For an actor with with determination and vision, the world is a playground. For Blaine Anderson, he has both qualities to draw from and it has rewarded him with a career that continues to inspire him in unexpected ways. Whether it is a Netflix horror film or portraying the man who created Superman, Blaine Anderson is embracing the challenge and has carved out a fascinating career in the process. In an exclusive interview, Blaine shares the joy of working on “AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics – The Trials Of Superman” and some of the key lessons he has gleaned over his long career.
What initially appealed to you about the role of Joe Shuster and working on “AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics – The Trials Of Superman”?
BLAINE: Initially, what drew me to it was that I could play a character who was a Canadian-American and who was the creator of one of the most iconic superheroes of all time!
How would you describe who Joe Shuster is?
BLAINE: Joe Shuster is an incredibly imaginative, kind, caring, quiet artist.
What do you most admire and/or like about him?
BLAINE: His passion for seeing people enjoy his work seemed to be the pinnacle of him. I heard a story through Rory Karpf, the director of “The Trials of Superman.” I can’t remember all of the details, but Joe was outside a theatre after a showing. I don’t think it was the premiere of Superman, but someone asked him, “Did you enjoy the show?” and he said, “I didn’t have a ticket.” I don’t know if he couldn’t afford one or if he wasn’t invited, but he just came to see how many people showed up and who left the theatre with a smile on their face. What a selfless artist.
What is it like working alongside such a talented ensemble on “AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics – The Trials Of Superman”? Who did you get to work the most with?
BLAINE: It was a great cast. Everyone was incredibly friendly, even the “enemies” in the show. Of course, I was 90% in scenes with Brendan Taylor, who plays Jerry Siegel. In real life, Brendan is my friend. It was a great gift to be able to work alongside him.
Any favorite scenes that you got to work on?
BLAINE: Yes! Without spoiling too much, Joe and Jerry were nerds and they didn’t get out a ton. They maybe weren’t the most popular with women. They put an ad in the paper to find a female model for the character of Lois Lane. The culmination of that scene when we first meet Joanne Kovacs — later Joanne Siegel — is a pretty humorous scene.
Then what was your favorite part about working on the show?
BLAINE: My favorite part was spending 40 years of a lifetime in one episode of a show. Essentially going from being in our 30’s as up-and-coming artists to being old men by the end of it with prosthetics and make-up that our wonderful make-up crews did to us — it was a really awesome thing that you don’t get to do every day.
What has been the one thing you as an actor haven taken away from working on “AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics – The Trials Of Superman”?
BLAINE: I was just so happy to get the opportunity to play one of these iconic creators. It was a great gift that I’m very thankful for. For me, knowing that I can come on set and play this character was a great boost of confidence.
What do you hope viewers take away from watching “AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics – The Trials Of Superman”?
BLAINE: I hope that the viewers will have a better understanding of who Joe and Jerry were and I think that through seeing their humanity, they’ll be able to see a little bit of why Superman is the way he is. His fight for justice parallels Joe and Jerry’s fight for justice.
What was the biggest challenge working on this project?
BLAINE: I think in film and television, time is always a big challenge. For us, it was a very quick turnaround from being cast to being on set. There wasn’t a ton of prep time or rehearsal time. There was a lot of improvisation that happened. It was a lot of fun and a great way to work, but it was challenging. We were working all the time when we were on set.
What was the biggest surprise working on “AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics – The Trials Of Superman”?
BLAINE: Something unique and surprising that I share physically with Joe Shuster is that I don’t have very good vision. Considering that he was an artist, being able to see your work is probably pretty important. That was a surprising aspect of Joe Shuster that I discovered through working on this project.
What has surprised you most about your career to date?
BLAINE: I guess I’ve had many small moments that have surprised me just in my own personal growth. It’s happened so many times — I mean it still surprises me when a problem arises or a challenge comes forward and I rise to meet the challenge and solve it. As an actor and a producer, you tend to take for granted what you know and when you put in the time, you have to believe in the work that you’ve done and know that you have the knowledge inside of you to solve problems. In my career, I still surprise myself all the time by coming up with what I need in challenging situations.
At this stage of your career, what do you think you have learned from the amazing variety of roles and projects you have worked on?
