These interviews will show the world there are talented people in our area who are capable of handling just about anything that comes their way!
Walter Platz has appeared in Dozens of films and worked in films starring Sharon Stone, John Heder, Brianna Evigan, Billy Zane, Dove Cameron, Luke Benward, Daveigh Chase and Mike Rowe among others.
What made you decide to get into the acting and modeling business?
I have always been interested in the entertainment business. I did standup comedy when I was in college. In order to make a living, I decide the best avenue for me was to be a radio disc jockey. When I applied at radio stations, I was continually redirected into news and worked in news throughout most of my radio career. I always planned to eventually get a radio job in LA and move into acting from there. As I got older and my children grew up, I made the decision to stay in Utah and never moved on to California
What has been the hardest thing for you as an actor?
It’s a part-time job. No matter how successful you are, unless you get cast in a TV series, the job you get is temporary and part-time. Even when you are good and the director and producer love what you do, you are out of work in a day or two, or week or month and have to look for another job.
What keeps you going in our business?
I love to act and perform. The opportunity to play Sharon Stone’s boss or being in S. Darko the sequel to Donnie Darko and the hope I will get a role in that classic movie or TV series.
What are the things you enjoy the most about our business?
First and foremost is the acting. I love to act. When the camera rolls, I get to be someone else. I also love talking to the people on set, finding out where they have been and what they have done.
What is or was your regular occupation? How did you juggle both?
I actually had two occupations. I worked in radio news for most of my career. I also own and operate a resume writing business. My boss in radio was good about letting me off when I was shooting a film. I closed the doors to my business when I was acting.
What do you feel makes you unique and talented?
Just like everyone else I am unique because I’m me. I’m different from everyone else, just like they are different from me. I can play someone else, but I can’t be someone else. I bring to my acting what I have experienced. Working 25 years in radio makes me more talented than I would have been. After listening to my voice on recorded commercials and news for 25 years, I have the ability to know what I actually sound like and not what I think I sound like. This gives me the ability over others of knowing what sounds natural.
One of the toughest things for me as an agent is when I continually promote our talent really hard and because of things like the size of the market, the time of year or that there just is not a job coming up immediately for that particular talent, some talent get discouraged and lose interest. As an experienced agent I know things will soon get busy when you do the right things and stick with it. How have you not let the slower periods or times when you are not booking jobs discourage you?
I don’t. It gets to me. I whine. I complain. I moan. I groan. But that’s the business. This is Utah, or Idaho, or Wyoming or Nevada. The entertainment business is all over now. And unless you are willing to go to where the jobs are, and they aren’t just in LA anymore, you just have to wait until the jobs come to your market. Just when you think the business is drying up and there are no jobs for you, that’s when things pick up and you get auditions. It isn’t just here it’s everywhere. I had a fellow actor that told me his daughter went to LA to act and he was getting more jobs in Utah than she was getting in LA. She came back. The people who make it are the ones who work to get better and don’t quit. When you quit, you lose.
What would your dream role or entertainment job be?
I would love to have a regular role in a hit TV series or even a small role in that classic movie.
Who are your favorite entertainers and why?
I don’t know if they are my favorites but I think the two most talented actors on the planet are Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman. Meryl Streep amazes me how she can take people we know, (Julia Childs and Margaret Thatcher) and capture who they were. Dustin Hoffman and Tootsie says it all.
What makes you most nervous in our industry?
I don’t really get that nervous in auditions anymore. Once in a while I will walk into an audition and be nervous but have no idea why. Now I go in with the attitude, if they don’t pick me, they must be looking for a young, single, pregnant mother. The way the industry is changing makes me nervous. I have no idea where it is going. I also get nervous when people I have worked with onset, see me somewhere else. I am so bad with names even though I know them, I more times than not don’t remember their names.
Tell us about yourself pertaining to the entertainment business.
