Best known as Detective Bunk Moreland on HBO’s The Wire, stage and screen actor Wendell Pierce has appeared in over 30 films and more than 50 television shows. He’s also an outspoken commentator on racism in US life, politics, and entertainment, and a social and economic justice activist for the people of his home town, New Orleans. He was also a top fundraiser for Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign.
Way back in 2008, Wendell Pierce came to Edmonton to shoot “Something with Bite,” the werewolf episode of the horror anthology Fear Itself produced by Lion’s Gate, written by Max Landis, who later wrote Chronicle, and directed by Ernest Dickerson, best known for Juice and Never Die Alone.
Pierce and I had a wide-ranging conversation in which he discussed:
I recorded today’s never-before-aired interview with Pierce on April 30, 2008. We sat in the lobby of the downtown Sutton Place Hotel while he waited for his ride to take him to set. I began by asking him about his approach to the craft of acting.
People love Levar Burton. He’s got just under 1.9 million Twitter followers and in 2011 was on Twitter’s Top 100 Globally Followed list. He’s been an iconic figure in North American television since 1977, when he starred as Kunta Kinte, a Gambian man in the prime of life taken to the American rape gulag to be worked to death.
Roots was the first American miniseries and at that time the highest-rated US television show ever made. Burton received an Emmy Nomination for his work. He later appeared in television series about Jim Jones and Jesse Owens, and even played a young Booker T. Washington. In the 2001 feature film Ali, he played Martin Luther King, Jr. And while becoming a highly successful television director, he’s known to hundreds of millions of people as Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and as the host of Reading Rainbow.
This episode’s conversation is from the upper floors of the archives of the Grand Lodge of Imhotep. Burton spoke with me by telephone from his California home in March, 2011, just before coming to Edmonton for the Collectible Toy and Comic Show.
Among many topics, we discussed:
In 1967, actor Scott Wilson delivered a chilling performance in In Cold Blood that put him on the cover of Life Magazine when he was only 24 years old. He went on to appear in numerous celebrated films including The Great Gatsby, The Right Stuff, Dead Man Walking, and Monster, and he was a recurring guest on CSI.
But it’s his work on the highest-rated US television show, The Walking Dead, in which Wilson plays veterinarian and farmer Hershel Greene, that has done more than anything before to make Wilson a star. He now earns more from his autograph-signing sessions at conventions than he does from acting, and The Walking Dead is the focus of our conversation: the physical difficulties of playing Hershel; the dramatic power of Hershel’s personality and character arc; and the series’ outstanding acting, directing, and production.
Throughout this episode, Wilson refers to Ernest Dickerson, the acclaimed television and feature filmmaker who directed many of the most action-packed episodes of The Walking Dead. Wilson also refers to Dickerson in the context of the 1992 Spike Lee feature Malcolm X, for which Dickerson was the director of photography. At the end, Dickerson joins us to discuss working with Scott Wilson
Acclaimed for stunning performances in films such as In the Heat of the Night and In Cold Blood, actor Scott Wilson is and best known to today’s audiences as Hershel Greene on AMC’s adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead.
Wilson got an early boost from superstar Sidney Poitier who respected his work on In the Heat of the Night. Poitier alerted In Cold Blood director Richard Brooks about the young actor who went on to beat out Steve McQueen and Paul Newman for his role as real-life murderer Dick Hickock. His chilling performance put him on the cover of Life Magazine when he was only 24 years old.
Wilson went on to appear in numerous celebrated films including The Great Gatsby, The Right Stuff, Dead Man Walking, and Monster, and he was a recurring guest on CSI. Although by his own description he was devoted to the craft of acting and never sought fame, Wilson is now so much of a fan favourite that he earns even more from his autograph-signing sessions at conventions than he does from his acting. Wilson spoke with me via Skype from the backyard of his home in Studio City, California, on January 13, 2015, when he discussed his approach to acting, and how he came to craft his iconic performances in In the Heat of the Night and In Cold Blood, and The Walking Dead.