Liesl Ehardt, the actress you didn't know you lovedThe Movie Whore 5 comments
Don't tell me you have not heard of Liesl Ehardt. I mean I told you all about FIB (Film Industry Bloggers) where she is one of the bloggers as The Actor. I had a chance recently to talk with Liesl and we had a great conversation about what it's like to build your way up in Hollywood today as an Actress. Here is some of what we discussed.
TMW: I have always heard that it is difficult to be taken seriously in Hollywood as a woman. Is there any truth to that still?
LE: This is a great question, which I have actually never been asked before. To this point in my career, I have never really felt as though I was not being taken seriously in the industry. There are of course natural frustrations with trying to gain a level playing field and be acknowledged at times, but I have a feeling that goes for any actor in Hollywood, man or woman.
TMW: What are some of the natural frustrations you mentioned?
LE: I actually blogged about these types of natural frustration on FIB in my blog titled, "AUDITIONS: “TO BE, OR NOT TO BE (PREPARED), THAT IS THE QUESTION."
Overall, there are those times when you didn't really even have a shot at a role that you prepared yourself for because before you even auditioned the role was unknowingly offered to another actor. Usually a "name" actor in Hollywood, but casting directors audition others in case the actor passes on the offer.
Another is that sometimes, mostly for business purposes, actors who may be "difficult" to work with, or actors who might not be the best, talent or experience wise, for the role will get it because of who they are, or due to their popularity at that very moment, having come off of a reality show, for example.
In the case of feature films, the amount of money a movie can bring in, as a result of an actor's "star power," etc., can play a part as well. In fact, sometimes the role goes to someone who isn't even an actor, but rather a personality.
This of course is not true in all cases and I understand that Hollywood is a business, and therefore they need to make money. Plus, you can't fault those who get the role, for whatever reason because in the end, who wouldn't take it, if given the opportunity. It is an industry where taking opportunities at the very moment they are presented is so important and a business where I believe persistence is the key!
TMW: Like everything else in life. If it is worth having you are going to have work hard to get it. I have a feeling your time is coming. Do you find it difficult to find truly good people in the industry or is it the false faces one would think would be prevalent?
LE: Thank you! Honestly, I am a true optimist at heart, sometimes to an extreme, and so I feel as though most people are essentially good. It just takes more time for some to discover and show the "good" inside them than others. That said, and in relation to the industry, I do feel, based on my experiences so far, that "false faces" do come with the territory, but I am sure they do in many different fields. I would be lying if I didn't say I have come in contact with a few who are friendly, on one level or another, to see what you can do for them, and then promptly fall of the face of the earth, so to speak, or fail to acknowledge you further.
Actually, having been an actor in both NYC and LA, it is interesting to see the different dynamics, in relation to actors and the industry, on each coast. They are, in my eyes, different. However, if you stay true to yourself and remember where you come from and keep those true friends who have been with you through the ups and downs, close to you, it will help you keep an open eye, and maintain a good perspective, no matter who you come in contact with in the industry, or life in general.
TMW: That is good advice for life as well as for ones career. So what was the movie that made you decide to go into acting and put your self through all this heart break?
LE: Your questions are fabulous, in case you didn't already know that! Love them! OK, let's see...I shall answer it in a round about sort of way, in hopes of getting to a direct answer, hope being the operative word here.
What really made me decide to go into acting was actually a TV show that sadly did not last nearly as long as it should have, but seems to have gained it's popularity after the fact. The show was "My So Called Life" starring Claire Danes, whom I looked up to from that point on.
She unknowingly had a hand in guiding me towards my decision to follow in her footsteps and become an actor. Which quickly prompted me to start taking acting classes on my weekends in NYC, at the famed HB Studio, where she too had attended classes.
I guess she and the show entered my life just in time for me to discover this and decide that I was going to go to college and major in theatre in hopes of learning more about the craft of acting and getting the proper training. I ended up attending North Carolina School of the Arts (NCSA) for their 5 week summer course in Filmmaking during the summer between on Junior and Senior year of high school, which was actually where my interest in film truly began.
