Brian Austin Green has been in the acting game for a long time – for over 30 years, in fact. He’s probably best known for his role as David Silver in the classic “Beverly Hills, 90210”, but has come a long way since he rocked that classic ’90s hairdo and the one earring. Seriously, Green was setting trends way back when.
Since then, though, Green has cemented his place in the acting community with roles on “Anger Management”, “Wedding Band”, “Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles” and “Desperate Housewives” – to name but a few.
Green’s latest title is called “Chasing Titles Vol. 1”, and is a short film that sees a father go to desperate lengths to provide for his son. Addressing issues such as drugs, depression, addiction and life choices, “Chasing Titles” is one of Green’s finest, and though short, is one of the most thought-provoking titles of 2017.
Katie spoke to Green recently in LA about the film, his acting career, family life and the pros and cons of living in the midst of the acting world.
In part 1 of the interview, we talk “Chasing Titles”, family life, career highlights and the paparazzi.
Grab a cup of coffee (it’s a long one!) and enjoy the read!
Katie: Congrats on “Chasing Titles”! What drew you to the role?
Brian: Thank you! I haven’t worked in a while. I did “Anger Management” last and was taking some time off and raising the kids. I liked in the script that the guy was just real, like, he loved his wife and loved his son and just made horrible, really stupid choices, like, really stupid. He had great intentions behind it…but just made the wrong choice after the wrong choice after the wrong choice. No matter what he did, he just ended up in a bad place, and I know people like that. I feel like everyone has conviction in some way, even if they’re doing the wrong thing, they’re convicted to it, they believe in it, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. And he really believes in what he’s doing and really has hope that it’ll be the thing finally that…I don’t know, pushes him through and it just doesn’t.
Katie: Do you feel like your role as a father inspired you to want to be involved?
Brian: Totally, yeah, absolutely. Having sons, having boys is…I always say I really want to have a girl just for the experience of having a daughter because I know daughters and fathers are close, but there’s something about having a boy where it’s like you want that fine line of being responsible and being loving and that, but then also raising men. So it’s a weird line to tie. I’m questioning myself everyday…And I’ve got four boys and I’ve kind of figured out at the end of the day it’s all about just loving them and supporting them and being there no matter what. People make mistakes, people do stupid stuff and I feel like I want my sons to at least know that not matter what they do that I love them and I’m gonna be there. It doesn’t matter what you do, I love you and I’ll always be there. I’ll always be that rock which I think that’s…
Katie: That’s all you really can do.
Brian: That’s all you really can do, especially now, I mean, the times are crazy. I always heard was when you have a boy, you’re a father; when you have a girl, you’re a daddy.
Katie: Yeah, that’s cute. I like that!
Brian: That means something “you’re a daddy,” it’s different. When you raise a boy you always want to raise a man and teaching how to do stuff and be responsible and respectful and loving, and when you raise a girl, as a man, you just want to love her all the time, you just want to hold her, you want her to experience what love from a man should feel like and be like and you hope that whoever she finds in life will treat her as well as you hope to. I mean, not all fathers are great, but they should be. It would be nice if they were.
Katie: So the subject matter of the film is quite different to what you’ve done in the past. Is that something you found hard to adapt to?
Brian: I thought it was going to be harder than it was. Being in Florida and wearing the wardrobe and driving that shitty truck… as little as those things seem, they all added tons to what I was doing: they built the emotion and feeling behind this guy and his daily life and the crying and the struggle. It was nice to take off… I have a Rolex, so I take off my shoes and my stuff and put on the character stuff and look in the mirror and go: ”okay, I’m this guy now,” and go out and get in my all metal truck and my car with one gear, my house that was…The house was literally, I think, it was two rooms.
Katie: Okay, so it was like an actual house.
Brian: But I mean literally was like two rooms. My garage at home is bigger than the house, tiny. But all that paints a picture of who you are and what life is like. I think the more observing you are of what’s around you and what you’re wearing and driving and living in and seeing daily, the more that helps to really solidify the vision. And as actors, I feel like that’s all we do is like we convince an audience that we are that person and what we drive and where it’s all normal, but those surrounded were amazing, awesome.
