TAEM- The Arts and Entertainment Magazine scours both the West Coast and the East Coast for television and movie celebrities to present to our readers each month. This month is no exception and we’d like to present actor Cuyle Carvin for all our readers to learn about. Cuyle, like me you were born in the State of New York. What first interested you in acting, and who was your greatest influence?
CC- Ah my New York state brother! I don’t think I can pinpoint any one thing or time specifically when I decided to make acting my profession. I was what one might call a jock in high school and even for bits of college. I didn’t seem to have an interest in acting during my schooling years. Although in retrospect, I just didn’t realize then. I went to a liberal arts college, Hartwick College, that was more of a business school than anything else. I really had no interest in any of the educational degrees that the school offered. I went there because A. my mom was an employee and tuition was free and B. one of my best friends from childhood was going there. The first two years of my college experience were spent in classes that I needed to take to fulfill the general curriculum. Of those, an Intro to Theater course. I didn’t love it but it seemed one of the more interesting classes of those those first two years. To make a longer story short – I went towards the Theater degree. That’s how it all started but I still can’t say that I wanted to be an actor even when I finished college. I was just curious about the whole thing and decided to try it out.
In terms of my greatest influence, perhaps it was the movie BRAVEHEART. That’s my favorite movie and I remember seeing it for the first time when I was fifteen. I had seen hundreds of movies before but it was the first time that I truly felt something in my gut. My emotions ran high, I became inspired, I felt a part of that movie. I wanted to help, to be William Wallace. I wanted to live my life with all of the spirit and honor that he did. I just remember this being the first movie that gave me that rush of emotions and the first time that a movie was more than just entertainment. That movie just might be the catalyst for it all, but like I said, I didn’t know it at the time.
TAEM- With many students of the Arts following our magazine for guidance, tell us about your early training for your career.
CC-Outside of the few acting courses while in college, I really only participated in a handful of formal acting classes over the years, even to this day. I value training and think it’s important, after all, it is a craft. I have just been fortunate to learn ‘hands on’ or on set.
It may sound cliché or pretentious but I really think that life offers the best acting class you can find. Just living, doing, breathing your everyday life, and keeping your eyes open to the people and their lives around you, nothing beats that. The more situations you’re surrounded by, whether the experiences are yours or someone else’s, really does provide the ultimate classroom. The technical and business side of the entertainment industry is a whole other beast. I got involved in a couple of friends video projects in school and I learned so much, even what I thought was common sense, while on these projects. Student films are an unbelievable resource for learning all the basics and beyond for the industry. The experience on set is invaluable, the earlier you can get involved, the better. The business side, or as I refer to it as, the lamest side of an acting career, is the most important. It’s literally 90% of making it. Talent is important but the business and the money aspect is where people can make it or break it. It is after all, show business. I wish I had a business of acting class back when I first started, it would have saved me thousands of dollars and endless stress.
TAEM- Your career leapt out of the starting gate in 2004 with an appearance in the television series ‘The World’s Astonishing News’. This was followed in the next year by roles in ‘One Life to Live’, ‘Rescue Me’, ‘As the World Turns’, and ‘All My Children’. Tell us about your roles in these well known shows.
CC-Ha! Yes! The World’s Astonishing News was my first ‘professional’ gig. It’s a Japanese television show that recreates bizarre and interesting news stories from around the world. I shot that in Ohio, actually in the same prison where The Shawshank Redemption was filmed. I had very small roles, referred to as ‘Under 5’s’, which just means an actor has five lines or less of dialogue. I had a few of those size roles on all of those shows. They’re quick little scenes. I always played a random citizen of the fictional towns that the soap shows take place in. I think I was a waiter, a best friend and a potential boyfriend of some of the main stars’ characters on the various shows.
TAEM- How did acting on daytime soaps differ for you from other acting roles that you were in?
CC-Soaps move FAST!! They shoot at least one episode per day! A typical television show films over the course of eights days for one episode, sometimes more. Granted most of the soap shows do take place on pre-constructed sets and set up time is generally fast, it’s still 80 pages of dialogue in a single day! Soap actors deserve a lot of credit as they typically only get a script the day before, have to not only learn it overnight, but become comfortable enough with the material that they can just show up and film the next day. They might get a single rehearsal on set, a ten second rehearsal at that and then camera’s roll. And they don’t get multiple takes unless there’s a technical error. One shot. It’s incredible.
