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article imageActor Stephen Tobolowsky opens up about 'Strange Nature' Special

By Markos Papadatos     Oct 10, 2018 in Entertainment
Actor Stephen Tobolowsky chatted with Digital Journal about "Strange Nature," which will be screening at Twin Cities Film Fest in Minnesota on October 19.
On being in the film Strange Nature, Tobolowsky said, "I had the easy part. I was indoors and far away from frogs. I enjoyed the role of the mayor. The difficulty with those parts is that they usually center on a person in authority, usually me, getting information the viewing audience already knows, and that's boring. I saw my scenes as an opportunity to do something different, such as to make my character a sort of 'everyman' who hears the unbelievable from a very compelling person and takes action."
He continued, "The film is a wonderful throwback to the science fiction films of my youth where man's survival is linked to the rest of the cycle of life on earth. The great scientist and poet of my college days, Loren Eiseley, wrote an essay called 'The Dance of the Frogs.' In it, Eiseley encounters a scientist in the English countryside who teaches him that we are looking in the wrong place to find the end of the world. It is the frogs. They are the canary in the coal mine. Catastrophe will show up there first and once the frogs go, we are next."
This film also features wrestler and actor John Hennigan. Although he didn't get to work with him, Tobolowsky acknowledged that Hennigan had the hard part since "he was outdoors in Minnesota."
Tobolowsky shared that he enjoyed working with the people on the film. "Jim [Ojala] is an excellent director and fun to work with," he said.
On his plans for the future, Tobolowsky said, "I have more acting work upcoming in the next year, mostly on television. The Goldbergs. Hopefully, One Day at a Time will get another season on Netflix. I also enjoy writing. I am in the midst of finishing and recording more stories for The Tobolowsky Files that are available on numerous sites on the Internet, Slashfilm.com in particular."
Digital transformation of the entertainment business
On the impact of technology on the entertainment business, Tobolowsky said, "Technology has changed everything at every level. The cameras have changed. Now that we are in the digital domain, technicians, lighting designers, sound designers, and directors have new worlds to conquer. The seduction of digital has changed what is filmed. So the writers have changed their focus. Fewer films rely on story and character."
The actor continued, "More films focus on moving from one sensory buffet to the next. I doubt we will ever have movies like A Patch of Blue again. Why would you when China will buy an endless line of DC and Marvel films and make huge profits for the film companies? This means the actors will be different. The training for the actor will be different. Who needs to know Shakespeare? Better to take Kung Fu lessons."
Tobolowsky acknowledged that studios release "the few serious films made with people and not super people at the end of the year for Academy voting season and pray." "The viewing public watch on their computers and Apple watches instead of at movie theaters. Movie theaters are getting smaller and smaller. The 110 seat theatre is becoming the norm. The art of film has deteriorated on one front and exploded on another," he explained.
Regarding his use of technology in his daily routine as an actor, Tobolowsky relies on emails. "Now we get our scripts and re-writes as emails, as opposed to hard copies. I find this both more convenient and more difficult. Writers and producers have become more dependent on the technology to get information to the actor instantaneously. That has led to writers delivering re-writes later and later. Actors have less and less time with the material. That can create problems. There is also the catastrophe if your computer has a bad day. There is also the even bigger catastrophe is someone in the email chain is hacked and you get your identity stolen. That happened to me," he elaborated.
For aspiring actors, he encouraged them to "love it." "You have to enjoy the work for the sake of the work and not for dreams of money or fame. Always learn something. Take acting classes. Study science. Calculus. It doesn't matter. Everything you learn as an actor will eventually help you. If you are not learning, then you will eventually crash and burn," he said.
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