EXCLUSIVE: Actor Mark Rolston Talks BLOOD CRAFT, ALIENS, & Much More!!
Mark undoubtedly has had a career that many actors would be enviable of. Having been apart of some incredible films, such as LETHAL WEAPON 2, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, ALIENS, and countless others, Mr. Rolston has carved out an impressive niche in the industry as a versatile character actor who can portray both villains and heroes alike. With that said, I recently had the opportunity to speak with the Maryland native about his latest film, BLOOD CRAFT, set to release tomorrow. Check it out our conversation below...
BT: First, thanks for taking the time to speak with Movers & Shakers Unlimited. I'll begin by asking, how did you get involved with BLOOD CRAFT?
MR: Yeah, certainly! I was on set late one night with James [Cullen Bressack] when he was producing a film called GANSTERLAND - directed by Timothy Woodward Jr. - that I had a role in and he asked if I'd be interested in taking a look at a script that he had - which he was also planning to produce and direct. I told him "sure" and asked that he "send it me." Upon reading it, I was really impressed by it. I felt that in lieu of the "Me Too" movement still being a very fresh topic right now, people would respond to it; particularly, due to the fact that the young women in the film get to exact revenge on their abusive father.
BT: Sure, sure...So secondly, this is a film that - aside from the female leads that you just mentioned - deals with the subject matter of witchcraft & the occult. Now, seeing that there are currently a few other properties out there that tackle the same subject, what do you feel can be attributed to this sudden interest recently?
MR: (Laughing) Gosh, I couldn't really say...I suppose the best way I could explain it is that angels and demons are prevalent in any regard. For example, I have been working recently on a Turkish series on Netflix called The Protector -which deals specifically with angel and demons - where I play a character that has been around for thousands of years and seeks to ultimately be with the person that he loves. However, perhaps the fascination that audiences have with this subject matter [of witchcraft & the occult] could be attributed to people desiring to attain their biggest dreams - dreams that they might otherwise feel would be unattainable. On the other hand, it may also be associated with people being depressed that Trump is in office. (Laughing)
BT: (Laughing) Ok, ok...Now, I want go a little off topic and discuss your career thus far. You've obviously been apart of some incredible projects (i.e. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, ALIENS, just to name a few), so I have to ask, what elements draw you to a project? Additionally, have the elements which draw you to a project evolved over time or has it remained the same?
MR: It's been the same my whole career. For instance, when you sit down for the first time and read a script that jumps off the page and resonates within you there's nothing like it. I mean, I can recall, vividly, the day that I read James Cameron's ALIENS! That script was such a page-turner - I remember just flying through it - even as a screenplay! I think I read it in like 40 minutes! Therefore in instances like that you just know that it's something important to be apart of.
SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION - which is still one of the greatest scripts I have ever read - was the same way in that it just "jumped off the page" and resonated within you.
Conversely, you come across other scripts where you say, "Uhhh, this is not really for me," because perhaps there's just something in it (the script) that turns you off. Therefore I'd definitely say that it begins with the writer. For me, they're effectively the most important person in the movie-making as well as television-making process.
BT: Sure, absolutely. Now, commenting further on your career overall , would you say that this sensibility carries over to your voice work in videogames?
MR: Absolutely! I approach it exactly the same way. However, when doing voiceover work, I also pay attention to some other factors as well, such as: 1) Is the character well-drawn? 2) Does the character have a story arch - one that can appeal to an audience and make sense?
So yes, absolutely, I love voiceover work! For example, I loved the voiceover work that I got to do with the rest of the team on Insomniac Games' Spider-Man.
BT: Yeah, absolutely!
MR: I mean, as a group collectively, we not only responded to the material, we were really like a theatrical ensemble. We all really had fun going into work each day. The same was also true with SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. Even though everyone involved knew that the script was great, it wasn't until the table read with the entire ensemble - as Morgan Freeman muttered the opening words of the film - that we truly got goosebumps.
MR: (Continuing) No, seriously! Everyone one in the room did! We (the actors doing the reading) were in this arched, tin roof building - which used to be the cafeteria of the prison - and Morgan's voice just reverberated throughout the cavernous room that we were in! (Smiling) I recall the entire ensemble sitting up immediately as the words that he uttered seemed to inspire everyone in the room to really bring their "A" game.
BT: Gotcha! So, my next question would be geared towards your habit of playing villains - not all the time, mind you, but enough that folks recognize you as those characters...In portraying those types of characters, I'm aware that actors have different approaches when taking on such roles: some go the mustasche-twirling route and others go the hero route (in which the villain wholeheartedly believes that their intentions are right). In this regard, where would you say that you fall?
MR: Well, to be honest, I have been cast in that vein for so much of my career, that recently, I've started to segue into more likable roles...
BT: Well, don't get me wrong, I've seen you play both types of roles, but I was still curious to know your thoughts on tackling villains?
MR: Sure. I feel you put it best - the idea that villains are the heroes of their own stories. (Laughing) Therefore when you're playing villains, I feel that you have to be real. As the actor, you have to believe that they (these villains) are good people. So you definitely can't play a villain and be judgmental of them. You - as the actor - have to accept that what they do within their world and how they do it is their need - or another way to explain it is "the what" that motivates them.
With that said, I've learned very early on in my career that villains are loads more fun to play - the only downside being that you don't get to "kiss the girl."(Laughing)
In contrast, I have always pondered what it would be like to play "the romantic lead," but I also learned early on that I was no Brad Pitt...(Laughing)
BT: (Laughing) Well Mark, it has been great speaking with you - especially seeing that you're someone who was once local to the DC Metropolitan area! (Smiling)
MR: Yeah, absolutely! Thanks for the time to speak with me!
BLOOD CRAFT arrives On Demand on April 9th.
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