Talent Q & A
Rampage actor and certified Georgia boy, GARY WEEKS, waxes poetic on Dwayne Johnson’s unmatched charisma, how not to fanboy while working with Clint Eastwood, and the joys of filming in his home state
OZ: You’re hosting a birthday party tomorrow for one of your young sons. How does fatherhood mesh with one of the most unpredictable professions on the planet?
GW: In our business, in this crazy thing, it is awesome to come home and really realize what’s important. I’m so worried about the dialogue of a given script, then I get home and it’s so small in comparison. I’m not demeaning what we do; I’m just saying that there’s so much effort you put into a project for so long, then you get to do something with your kids, and it’s just so pure and simple and fun.
OZ: How does being a father translate to the set? What can you take from fatherhood and apply in front of the camera?
One thing is there’s a whole different comfort level. My wife and I were living in L.A. and about to have our first child, and a friend of mine, an actor named Cullen Douglas, said, “Dude, you’re gonna become twice the actor you are once you become a father, because you won’t have time to worry about the small things and obsess.”
All of us are insane or we wouldn’t be in this business; we all have a screw loose. Fatherhood has kind of helped me focus on what’s important with my job and make sure that it’s done to the best of my ability, yet I can’t sit there and think about it 24 hours a day.
OZ: A lot of the Georgia-born actors with whom I’ve spoken over the years say they were super excited by the Atlanta film boom, because it gave them an excuse to come back and raise their families here. There’s just something special about the metropolitan South that makes people want to raise kids here.
It’s true. With our first son, just the logistics of trying to do everything while living in L.A. [was tough] … My mom used to send me clippings—not emails, but physical newspaper clippings—all the time in the mail like, “This is shooting here! This is shooting there!” And I was like, “I’ve got it, Mom, but I have to be in L.A. This is the only place I can work.”
Then I came back to Atlanta and was just like, “Oh, this is better for my family, so let’s see what happens.” I think I came literally right at the perfect time, because the boom had already begun, and I just kind of came into this unbelievable thing that we have now that I cannot be more thankful for. What’s happening in Georgia is a gift.
“What’s happening here in Georgia is a gift.”
OZ: How exactly does a kid from smalltown Morris, Ga. get into acting?
Well, it’s funny, because I started out as a writer. If I had to put writing and acting side by side, it would depend on the week which one I like more. I love acting and I have this great kinship with it, but I started out as a writer. I wrote stories, I wrote scripts, we shot stuff on VHS— just to do it. There was no aim, it was just something we did for fun.
I ended up going to college to try and be a sports reporter in… Umm… (Struggles to find the correct term)
OZ: In broadcast journalism?
Yep, broadcast journalism. That shows you how far I went: I couldn’t even remember the name of the school. (Laughs)
Then a friend of mine asked—he was doing a student film—and he asked if I would go in and do it. I did it not thinking about it, and for some reason, that time it kind of clicked. I started taking some classes and I immediately knew.
I was like, “I have no other skills. This is the only one that I feel like I actually have some sort of raw ability.” It just felt right.
OZ: Not to get too deep into the weeds on this, but what about it felt right? What was it that “clicked” that day?
The one thing I love and hate about acting at the same time is the emotional release that comes from it. You’ve been bred to bottle all these things up, especially me as a kid who was overweight with flat feet, glasses and braces. I had this built-in insecurity, and the way that I got away from that was joking around. Like, that’s just what I do; I still do that.
So, once I found a safe place where I could do that, and all the things I had bottled up I could actually use and utilize and feel? I get chills just thinking about that feeling; it’s just insane. That’s the draw.
OZ: Were you able to access those emotions right out of the gate, or did you have to take classes to elicit them?
A little bit of both. I feel like the classes I took definitely helped me hone, but once I felt like it was OK to let all that stuff out, it just kind of became part of it. It was always there, but…
OZ: So having an acting coach just helps you zero in on tapping into specific emotions?
Right. And how to utilize it for a certain thing.
OZ: I noticed that you often play a cop, an attorney, a military guy—i.e. some kind of authoritative figure. Is that because they’re casting for type, or are you drawn to those roles?
“…if they have a type for you, you can either fight it or be part of it.”
It’s a little bit of both, but I definitely think it’s cast for type. One thing, again, that I’ve learned over the years is that, if they have a type for you, you can either fight it or be part of it.
When I was in Los Angeles as a young actor, I booked a couple of things as mostly cops and detectives, and I went to my small agency and said, “Look, I don’t want to do that anymore. I’m an actor”— you know, all caps, ACTOR—“and I don’t “What’s happening in Georgia is a gift.” Gary Weeks in The Assault (2014) June / July 2018 45 want to play any more cops,” and all this other stuff.
She was like, “Are you sure?”
I said, “Yeah, I don’t want to do it.” And I didn’t have the resume to be talking like this. Not yet.
So I left, and I didn’t book for another year. I came back and said, “I’ll play a detective, I’ll play a cop, I’ll play whatever they want.” It was one of those things where I realized, OK, you can play outside it, but if you have something like that, it’s actually a great thing—you know, if they see you a certain way and you can play that role.
Remarkably, none of the roles that I’ve ever played like that have been the same. They’re very similar in feel, but what’s going on behind it, what’s going on after it, is all different.
OZ: So that kind of nuance between playing similar characters across different projects, in the end, all contributes to the actor’s collective bank of knowledge?’