How are you all? No.... seriously....
I know I usually ignore you when you tell me your troubles and woes, but my New Year's resolution is to be more caring. It usually last about a week (in this case probably one blog) so get in quick.
Over the Christmas period, I spent time in my victim's cave where my interviewees normally hang out. Part of the time I pondered over why authors and actors agree to be interviewed by me. Let's face it, I hang them upside down in tortuorous chains until they spill all their secrets and they thank me for the exposure.
Feeling peckish on Christmas day and with no presents to open I checked out a few smells from the back of the cave and discovered the remains of one of the non compliant interviewees from a few weeks back. He was pretty rancid I can tell you, but beggars can't be choosers and I nibbled on his foot whilst deciding what to to do with him. I knew I couldn't eat a whole one so I threw him back where I found him and pondered on my next interviewee.
This guy was not only a TV super star, but also a film producer and a Hollywood legend. If I say so myself it was quite a coup getting him to talk to me. He's such a busy man. I approached him back in October 2015 before his new series of Westworld came out. Now that the first series has finished we finally got around to the interview... AND ... I didn't have to chain him up!
So here he is. The lovely Louis Herthum talking about the latest block buster HBO series Westworld in which he starred opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins, another renowned actor.
I understand that it has a Golden Globe nomination coming up.
Tee: Can you give us an insight into a normal working day on the set and the surrounding vista Louis?
Louis: Well, a normal working day on Westworld would depend on where we're shooting. If we’re shooting in Moab Utah, where most of the exteriors where shot, it would start very early, predawn usually, and be in an area that is simply breathtaking. I would arrive at set, eat a light breakfast, get into my amazing wardrobe, go see the awesome hair and makeup folks, then wait to be called to set which is usually, when shooting in such an area, a short drive away. We shot the chorale scene where Peter finds the photo in one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. That scene did not take a great deal of time to shoot, maybe 2 to 3 hours.
I did shoot another exterior scene in Moab but it did not make the cut. Though I guess there’s always the chance that it could pop up somewhere down the line. That scene was quite a bit more grueling and took all day and once again, in an incredible setting on a river bank in Moab. If we're talking about shooting in the studio, as was the case with my scene with Sir Anthony Hopkins when Peter glitches, that scene took all day to shoot with a lunch break of course, also starting very early in the morning. Pretty much most days no matter where we're shooting start early in the morning.
If we are shooting night exterior scenes, they start just before sundown and go till just before sunup. If you're shooting both night and day scenes in the same day, they are called “splits” and they start around noon and end around midnight. As for general insight on shooting anything on Westworld… if exterior you can count on amazing postcard like vista’s and from a personal standpoint, working with amazingly talented individuals at every turn and experiencing a feeling of… this is something very special and I am one fortunate lad to be here!
Tee: Are there any highs and lows of working on Westworld?
Louis: Certainly. The highs are many. Like the actual doing of the work. Being able to say the words that are written for me, which are incredible. Because what people don’t realize is that sometimes actors are given words to say that simply do not feel natural. Do not feel like words that a human would actually string together in such fashion as is presented on the page. Yet, they have to make them sound natural. When the writing is spot on, when it sounds like the way real people talk, it is a delight to say and easy to learn. That was certainly the case on Westworld. The writers are amazing. Another high is working with extraordinary people as I mentioned before, at every turn, in every department. These folks are the cream of the crop. And it is very obvious. Another high is being able to go to and work in locations such as I mention above.
The only “low" I can think of is when I was all done. Stopping. But even then, the reality is that there are no lows because the memory of the experience and the footage itself is something that will last forever. Oh… maybe you are referring to the fact that I had to be naked in a few of the scenes. That is not something I would call a high for sure, however I had so much more to think about that it very quickly just became the “wardrobe" that I was required to “wear” for the scene. After all, don’t they call that the "birthday suit"?
Tee: Do you ever get a ‘fan boy’ moment when you’re acting with the cast on the show?
Louis: Well, people may not believe this but, No I really don't. I've been at this business a long time now I've met so many actors. Some very famous, some not so famous and some completely unknown. And I find that we're all pretty much the same though Some have larger egos than another’s. Some like to talk about their work and their achievements as actors more than others but that's certainly not something that I experienced on Westworld. I've also never been one to take photographs on set with the actors that I'm working with. I know a lot of actors do that and I understand why and don't begrudge them that. It's just that for me, the experience of doing the work and then actually being able to see the work on film is the “evidence” if you will, that I worked with that person.
