Victoria G Interviews Sean Gunnell

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Victoria G: What inspired you to become an actor?

Sean Gunnell: I remember when I was four years old, I was sitting on the couch of my childhood home watching Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, and the first time Darth Vader appeared on screen, I stood up and walked toward the TV. I was transfixed by this monolith presence on screen, something so powerful and earth shattering that I couldn't turn away. What was happening on screen had this feeling of a laser beam hitting me right in my spirit's core, and it wasn't a realized conscious thought. It was an experience that activated a fire in me, crying out to the effect of, "I am going to do that. I am going to be an actor. I am going to act on screen and stage." Ever since that time, I cannot recall my life not being driven by my passion to bring characters to life in front of the camera and in front of an audience. It makes me think of a motivational speaker who inspired me a few years ago: "We don't always choose our dreams. Sometimes our dreams choose us." Well, 28 years later, it remains a dream, and a beautiful dream at that!

VG: Who are your acting inspirations?

SG: There are far too many to name, but a very close handful remain deeply engrained in my soul: Daniel Day-Lewis (who raised the bar ever higher and higher with his brilliant and complete transformations), Gary Oldman (showing me from a very young age what it means to be a born chameleon), Philip Seymour Hoffman (one of the finest examples of masterful performance when it comes to both screen and stage), Joaquin Phoenix and Christian Bale (both of whom go all of the lengths necessary as method actors to deliver nothing but pure honesty and spellbinding magic), and my latest inspiration has been Antony Starr from Amazon's "The Boys" (whose micro-expressions and clear cut artistic choices make the watching of his character's humor, flaws, confidence, and sheer horrifying terror truly outstanding).

VG: What is your favorite thing about acting?

SG: It's a few things. #1. It's the joy of spending a finite length of time with these new and wondrous creations on each new production; to sit down with them and feel out their thoughts and desires, to walk their walk, to connect with what makes them so beautifully flawed in their humanity, and it's a daily journey finding myself in them and also understanding how we differ, whether they are moral or immoral. #2. I love that I get to step into worlds based on reality, fantasy, both at once, and that a group of amazingly unique creatives and I get to give life to these wonderlands while still having wholly human experiences. And #3. I embark on these roller coasters that unleash intense emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual catharsis by the end of each day, and as I am on my drive home, exhausted and drained by the depths I dive into, I never not feel like I am floating on a cloud as my soul breathes easily and ecstatically. Because to be able to act, to perform, to face the artistic dragon, is to live my life to the fullest. It's my greatest passion, and I am grateful every day that I am able to live my dreams professionally.

VG: What was your first acting job?

SG: When I was five, I played a wizard in a play, and I had a scene at the end opposite my childhood best friend, Kati, who was playing a witch. That was so much fun, and she and I got to play opposites in a musical a few years later! Professionally, it was during my days as a university undergrad, and I played the lead in the crime/drama short film Larkin. The director, Orin Mazzoni, made a deal with a Bay Area-based production company to make the film as quality as possible, and the amount of crew members, equipment, and locations we had was unreal. It's one of the best filming experiences I will ever have.

VG: What is your favorite project you have ever done?

SG: This is a difficult question because it's hard to choose just one! Haha. I'll name two. Theatre wise, at university, I played the principal role of the ghost of John Barrymore in I Hate Hamlet. Being a real person, I had 15 weeks to study him, listen to his intonations and inflections with Standard American Pronunciation, and fully integrate his extraordinary presence into my own, all the while learning heavy stage combat choreography, dance numbers, and hitting great peaks and valleys of equal parts comedy and drama. It was a tremendous time had! Film wise, I played the lead in the crime/thriller short film Collar. The setting was simple, a park bench where my mysterious character strikes up a conversation with a priest, and 12 minutes later it has felt like the audience has gone on a mad roller coaster ride from North Pole to South Pole. Michael Ray was an excellent costar to play off of, we went where we needed to go, and I loved the constrained feeling in an outdoor and unconstrained environment. Since we made it in 2017, the film has been selected by over 150 festivals, and I have won 11 Best Actor awards.

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