Samantha Payne Garland: It was amazing. We had some phenomenal professors – James Schamus, who is CEO of Focus Features, and a writer/producer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Richard Peña, who is the program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. I learned how to analyze films and think critically about them. It gave me a powerful vocabulary for talking to filmmakers about their vision and what they’re trying to achieve.
CW: You have a mix of theatre and film experience, how do the two mediums differ? And which do you prefer?
SPG: I love them both equally. Theater is so alive, and performing in front of a live audience is electric. And theater allows for a rehearsal process, where you work with your fellow actors and develop your character and grow relationships together. Film is tricky because the camera is so close and picks up so much, you have to change how you approach the work. But film creates magic, in a completely different way. And it can be discovered over and over again, years after it’s released. Theater is ephemeral ~ like catching lighting in a bottle ~ which makes it precious. Film is a magic trick that lives on.
CW: What’s been your most challenging role and how did you prepare?
SGP: I self-produced and starred in a production of Neil LaBute’s “The Shape of Things” in 2011. There’s a 6-page monologue at the end of the play. I remember thinking how much monologues scare me, and deciding that was a good reason to do it. I went on vacation a week before we cast the show, before rehearsals even started, and I spent an hour each day memorizing those lines. I would walk the square in this little Mexican town, talking to myself.
CW: What actors do you admire and what is your ideal role?
SGP: Anne Hathaway, because she moves with such ease across media (tv, film, and theater) and across genres (action, romance, period, indie). And she’s always trying something new and challenging. Emily Blunt and Meryl Streep for similar reasons. My ideal role is the passionate, stubborn Jane Austen in “Becoming Jane.”
CW: What’s the craziest thing that has happened on-set?
SGP: We had a bedroom scene in “The Shape of Things”, but we didn’t have room for a real bed. We had a contraption of sorts; it was 3 pieces of wood precariously propped together. I remember my co-star looking at me with absolute terror, waiting for the whole thing to collapse underneath us, while we pretended to be in love, all sweet and sexy. Thank goddess, the thing held out through the last performance.
CW: “Companion” was super cute and funny, do you want to tell us a little about the project and how you got involved?
SGP: The School of Visual Arts in NYC hires actors to work in their students’ classes. I signed up with their casting office, and was featured in a few of their shoots. One of the students there had written this great little script, and offered me the lead. It was a great shoot ~ except for the jogging scene. We ended up shooting in something of a wind tunnel, and we had to keep stopping & resetting because the boom mic picked up nothing but the whooshing sound of the freezing wind whipping by us.
CW: What are some of the most useful resources that you use to further your acting career?
SGP: My flipcam. I think learning to shoot at home is essential to all actors, whether it’s to post online or to self-submit for roles. SendOutCards.com helps me target casting directors and producers I want to work with by sending them colorful updates on my career. Mailchimp.com helps me stay connected with my fans and colleagues.
CW: If you could play any role that’s currently on TV, what would it be and why?
SGP: Maggie from Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO show “The Newsroom.” She’s idealistic and hard-working and bad at relationships but so earnest! Sorkin writes great clumsy, flawed, intelligent women. And his women are fighting for a better world, not just mooning over boys, which I think makes for great role models.
CW: I saw the Actor Intro video on your site, do you want to explain to us what that entails?
SGP: Brad Holbrook, who runs Actor Intro, was a journalist for a number of years. He interviewed me for 20 minutes, and then cut together a highlight reel. He did a fantastic job. You get a real sense of who I am and where I’m coming from, and it’s a nice compliment to the acting reels that show my skill but leave you wondering what I’m like in person.
CW: How should we connect and keep up with you?
SGP: I love using Twitter to stay in touch (@SamPayneGarland). I also send periodic brief little updates by email, and you can sign up for those on my website, at www.SamanthaPayne.net .
Click here for the last entry: Diary of an actress #16: Interview with the girl version of John Candy: the fabulous Jen Ponton