Tony Denman [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! I know that for many of you it may seem like it has been quite some time since Trainwreck’d Society has existed, and that’s probably because it has been a while since I had anything to say. Being so uninspired by the the world around me, and feeling helpless and lost was an insane feeling. But, as we creep on forward towards the future, I am starting to feel a bit more hopeful. Not much, but enough to decide to get back to work and share some words & work from folks far inspiring than I. So how about we just get right back into it?

My first guest to grace our digital pages since May is the brilliant actor Tony Denman. Tony may be most recognizable to some from his role as Scotty Lundegaard in one of the greatest stories ever put to screen, the film Fargo. Thankfully his career has extended far beyond this singular, albeit wonderfully done, role as William H. Macy’s son. Denman actually happens to be a figure that appeared in a string of films that could be categorizable as “sex romps” in the early 2000’s, which was just around the time that I was looking for them, and loved them so much. From Barely Legal, directed by our old pal David Mikey Evans, to the Dorm Daze series spin-off of the famed Van Wilder series, to Poor White Trash, co-written & directed by another old pal, Michael Addis…you really couldn’t go swing a loose bathing suit top without catching Tony in a wonderful role around this time.

And with that, Tony has continued to act his ass off in several projects over the years and has moved over into other roles of production as well. He has written & produced a string of short films, and in 2020 he appeared in the drama For The Love of Jessee, alongside our dear friend Adrienne Barbeau, that looks absolutely incredible and should be enjoyed by all.

Tony has been an amazing talent over the years, and I am so excited to have him kick off the TWS comeback. It’s good to be back, Enjoy!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of performance? I understand you got into the business at a very young age, but when did you first realize that this was what you wanted to do for a living?

It was probably my desperate need for attention and yes, I was young, age 6. I started doing stand-up comedy at my elementary school talent show. It was a very competitive racket… Worst/best jokes ever… My opening line was “Hi, I’m Tony Denman and you’re not…” It obviously brought the house down. But many years later, I’m drawn to dark comedy and very personal stories. My inspiration now comes from my innate desire to create. Both my parents are wonderful creators. My mom is an incredibly talented interior designer, upholsterer, and seamstress. My dad is an architect and president of a home building company in Minnesota, where I grew up. My perspective and understanding comes from performing, but I think I simply love to express, it’s in my blood… On any and all levels, no matter how small or large the audience.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still affect your work today?

I think it was a combination of the lead in a play at a well-respected theater in Minneapolis, by night. And then, dressing up as a Loon (yes, the MN state bird) at an up-scale shopping mall by day, both during the holiday season. All around age 10 and both paid. So, I learned the idea of moonlighting very early on…also shamelessness was an important concept to take away from that time. Anything for a laugh.

I couldn’t tell you how much I earned!  But enough to buy comics and baseball cards. I was a happy boy.

The play was December Mornings by Truman Capote. An adaptation from his memoirs about his troubled yet curious youth. I was lucky in that it taught me about an unbelievably talented writer early on in my career. The dress up gig was playing a baby Loon with a couple of the cast members. We’d walk around the mall and let people take pics with us and (pretend to) have fun and get up to mischief. These were interesting for me because they taught me about hard work and staying in character.

In 1996, you appeared in one of the most brilliant crime dramas to ever be released, which would be the classic film Fargo, along with our old friend John Carroll Lynch. This was a pretty dark tale, which made it only that much more delightful. With that, I am curious to know how your experience was working on this amazing project? Were there any tricks to sort of keep the set happy whilst creating something so dark?

What a lucky break it was! I feel that even more so now looking back on it all. I was too young at the time (14) to really understand the incredible talent of the Coen Brothers and just how much this movie would mean to the history of cinema and the effect it would have on people. I mean I don’t think anyone could have predicted it.

I just remember auditioning for it and then getting a call back and getting put on tape, and then not hearing anything for like 6 months. I guess they did a nationwide search for a blonde boy, without any luck, lucky for me, and came back to Minnesota. I got a call to come and meet the Coen Brothers. I did. It was quick and easy. Then after that I got another call asking if I would consider lightening my hair to look like William H Macy.

I loved them (the Coen Bros) from the moment I met them. At such a young age all I really knew is that they were weird directors. But I liked them because they just reminded me of cool camp counselors.

I think the thing I most remember about being on set at a young age was the endless supply of gummy bears. I think they knew that was the way to Scotty’s heart!

I think the adults on set must have had such a better understanding of the awesomeness of the project because they seemed always happy and excited to get back to work between takes.

My dad did tell me years later that when he initially read the script, he thought it was awful. Obviously, he didn’t understand it, because it went on to win Best Original Screenplay that year. Thank God I didn’t take acting advice from him!

 

 

A few years later, you appeared in a film that I simply could not get enough of in high school, a film directed by our old friend David Mickey Evans entitled Barely Legal. This one couldn’t be much further from the likes of Fargo, haha. So same sort of question in a way: how was your experience working on this fun and quirky teen comedy? Any fun antidotes from your time working on this film?

I LOVED this movie! For the obvious reasons, but for other reasons too. I mean from the moment I read the script, I was signed up. I just had to convince everyone else.

This movie really changed my life in a lot of ways. Because it was the first time I had a sequel negotiated into my contract. That seemed huge. It was all right around the time American Pie came out so we thought it was going to go the same distance. Sadly, it didn’t. There was major creative difference that came out of the back end and I think that’s when I realized – Damn, the business takes all the fun out of this!

The most important things I took away from that film are fun, good friendship, and learning nothing lasts.

I had the time of my life. The cast and crew were incredible. DME was a dream. He let us kids do and say what we thought was cool and used a lot of our improv. I even met my oldest son’s mother on that movie. So, it’s an important memory for me.

If you were handed the opportunity to star in the biopic of any legendary figure in American history, who would it be?

That’s too hard to pick just one…. Robin Williams, Bob Dylan, and Buster Keaton are my favorite people in the world for obvious reasons so those would be an absolute honor!

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

I just had a movie released on Amazon, Google play and iTunes called for The Love of Jessee.

(Doctor Luke Matthew’s world comes crashing down when he loses the love of his life and becomes a father in the same night. When he hires Sage as the new nanny, they both begin to realize that the best form of medicine is letting go.)

I produced an indie film a couple year back called – Madhouse Mecca. It’s free on Amazon.

(When an underwhelmed housewife meets a mischievous exotic dancer with a taste for trouble, an unlikely friendship is formed that will change their lives forever.)

I have a ton of fun making an absurdist comedy web series at the moment called As a Matter of Fact. We post our short form video’s on YouTube and on Instagram @springbreakdonnie. Check it out.

Also I have 3 kids and a wonderful wife that keep me grounded, sane and happy and I try to keep writing as much as possible.

My goals are to create and sell content. On many different levels. Comedy is at my core, but home renovation is right there on the cusp of things I’ve been working on so watch this space for many different reasons.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I just got off the phone with my 16 yr. old son Buster who is there quarantining with his mother in England and it was just his birthday and I just told him I bought him some brand new Nike Jordan’s and he went mental. It made me smile and cry at how happy he was!

 

Check out this trailer for Madhouse Mecca, available now on Amazon.

 

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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