However, if I go out with some of the actors during production, having a meal or drinks with them, and they are people you become closer with, then I do enjoyed taking photos in those situations. But asking an actor, especially someone like Anthony Hopkins or Jeffrey Wright to take a picture with me on set, no I don't do that. I will say however, I had a great deal of anticipation working with both Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Wright mainly because I have such high respect for both of them as actors and of course because of the nature of the scene. I was concerned that I not look foolish but also because of how important that scene was to the rest of the show. In fact, at that rehearsal Jonah mentioned the importance of the scene to me. However, after that one short rehearsal a few days before shooting it, though we simply read through the scene, any anticipation or anxiety I had was instantly allayed. Sir Anthony is truly one of most humble men I've ever met. And considering his greatness, that is saying a lot.
Shooting that scene was an experience that I will never ever forget. I'm trying to remember if I've ever had a fanboy moment. Okay I will admit that I had a little bit of a fanboy moment when I did The Curious Case of Benjamin Button back in 2007. I was brought into a room by the assistant director and surprised to see David Fincher, Kate Blanchet, and Brad Pitt waiting to rehearse the scene… in which my part was very small. That was a bit of a fanboy moment because it was the first time to be in a scene with that caliber of actors and director. Now it’s all business in a situation like that. Not that it wasn’t then, I just don’t feel so in awe of the situation. However, I think had I been placed in a room with Jonathan Nolan, Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Wright and JJ Abrams as I was for the first rehearsal for Westworld back years ago, I may have had that fanboy moment.
However, if I ever had to chance to meet Bruce Springsteen, or had I ever been able to speak to the late Muhammad Ali (I did shake his hand), or meet the late, great Leon Russell, I would probably have a fanboy moment. They all were/are among my "hero’s."
Tee: When you take breaks during filming, do you relive the scenes you have just completed?
Louis: Absolutely. While working I am thinking about the scene constantly and don’t stop until I know that it is finished and that the director is happy. I think most actors do this but I also start to think about what I could've done better or differently but by then it's usually too late. I think more to the point of your question is when I looked back on a scene in the actual film, or TV show, I can usually find something that I would like to changed. I think most actors do this. It’s easy to second guess once you have seen it. I can’t say that I have ever been discouraged by what I see but it seems that there is always at least a little room for improvement. However you have to let it go because once it is in the can, it is out of your control. The editor and the director make the final decision as to how it will be portrayed.
Tee: What were your feelings on playing a ‘host’, and having now completed many episodes, have you ever had the urge to become an android off set?
Louis: I love playing a host. It was by far the most challenging role I’ve played in my career. And I love a challenge. In fact, when my manager first told me about the audition for Westworld I was very excited because I remember the film so well. It was so far ahead of its time and freaked me out a bit as well. As it did most people back then in 1973 but I was particularly excited because he told me I would be playing different characters as one of the robots. So not only would I have the opportunity to play something I never have, a robot, but I would get to do three different characters in one audition! And this is exciting for any actor because it gives you an opportunity to show a range. And should Peter come back in Season 2, it should be very very interesting to see what kind of personality/character he possesses under the circumstances; 35 years of knowledge crammed into a space that only leaves a small part for a personality. So he may not have much of one at all which would be fun to create and certainly challenging. As for whether or not I would like to be a host? Sure, maybe for a day or two.
Tee: How do you chill out at the end of a days filming?
Louis: I start with a very hot shower and usually a long one (but don't tell that to anybody in California) and then a glass of wine, then a nice meal with another glass of wine.
Tee: Can you tell us your favourite food and drink?
Louis: I would have to say that my favorite food is all the indigenous foods of my home state of Louisiana. Well maybe not all of it but certainly things like gumbo, shrimp étouffée, shrimp bisque, crawfish étouffée, catfish, red fish, oysters, shrimp and grits, plain grits. things like that. I love spicy food, I love food that makes me sweat or makes my nose run. But I am also extremely fond of Mexican food and living in California I would not say that tops the list since I have the opportunity to eat it more often. I am also very fond of the quintessential Mexican cocktail, Margaritas. But I'm also a big fan of whiskey. Bourbon whiskey. Jefferson’s Reserve currently my favorite. And only in moderation, of course. ;)
Tee: Well naturally of course Lou :)
Tee: Westworld has achieved a premium cable rating record, and you became performer of the week. What was your first gut reaction?
Louis: Well my first reaction to the show breaking records did not surprise me in the least. I fully expected that to happen to be honest with you. When you have a show that has a pedigree like this, from the cast to the producers and with that level of expertise in all the areas, all of the departments heads, whether it be make-up, hair, costumes design, special-effects, cinematography, music, set design, etc, etc, I mean you simply cannot go wrong. So no that didn't surprise me at all.
I may have been surprised by the number of views the shows received on all platforms each week, 11-12 million, and I thought it would equal at least what Game of Thrones was getting but it's the fervor around the show and the level of excitement that has sort of surprised me. But then I had no idea that the show would become a puzzle, a riddle to so many and that they would be trying so hard to solve it every week. A maze if you will. I don't know that anyone who wasn't more intimately associated with the creation of the show could've guessed that. Though I'm quite sure that Jonah and Lisa knew full well that this would happen.