TAEM- You were in two productions the following year: ‘Jacksonville’ and ‘Person of Interest’. You were also in the short, ‘As We Were’. Describe these to us and the characters that you portrayed in each.
CC-Person of Interest (POI) was my first film and the very first thing I got after I made the big move from home to New York City. POI was Christopher Ward’s first feature film. He had won multiple awards, including an Emmy for his previous Documentary work. I remember auditioning for that and having no clue what I was doing, as an actor and human. Haha. Somehow, Chris liked me and offered me the role. I almost said no to the project because I was so scared that I’d mess his film up and both of our careers would be over. I played a psychic detective who was trying to help solve a series of missing person cases in a small Connecticut town. It was an incredible first experience and I met some great people and actors that I still work with to this day. Connections are a key to this biz also. It really can be who you know more than what you know. POI is on Netflix and also avail to purchase, just in case you want to see my earliest work. Hopefully, I’m better as an actor now!
Jacksonville was my second film. When I auditioned for it, I REALLY wanted the part. It was to play Lt. Jonas Devonshire. I remember being so nervous waiting for the phone to call for the next few days after the audition. The film was about a small platoon who was cut off from the rest of the US military and stationed in a town named Jacksonville, not Florida. The setting is World War III and the war has been brought to our own soil. My character was in charge of the group and was torn between retreating to safety for the protection of our platoon or following government orders and staying in Jacksonville to defend it. The movie is heavy on special effects and we shot about 80% of the film on greenscreen which is quite an experience. Often times you’re looking at literally a big green sheet and acting like you’re looking over the town, or that a tank is coming your way. It sure gets your imagination going.
As We Were is a fantastic film. It’s a short film that was shot in the beautiful state of Maine. I had met the director, James Mixon, of As We Were on my first film, Person of Interest. James was one of the behind the scenes crew members on Person of Interest. We became good friends and he asked me to be in his first film, As We Were. That film ended up doing very well. I play a guy who is in a bad, one sided relationship. My character is consistently being taken advantage of in his current relationship but he’s in love and can’t just find it in him to leave…until he reaches his breaking point. It’s a very well written drama with a sweet and nostalgic ending.
TAEM- The next year you performed in three episodes of ‘Cashmere Mafia’ and the production of ‘Fog Warning’. You were also in two shorts: ‘Dirge of the Sea’ and ‘The Snow Princess’. What were the themes behind these and who were their directors?
CC- You should be noticing the pattern momentarily. Fog Warning is an awesome vampire thriller that was directed by Christopher Ward. Yes! The same director as Person of Interest. It really does pay to make those connections! Fog Warning is a very unique twist on vampire movies. There’s a string of odd murders in a small town and the victims’ bodies are all sucked dry of their blood. The local media has named the murderer the ‘Vampire killer’. So three thugs kidnap a woman who they believe to be the vampire killer and hold her captive, trying to get her to admit who she really is. They think it’s a money making opportunity. I play one of the thugs who kidnap her and seriously mistreat her. I play a very bad man, Karl. Rape and murder are both fair game for Karl.
Dirge to the Sea was directed by Adam Huston. Based on the legend of the haunting of the New London Lighthouse in Connecticut. Supposedly the lighthouse is haunted to this day by a ghost named Ernie, who was the lighthouse keeper for many years and killed himself there. His wife had left him for the comfort of another man and Ernie jumps off the lighthouse to his death. I played Ernie, in his living years I should add. This was an awesome film to do because one of my biggest passions is the world of the paranormal and ghost hunting is a great hobby of mine. So this film was a true a blessing to be a part of. Two of my favorite things at once.
The Snow Princess is a short animated film directed by Genevieve Holland. It’s a nice and somewhat dark story of the Snow Princess who lives in an ice castle. She looks out from her castle and wants to be part of the vast, rolling green landscape that seems so close outside her window. She decides to run away and into the forest. But she starts to melt and has no way to get back to the safety of her ice castle. I don’t want to ruin the story so I’ll stop there. I narrate the film. The characters don’t speak, it’s all narration.
TAEM- Tell us the difference in these director’s styles and how they guided your acting abilities.
