ED- It is with great pleasure that we introduce a great actor, and a familiar face to all our readers. Actor Ken Farmer has been on screen and television for a long time and is highly seen as a major asset for any film production. Ken, when did you begin your acting career, and what was your greatest influence to do so?
KF-I started professional acting in 1972 when I was talked into auditioning for a Dairy Queen commercial by Dallas agent Kim Dawson. They needed a cowboy, at least one that could ride a horse, and I owned a working cattle/horse ranch at the time. I had been dating one of Kim’s models and would go into the agency with her on occasion. Kim had been after me for some time, saying I had a great ‘look’ (what ever that means) and she could get me a lot of work. Finally, I came in with my girl friend one day, wearing my normal garb, jeans, boots, cowboy hat, ect., and Kim came up to me and asked, “You ride horses, don’t you, Ken?” I replied, “Well, been thrown off of one or two, yes ma’am.” “We don’t have anyone in the agency that can ride and I need to someone to represent the agency for a new Dairy Queen commercial that can ride.” Well, I wasn’t doing anything special that day, so I said, okay. Long story short, I was cast and I introduced the Dairy Queen Beltbuster Hamburger. I got a check a few weeks later for around $1,700. I thought, “They’re gonna pay me this kind of money to sit on a horse and eat a hamburger? I can do this.” That was now thirty-nine years ago; quit counting commercials at 260, fifteen major features, over 50 episodic TV shows and MOWs and only God knows how many industrials and VOs.
ED- What was your original training for this field that you chose as your profession?
KF-I majored in Speech and Drama at Stephen F. Austin; a fact I didn’t tell Kim Dawson until after I did the first DQ spot. I make a statement in my book, “Acting is Storytelling”; I majored in Speech and Drama in college; took me years to get over it. After becoming a professional actor, I studied for over 17 years with character actor/writer/director, Cliff Osmond.
ED- You leaped out of the starting gate when you began and appeared over the next several years in six episodes of the famed TV series, ‘Dallas’. This was an amazing grand entrance. How exciting was this for you and what was your role in this program?
KF-My first TV experience was a MOW/Pilot with Robert Fuller and Slim Pickins called “Jakes Way”. Then I started doing ‘Dallas’, first two episodes as the ranch manager for South Fork, then as the assistant DA in ‘Who Done It”, and I also played an oil man, an entrepreneur and a commander for the DPS.
ED- Tell us about some of the other actors in it and how you interacted with them on a daily basis during screening.
KF-Always had a great time when I worked on “Dallas”. Patrick Duffy was a real hoot. Don’t think there was anyone on the set that wasn’t fun. I guess my favorite was Linda Gray. She was the first one to come up to me on my first episode and introduce herself; as if she really needed to do that.
ED- During that same period you were not idol and appeared in the TV series ‘Benji, Zax, and The Alien Prince’ as well as ‘Uncommon Valor’. What were the themes behind these productions and tell us about the roles that you played in them ?
KF-I guest starred in two episodes of “Benji, Zax and the Alien Prince”, a Hanna-Barbara series starring, of course, Benji. Actually there were four dogs, Benji, Barney, Bernie and Bebe. They were litter mates, looked exactly alike, but each one could do different stunts. Benji did most of the dramatic acting. There is an axiom in acting; ‘Never work with children or animals.’ I’ve worked with both and liked it. Probably the greatest thrill of my career was working directly with Gene Hackman on “Uncommon Valor”. He was one of the great inspirations to my writing my acting book, “Acting is Storytelling”. Fact is I dedicated the book to Gene and my mentor, Cliff Osmond.
ED- You were also in one of my all-time favorite westerns, ‘Silverado’. Please name some of the famous stars that you played alongside in this well-known television movie.
KF-Well first, “Silverado” may be known as a TV movie now because it plays so often, but it was released in 1984 as a major theatrical release. I was fortunate to have worked on “Silverado” for over ten weeks playing the character of ‘Deputy Kyle’. Kyle was one of Sheriff Cobb’s (Brian Dennehy) evil minions. Deputy Kyle gets killed simultaneously with Jeff Fehey by Kevin Costner’s character. Worked with Brian Dennehy. for the second time and loved working with Danny Glover, Scott Glenn, Kevin Kline and I would have to say my favorite person on the set was Oscar Winner, Linda Hunt. Love her to death.
ED- During that same period you performed in two episodes of ‘General Hospital’. Please tell us a little about the production, and your part in it.
KF-Not a fan of soaps, but as the saying goes, ‘their check was good’. Played a character named Fred Ainsley, head of security at the Atlanta Airport worked mostly with Finola Hughes, lovely lady. And that’s all I have to say about that.