As I've said earlier, there are no mistakes or accidents in the show. Everything is so perfectly thought out and planned to realize the result they intended. I honestly have never seen such genius in the orchestration of a TV show in my life. And we may never again. That is unless Jonah and Lisa make another show and I am sure they will. As far as my performer of the week honor, I was pretty blown away I have to admit. I'm not accustomed to being singled out for my work in such a fashion. It was very rewarding especially for as long as I've been at this to have someone singled me out that way. It's quite flattering and I was very pleased, to say the least.
Tee: Your performance was exceptional Louis and the accolade was deserved. I also believe you to be a very modest man.
Tee: On a personal note, I’ve been blown away by what the effects department has achieved. How would you and the stars of Westworld rate it?
Louis: Well I'm equally as blown away the only thing is I don't always know what is fx and what's not. For instance, I am sure most people think the flies crawling on faces was an FX shot. That in fact is not an effect, its a real fly. They freeze these flies or get them very cold and by doing so they don’t move. Kind of like when the hosts freeze. And then as they warm up, they slowly start to crawl. So they are placed on a face or wherever, and crawl across it before they warm up and actually fly away. Now obviously they're not crawling on Evan's eyeball as they do in the opening scene of Westworld, but that is a real fly otherwise.
And the scenery was very real as far as I know because I saw much of it. I mean every single place you look at out in Moab is like a postcard. Even the hotel where we stayed in Moab is surrounded by postcard like scenic vistas. Just open your hotel room door and there is a breathtaking view like nothing I've ever seen. Of course there are the effect’s that we know are effects. Like the hosts insides workings when they are cut open. And especially like that effect in the opening of episode 10 when Dolores is first being assembled by Arnold. I mean that's nothing short of a spectacular, seamless effect. So there are some things you absolutely know are effects and others you may not even be sure are effects. Which means simply, that yes, they are all amazing! Top, top notch.
Tee: Do you ever take Pete Abernethy home with you?
Louis: Oh, I think I have lived with Peter Abernathy most of my adult life. There’s a good part of Peter in me and always has been. I have a 12-year-old daughter who is my life, Olivia or Livi as we call her and she likes to be called, so I have that understanding of the father's love for his daughter. In fact one of my favorite scenes in the whole pilot is when I tell Dolores that I am what I am because of her. I am moved every time I see that scene or even think about it, for that matter. I think Peter has a lot of the same sensibilities that I do and the same moral code (pardon the pun) that I do. So I walk around with a lot of Peter in me. As far as the Peter we see at the end of the last scene with Anthony Hopkins, well we all have a bit of treachery in us. And it's very easy for me to go to a place like that if I think about anyone hurting my daughter. So yeah, Peter lives with me quite a bit.
Tee: When you read the script of Westworld, did any part of you want to revisit the original Michael Crichton version?
Louis: Yes. When I found out I was auditioning for the show I definitely revisited the film and watched it again. I have to admit the film was still very vivid in my mind as it had such an impact on me, as I think it did most people at the time. But I did want to revisit how the robots moved. When I went in for the initial audition I asked Deanna Brigidi, John Papsider associate at the time, if they wanted to be able to tell that we were robots by our movements. She said absolutely not, that I should be just as human as I am. After I read she said she said that she wanted me to come back to read for producers (Lisa Joy) and casting director John Papsidera. She told me that when I did, they would want to see that I was a robot but only in my movements between the characters, only when transitioning from one to the other and that they would leave whatever that looked like to me. That we should come up with something of our own. So I did.
Tee: I asked Louis the following question…. Your many fans (me included) are hoping that you will be in the series for the long haul. Are you able to confirm anything?
..... Louis was unable to give me an answer at the time due to the confidentiality surrounding the next series. We can only keep our fingers crossed folks.
Thanks Tee for your interest in me and my career! And THANK YOU Tommy for the intro and all the support you give me! I am so thankful and grateful!!
Hugs to you both!
... My thanks also go to Tommy Garrett Highlight Hollywood for enabling this interview ...
For Lou's many fans out there .....
|Louis as Pete Abernathy Westworld|
|Louis as Deputy Andy Broom |
with the cast of Murder She Wrote
|Louis as Android Pete Abernathy|
Louis Herthum is from Louisiana and started his career as an actor in 1978. In 1991, he joined the cast of Murder, She Wrote; and played Deputy Andy Broom in 25 episodes of the show's final five seasons. In March 1996, after completing his final episode, Louis turned his attention to film production.
Laters Potaters. See you on my next blog.
Television credits: CSI, The Mentalist, Longmire, and Peter Abernathy, a host (robot) on the HBO record breaking series Westworld.
Film credits: In the Electric Mist, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I Love You Phillip Morris, American Inquisition, The Open Road, Tekken, 12 Rounds, Seconds Apart, and The Last Exorcism.
Laters Potaters. See you on my next blog.