CC- I’ve definitely met all sorts of directors. I’ve worked with directors who were pretty much hands off and let me do whatever I wanted and also those directors who have a very specific vision and will do the same scene twenty times to get exactly what they wanted from me or the other actors. And of course I’ve worked with the directors who fall somewhere in between those two styles. I like directors who talk and give feedback and especially those who ask me specific questions about my characters choices. It’s a funny thing sometimes. There will be times that I think I nailed a scene and the director won’t say anything after, or just the opposite, I think I had a lousy scene and the director won’t say anything. So I start thinking either I’m doing exactly what he wants or he’s given up all hope in me. I don’t need consistent feedback every step of the way, I just want to know if I’m headed in the right direction. When I work with directors who don’t really say much at all, I just move along and do what I want to do. I don’t think I learn very much that way though because my point of view on the scene or something else is just that, mine. There might be so much more to discover in the scene if the director had spoken up and presented something to me that I didn’t even think about.
TAEM- Following this you played in seven short films including ‘Gamers’, ‘Italian Deli’, and ‘The Severed Inn’. You also starred in ‘Mind Morgue’ and ‘Assault of the Sasquatch’. These were quite a mix of genres and role portrayals. Tell our readers how each differed and how you were able to separate the characters for your acting.
CC-I feel very privileged to have worked in many different genres. In the titles that you mention here I played a jock, an insecure nitwit, a tactical killer, a fun husband, and a dim witted rookie cop. Obviously it’s fun to be so different from film to film. I feel that these characters and all their personalities are all in fact, me. They’re all just different sides of who I am. I better be careful, I don’t want to sound like I have a disorder here. I have a certain moral code, a personality, a certain character that I try live my life as. As an actor and having to play these characters with other personalities and moral codes much or slightly different than my own, I play the differences. If I was a nitwit, insensitive or enjoyed violence, how would I treat my own life? If I was a killer, like Karl in Fog Warning, why would I care if someone else is hurt? Or why does that guy think he deserves all that money in his wallet and why not take it from him? I wouldn’t do that, but Karl would. I find the differences between me and the character and even from character to character. I hope that all makes some sort of sense.
TAEM- Last year found you in one of television’s most popular programs, ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. How exciting was this for you, and tell us about the role that you played in it?
CC-Super excited! I had a very small role at the beginning of an episode. I’m sleeping and my wife wakes me up to tell me that she hears screaming outside. I tell her to go back to bed and that it’s ‘probably just some party girl drunk off her ass’. I then go back to bed for some much needed beauty sleep.
TAEM- You also played in several other productions too. Please tell us about these and some of the new productions that you were involved in as well.
CC-I’m super proud of a film I did last year called MINEVILLE. It’s based on the true story of immigrant iron ore miners who lived and worked in the ghettos of the Adirondack mountains, and their struggle for equality. I play Michael O’Roarke, the ‘hero’ of the story. That film is currently starting to play in festivals and hopefully in the coming months or year it will be at least on DVD. I highly recommend watching it.
Debuting August 5 at 8pm on the Chiller network is a film called ALIEN OPPONENT. It’s an insanely fun and gory horror film. I’m one of the leading characters in that and I play a somewhat dumb, farm boy who is stuck in the middle of madness. This film is destined to be a cult classic among B horror films. I’m sure it will play again on repeat on the Chiller network in case you miss it, plus it will be on DVD around the same time.
I just finished up a sci fi thriller movie called TERMINAL LEGACY that shot in New York City. It’s an apocalyptic film that stories a group of scientists that develop a wonder drug that can potentially cure any disease or affliction. Of course, something goes wrong once the drug is tested on humans. I play the scientist who develops the cure all drug.
Currently I’m doing a play in Hollywood and working on getting the next film or tv gig. My IMDB page is pretty updated in anything I have going on.
TAEM- You have also ventured on the other side of the camera. Describe your work in this new venue, and how you acting experience helped you with it.
CC- I enjoy directing and producing films as much as I do acting in them. I started my own production company, By the C Productions in 2009. We’ve done two films so far and both are in post production and should be hitting festivals later this year. I want to continue to make films for the rest of my life with By the C. I don’t know as if I’ll ever be in any of my own produced films as I just love working with other actors and trying to be the kind of director I described that I like working with.
I do think writing and directing my own films does help me with my acting. It gives me a new sense of developing characters. When I create a character on the page, I know that character, what they like, what they don’t, how they interact, etc. As an actor, that’s what I have to find for my character each time I do project. That plus some of the technical stuff helps me as an actor on set.
TAEM- Cuyle, we must admire you for all the work that you have done in your career. We also want to thank you for sharing your experiences with the readers of The Arts and Entertainment Magazine, and hope that you will keep us posted of all your future projects. We wish you luck in everything that you do.
CC- I truly appreciate your time and want to thank you for the interview. I also wish you and everyone the best.