Steve Monarque [Interview]


A few years ago this amazing short film entitled Simpler Times came to my attention, and I was deeply compelled by it. It’s such an amazing little film that is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. So I looked into who was behind the making the film, as one should ALWAYS do! And lo and fucking behold, I discovered it was the one and only Steve Monarque! Steve came to my attention at a very young age when to portrayed the great Johnny Ventura in the classic (to some of us, anyway) television series adaptation of the Friday the 13th series. I can vaguely remember watching this series as a far too young of a viewer, but definitely remember when the internet hit us by storm, and have managed to check out the series once again via YouTube and mega-fan sites across the web. It is a brilliant show, that simply didn’t get enough credit, such is the story of so many great shows that just don’t quite make the cut.

So, I felt compelled to reach out to the artist formerly known as Johnny Ventura, and ask him about the show, and his work on the amazing short film Simpler Times, and even more! And dammit it all if he didn’t give us some amazing answers that I am so excited to share with you all. Ladies and Gentlemen, the great Steve Monarque!

One of your earliest credits as an actor is in the ABC After School Special “Stoned”. I will admit, I have not seen it. But, I do remember the concept behind these After School Specials, and given that title, I am very intrigued to ask you what exactly was this episode about?

It was about a young high school student (played by Scott Baio) who got himself caught up with two bad boys (myself and Jeffery Frichner) smoking marijuana during and after school. It changed his life for a brief moment but then he learned the hard facts of life and eventually accepted who he was without being “stoned”.

My actual earliest memory of your work is in the short lived but now cult classic television series adaptation of Friday the 13th. Would you mind telling us a bit about your experience on this show as the great Johnny Ventura? Was it a good time in your life? 

You know, Friday the 13th has gotten some negative reactions through the years and was taken off the air because it was accused of being part of the occult. But my experience was the complete opposite. I believe the show was about the fight between good and evil and, as always, good triumphing. The time I spent shooting in Toronto was not only exciting, it was creative and fun. I mean who wouldn’t want to fight the roots of an evil tree or travel through time or even bring your father back from the dead using a cursed coin? Johnny certainly learned his lesson in that one. The show’s cast and crew were a delight. We got along very well. We had to. Our shooting schedule was rigorous. Always at night while the rest of the world slept. I guess that was appropriate for the subject matter.


Another random credit I noticed as a Jock in the beloved cult classic of a film, Sixteen Candles. We had the pleasure of speaking with Haviland Morris to tell her how much we loved this film, and now hear you are as well! Can you tell us a bit about your experience on set on this film? It really seemed like the perfect time to be young in Hollywood. Would you say so?

Being young in Hollywood is always a good thing. It’s geared to the young and if you’re at the right place at the right time things can happen. You always have to be ready cause you never know when that time will come. John Hughes auditioned me for The Breakfast Club and I was really close to getting the role. When the part of Jock came up in Sixteen Candles I got a phone call to come to set. I didn’t even have to audition. He remembered me, which was a good feeling. But as always, being on a studio set with your peers is the greatest experience. I remember the party scene. I wasn’t even there. They stuck me on a platform one day said, “Look through the hole and say wow”. Wow is right. That moment got me a lot of recognition.

You have eventually moved more off the screen to working as a director of plays and film. What kickstarted this transition? Did it feel like a natural progression to you?

Early in my career I noticed how actors would have some success. But the majority came and went. I knew that show business would not take care of it’s own. Longevity was always the key but when Star Search was created it opened up the door to reality TV where anyone can be a star. That’s what we have today. YouTube sensations. All from a smart phone. I decided that telling story is done not only in front of the camera but also behind it. So I started to write and, trust me, not very well. But I kept at it while I was acting. I submitted a one act play to an Off-Broadway festival in New York and it was accepted. It won best play. From there it was made into a short film where it won best short at the New York International Film Festival. My writing and directing career began. Today I have two plays and three films in development.

When did MonaVision Films come about? What made you want to start your own company?

It came about when Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara decided to be in my film Simpler Times. That was 2011. Every filmmaker has to have a film company. I spent weeks mulling around all kinds of names. We were going into production and I had to call us something. Mona is the first four letters of my last name and this is my vision. Pretty corny, huh?

How did the idea for the insanely sweet and delightful short film Simpler Times come around? Was it a vehicle for Jerry and Anna, or did they come around afterwards?

Thank you for your kind words. I wrote four short films. Simpler Times was first called Please Say A Command and the late Henry Gibson was attached to it. After his passing I was out of a lead actor. In 2011, I was performing in a rock musical at the Village Gate in NYC alongside my now wife Laura Carbonell, when Jerry Stiller came backstage and congratulated us on our performance. As Jerry was speaking to me all I could hear myself say was, “Mr. Stiller? Would you read my script”? Well, next thing you know I’m invited to his house and as we were working on the story together I hear from the other room, “Where’s my part”? Anne Meara walks into the room. Well you have to know I was watching Stiller and Meara when I was five on the Ed Sullivan Show. It was like the full circle for me. Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. How fortunate I am. I don’t think either one needed a vehicle. They were already established as one of the greatest comedy husband and wife duos. I think they just liked the story and love to perform.

Steve Monarque and his previously mentioned “now wife” actress and producer Laura Carbonell at LA Short Fest.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Right now I have a play in development in New York, called “That’s Life”, the story of a down and out rock and roller who meets his guardian angel through a karaoke machine. Lots of original rock music and comedy. I have a couple films in development too, but all our upcoming projects and productions can be followed at http://www.monavisonfilms.com.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

When I see my wife Laura in front of me, I can’t help but smile.

Thank you so much Steve, for this wonderful interview, and also for these lovely still shots from the set of Simpler Times:



Jerry Stiller, Steve Monarque, Armando Merlo, and Laura Carbonell

And check out this short trailer for Simpler Times:

Advertisements

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: