Michael Pare Interview: "Eddie and the Cruisers" Star Saddles Up for His First Lead in a Western
Image attributed to Michael Pare
Michael Pare has been working steadily as an actor for 35 years, in films such as Streets of Fire, The Philadelphia Experiment, Eddie and the Cruisers, Moon 44, Bad Moon, The Lincoln Lawyer, Assault on Wall Street, Bone Tomahawk, and many others.
Traded, a gritty, period western, follows Pare as he descends upon a Kansas town in 1883, looking to reclaim his kidnapped daughter. The film also stars Kris Kristofferson, Trace Adkins, Tom Sizemore and in her theatrical debut, Kelly Kristofferson (Kris’ daughter). Traded is released June 10, 2016, in top markets and will be available On Demand and Digital HD.
“Everybody wants to be in a western. To play the lead was really magical for me, to be the guy whose daughter is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Clay shows justifiable anger and rage. It was just exciting to be in a classic western. This is my first lead in a western.”
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Michael, I enjoyed Traded, and your performance was superb!
Michael Pare: Well, thank you. The movie was a lot of fun to make.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Your character, Clay Travis, is certainly a no-nonsense kind of guy, a former outlaw, but he has a good heart. What did you like about him and the film when you read the script?
Michael Pare: The genre is something that every actor wants to play. Everybody wants to be in a western. To play the lead was really magical for me, to be the guy whose daughter is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Clay shows justifiable anger and rage. It was just exciting to be in a classic western. This is my first lead in a western. I had a little role in a movie called Bone Tomahawk with Kurt Russell as the lead.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Had you previously worked with Kris Kristofferson before this film?
Michael Pare: I had a scene with him in a movie that’s coming out, I think, in September, called The Red Maple Leaf where he plays the president. I didn’t really work with him before, but we had this little scene in passing.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): The Red Maple Leaf is the late Doris Roberts’ last acting role.
Michael Pare: Exactly. She plays my mom actually.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): And you were in The Lincoln Lawyer with Trace Adkins, another Traded co-star?
Michael Pare: We were in the same movie, but we didn’t have a scene together.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Was Traded a physical role for you?
Michael Pare: Yeah. I’ve been doing action movies most of my career, so it was nothing I hadn’t done before, except jump onto the train from a horse (laughs). You don’t get to practice that too many times. They just can’t allow you to do something that will stop the whole movie.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What started all of this for you, Michael?
Michael Pare: It wasn’t really a choice. I was always a fan. I lived in New York, so I would go down to Broadway to see plays. I was always watching movies and television. But this agent named Yvette Bikoff was a talent agent for a modeling and advertising company called Zoli in New York. She approached me in a bar one evening and said that she’d be willing to send me to acting school and be my agent, if I was willing to give it a try.
After a little coaching, I said, “Okay.” I studied for about a year and a half. Then I auditioned for Joyce Selznick who was casting for ABC’s talent development program. She brought me to Hollywood and in to The Greatest American Hero, the Stephen J. Cannell TV series. That launched my career.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You jumped from that into a leading role in Eddie and the Cruisers. Did you feel pressure with such a significant part so early in your career?
Michael Pare: Well, when we were shooting, all the pressure was on Tom Berenger because he was the big star. He got all the money. He got first billing. They didn’t know how good my part was going to be until we got to the music, and then we realized it. But, yeah, it was a lot of pressure, you know. A lot of people gambled on it. Some people collected (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Was the lip synching difficult?
Michael Pare: You know, either you can do it, or you can’t. I don’t think there’s a lot of craft involved in that. Some people can, and some people can’t. When you see West Side Story, Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer are lip synching. They could just do it. There’s an early movie where somebody’s playing Al Jolson, and he lip synchs to Al Jolson. Some people can do that. I could just do it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Who were your acting idols?
Michael Pare: Montgomery Clift, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Errol Flynn, all the big, famous, award-winning actors.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Many times you play the tough guy in dramas or action films. Have you done any comedies?
Michael Pare: I tried a couple of times. Comedy is a tough thing. I’ve done about two or three comedies. The Greatest American Hero was really a comedy, but it was television. I think I excel in drama.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You’ve had quite the film career. What is your most favorite role and your least favorite role?
Michael Pare: My first one. Eddie and the Cruisers was my first and favorite. That kind of established my career in that it wasn’t going to be short term. My least favorite? I don’t know because you have to be attracted to every role you play. I’ve never thought about the one I liked the least. Some were harder than others. Some I’ve gotten hurt on, and I didn’t like that, but I still liked making the movie.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What was your most difficult role dramatically?
Michael Pare: I did this movie that was shot in Louisiana that’s coming out soon called The Shelter. The character’s all about guilt, remorse, regret and self-loathing. I’m married to this wonderful woman. We have a great marriage, but I can’t stop cheating on her even when she’s pregnant. She walked in on me and a girl I’m spending the afternoon with. She ends up shooting herself and the child that she’s carrying.
My character just completely breaks down from guilt and remorse and ends up being homeless. That was a very difficult, painful thing to play, but it was a great role.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you a method actor?
Michael Pare: I think everybody is whether they realize it or not. I still go to the Actor’s Studio to work out. So yeah, I guess you’d call me a method actor, but I’m not one of these problem method actors that you can’t get to the set. I do all my work and come to the set very happy and just do it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is there a role you turned down that you wish you had not refused?
Michael Pare: Yep. Platoon. I wished I hadn’t turned down Platoon, the Oliver Stone film. Well, I didn’t turn down Platoon actually. He wanted me to do Platoon, but he wanted me to do the film Salvador first. My agent, manager and people that were around me were saying, “No. He’s a writer, not a director. He’s just crazy.” So I had to turn that down, and Oliver Stone became the giant, iconic, Academy Award-winning writer and Academy Award-winning director. That was something I’ll always regret.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What’s coming up, Michael?
Michael Pare: I’m going to do this movie that takes place in Vietnam in 1957. It’s before the Americans ever got involved, and the French have just left. In this prison that I run, I stage mixed martial arts fights. You know, bare knuckle fights. There’s people from all over the world. It’s an action film written and directed by a guy named Jesse Johnson who I did a short for a couple of years ago.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Anything else you’d like to say about Traded?
Michael Pare: I hope everybody enjoys the film as much as I did. There’s been some casual conversations where it has been mentioned about doing Traded 2. If this one works out, we’re going to do that.
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