Interview: Larry Laverty

Larry Laverty has been around for years and has acted in more films and television shows than the average thespian… but you probably never heard of him. Larry wants this to change. We had a bit of a chat on his career, with a focus on “Cut”, featuring Tony Todd…

Raised in Oakland, California, Larry started working odd jobs at age 11 and excelled in sports. At age 15, he ran the fastest quarter mile in Oakland and just missed setting a new national record at that distance. At the same time he enjoyed the outdoor activities of skiing, backpacking, and mountain climbing both on his own and with the Boy Scouts, earning the rank of Eagle Scout at age 14, one of the youngest to do so. A top student in school and a daredevil from the beginning, Larry began finding adventures outside of school more challenging and for a period of a few years would cut school to take up endeavors like building a neighborhood rope swing, working on cars, and exploring nearby wilderness areas. Right after high school graduation, his love of country-life got the best of him and he moved to Idaho to live on the family farm.

From here, he traveled daily into the nearby big city to work and earn two college degrees. In his senior year of the second degree, he took an acting class on a whim. His instructors, both veterans of Broadway, immediately took notice and encouraged him on. Now back in California, he spent several years on stage, performing Shakespeare and Broadway musicals, and then one day heard backstage about an audition for a movie. 1989’s “Deadlock” was the beginning. While starting out, Larry also was involved in an 11-year attempt to make the U.S. Olympic Team in speedskating and raced bicycles but once his athletic career was over, he started spending time in Hollywood and immediately began landing roles in TV and bigger films.

Not impressed yet? Read on…

GS: You have done scores of movies and television shows over the past 20 years… why have we not heard of Larry Laverty until now?

LL: Well, like everybody else, I had my favorite movies, my favorite actors while I was growing up, but it never dawned on me to even try acting until I was 24 years old. Until then, I’d worked all kinds of jobs, focused on sports, the Boy Scouts, so once I got going in my career, I approached it as a job like any other, quietly went to work, did my job, then went home. My parents are very capable people, accomplished, but very humble, and I grew up the same way. So the idea of tootin’ my own horn, boasting about or even just talking about what I do is foreign to me so its no wonder I’m just now becoming known by folks who follow movies. Especially since I usually change my appearance for each character I play and am not easily recognizable.

GS: Some of us would kill just to meet John Frankenheimer, but you started your career on one of his sets. how overwhelming was that?

LL: That was back in 1990, “The Fourth War” was the second movie I’d worked on, so I just showed up not knowing any better, not knowing much about John at the time. I was up in Canada, training as part of my 11-year attempt to make the U.S. Olympic Team in speedskating, when John Frankenheimer came to town. I’d worked several days as an extra in the movie with a Canadian National Guard unit playing a soldier in the U.S. Army when we were all ordered to line up. Like a good soldier, I did. Then up and down the ranks went famed U.S, Vietnam Veteran and movie adviser and actor Dale Dye. Of the whole group, he chose to stop in front of me, stared me up and down, and bruskly asked a few questions. The next thing I knew, I was being rushed to the wardrobe trailer for a new uniform and then to the set where John and actors Roy Scheider and Harry Dean Stanton were waiting. For the next two days, I uttered “yes, sir,” “no, sir,” “your jeep is waiting, sir.” Now in looking back, it was a great privilege to be a part of one of John Frankenheimer’s films. He wasn’t out there to make movies to entertain the masses, he was way deeper than that and so are his movies.

GS: I’m a fan of “The Hamiltons” and think the film is much better than it is given credit for… what are other people missing?

LL: It seems to me that lots of filmmakers have set out to paint a picture of how darkness can take over a life. Some have also taken the notion to the next level to look at individuals who had enough good in them to face the dark side head on, win or lose. Mitch Altieri and Phil Flores did both expertly in ‘The Hamiltons” and its no surprise that the film is so well received. I played a supporting role in the film and just wish tht my character could’ve figured in the story throughout so that I could’ve had more time with Mitch and Phil.

GS: You probably worked with no actor more than you have worked with David Fine… how is it that you keep appearing in the same films?

LL: I’ve known David for 15 years now and we keep in pretty close contact since we’re both based in the San Francisco area. We’ve each gone the extra mile to get our careers to where they are so there’s a mutual respect for each other, we play this game the same, play to win. Now that you mention it, I’ve worked on multiple films with other notable actors, like Jeffrey Weissman, Mackenzie Firgens, James Kyson Lee, but David and I have worked on over 10 films together now. As I think back about each movie, we both had to state our cases individually to the directors, either by audition or otherwise, to land our roles, but I wouldn’t have know about at least two of the projects without David introducing me to the filmmakers. He’s incredibly generous that way, to me and many others.

GS: Appearing in “In Search of Lovecraft”, I have to ask you… would you consider yourself a horror fan? Do you know Lovecraft, Poe and the classics?

LL: I watched a lot of movies growing up, all kinds, at the drive-in with my parents and at the neighborhood movie theater with my buddies, pretending we were tough with cigarettes hanging from our gabs, but on Saturday nights, I’d roll out the sleeping bags in the living room with my best buddy as a kid and we’d watch Creature Features on the TV into the night. Bob Wilkens was the host and he knew his horror movies. After a thorough discussion, he’d bust out the movies. So week by week through my youth, horror themes influenced my life and I came to appreciate the the world around me in a deeper way, thanks to the pervasive themes of pioneers like Poe and Lovecraft and their unique ways of looking at the world. It was the actors through, like Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, and Lon Cheney who drew me in to horror, made me care about the darker themes in life and increased my sensitivity to life in general.

Sometimes I wish there was another name for the horror genre. To the average guy or gal on the street the word horror seems to immediately bring up images of chainsaws and splattered blood; but to me, horror’s not that at all, it’s a genre where filmmakers take a look at the often undiscussed in life, the dark underbelly of life that’s with us all the time but not mentioned on a first date.

GS: Aside from “Body in a Dumpster” being a great title, you co-starred and co-produced the film with B-movie icon Joel D. Wynkoop. Any on-set hijinks with Wynkoop or Uncle Lloyd Kaufman?

LL: I love Joel. He’s got a spirit larger than life, and to top it off he was born in Minnesota, which is just alright with me. We had a limited amount of time together on Kristian Day’s film due to our schedules but we made the best of it and got a couple of great conversations in. Most of all, he cracked me up and just thinking about Joel puts a smile on my face.

GS: I know you’re excited about promoting “Cut”, which has a who’s who horror line-up: Shannon Lark, Kane Hodder, Michael Berryman and Tony Todd. With these folks seeing each other multiple weekends a year at conventions and being good friends, did you feel like the odd man out?

LL: I had an outstanding time working with Joe and Wolfgang and their crew on ‘Cut.’ Most of my scenes in the movie are with Fred Doss, Deneen Melodi, and Seregon O’Dassey so I missed working with those other great people who are frequently out at the conventions. I usually keep to myself during shoots anyway though, so I generally don’t get too social with whoever I’m working with. It just makes it easier for me to do my thing and stay focused since I tend to get lost in the lives of the characters I play. I have to say that I’ve never been to a convention but I hope to attend one some day soon and I know I’ll see lots of familiar faces and meet lots of wonderful people who enjoy horror.

GS: Of that line-up, Tony Todd is the only one I have not yet met. Everyone tells me he is the sweetest guy, and I personally think his talent exceeds the roles he is given. Did you get to interact with him on camera?

LL: Tony’s been on my radar screen for some time and I admire him for his success in movies and TV. I’m just sure that all his experience has him seasoned to the bone as an artist and I look forward to the day we get to work together, face to face.

GS: The score came from Harry Manfredini, who horror fans know as the composer behind “Friday the 13th” (and countless others). Was he ever on set?

LL: I haven’t met Harry but I know he’s legendary and has been involved with at least one other project I’ve been a part of. It really says something about an individual on the post-production side of filmmaking when their name is as respected as his is.

GS: Tell us who Deputy Bobby Peterson (your character in “Cut”) is.

LL: Bobby Peterson’s the quintessential good guy. It’s funny. I play just as many good guys as bad guys but always try to instill something good into every character I play, especially the bad guys. With Bobby, I didn’t have to think about adding anything good at all into his life. It’s all there in Joe’s script. Bobby’s a sweet guy who’s been through a lot in his life and he always does his best not to let the bad bring him down. So, as not to give away the story in ‘Cut,’ I’ll just say that Bobby’s surrounded by evil people and his tendency to only see the good in folks blinds him, blinds him so badly he gets plowed into the ground like last year’s potato crop.

GS: I could drop other names you’ve worked with: Courtney Gains, Linnea Quigley and Monique Dupree. But the question is this: is it time for me to stop asking you about working with others and to start asking others about working with you?

LL: Bless your heart for saying that. I have worked with some pretty big names in American film and TV, the ones you’ve mentioned, Rutger Hauer in ‘Dead Tone,’ Lara Flynn Boyle in ‘The Practice,’ Harry Dean Stanton in ‘The Fourth War,’ but after all I’ve been through in my career so far, I’ve come to have a greater appreciation for the actors and crew people who’ve been at their crafts for a long time but are still down a few notches, still fighting to make a name for themselves, still fighting to put food on the table, and still fighting to have a career in this art form we all love so much.

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