My summer at NCSA was one of my best summers to date, so much fun all around and the root of so many wonderful memories! It is such a great program for those interested in the industry and is where I was introduced to someone who suggested UNCG's BFA in acting program if I wanted a more well rounded acting education instead of conservatory type setting. Ultimately, I did just that, receiving my Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Acting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCGG). My years at UNCG taught me so much about not only acting, but life, which I suppose is what college is all about and something I feel is so important not only for education, but life lessons. Through all the ups and downs, I am thankful for what UNCG offered and know it had a big hand in where I am on my life and acting path today.
Now being that you asked which movie, not TV show and that this is a film site, I can tie that in as well. It was not one particular movie, but rather movies that Claire Danes was in at the time, like "Romeo and Juliet" starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, for example, which was popular my first year in college.
Specifically, seeing how she transitioned from acting classes, to the theatre, to TV, and into film. Now that I look at it, as I am telling you this, that is, in a way, what I have done and continue trying to do. I started in classes, began acting on stage in theatre, and then jumped into TV, before getting my first film role. Be it on a much smaller scale than Miss. Danes, but maybe one day we will act along side each other. One never really knows, and wouldn't that be what they call, coming full circle!
TMW: I think am about the same age as Claire Danes and absolutely fell in love when I first saw her in My so called Life. However I could not get into Romeo an Juliet. For me if you are going to update the surroundings you have to update the language, otherwise when he says "I shall reach for my long sword." And there is a plaque under the shotgun that says long sword made me twitch a bit.
LE: Good point...I love hearing other views on movies, especially from creative people! I agree with you on "Romeo and Juliet" as far as not being a favorite movie of mine, but watching her act and seeing her transition was something that sparked my acting.
TMW: Thank God, I was afraid you like it.
Now we know where it started and we have learned a bit about where you are at. What do you have in the works now that we can't wait to see in the future?
LE: As for in the works, well, I always seem to have something "in the works," in my mind that is, but in reality and being an actor that changes on a daily basis! I do have a supporting role in a Feature Film called The Last Stan that should be released this year. It is a comedy set in 1979, which happens to be the year I was born, so it was fun to wear the fashions of the time.
Pretty much it is told in flashback and stars Gary Cole who plays Stan Talmadge, an estranged ex husband, who tries to reunite his family by taking them on a cross-country motor-home trip to a "Family Feud" type game show called "Beat Your Neighbor." The other actors include: Jennifer Coolidge, Jordan Bridges, Agnes Bruckner, Robert Hoffman, Riki Lindhome, and Tina Holes among others. I truly had an all around fun filled time on that set and the gracious cast and crew only added to my very positive experience!
I was recently approached to do a spec pilot titled "One of the Girls," which is currently in pre-production. If all moves forward, it is set to shoot this Fall in Wilmington, NC which is where I got my TV acting start 10 years ago! It is a fun role and gives me a chance to be a bit bolder, direct and more stereotypically blonde than I am in real life, which is what acting is all about. To be honest, it would be so much fun to go back and film where it all began for me and see some good friends from my college days in NC while I was there.
However this is show-biz and nothing is ever for certain, even after you have signed a contract, so it is always important to stay positive and hopeful while keeping the reality of the industry in your mind at all times. Aside from that, I would love to transition into hosting/personality type projects and ultimately hope to open and be an active part of my own children's charity foundation, which has been a dream since I was a little girl. Regardless of whether my acting career "takes off," as they say, or not it is important to me to make my children's charity a reality.
TMW: Sounds like you could get quite busy. Now since this is an interview with The Movie Whore, what are some your favorite movies that would classify you as a movie whore, you know the bad movies we never admit to anyone that we like.