I was saying to Ryan [Egypt, director] in the beginning, I think even movies that you watch that have good guys, bad guys, everyone believes in what they’re doing; even terrorists believe in what they’re doing, otherwise they wouldn’t do it. So the more you can bring humanity and a human feeling, I feel, to a character, the more people pay, the more people go, “I don’t agree with it, but that guy to him is doing what he should do, and that’s right.” Not everybody agrees or have to agree, but everyone have to feel like that person believes in what they’re doing, what they’re saying. And Ryan was really perceptive from that, Ryan was like, “Go for it.” Ryan was like, “I don’t care if you change the words…”
We talked about everything and was just in the moment and doing it and he was open to it, which I was concerned about at first knowing that he was a first-time director and writer, like a script writer. I sent him a text and I was like, “How much do you love these words?” And he was like, “Why?” I said, “because how against paraphrasing or anything are you?” He said, “not at all.” I said, “that’s all I need to hear.” If you’re open to someone breathing life into your character and having fun and being in the situation, then awesome. And we did, he was totally open to it, and never fought me and didn’t fight anybody and let everyone sort of act. And the kid that I worked with, Landon, was great at listening, so whatever I would do he would do, like, he would bounce off of and vice versa, and it was fun.
I saw those scenes and I was like, “Okay, don’t ever work with kids or animals.” Like, oh, jeez, I had these major scenes with kids and you have some kids who, God bless them, who are in acting class or have acting coaches and they do sort of what they prepare for. They can’t do anything different, they can’t say anything different because they just don’t listen in movies. I’m not holding anything against them I’m just saying listening is a big part of — especially a project like this you have to…We’re in the delivery truck and it’s like we’re talking and we’re sitting and talking, it’s not about hanging clothes or playing basketball, there’s no action, it’s like we’re going to sit down and talk.
So the conversation changes from take to take and Landon was like, “all right.” Funny enough, half the scene was supposed to be a different scene later in the day that we hadn’t even rehearsed and Ryan was like, “let’s run it all together, let’s do it,” and I looked at Landon and he was like, “alright, I kind of know it,” and I was like, “all right, let’s go. We’ll give it a try.” I told Ryan, I said, “We don’t know it, we didn’t work on it” but we did it and worked and it was great and Landon was really committed to it and understood the emotion of it. I got so lucky. I got so lucky with him. I got so lucky with the cast; the cast was just — everyone was willing to work really hard and try things and experiments and have fun and it was great. It’s ideal, because you don’t always get that.
Katie: So as a first-time director, Ryan was good to work with?
Brian: He was really clear. When we first met I was telling the story about how I was fortunate enough to work with Tony Scott, and Tony is one of those directors that he was all about the shot – he was all about painting with a camera but he always hired the same actor that could act. So he could just let them on set and “go, you stand here, you stand here, I’ll do the rest,” and totally trusted that the actors were going to do what they know. And I got to work with him on “Domino” and he’d never worked with me before and Keira Knightly, a lot of these people. Some of the people he had, but it was really fascinating for me, having worked for so long and doing “90210” and that whole thing, working with somebody that just had so much faith in the actors that he was really able to set the cameras and tell the story. I told that story to Ryan, I was like, “You have to not be afraid of just letting your actors act and if you see something you don’t like, like really don’t like come out… It’s not about saying…It’s hard if you come out and the direction is yelled out at somebody. As an actor, I don’t get that, but if you say this character is angry, then you’ll get all the stuff that comes with that because actors prepare in different ways than directors, but he knew in his head what he wanted to shoot and what he wanted to see and he was really like specific of what he wanted to let us do what we do, we got lucky.
Katie: Is the schedule for production for film much different to TV? You’ve done a lot of TV.
