotten a script you loved but felt like you couldn’t do it or weren’t the right fit for it?
It happens often and I think a lot of actors feel that way.
It’s kinda like standing in front of a mountain and thinking, “There is no way I can climb to the top of that.” and then you have to remind yourself that you don’t start by trying to jump to the top. You take baby steps and before you know it you are halfway up the mountain.
There are many times I got a script and I just thought, “I won’t get there” and then you break it down into pieces and you take your time and work at it, and with time it gets easier. I was worried about the sword fighting in Prince Charming and having to learn Shakespeare, being on my first movie set. And with playing Ian Fleming there was so much German stuff that I didn’t think I could do convincingly, but then you break it down into small pieces and work it, and it gets easier. But I think you relish the challenge because if it’s easy it’s boring.
What do you think is important when people play love interests? What makes it comfortable and not awkward and makes it look real and not fake and forced? Do you have a LI you felt most comfortable with?
I’m wary of saying I have a favorite because it puts one above the other.
Obviously, for the last 3-4 years Lana Parrilla has been my LI and we have a great relationship but I worked with Rachel Skarsten who I adore and who is absolutely lovely. There is also Suranne Jones who I’m friends with and was with on Scott & Bailey. She and her husband visited and stayed with us. She’s a great friend and actress and I enjoyed working with her. There was really only one time that I didn’t feel good about my LI.
It’s important to be professional. It’s great when you get along and you’re just comfortable with each other in that close proximity. That really helps but it’s always unique and for it to work I think you have to have a common work ethic.
Like with Lana, knowing Fred and her knowing Tanya and us all being friends and comfortable with each other, I think that allowed us to create that chemistry without anyone feeling weird and awkward about it and wondering or worrying. We never had any issues and it was always very comfortable and professional.
How do you feel about someone saying that celebs should have no voice when it comes to politics and other issues?
I’m a big believer in the First Amendment. To those people who say I shouldn’t voice my political opinion I say, “Good for you. Good for you that you’re exercising your First Amendment right.” I disagree with them and I will always stand up for what I believe in, and you don’t have to be political to feel the affects of how our leadership is treating the environment for example.
So when people say that I should shut up I’m thinking, “Good for you. You just did what you told me not to. You voiced your opinion and are allowed to because you’re a plumber or whatever, but because I’m an actor I’m not allowed to do the same?” When you say it out loud it just sounds so stupid. So, I applaud their stupidity and pat them on the back and say, “Good for you, now read that back to yourself and see how stupid it sounds.” Because for one person to tell another that they have no right to speak, they obviously have never read the Constitution of the United States or the Magna Carta. I mean it’s your right to say it, but just make sure to know if you do, it makes you look really dumb ‘cause anybody that tells another person to shut up, start with yourself.
In Blackpool while talking about charities you mentioned going to Syria to do more. Is that still something you want to do?
Oxfam has asked me to go and visit some of the camps and that is something Tanya and I are planning to do together. It’s definitely something I want to do because that problem is not going away anytime soon. I want to use whatever celebrity I have to highlight what’s going on there, for people to understand how Syrians affected by it feel, and what we can do to help.
Your rules to live by?
Treat people as you wish to be treated yourself.
If you want something, work hard for it and don’t expect it to be handed to you.
Always be humble. Always be grateful.
Be the person you want to be and let the world take you as you are. If they don’t like you to hell with them.
These are a few of Sean’s favorite things 😉
Cake: The ones I made with my son the other day. We made cakes out of batter mix. It was like fairy cakes and they tasted great surprisingly
Ice Cream: Mint Chocolate Chip (with pineapples)
Pizza: Hawaiian with green peppers and jalapenos
Color: Black, sorry no. Blue. Light blue. I love black but yeah blue
Movie: It’s A Wonderful Life, Citizen Kane, Empire Strikes Back, Casablanca, Godfather 2
TV Show: House of Cards
Director: Rob Reiner, Christopher Nolan, Alfred Hitchcock
Book: To Kill A Mockingbird
Song: Depends on mood but “Imagine” by John Lennon
Music: Anything that is written and sung by someone who means what they’re singing. A lot of music from the ‘60s
Musical: Haven’t even seen it yet but I love the soundtrack so probably Hamilton
Car: Aston Martin
Country/City: Los Angeles and London
Holiday: I love Christmas much more now that I am a dad
Aftershave: Acqua Di Parma
Quote: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” by Oscar Wilde