ED- Over the next several years you appeared in a number of other projects that included ‘High Mountain Rangers’, ‘Empire of Ash III’, and ‘Another Pair of Aces: Three of a Kind’. What were the themes behind each of these?
KF-I guest starred on the Robert Conrad show, ‘High Mountain Ranger’ back in ‘88, I think it was. We shot my episode “Bear Hunter” along the shore of Lake Tahoe. Fun time, it was also where I met my DP, Jim Roberson, I used on my movie, “Rockabilly Baby” that I wrote and directed. “Empire of Ash” a post apocalyptic thriller shot outside Vancouver, B.C. with Big Bill Smith of ‘Rich Man, Poor Man’ fame. And of course, “Another Pair of Aces” with Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. Got to play the main bad guy, Bud Hoffner.
ED- You also had a very busy period between 1993-1998 where you appeared in six episodes of ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’, as well as ‘Rocket Man’, ‘The Newton Boys’, and ‘Logan’s War: Bound by Honor’. Again, these were well known and the studios certainly considered you an asset. Please tell us about this period in your career.
KF-Worked a lot with Chuck Norris and his production company, six episodes of “Walker” and two MOWs, “Logan’s War” and “The President’s Man”. Was fortunate to have worked with the wonderful director, Michael Preece nine times over the “Dallas” series, “Walker” and MOWs. Really enjoyed working with Ethan Hawke (Jess Newton) as Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and Bo Bridges on “Rocket Man”.
ED- Not one to stay idol you appeared in a number of important project over the next few years which included ‘The President’s Man’, ‘Too Legit: The M C Hammer’s Story’, ‘Friday Night Lights’, and ‘Red Ridge’. Please tell us about these and the themes behind them.
KF-As previously mentioned, “The President’s Man” was a Chuck Norris project. Love working with Chuck. My kinda guy. “Too Legit”, got to play legendary baseball manager, Dick Williams. “Friday Night Lights” was a hoot. Loved that show about high school football in Texas. “Red Ridge”, played Sheriff Munty in this dark thriller about human trafficking. One of my other favorite shows was “America’s Most Wanted”. Got to play Oklahoma’s legendary police officer, J. B. Hamby of Catoosa, Okla.
ED- In 2009 you took the lead behind, an in front of, the camera for the production of ‘Rockabilly Baby’. Please tell our readers about the multiple hats that you wore for this project and the production’s theme.
KF- Oh, my. Well, I had read a stage play written by Emmy winner, Leslie Jordan, entitled “Rockabilly Baby”, a fictional look at the birth of rock and roll in the ‘50s. Loved it and I asked Leslie if it was okay if I adapted it to a screen play. He said, “Go ahead, Kenny.” A friend of mine, Buck Stienke, in Gainesville, Tx, read it and said, “Let’s do it.” I crafted a budget, we cast it, prepped it in thirty days and shot it in twelve. I brought in my good friend, Jim Roberson, from LA and we decided to shoot it with the three camera system in HD with me directing. We did 547 set ups in 12 days with a total of one (that’s 1) outake. Our actors, Denton Blane Everett, Brandy Price and Todd Farr, kicked some major butt. We wrote all original ‘50s rock and roll music, our lead, Denton played the fictional rockabilly singer, Baby Boy Watkins and sang his own songs. He was sort of a cross between Elvis and Jerry Lee. We won the Audience Choice award at the Trail Dance Film Festival with Denton taking Best Actor. We also won a Remi at the World Fest in Houston. (www.rockabillybabymovie.com)
ED- Your latest venture is the role that you play in the new television series, ‘The Good Guys’. Please tell us all about it.
KF – Actually “The Good Guys”, which was a lot of fun, is not my latest venture. Buck Stienke and I had been writing scripts for the last three or four years, including a sitcom version of “Rockabilly Baby” that is currently being looked at by several cable companies. We also wrote a screen play adaptation of the John Eastman novel, “Verdict! In Search of a Crime” and John encouraged us to write our own novel. Ten weeks later, we finished our first novel, “Black Eagle Force – Eye of the Storm”, a military/action/aviation techno thriller. BEF is set to be released later this summer in paper, E-book and audio book by Tate Publishing. We are currently writing the sequel, “Black Eagle Force – Sacred Mountain”. We have also already adapted “Black Eagle Force – Eye of the Storm” into a feature length screen play. (www.blackeagleforce.com)
ED- Ken, your experience has shed a lot of light on the career of acting, and the many students who follow The Eerie Digest magazine will gain much from it. We want to thank you for your time with us and surely hope that you keep us informed in all that you do in the near future.