Brian: Well, for production for “Chasing Titles” it was really short. I think we did it in five days, and the weather in Florida is… it’s like bright and sunny and then all of a sudden it’s rain pouring, pouring rain, it’s like how do we shoot? We just shot in the sun so we would just change it up and like well, if the characters now moved to here. It all worked out well. But it was total run and gone, like, get what we could. Ryan was a trooper and the cast were troopers, we’re in Florida. I told Ryan I was like, “what else am I going to do, man, I’m in Florida, it’s like I’m married and have kids, I’m just going to go back to the hotel and sleep if we don’t shoot,” and he was like “all right, I just wanna make sure you’re fine.” I just said “tell me when to shoot; I’ll be ready.” He was so concerned with everyone being comfortable and being a proper set and it was better and bigger than most sets we’ve been on. It was awesome.
West Palm Beach was like — when I say it was pouring rain, I’ve never been in torrential rain, your hat dripping, you don’t have rain spots, like, you’re wet. It’s like, “yeah, let me take this off because I’m soaking wet,” and we just kept shooting. If you watch the movie it’s like half of it it’s in the rain, half of it is in the sun. We were like, “It just is what it is, just shoot, we’re in Florida, this is what it is.”
Katie: When you choose an acting role, do you choose it based on story or on character?
Brian: Mainly character. Story, director, producers, there are so many things that go with acting; it’s like you can do a script that’s amazing and it turns out like shit and you can do a script that’s alright and it turns out amazing. You never know what the finished product is going to be. I mean — if the character is interesting — I prefer playing like really weird characters like guys that have really crazy back stories that are like onions where you peel a little layer and you go “that’s interesting,” and you peel a little more and you go, “that’s interesting,” and then one more layer and even when you get to the core you’re not sure if it’s the core. And then I choose to never watch stuff that I do because I’m really critical so I just do it and then move on, which is kind of like… I don’t know if you’re like this, I know I am, if I hear my voice on an answering machine I immediately want to delete.
Katie: Yeah, I’ve done that. I can’t stand it.
Brian: So imagine sitting in the theatre watching yourself on a screen.
Katie: I couldn’t do it either.
Brian: I can’t do it. I pick apart everything, “I’m speaking too softly, I look terrible…” I start picking apart things that are just me. I can’t change what my face looks like, that’s me on the screen. So at some point I really like I’m just not going to watch. It’s too late to make any changes, it’s on this screen, you know. Like, if I fucked up, I fucked up. If it works, awesome, if it doesn’t, whatever, just keep working.
Katie: Have your kids seen you in anything?
Brian: I haven’t done anything like really child-friendly. You have to do something that’s pixar, the Disney Channel shows or something. Another thing I’m, like, you know, if there’s blood or if I’m killing someone or if some one is killing me or…The last scenes I did, this movie, no way. “Anger Management”, I was a male prostitute, I can’t let them watch that. In “Sarah Connor”, I kill people. I guess “90210”, but it’s too embarrassing. They’d be like, “that’s not you.”
I show them pictures now of my album cover and they think that’s all I have. I was listening to some songs and I cursed and I fast forward. That’s all I have. They don’t know that I do any of this, they have no idea. I thought they would see “Ninja Turtles” at some point, but even that’s very violent, and there’s monsters and…we’ll wait. I’d like to do like an “Incredibles” or something like a Pixar movie.
Katie: That would be awesome. So speaking of music, in “Wedding Band” did you play your own music?
Brian: Yeah. I played guitar, I played piano, drums, a little bit based. Harold [Perrineau] played a fiddle, guitar, he sang, he could play the trumpet, the sax, like, you hand him something, he will figure it out. It was one of those like, “Holy shit! He’s very good.” But everybody played except for Derek [Miller] – the drummer and he was learning drums. I was learning guitar but because it’s a rhythm instrument and I grew up on the drums. I could play it easier, but we loved that show, we loved doing that show, we had a great cast in that show. TBS just dropped the bomb for the show. It should still be on. It was awesome.