When I was in college in the 1970’s, I did a little standup comedy. On April Fool’s Day 1974, I started my radio career. As much as I wanted to work as a disc jockey, every radio station insisted I work as a news reporter. I finally got a break and worked as a morning disc jockey at the second radio station I worked at in Missouri. It was short lived and I was put back into news. While working for WFMB in Springfield, Illinois, I covered all of the 1980 Presidential candidates including Ronald Reagan, Ted Kennedy, and George H. W. Bush. I also met and interviewed seven baseball hall of famers including Mickey Mantle, Satchel Paige, Ernie Banks, Bob Feller and Warren Spahn. I moved to Utah to take a job at KLO in August 1980. I got out of radio in 1984 and started my resume writing business. I returned to radio in 1986 and 1987. Then I left entertainment entirely for 10 years and started a resume writing business, which I still run. I returned to radio in 1997 and continued until leaving for good in January 2013. When I was almost 50 when I saw an ad seeking actors. I responded to a couple of them. I didn’t like the first agency but signed up on a Tuesday with the Craze Agency. On Thursday, I was working as an extra on a film directed by Danny Glover. I met him, had a picture taken with him and left the film in the shirt I returned to wardrobe. I was never able to locate the film. I then worked as an extra on the TV series Touched by Angel and Everwood and several other movies before being advised that if I wanted to be an actor, don’t regularly work as an extra or they will see you as an extra not an actor. I quit when I went to an audition and an assistant to the casting director said “Oh I thought you only worked as an extra.” My next big break in the movie industry wasn’t a big break. I was cast in Napoleon Dynamite. After auditioning for two parts, I was rejected. While vacationing in Missouri at my mother’s, my agent received a call that they had a part for me if I could be on set in Idaho that day. I couldn’t. The movie came out and I was listed in the credits as the cashier. I still receive credit on my IMDB page. Even though I wasn’t in Napoleon Dynamite, I did shoot a couple of short films with John Heder (Napoleon). Since then I have had speaking roles in several national productions. I appeared in S. Darko, a sequel to the cult movie Donnie Darko; Border Run as Sharon Stone’s boss; the Discovery Channel’s TV series Gold Fever as one of the first two senators from California; and I have a lead role in the Web Series Proper Manors. I have also been fortunate to work with some talented, as yet, unknown directors.
I have appeared in short films that have won numerous film festival awards thanks to those directors and other talented actors. The most frustrating thing that has happened to me in this business is getting cast, such as the Napoleon Dynamite movie, and because of circumstances beyond my control not getting to take the role. It has happened to me three times. It has also happened the other way. I learned I got a lead role in a short film that way. When the director’s first choice couldn’t do the movie, I got the role. I still believe that, if it is meant to be, my time will come. Another thing that has frustrated me is when I audition and the director loves the audition and I still don’t get the part. Sometimes you go into an audition and the director says great job and you don’t know if they mean it or not. Other times, I have gone into auditions and the director couldn’t stop praising my performance. It was genuine praise. Then, I didn’t get the role. They must have been looking for a single, pregnant mother. That, too, has happened the other way. At the first commercial I ever auditioned for, an infomercial, we were all called into a room and sat around a table. We were asked to read the script for our part. I was up first. I read the script. The director said thank you very much. You can go. I was absolutely convinced I had blown. I was the first person sent out of the room. I got the part. This is the good, the bad and the ugly of the business. You gotta love it.
How long have you been serious as an actor or model?
I started acting when I was 50 about 14 years ago.
I know from personal experience many friends and family can sometimes be skeptical or jealous about being in the entertainment business even if you show some success. What do your family and friends think about you being in it? Have they changed their minds over a period of time?
I have a pretty wide array of reactions. When I first started acting, I had to beg people to watch some of short films I was in. My mother had to watch my first short film. I made her. I was playing an evil psychiatrist. After watching it, she looked at me with disgust and said “You are the devil.” I thought to myself, yes that what I was going for. Others, mostly younger relatives were in awe that I was actually an actor. The people I worked with in radio, even though they were in the entertainment business were kind of in awe too, always asking how I got into to it. Others were dismissive, not saying it, but I could pretty much tell they were thinking I was just someone who thought he was an actor, but not really. They would never watch anything, until I was cast as Sharon Stone’s boss. They finally relented. They were shocked and admitted I was actually pretty good. Other friends are in the business and we all pretty much know what the other is going through.
