Janel: Tony, please tell us a little about you and how you got started?
Tony: I was fascinated by the dramatic arts as a child, with annual trips to the ballet and theater. I always participated in my school plays, and began really studying the craft in high school, under the tutelage of the amazing Kent Cathcart. I first auditioned for the film, Man in the Moon. One of the roles actually went to the very lovely Reese Witherspoon. I was told no thanks, and It was definitely not my last ‘no’ but you always remember the first rejection over any other. I’ve had quite a few ‘yes’ nods over the years, but that’s how I got started.
Janel: What was your favorite part of working on ZOMBIELAND and what did you think of the Rules?
Tony: It was my first film using prosthetics, so that to me was a really exciting adventure, in itself. The ‘rules’ were what added the extra level of comedy to elevate the story, and relate to the audience. Love them. I was even fortunate enough to be featured in the Cardio poster for the film. Definitely not upset about that.
Janel: What was your experience like working on THE WALKING DEAD?
Tony: Amazing. The work is really hard, and sometimes downright uncomfortable. But so rewarding to watch all that sweat pour into a beautiful piece of art, that millions of people enjoy. Nothing, like it.
Janel: What is the best piece of advice you received from a fellow actor?
Tony: Never apologize for being yourself. Go as far down the rabbit hole as you need to, to be the character you are meant to be.
Janel: What is worst? Putting the make-up on or taking it off?
Tony: Taking it off!! It hurts, and you’re tired and cranky to begin with. Just being in it for 14-16 hours, you just want to be done with it.
Janel: What has been your favorite role so far and why?
Tony: I worked in a movie called Killers. I was the ‘nerd with the cold’, and had a great scene opposite Katherine Heigl. It was my first ‘day player’ role with a trailer and scale pay!!
Janel: Zombies or Walkers as they are called now have always been a part of the horror genre but now there is so much merchandise and people that want to dress up like Walkers, how does that make you feel?
Tony: That I was quicker than everyone else to realize how cool they were. I’ve always been a fan of the post-apocalyptic settings with zombies. Always.
Janel: How do you feel about the conventions and have you had any strange fan experiences?
Tony: Conventions are amazing networking opportunities, and fantastic connection opportunities with fans. They’re maddening logistically, but always rewarding. The only downside is the energy drain at the end from being ‘on’ the whole time. Every fan is a new conversation, and you can never show that you’re tired or sick or just over it. Always ‘on’ Strange fan experiences? Every time!! Some fans just have really terrible social skills, and it’s sometimes really hard to disconnect from their odd rumblings, without hurting their feelings. They mean well, and I hang in there as long as I can…and then I have to suddenly use the restroom.
Janel: What was the best and worst thing about working on THE WALKING DEAD?
Tony: Best thing: meeting Frank Darabont Worst thing: not getting a speaking role…yet!! I want bragging rights to have done both.
Janel: If you could work with any actor? Who would it be and what genre would you choose?
Tony: I’m going to be greedy! I want Jessica Lange to be my career stage mother in a film, and have Meryl Streep be the manager that wants to take me from her to make it in the big leagues. And in my big break scene, have won out against Guovanni Ribisi for the Oscar nominated role. My patient boyfriend would be played by Channing Tatum.
Janel: Tony, do you have any funny on-set stories that you could share from one of the films you worked on?
Tony:Yes! Every day…always something ridiculous. On the set of Drop Dead Diva, Margaret Cho and I used to make very adult gestures and facial expressions to one another during takes.
Janel: Please tell us? What is next for you: projects, conventions?
A little bird wants me to play in a SyFy network film. So, who knows???
Janel: Thank you so much!!! You are awesome!
Interview: Tony Gowell (The Walking Dead )