Gary Gustin is an actor who works in the Pennsylvania area. In the following interview, Gustin talks about his experiences as an actor. His most recent film is Sean McKnight’s Disturbing Images (2006).
I am familiar with your work from Sean McKnight’s film Disturbing Images where you played the character of Byron Lloyd. How did you come to be involved with the film?
I learned of Disturbing Images after Director Sean McKnight started casting notices. At that time he was being assisted by Dave Von Roehm of Ningun Films. I met Dave when I worked on a trailer for the film Two of One Heart. You know working on Independent films is a pretty small universe, seems like everyone knows everyone.
In Disturbing Images, Byron Lloyd whips himself with a cat o’ nine tales. Was that staged or real?
Very real.…it was a rush.
As characters go, Byron Lloyd is pretty unlikable. How do you relate to a character like that? Or could you?
You think Byron was unlikable?…I fancied him a friend to all, well maybe not all.
What made you want to become an actor?
I lost the part of “Joseph” in my grade school Nativity play and I swore revenge…honest!
I know you are quite a fan of older horror movies. What are some of your favorites and why? Do you feel that modern horror should be taking more of a nod from these movies?
My favorite horror film is The Body Snatchers with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Modern films rely on too much bloody gore and sexuality. A great modern film in the old style is The Others.
You have been involved in a number of projects, including historical documentaries, feature length films and commercials. However, much of your work hasn’t seen release. Do you find this frustrating?
No, not really since it’s the nature of the business…especially Indie films. I am sure they will be released eventually. If I feel I did a good part, then that should suffice for a while.
One of the really impressive things about your acting is your ability to become very different characters. How do you prepare for a role?
I always start with how the character looks and then go seeking their inner secrets and desires.
How did you prepare for the character of Byron Lloyd?
I never really asked Sean McKnight or writer Norman Macera what Byron should look like. Byron was a very complex character…a megalomaniac, bright and articulate, charming but with a few minor hangups. I figured Byron for a man of many a fetish. I shaved my head since hair evoked pride and therefore was sinful.
What attracted you to the part?
Byron Lloyd was going to be my first lead role and I was drawn to playing a kinky sociopath…what actor wouldn’t?
What types of roles would you like to play in the future?
I love playing sad, pathetic characters and I would bury myself in makeup and prosthetics just like Lon Chaney. I am not the dashing leading man type nor do I desire to be. I am also an avid reader of Poe and would love to play one of his macabre characters.
What type of direction do you like getting from a director? Or would you rather the director just left you to your own devices?
I have been fortunate to have worked for some fine directors who have taken my suggestions on character development, but otherwise I just listen and learn.
You are also a musician. What type of music do you play? Have you ever played a part that either required or allowed you to incorporate your musical background?
I play guitar, bass, banjo and mandolin but I have never played on film yet. I enjoy playing styles that range from Traditional Celtic music to Jazz.
Do you prefer theater or film? Why?
Film, but I have the highest respect for theater actors. Currently, I just don’t have the time to rehearse for the theatrical stage. I study my film scripts as often as possible.
Are you currently involved in any projects?
I wrapped on the film Eclipse a few months ago and I am currently finishing the role of Boogeyman in Down with the Boogey for Cowbell Films. I anticipate working on several projects through my association with The Philadelphia Filmmaker, Screenwriter and Actor Syndicate.
Can you leave us with a closing quote?
A quote from the poet Shelley from (Peter Bell the Third) “Sometimes the Devil is a Gentleman”.