Katie: You live in LA in the midst of the glitz and the glamour, what do you think is the worst part?
Brian: My health, traffic, people.
Katie: Traffic, yeah. What about in the industry?
Brian: The industry is — it’s funny, I mean, you’re asking somebody that’s from here. I find mostly people that I don’t like in LA aren’t from here, they are from somewhere else, they feel like they have to fit in or something in LA. Whereas myself and most of the people I know that are from LA, they want to get out of LA. I live in Malibu now. People want to live in the hills away from it all.
The business is, you know, it’s odd, it’s strange right now. It’s like with the internet and all that, it’s just changing so rapidly. I used to feel like I figured out the game and now it’s a new game. I don’t know what it is or how it works. I’m just a fucking actor. I’m just doing what I do and paying bills, put my kids through school.
Katie: What about the paparazzi?
Brian: There’s a weird double standard, it’s like… so as actors we own our likeness, but with paparazzi, we don’t. The show is paying me a shit load of money to be on the show, but you don’t have to pay me at all to be in your magazine and sell copies of…It’s weird.
It doesn’t make any sense. If I own my likeness: my face and what I’m wearing, everyone should have to pay me for it. It’s the only thing I have, it’s the only skill I have, it’s the way I look and the way I play character, that’s it.
Katie: Yeah, it’s an odd industry.
Brian: It’s weird, yeah.
Katie: So if someone gets paid for you to be in that magazine, it’s not you.
Brian: Yeah, the magazines make billions, but not me. Magazines, they pay their photographers and they pay their staff, they’re designers, I guess. Still a lot of money – it’s crazy.
Katie: So what would you say is your career highlight?
Brian: Probably…I don’t know, I’ve had a few. Doing “Domino” working with Mickey Rourke and Keira Knightley and just being on that set and being with some one like Tony and watching him do what he does, it was cool. Doing “Freddie”, the first comedy thing I’ve done in front of a live audience, and doing a season of that and going and realising: A, I can be in front of a live audience and do this, and B, I’m funny. So I just need to trust myself. They’re all kind of highlights in one way or another. I feel like you try and take whatever you can from every situation. The highlight of today is sitting with you being in a hotel I never been in, it’s like, there’s highlights of everything.
Katie: It’s great that you really try and appreciate every moment, it’s inspiring.
Brian: I don’t know if it’s an age thing, being 44 and having 4 kids and married, but I really try and appreciate everything. I try and really make the best of every situation and smile through things, enjoy things because I have so many experiences from when I did “90210” when I was young. I don’t know, it’s crazy and I don’t remember seeing the things that I did. I travelled everywhere and I don’t remember half of it. It was like “I’ll travel again, let’s go.” And now I look back on it and it’s like “I’ve gone everywhere. Why didn’t I love it? Why didn’t I really learn everything I could learn and experience people?” I was everywhere. I was in Switzerland as the sun was setting for an hour and then rising again. I may never experience that again, ever, but I was there. But not only was I there and I experienced that, I saw the Fugees before, like, randomly. I happened to be there and they were performing and I was like I looked down and it’s like “I saw the Fugees perform, and in Switzerland of all places.” It’s amazing. What a crazy experience, but at the time I was like “oh, whatever,” – too fucking cool for school. Everything was more of a bother. I was always like “everything sucks, whatever.”
I look at pictures now and it’s like… I’m doing a podcast, and the guys that I work with are texting me pictures as we’re talking. I see pictures and go “oh, shit, that was the Playboy Mansion, that was here, that was there.” I have all these amazing stories. I got to work with Christopher Walken when we were doing “Domino” and it was so cool because I’ve grown up like watching him and doing impressions of him and watching other people doing impressions of him, now I’m on camera in scenes with him. I should have liked – and I did a little bit – but I should have really appreciated that. There are certain aspects of that that I really appreciate and then other one was where I was like “I’m exhausted being on set, whatever.” You live and you learn. You get older and you look back and go, “boy, was I stupid.”
Check out part 2 here!