How Does An Actor Earn Respect? by Clifton Collins, Jr.

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Check out Clifton Collins, Jr. as Nathan in A CROOKED SOMEBODY. Watch it now, exclusively on DIRECTV CINEMA before it arrives in theaters on October 5th, 2018.

Film Courage: Clifton, when you first started acting and booking roles, what was your vision for your career?

Clifton Collins, Jr.: Vision for my acting career? Gosh, I think when you’re younger, I don’t know if we always know the real reasons why we get into a business. Sometimes it’s in hindsight that you realize Oh, these were the steps that led me up to this? I don’t know that I had one? I know that I wanted to do roles that mattered. I wanted to represent communities of people that didn’t have voices, I knew that going in. It’s kind of an interesting insight to have when I was 17.

Film Courage: You grew up around the business, didn’t you? Your grandfather was in the business?

Clifton: I’m a fourth-generation entertainer so my Grandfather, my Great-Grandfather, my Great-Grandmother – My Grandfather was a contract player for John Wayne, he did a lot of Westerns.

Clifton Collins, Jr. as Nathan in the new independent film A CROOKED SOMEBODY, On Demand and in theaters October 5th, 2018

Film Courage: When you told your family that you wanted to be an entertainer, did they say…well there is also a downside to it? Were they always positive about it or were they cautious?

Clifton: My Grandfather was the only positive voice. He was the only You can do it that I got. My Mom was not for my career, many friends weren’t. It’s a tough business. But my Grandfather was like No, you can do it. I know you can do it. And I just needed to hear it, I just needed someone to believe in me. And that was the one voice.

Success to me is doing “the job” that I got to do in that [audition] room, whether I get the role or not.

Film Courage: Did you do a lot of imitations growing up? Because have a chameleon-like style, you can be so many different characters. Did you imitate a lot of people growing up, teachers, etc.?

Clifton: I did, that’s really intuitive of you. I did. I got in a lot of trouble in high school because of it. I got laughs…because Grandpa…you think of a movie like RIO BRAVO with Dean Martin and Walter Brennan and all these unique different voices, it was just fun to imitate. We started tap dancing when we were seven, so sometimes just to pass the time as a kid, I’d do voices. Me and my cousin, I mean you hate it…when you’re tap dancing when you’re seven, you just don’t like it. Today, I love it.

Film Courage: What do you consider as your first success as an actor?

Clifton: First success, gosh? Honestly, I think there’s a danger in saying a first success because I think life is a series of successes and failures. So even in this business, success to me is doing the job that I got to do in that room, whether I get the role or not. But the fact that I’m able to pull off a performance and give a performance because I like to give a performance when I audition instead of auditioning. And to do a lot of the prep work prior, like some of the heavier prep work that most actors reserve for after you get the gig. If I have the time, I’ll delve completely into it, it’s just part of the fun if you want to do a good job.

But in regards to making a living, it’s a struggle. You’re juggling jobs, you’re juggling regular jobs that let you go to auditions on top of auditioning. So there’s a struggle and success in that as well.

I’d say in terms of benchmarks in my career, like the first gig that where you get to be SAG, you get your SAG card you’re like Wow! I finally got my SAG card. And that was my first commercial, so that was fun. Then you look at a film like maybe One Eight Seven which was probably one of the greater challenges in my early career. There was so much to learn, the mentorship I got from Sam Jackson just kind of set the pace for me in a lot of different ways. In the ways that he acted and how he prepped even deeper, harder and longer. I was like Oh my, God. I’ve got to do this. Because I want to be that good watching Sam do his thing and I was just My, God!

He set the bar pretty high for me, so that was fun. But I think that was my first really big role to be challenged by somebody of Sam’s caliber and to rise up to that occasion, that was fun.

Film Courage: I know with a lot of things in this town, you can go to one level and you think “Oh, it’s just going to keep being like this.” It’s going to be this upward staircase and sometimes you realize you’re back to square one.

Clifton: Sure.

Film Courage: In any endeavor out here.

Clifton: Sure, I’m very familiar with square one.

Film Courage: So am I. How do you deal with that square one point?

Clifton: You just love it.

Film Courage: You do?

Clifton: You have to. You’ve got to love the process. You’ve got to be okay with…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).


The plot Michael Vaughn’s (Rich Sommer) minister father always told him: Better to be an honest nobody than a crooked somebody. But Michael doesn’t see the harm in giving people the closure they need with the dead and travels town to town professing his abilities as a spirit medium. One night, Michael is kidnapped. With a knife to his throat, Michael suddenly sees the opportunity of a lifetime in his psychologically unstable captor’s desperation to make contact with the other side.

Check out Clifton Collins, Jr. as Nathan in A CROOKED SOMEBODY. Watch it now, exclusively on DIRECTV CINEMA before it arrives in theaters on October 5th, 2018.


Advertisement – contains affiliate links:

Is your story issue-oriented? Do you want to raise awareness and motivate your audience to action? Put yourself ahead of the curve-of-change with the story tools in this seminar.

Please join us for a 2-hour speaker series (that will include Q&A) with mythologist, author, international consultant-speaker, and award-winning writer-producer-director Pamela Jaye Smith where she will help you learn to use the classic story tools of Mythic Themes, Archetypes, and Symbols to give your story global appeal.