What made you stick with it when you first started and received some rejection?
Fortunately, I never had that many rejections. I auditioned for a lot of short student and independent films and was cast as much as I was not cast. I received constant reinforcement from those in the business that I could act. I learned early on that it most often had nothing to do with acting, but appearance. Getting cast a lot in short films reinforced that belief. Years ago I was working as an extra on Touched by an Angel. The extra director walked into the room and asked if anyone could play a young pregnant mother. I jokingly said I can play that. Even though I was joking, I always keep that in mind I audition for a part and don’t get it. As a man in his 50’s, I can’t play a single, pregnant mother and from there it is just a matter of degrees. I now have enough confidence in my ability to know I can act and when I don’t get the job, I just remind myself they must have been looking for a young pregnant mother or something else I didn’t quite fit.
Who have been your biggest influences in our business?
Before I got into the business my idols were Bill Cosby, Johnny Carson and, after getting into radio, Paul Harvey. Since I have started acting, the best piece of advice I gotten came from Casting Director Jeff Johnson. In an audition class, he told us we were all sitting there thinking, I know I can do it if they would just give me the chance. For me he was right. Then he told us the audition is your chance take it and perform. I’m not sure what my attitude was before that, but it changed the way I auditioned. From that day on, I went into every audition with the mindset that I was going to wow them. I also appreciate Craze for providing the opportunity to audition for non-paying acting opportunities even though you got nothing for it. I’m not big on taking acting classes. I believe in developing my skills acting and the non-paying jobs were easier to get and built up my confidence.
What advice would you give newcomers entering the business?
Go someplace where you can be bad. Even if you don’t think you’re bad, you probably are. Work at acting and listen to what others have to say. I know some other disagree and hate watching themselves, but my advice is record yourself. I think watching and listening to yourself to hear and see what you actually look and sound like is the best way to improve. Listen and watch and then try to do it better. When I started in radio I sent audition tapes out to every radio station in Missouri. I knew the audition tape wasn’t great, but I didn’t think it was that bad. One radio station, the worst radio station in the state, responded and gave me the job. I know it was the worst radio station because they hired me. Several years later and four radio stations later, I had just gotten a job as a news director in Springfield, Illinois. I was told I could hire anyone I wanted. For some reason a few days later I was rummaging through my closet and found an old audition tape of myself. I pulled it out and was sitting at the kitchen table listening to it. My wife walked in and said, “You’re not going to hire that guy are you?” When I started in radio, I knew I wasn’t that good, but I didn’t think I was that bad. Unless you are a rare talent, you may not be as bad as I was, but if you are just starting out you are probably not that good. Don’t give up, keep working at it. The more you do it, the better you will become. Hollywood is full of stars who have made millions of dollars after they were told they were terrible actors, Harrison Ford, Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood come to mind. The thing about it is, if pressed, they would probably admit they weren’t that good at the time. Just keep working to get better.
Do you have a funny story to tell about this business?
When I shot S. Darko, I kept trying to get my daughter to visit the set to see what I actually did. She was too busy and had no interest in going. I knew the many of the actors were from Hollywood and of some note, but I had no idea who they were or what they had done. When it came out and we were watching it, my daughter was shocked and amazed. She proclaimed “You were in a movie with her.” She was referring to Brianna Evigan. “Yeah, why?” I asked. “She was in ‘Step up to the Streets 2.” When I got cast in Border Run. I came home excited to tell the family I was going to be Sharon Stone’s boss. My daughter asked “Who?” When I was working on Border Run, another actor and I were joking about how even though we were in the movies no one recognized us. He said, “You know that guy you always see in the movies and you know who he is but you can’t remember his name.” I said yes. He responded, “I’m the guy standing next to him.” I have stolen that line and now use it all the time.
This interview was conducted by Troy Lee CEO of Craze Agency. For more information about Walter or to schedule an interview go to www.crazeagency.com email me at email@example.com or call 801-438-0067.