BLAINE: It’s reinforced how much fun it is to play in whatever role I take. The variety ensures that it never gets old for me. It’s always fun.
What do you remember most about working on the show “Fringe”? Any fun memories to share?
BLAINE: I remember my audition, which was humorous because I was supposed to play a CSI detective and I came in and I was wearing a gas station attendant shirt. The rest of the room were wearing suits and had earpieces and sunglasses. I looked like I had walked into the wrong building. I came in and auditioned and booked the role, so it goes to show that as long as what you’re doing is correct, sometimes what you look like isn’t everything. I also have a story from being on set. I was sitting quietly because I was a day player on set. As a day player in the movie industry, it’s probably one of the hardest roles to do because you don’t know any of the crew and you don’t have a relationship with anybody. Basically, you can’t screw up. You have no wiggle room to screw up. So you come on set and there is a lot of pressure on you. So I was sitting on set, listening and waiting for my turn. Josh Jackson, who I went to high school with, was sitting across from me and he was forgetting his lines and dropping stuff in a very admirable and charismatic way and making the whole crew crack up. Then he looked across the table and was like, “Blaine, what are you doing here?” and I was like, “I’m the CSI Guy.” He was like, “I didn’t even know you were an actor,” and I’m like, “Well, here I am!” Needless to say, Josh made me feel appreciated and welcome!
Then what are the perks of where you are in your career right now?
BLAINE: I think being older, I handle rejection a lot differently. I look at opportunity a lot differently when I book a role or if I’m on stage. Just the experience of life and the industry, I hold myself in a completely different regard than when I was in my 20’s. Being in the industry for as long as I have, to be able to create my own work and produce my own things and know what I like about being on a set and how a set’s run and how the creative process is, it’s an immense perk to do my own stuff.
If there were one role you would like to revisit, which would it be and why?
BLAINE: I made a short film from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”. I’m a huge Edgar Allan Poe fan and a huge literary horror fan, as well as film. I took that role on when I was in my 20’s. I was maybe a little young for it, but I just wanted to do it. I’ve revisited that story as a monologue in classes and things. It’s something that changes as I change and I’d love to revisit that role as the killer.
Do any of your characters and the situations they find themselves in ever leave a lasting impression on you?
BLAINE: With a role like I mentioned in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” you try and see where a character’s madness comes from. Sometimes you have to go to places and think about things to find out how they justify their behavior. It can be challenging because when you go to those places, it sticks with you – the thoughts you had to get into the mindsets of some of these characters, it’s not always a nice place to go, and you can’t un-think them.
Has there been any great advice you have gotten? What advice would you offer to other upcoming and aspiring actors?
BLAINE: I’ve had many great mentors in my acting career. Lori Triolo and Michael Simms are two. Breathe and believe in yourself. Sometimes they are the two hardest things to do – especially as an actor- because we are so self-conscious about doing something right. It’s just about being. The advice I would offer to upcoming actors is just to have a voracious appetite for information. Just listen to everyone’s stories and go out into the world and listen to everything. The beauty about being an actor is that almost everything in life can apply to you because you’re a person. To be a renaissance person in this day and age is to be an actor.
Do you have any other upcoming projects that you can share that fans should keep an eye out for?
BLAINE: I co-produced and was in a movie called “Residue,” which is now on Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon. It’s a neo-noir horror film with a bit of action and a dash of humor. It’s a kickback to ‘80s horror films and it’s about a book with dark origins that drops into the hands of a private investigator, played by James Clayton. I play a doctor that has also been trapped by the book. My character’s name is John Masters and I’m kind of like the spiritual guide to help this private investigator along to escape this book. I also co-produced a feature based on the viral video “Selfie From Hell” that I think a lot of people will get a good scare from. It was very popular on YouTube and I think the feature film will produce a good jump.
To discover the men behind the most iconic superhero role ever created, be sure to tune in for the premiere of “AMC Visionaries: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics – The Trials of Superman” on Monday, November 20th at 10PM ET/PT and 9PM CT exclusively on AMC. Then to follow Blaine Anderson’s future endeavors and projects, you can visit his website at BlaineActor.com or follow him at @BlaineActor on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Clip from “The Trials of Superman”:
“Selfie From Hell” trailer: