Rey Marz of the Illustrated Movie Review spoke with Nick Harvey about his career in film, working with other professionals such as John Cusack, Ben Kingsley, Marisa Tomei, and Hilary Duff in the film War, Inc. Mr. Harvey first talked about his role as a blacksmith named Tannen in the sci-fi western Copperhead, directed by Todor Chapkanov and starring Brad Johnson as a gunslinger in a lawless town.
Nick Harvey: After 30 years as an actor, this was one of the most enjoyable films I’ve done. The whole cast in this film liked each other, had a beer together after filming, and sat around and chewed the fat. Brad Johnson, why he was never the next John Wayne I’ll never know. He’s a real cowboy, rancher, and a bloody nice bloke.
Some may remember Brad Johnson as the fighter pilot in Steven Spielberg’s Always. Copperhead also starred Billy Drago, who has played many sorts of villains, from one of Al Capone’s gangsters in Brian de Palma’s The Untouchables to the magical demon Barbas in the TV series Charmed.
Nick Harvey: Bill must be one of the all-time Nice Guys from Hollywood. Off-screen he is like a lost child from the 70′s hippie era and loves a beer and to tell a story.
After Copperhead, Nick Harvey worked again with Billy Drago and director Chapkanov in the film Ghost Town, starring Jessica Rose, Randy Wayne, and Gil Gerard (beloved by sci-fi fans as the hero of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century!)
Nick Harvey: Todor Chapkanov is one of the great directors of the future and a great guy to work with as the rest of the cast in both the movies are.
[check out this interview with Todor Chapkanov from killerfilm.com]
Nick Harvey: I was actually cast in the role that Gil Gerard finished up playing in Ghost Town (the Sheriff) … cast in the role by Todor (the director ) and the casting director at BUFO in Bulgaria. But when the cast was sent to UFO [United Film Organization] in LA for approval, they said I was a comedy actor and this was a straight role. They had spoken to Gil in LA and he had accepted the role. So I went to the next character (the Mayor).
I was a bit discerned about me being typecast as a comedy actor, as I’ve played mostly dramatic characters in my career. But at least I’d been noticed as “something” hahaha by the powers that be in LA and was chuffed that I’d been knocked out of a role by Gil Gerard. And I still had a job.
Gil was also a great guy to work with and we linked up off-screen as well for dinner. As the studio was busy, I took my car and we went to the ancient city of Plovdiv here in Bulgaria for the day to show him some history of the country, which he was very interested in.
All the cast of Ghost Town got on well. As it was a movie that crossed 2 time zones, I didn’t meet or work much with Randy Wayne or Jessica Rose. But with Billy Drago back in the cast was also a lot of fun.
Nasko Srebrev [who played in both Ghost Town and Copperhead among many other films] is a great actor and friend as well. He lives here in Sofia, so we meet up from time to time anyway. The actors of his genre here, Nasko, George Zlatarev, and Vlado Mihailov, are all friends and we all meet up from time to time for a gossip and bitch over a beer.
Now we come to the final stretch of the interview, regarding Nick Harvey’s work in War, Inc. We also cover his earliest acting experiences, his work beyond film, and some final bits of advice.
Nick Harvey: War, Inc. was a step up in pace from the UFO productions. I had a small speaking role in it and 3 days work. I met all the cast including the unstoppable John Cusack. He’s a work dynamo from when he hits the set of a morning to when he wraps.
I got a great pic taken with Sir Ben Kingsley and Marisa Tomei. My scenes in the movie were with Marisa Tomei, John Cusack and Ben Kingsley, so that was lucky for me…
In my scene, I was an interfaith clergyman in the final fight scene where Marisa is in a karate fight with the villain, and it involved her doing a lot of high karate kicks right in from of me. Well I must say, the sights made my day, and how the costume people forgot to tell her to wear sports knickers in the scene, instead of a G-string, I’ll never know, but be eternally grateful hahahaha.
Before War, Inc. came along, what were some of your earliest experiences as an actor?
Nick Harvey: After I left RADA [Royal Academy of Dramatic Art], I worked in West Country repertory in England (stage) and the first acting role I had was as the Beer Seller in “The Merchant of Venice”, then “Day of the Fools” with Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson. My first TV acting experience was in Austraila as an extra in the Grundy Organisation and Crawford soaps… Cell Block 13… and The Sullivans… Spy Force etc… I was also a male model who did a lot of commercials.
Has your approach to acting changed since then?
Nick Harvey: I hope the only way my approach has changed is that I’ve learned more about the application of the craft, from Stage to TV to Film and probably don’t take the knocks we all get in the industry seriously anymore.
Whether in film or outside the world of film, what other projects are you working on?
At present I’m not working on any film projects. I finished a music project with Terry Douglas, a CD. It’s called Broken Hearted Lover Man, no real life reference there.
As my day job, I’m working in Africa as the Director of Mining Operations and Project Manager for (Union Gold WA) finding, identifying and developing Gold and Diamond mines. Exciting huh!! and a lot more money than acting.
As a final question, what would your advice be for beginning actors and filmmakers?
Nick Harvey: Advice to filmmakers … get a good script, good director, and plenty of money hahaha….
For actors … learn your craft well. Take any work available that involves any type of acting, because you learn and develop from everything you do. In the beginning, don’t rush your career, and don’t take roles that are outside your ability.
Do a course in TV and film, learn to work to a camera properly. Rule is, on stage, move your body. TV… move your head. Film… move your eyes.
Learn to be a professional from the very beginning. Be where you are asked at the time you are asked to be there … or 1 minute earlier. Study the industry itself. Learn how a movie is made, so you totally understand what and why everyone on the set is doing what they are doing. Respect them all. Learn something from every actor you work with. And finally, take the industry you are working in seriously … not yourself.
Well, that concludes this interview. Click here for an illustrated review on the movie Copperhead (2008):
Cowboys battle copperhead swarm.