Check our interview with actor Sam Quinn, who can next be seen in Lionsgate’s western film ‘Jane Got A Gun’, alongside Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor
Sam has built a multifaceted acting career, having worked on everything from comedies to dramas and horror. In 2014, he landed his silver screen debut in Warner Bros. Pictures’ ‘Transcendence’, with a star studded cast including Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman. The following year, Sam was cast in ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’, 20th Century Fox’s summer 2016 blockbuster starring Liam Hemsworth and Joey King.
Sam’s television credits include roles on NBC’s ‘The Night Shift’ and AMC’s ‘Better Call Saul’. Most recently, while working on the forthcoming TV show ‘Graves’, Nick Nolte complimented Quinn’s acting acumen, stating his work was “quite good.”
Hi Sam please tell us a little about you?
I was born in Taos, New Mexico, a small but eccentric town in the northern part of the state mostly known for it’s arts community. In the 1960’s Taos became a popular destination for hippies and soon garnered international recognition from the film, Easy Rider, which was filmed in the area. Later I moved to California, where I developed a love for playing baseball. Then I ended up in San Antonio, Texas, which was where I found my love for theatre, acting, and music. I went to a performing arts high-school and eventually returned to New Mexico to continue my theatre education at The Santa Fe University of Art and Design. After receiving a BFA degree in Acting, I moved to Chicago where I spent several years cutting my teeth in the vibrant theatre and music scenes. I now live and work between Albuquerque and LA. When I’m not acting, I sing and play guitar in two rock bands based out of Albuquerque.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
My mom had a badass tree house built for me for my 9th birthday. Not only was the treehouse the best present I’d ever received, it also became the birth place for many wonderful memories. One strong memory was when my friend and I used the treehouse as a shooting tower and plastered a neighbor’s bus with apricots using our slingshots after my mom had told me that she was upset with him for building a tall fence in his yard that obstructed our view of the legendary New Mexican sunsets. Our neighbor was livid but my mom took our side, so, no lessons were learned and we continued our mischievous ways for years to come.
How did you get started acting?
Well, I’ve been reciting lines from Jim Carrey movies into the mirror ever since I can remember, but I suppose my legitimate interest in the performing arts started when I was about 10 years old after spending the summer at a circus camp. I learned to juggle, ride a unicycle, walk on stilts, and had my first experience with performing in front of an audience. It was nerve-wracking. Haha.
Any other family member is in the business?
Both of my parents are visual artists, but I’m the only one who’s ventured into the world of theatre.
What was your first acting role?
At that same circus camp, I played a unicycling Sylvester the cat, from the Sylvester and Tweety cartoons. That was my first role. I remember I wore face paint and huge coat tails and I imagine I looked pretty darn dopey.
Who has made the biggest impact on your life so far, and why?
I’m a total mama’s boy, so that’s the easy answer. My mom pretty much raised me by herself and found ways to keep me happy with art classes and sports, all the while struggling to make a living as an artist and teacher. She introduced me to the circus camp and found the money to enroll me in after school theatre camps. She’s always been my strongest support system and biggest champion.
Please tell us about “Jane Got A Gun”?
“Jane Got a Gun” is a romance western about a woman, played by Natalie Portman, on a mission to protect her dying husband and daughter from a gang of ruthless outlaws. To help her chances of survival, she reaches out to her gunslinging ex-love for help. You don’t see too many westerns these days that cover both romance and action but I feel like this one definitely satisfies both angles.
Tell us about your character Slow Jeremiah?
Slow Jeremiah is a member of The Bishop Boys, a ruthless gang of outlaws led by Ewan McGregor. He has a lazy southern drawl and a threatening tattoo covering half of his face.
How did you got selected for the role?
It was a pretty normal audition process consisting of an initial audition and then two follow up meetings with the project’s original director, Lynne Ramsey.
How was working with big names like Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor?
It was pretty surreal. Natalie and Ewan were fascinating to watch work and always a joy to be around. I definitely took note of how humble and professional they were throughout filming.
And tell us about your role in “Transcendence”?
In the script my character’s name was Drake, but for the credits they demoted his title to methhead #2. He actually wasn’t a methhead but more of a town derelict who, perhaps on occasion, dabbles in methamphetamines.
What is next for Sam Quinn?
Gosh, I wish I knew! What I know for sure is in the summer I’ll be producing and starring in an original short film I wrote, then, come fall, I will be recording an EP with my funk rock band, Virtual Friday. But besides the things I can control, I’ll be back in the actor’s audition hustle.
Who is your favorite Actor/Actress? And why?
Gary Oldman is probably at the top of my list. His transformations are truly cameleon-like and he has an uncanny ability to turn somewhat two-dimensionally written parts into eccentric, highly memorable characters.
If you could choose, what three actors would you really want to work with?
Well, although Johnny Depp was in Transcendence, we didn’t have any scenes together, so he’s one I’d love to share some interactions with. Robert De Niro is a master of silent yet powerful reactions on screen. He doesn’t need to say a single word because his facial expressions say everything, so it’d be a fulfilling experience to work with him and hopefully be reason for one of his legendary reactions. And Gary Oldman, of course, because I bet I could learn a lot from watching him do his thing.
How do you spend your spare time?
Most of my free time is spent writing music or practicing with my two rock bands or performing sketch comedy and improv with my comedy troupe.
How would your friends describe you?
Hmm, hard question. Well, if the adage is true that people carry similar characteristics as their friends and surroundings, then I’ll say that my closest friends are an artistically apt, creative, and eccentric bunch, so perhaps my friends would describe me similarly to how I’ve just described them.
Name 3 things you can not live without?
Food, water, and oxygen. Sorry, I had to say it. I think I’d be lost without music, comedy, and friends.
Do you have any hobbies?
I suppose playing guitar and writing music are my biggest hobbies, but I also love to ski, watch baseball, and travel.
What do you like to watch on TV?
I watch a lot of everything. I’m currently making my way through “Nurse Jackie.” Edie Falco is a killer actress and the show rides a beautiful line between comedy and drama.
Any advice to new young actors?
Watch your favorite actors and steal from them unabashedly. We learn from watching and doing, and acting is no different. I’d also suggest that actors film and watch themselves as much as possible, especially when preparing for auditions. A lot of actors hate watching themselves, but I’ve found that it allows you to be your own director and can help to align your facial expressions and body language with your internal intentions.
What do you think of Social Media?
Honestly, it can be a little overwhelming at times but I do have fun with it. I definitely have to remind myself every now and again to unplug from the cyber world and go take a hike.
Where we can follow you?
Favorite Quote: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde
Favorite Movie: Three way tie between Edward Scissorhands/BeetleJuice/Hook
Favorite Book: Alice and Wonderland
Favorite Sports Team: San Antonio Spurs
Favorite Food: Sushi
Favorite Drink: Whiskey on the rocks with a splash of Coke. Or coconut water.
Favorite Travel Destination: Mexico
Favorite Song: This one is pretty impossible for me to answer but if I could only listen to one song on repeat for the rest of my life it might be “I’d rather go blind” sung by Etta James.
Photo Credit: Lesley Bryce