“More than meets the eye” is an adage I really like because it doesn’t scold you not to judge, it merely encourages you to cast a wide net and consider lots of data when you do choose to judge. Directing often includes a lot of judging—assessing what you’ve got and making quick decisions and adjustments.
All of which makes directing Will Barker all sorts of fun. Because Will is way more than meets the eye, an actor who continues to surprise me not by contradicting what I already know about him, but rather constantly enriching what I do know.
And—shameless plug alert—he is delighting me right now, as I direct him in an upcoming reading for The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum Seedlings series. Please join us this coming Sunday June 5th at 11AM!
In the meantime, Will’s vehicle. . .
Me: To re-purpose “Sesame Street”—because why not?—I’m gonna start with a “One of these things is not like the other” observation. You drive a good ol’ fashioned truck, not a car. How did that come to pass?
Will: I was born in a truck.
Will: No that’s not true, but I’ve never driven anything else. I had a Silverado z-71 off-road package in high school, then when I moved out to L.A. I trimmed down to the Tacoma.
Me: And how does even that “trimmed down” version work out for you here in L.A.?
Will: Not the most ideal for L.A. The MPG ain’t great in stop-and-go traffic and parking is sometimes a trick, but you’ll never catch me in a Prius. Plus Hollywood needs a few rednecks.
Me: I feel like the “R-word” is one of those terms that only the self-described has the right to use—not someone like me from upstate New York! But Will, what if the most beautiful woman in the whole wide world told you she would be over the moon if you’d drive a Prius. Would you still say “no?”
Will: Why would she want me in a Prius when she drives a truck herself?
Me: Touché. Okay, I’m going to start out with the special aspect of your vehicle—this truck: Your flatbed! Does everyone recruit you to haul crap for them? Because I’m certainly tempted to.
Me: Aw, thank you!
Will: Once I played crazy old sheriff “Verges” in an outdoor production of “Much Ado About Nothing” with the Vesper Theatre Company in a “Shakespeare on the Rocks” production in Griffith Park and was in charge of moving set pieces to the park for every performance.
Me: Every performance? How many performances were there?
Will: Probably about 16 performances, load-in and load-out everyday—several flats and platforms.
Me: Wow, that’s really taking it for the team. But that flatbed is really convenient! And, I am compelled to mention this: Beer cans. Honestly? Beer cans?
Will: Redneck, remember? [laughs] A truck bed is a convenient on-the-go trash can. Beer cans, banana peels. . . Megan Fox. Nah, she might be a sweet girl but I can’t watch her crap.
Me: So Megan Fox definitely isn’t the one who’s gonna convince you to go hybrid. Good to know. Moving on to your back seat: Is that a whole box of headshots? Do you use them that often?
Will: Yeah, that was a box of 50, and I’m runnin’ low. It lasted almost a year. They always ask for hard copies in the audition room. Also, I like to have a few resumes ready in the truck, in case I run into Spielberg at Trader Joe’s.
Me: My friend was once in her car right next to his in completely standstill traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway for more than an hour, so it’s entirely possible! What were those sides on your front seat from? And how long do old sides typically linger in your car?
Will: Those sides were from an audition for “Highland Gardens,” a pilot from the producers of “Degrassi.” Old sides tend to pile up until they start to take flight due to driving around with the windows down. My A.C. is broken. I should probably fix it but all my cash goes toward the acting career.
Me: I love that you also included your front seat “stash.” I always feel like that compartment is the car’s equivalent of a kitchen junk drawer. Staples and stapler—for your headshots and resumes I’m guessing, for when you do encounter Spielberg?
Will: Yep, I’m always loaded with staples for resume headshot attachment.
Me: And two—two!—moisturizing hand products. Plus hand sanitizer. Plus—I’ve heard rumors from your friends that you also take great care when you’re washing dishes. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never paid close enough attention to your hands, Will.
Will: Oh I forgive you. You can actually check my hands on the big screen next year in the new live-action Pixar film “John Carter of Mars.”
Will: I worked as a photo double for Taylor Kitsch.
Me: I love Taylor Kitsch—essentially because of “Friday Night Lights.” How on earth did this come to pass?
Will: Well, I signed up with Central Casting for extra cash a few months ago, and they called me up because Taylor and I have the same measurements and a similar look. So I was actually a body double as well. Not a bad deal, good money, cool people on set, and was mistaken for the lead actor a few times. [laughs] But unfortunately he’ll get all the glory for my immaculate hands.
Me: That’s amazing. Even if he ultimately gets the glory, we know the truth! And I’m now feeling like your “immaculate hands” are emblematic of a larger life of “immaculateness” that I didn’t realize about you. The interior of your truck is far neater than I expected. It looks like it’s even been vacuumed?
Will: It’s actually due for a vacuum.
Me: Wow. You can come clean my car any time. Okay, so on a scale of one to ten, how much did you clean up your truck before you took these photos?
Will: About a one on the scale. I keep her tidy. Trash clouds my brain, and I’ve got enough crap sittin’ around up there. My truck is basically my girlfriend at the moment. I like her clean.