Frank J. Avella Talks to
Austin Peck of
The Blue Tooth Virgin
Opposite Photo: Austin
here to read Frank J. Avella's review of The
Blue Tooth Virgin
Austin Peck is a
boyishly handsome soap star with actual medium crossover
potential. Witness his terrific turn as a frustrated
writer in the indie gem, The Blue Tooth Virgin.
I met up with Austin at the Playwright’s
Tavern in Manhattan and was impressed with his giddy
and intoxicating enthusiasm for the new film as
well as the craft of acting.
The Blue Tooth Virgin
J. Avella: What was the shoot like?
Austin Peck: We shot
in eight days. It was gorilla filmmaking to say
the least. The budget was small. The crew was really
small. The cast was small. It was one of the funnest
experiences I’ve ever had. And I’ve
only worked on one job that I hated as far as acting
is concerned. Cause anytime I get to act I’m
just so excited, but this is at the top of the list.
J. Avella: You’re very lucky that
you’ve had only one bad experience.
Peck: I am. I think it has to do with my
perspective. I just love acting. It’s fun.
Usually anytime I’m on the set I have a great
J. Avella: What drew you to Sam (in Blue
Peck: The humanity. The reality of his insecurities.
The funny thing is it was a ten-page audition and
the first time I read it I just laughed because
I was like ‘holy cow’ I really get this.
I get the insecurities, the neuroses. I love that
honesty. I think it’s very human.
J. Avella: Do you think it has mainstream
Peck: I think it does. It’s a satire.
It’s an art film…It’s tongue in
cheek. It has an innocence and light quality to
it. There are some real deep, thought-provoking
human concepts about relationships and people’s
desire to look outside themselves--fixing the void
within by outside means--the pretentiousness of
the artistic process. Trying to be something that
you’re not instead of just being who you are.
And I honestly think someone on Wall Street or even
in sports can relate to that. I like to write, I’m
an artist at heart but I’m also an athlete.
So people look at me and say how can he relate to
Sam…I’m 6 foot 3 and 200 lbs. I like
to box. I played sports all through high school.
I also like to write, I draw all the time. I consider
myself artistic; I’m an actor. And I read
it and I just got it. So I think it doesn’t
matter who you are. If you’re trying to be
successful at anything and you’re looking
outside yourself to fulfill the inside you can relate
to it. And I think everyone does that.
J. Avella: Did you ever have the experience
Sam had: handing something to someone and waiting
for their response?
Peck: I feel exactly the way Sam feels about
my acting that he does about his writing…Yesterday
I did some scenes on As the World Turns
and I’m really struggling with the storyline…there
are a lot of parts to it that are so emotionally
close to what is going on with me in my life that
it’s kind of difficult for me to prepare…and
at the end of the day I look at my co-star and say,
‘Do I just suck eggs or what?’ And she’s
kind and always positive...And I already know the
answer. I sucked. I sucked. And when I suck my self-worth
goes down. When I'm good my self-worth goes up…I
know when I’m good.
J. Avella: The scene with Karen Black is
Peck: That turned out very different than
I thought it was going to turn out. The whole morphing
part I thought would be really funny because onset
we kept cracking up but when I watched it--it was
actually very embarrassing (cracks up) but it worked
because the desperation of the character came out
and I did not expect that at all.
Because Karen kept closing her eyes because she
kept laughing and they were laughing off-screen
so I kept cracking up but it translated completely
J. Avella: I disagree. I found it very funny.
Peck: I’m glad you did.
J. Avella: How was it working with Karen?
Peck: She was great. She showed up the day
before from some plane trip hours away and she just
got right to it. She’s very laid back and
very nice Very nice. We talked about the tiki doll
movie (Trilogy of Terror), which I’m
sure she’s talked about ad nauseum. She was
a trip--easy to watch.
J. Avella: Can you speak to the difference
between acting in an indie film and a daytime drama?
Peck: Time…and writing. No matter how
well a soap is written, it’s overwritten.
It has to be. I think As the World Turns
is the best written and best acted daytime show,
by far. The proof is in the pudding because numerous
actors from As the World Turns have gone
on to do prime-time and films. …You do the
same type of acting on ATWT that you can
do on stage, in film, prime time…but it’s
time…it can be frustrating. If you do a play
you have at least six weeks of rehearsal…you
don’t have that luxury with daytime. It’s
an assembly line.
J. Avella: Did you start out in theatre?
Peck: No, I’m a stereotypical story.
And it’s kinda embarrassing but it’s
reality. When I was sixteen years old I got approached
by an agency on the street and they had commercial,
theatrical and a print division. So the first commercial
I went on was a Kellogg’s Pop Tarts commercial
and all of a sudden I’m getting checks and
thinking: “I love this!” And then I
started modeling…that just became my career.
So I went to Europe and came to New York. Modeling’s
great, you get to travel the world and meet beautiful
women and all you have to do is try on clothes.
It’s a no brainer. But it’s a vapid
business beyond measure. Full of great people, though…The
modeling took me out of Hollywood and I landed back
in NY and I got Days of Our Lives. And
I took classes and started doing theatre and learning
my own craft of acting…I’m still learning
it. Like Spencer Tracy said: ‘it takes 20
years to become an actor and 20 years to forget
everything you learned.’ I don’t even
know what level I’m at. I still cannot cry
on cue. (laughs) That’s a pet peeve of mine.
J. Avella: Would you if given the opportunity
do ATWT during the day and theatre at night?
Peck: I would love that. It would be challenging.
It’s one of the reasons I was excited about
coming to New York. I think theatre is the actor’s
medium and where an actor belongs in a lot of ways.
Once the curtain goes up there’s no cut and
anything can happen. It’s just you, the writing,
the other actors and the audience and their energy…I’ve
done about 8 plays. The only people who go to plays
in L.A. are your representation—if you’re
lucky to have representation—and your family