LE: My favorite movie of all time, which I have seen countless times and can pretty much quote from beginning to end, is the 1985 dark comedy murder mystery classic, "Clue!" I can not get enough of that film and the crazy part is that it makes me laugh every time, despite knowing exactly what is going to happen and when. Some of the parts that crack me up the most are the silliest, for instance the singing telegram girl at the door or the "I'm not shouting! Alright, I am. I'm shouting, I'm shouting, I'm shouting!" scene when the candle stick falls on head Tim Curry's head. Pure silliness I realize and I could seriously quote all of them right now, in fact they are playing out in my mind as we speak! Oh my!
Now, as to whether I should admit this to people or not, I do all the time, I have nothing to hide in my life or in general and it is, after all, what makes you, you. Let's see what else I have for you, I love "The Notebook," but that is a favorite of many ladies out there, I think. I am a huge fan of Rachel McAdams, whom I get told I look like from time to time, which I am not sure is true, but a compliment for sure! I think she is such a real person and talented actor and I would simply love to play her sister one day...a girl can dream can't she!
I realize these aren't really "bad" movies we never admit to anyone that we like, but they are favorites for sure! Sorry, I am not doing the best job at directly answering your question because I can't think of any really "bad" movies that I watch and secretly love, maybe I should ask my close friends and family.
Some of my other fun favorites are the Disney movie "Aladdin" and the original 1932 version of "The Mummy." I love classic black and white movies in general, but am also related to Zita Johann who stars opposite Boris Karloff as Helen Grosvenor/Princess Anck-es-en-Amon in "The Mummy," which makes it a bit more exciting for me.
TMW: I hear you had a chance to play Zita in a movie. Can you tell us a little more about it?
LE: I was actually lucky enough to play Zita as Helen Grosvenor/Princess Anck-es-en-Amon in the recreation of some of the original scenes from the 1932 film that were shot in black and white for Kreating Karloff, which was really fun! I am often told, by those who knew Zita, that we have the same eyes and I hold a somewhat eerie resemblance to her just with blonde hair, which I love to hear! Plus, the more I research her, the more things I find we have in common right down to children's charity and her special relationship and simple love for children, a quality I too am told I have.
I simply love quotes and in reference to her charity work and children she once said, "I treat children as equals. I work hard to gain their trust and in a sense, offer to build a bridge between us if they will meet me halfway. I listen to them...and I love them. I will always love them for being so fresh and alive wand full of hope," which I too strongly believe. Whether with children or people in general it is important to listen to others, be understanding, and know that
we are all equal no matter what we do, you just have to take the time to truly care about others.
Overall, it has been really fun learning that I am related to Zita and discovering all she went through being an actor in the 1930's and 40's on Broadway in "The Machinal" with Clark Gable and starring in many films for Universal. Back then you were under contract for a particular studio instead of project to project like today. She started in the business prior to SAG, the Screen Actors Guild, and so there were no unions looking out for actors needs, something we are so lucky to have today.
Through it all the one thing she did was stay true to herself, beliefs and morals despite what Hollywood may have been trying to do or make of her and that is a quality I feel she and I share. I look up to her and what she did during a more difficult time and in a way her efforts have helped pave the way for me as an actor today. Ultimately, I hope I would make her proud and will do my best to stay true to her and myself.
Sorry for a bit of a tangent there.
Oh wait, I just thought of another movie for you..."Center Stage!" Now that one might count as one of those movies you were referring to! Ha! I love, yes love, the final dance scene to Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" and Jamiroquai's "Canned Heat" at the very end of that movie. I could watch it again and again and again! Between you and me, well, and those reading this, I think I blast that part and get up and dance as though I am in it every time...shhh, don't tell! Actually, I am going to go watch it right now, and just to let you know how not cool I am, I only have it on VHS...you know the way we used to watch movies before DVD's! See, told you I wasn't that cool, but silly for sure!
This interview took place through email over the course of a few weeks. During that time there were many things said that are between me and my new friend. Liesl is a great person and some one I am very happy to have met. The joy she brings to life is infectious and is a constant source of smiles and good feelings. I look forward to a long friendship full of silliness and genuine joy shared between friends. Now go watch her movies and read her blog or I will be a very sad whore.