Tate Donovan [Interview]


Happy Monday Folks! We have an amazing interview for you fine folks today here at Trainwreck’d Society! Today we have some amazing words from the man I like to call “That Guy”. Yes, we have the amazing Tate Donovan, who is indeed, that guy that is in EVERYTHING. He’s a man in everything, because he can do practically everything! From TV dads to action fueled heroes, there really are no limitations to what this cat can do. I first discovered Donovan in the early 00’s as a cast member of the insanely popular television series The O.C. But, it would be a few years later that I would see him portraying a legendary American figure, which we will discuss in detail below, and that would solidify Tate as one of the best actors of our time.

And Tate is not only an accomplished actor, he has done some magnificent work behind the camera, even earning an Emmy for his work on the popular 30 for 30 series and directing some dynamite television. One thing I was completely unaware of is that he is also the voice of Hercules in the 1997 Disney film! Which is pretty damn cool! I don’t believe we have had anyone the site who was a lead role in a Disney animated film. So thanks for breaking that ground, Tate!

So Dear Readers, please enjoy some amazing words from one of today’s finest performers and artists, the great Tate Donovan!

When did you first realize you wanted to join the world of acting? Was it a deep-rooted ambition that you have always had?

I was 4 years old. My parents had taken me to a movie at the Bergen Theatre in Tenafly NJ. I wanted to sit away from them for some reason, and when I looked up at that screen, I said to myself, ‘this is what I want to do’. It was a movie about Medieval knights, forgot its name, but I also thought ‘jeez, if I want to do it so badly, everyone must want to act as well’.

It wasn’t until college (USC) that I realized there was so much to learn about acting, theatre, voice, film production, directing and much to the chagrin of my parents, I threw myself into it.

You are also known for getting behind the camera in the director’s chair from time to time. What inspired you to move into this gig as well?

I’ve always been the kind of actor that hangs around the monitors to see what the director and camera crew were up to, so when I got a recurring role on The OC, I asked to shadow a director. I was there from the first day of prep, all 8 days of shooting, to the final day of editing and LOVED every minute of it. After several months of shadowing different directors, the producers were kind enough to give me a shot and I’ve been directing ever since. Mostly episodic (shows like Damages, Glee, Bloodline , Madam Secretary), but I’ve made a few documentaries, one of which won an Emmy. It was for the ESPN series 30 for 30, called “Arthur and Johnnie”  about the tennis star Arthur Ashe and his brother.

In 2016 you appeared in the amazing film Elvis & Nixon, written and featuring our past guests Joey Sagal & Hannah Sagal. This was such a unique story, and just an overall wonderful film. I am curious to know how your experience was working on this film? Were you aware of this infamous meeting prior to becoming a part of the project?

I loved working on Elvis and Nixon.  We shot in New Orleans, which is always fun, and the cast and crew were really fun and nice. I had seen the picture that it was based on but not until I read the script did I learn what led up to it.  Hilarious, and I thought Micheal Shannon and Kevin Spacey gave great performances.  Happy to have been a part of that one.

In 2007 you gave an amazing performance as Neal Cassady in the film of the same name. Cassady has always been one of the most intriguing people in American history to me. What was it like to take on a role as Neal? Where you a fan of the Beats prior to being casted as Neal?

First of all, thanks, that’s nice of you to say and thanks for even seeing Neal Cassady. Not a lot of people did.  I had read On the Road so I knew about Neal and Jack Kerouac but when I got the role, I concentrated my preparation on the later, Magic Bus years. Cassady recorded hours and hours of his rants and I listened to them over and over. I still do for fun from time to time. Most of them are drug fueled ruminations, but never was the English language so pushed and pulled so creatively and passionately than by this dude. Amazing mind.  He was a fantastic character to play, so much fun but so much work.  I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard on a role.

Tate Donovan as Neal Cassady.

I’ve heard actors complain about how their performances were ruined in post, but I’ve never experienced it myself until this film. The editor was very young and didn’t know anything about the Beats. Both Glen Fitzgerald (who played Kerouac) and I had beautifully written scenes, with crazy fun dialogue and it was all hacked away. I think they were afraid of how verbal these guys were, that it wasn’t cinematic enough, but it was tough to take when we saw the final cut. Also, Neal could juggle sledge hammers and I practiced every morning and taught myself to do the same. Trust me, learning to juggle hammers is tough on the toes and deck, but the way they shot it, you couldn’t even tell it was me, or that I was juggling. Heartbreaking.

What would you consider to be your favorite field to work in as an actor? If you were destined to only work in one of them for the rest of your career, what would you choose?

The best experiences I’ve had have been mostly in the theatre. Some films, like Argo, Good Night and Good Luck, Memphis Belle have been wonderful to have been a part of, but for actors, the theatre is where its at. Rehearsing for a month, working with writers and directors to shape the play, and then getting to put it up in front of a packed house every night is an indescribable joy.
In the theatre you really get the time to investigate the part, to mine all of the moments or laughs. Night after night, you learn something different. Theatre is really the actor’s medium. Its just you and your scene partners up there and is up to you to capture the audience. Plus, in NY, there is a great community of actors who do theatre. We all rub elbows with each other after our shows and there is a comradeship that you don’t get in film and television. Its a lot of fun.

 What would you say you are most proud of?

That’s a tough one to answer actually.  Pride isn’t something I associate a lot with my work.  I feel proud when I’m directing and I’ve finished the day on time, and the cast and crew are happy with their work.  I feel proud to have acted in a scene or play where I played my part well enough to make my cast mates, the director, writer and crew feel as tho they are part of something of quality.I feel fortunate more than proud. That I get to do this for a living.

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

I just finished a great little film called Nomads about an inner city Rugby team in Philly. Very talented cast of mostly unknowns (although the wonderful Tika Sumpter stars) and it was cool to learn about the great sport of Rugby.  The real life coach I play turned out to be one of the most upbeat characters I’ve played.
Also, if you find yourself at home Friday nights, I recur this season as MacGyver’s dad and master spy on CBS’s MacGyver. Definately a fun gig.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Our two pups crack me up every day. Maddie is 14 years old and only has 3 legs and Biggie is just 4 months, but already a real character.  Lotta laughs with those two.

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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