Call Answered: Michael Stoyanov Interview: Space Station 76, Blossom, Justified, Beverly Hills 90210
"Call Me Adam" chats with actor and writer Michael Stoyanov, best known for his role as "Anthony Russo" on NBC's Blossom and writing for Late Night with Conan O'Brien. He most recently guest starred on FX's Justified and starred in and co-wrote the new feature film Space Station 76 alongside Patrick Wilson and Matt Bomer.
1. Who or what inspired you to become an actor/writer? The audience. I had always been a bit of a clown, and when I found myself on stage for the first time in 7th grade, I knew immediately that this is where I wanted to be. Immediately, that is, upon getting my first laugh. I enjoy performing/acting anything; any role, anywhere, any time. But, I've always been drawn to comedy. It's the clown in me, I guess. I've always been happiest when I'm making people laugh.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Wow. That's a long list, but I'll give you the highlights. I would absolutely love to be directed by the Coen brothers, Quentin Tarantino, and Wes Anderson. I think they're all geniuses and I'm a huge fan of their films. For actors, I grew up idolizing Dustin Hoffman and Robert Deniro. In terms of my contemporaries, I love watching George Clooney act; and Cate Blanchett is incredible. I also think Michael Cera is an amazing young actor. Vince Vaughn, Tina Fey, Robert Downey Jr. Told ya' it was a long list.
3. Like many, I spent my teenage years watching you on Blossom, and your guest starring roles on Beverly Hills 90210 and Safe Harbor. What do you think about now when you look back at your time on these shows? Blossom was like my second family. I mean, we were a family. I miss those days and those people dearly. I still am in touch with members of the cast, but that was five pretty special years, and I think anytime you play a family for that long, a unique bond is formed. 90210 was a great experience, and a very challenging role. Most of my scenes were with Jennie Garth, and she was absolutely terrific in every possible way. However, it was fairly grueling; I think when you are playing someone who is dying, as was the case on 90210, it's tough, enervating. But, it was thrilling and rewarding, like almost every acting job I've ever had, just emotionally a little difficult to spend so many 16 hour days in that "mode." Safe Harbor was great fun, with great people, and on location in Florida. I wish that show had run longer, I really enjoyed my part and the people involved with the production.
4. What made you want to guest star on Justified? Justified is just a flat out great show, with great writing, populated by tons of characters that look like I currently look. It was one of the shows I was hoping to get up for when I adopted this more "rustic" look, and when the opportunity came I was lucky enough to make the most of it.
5. Your most recent movie is Space Station 76, in which you co-wrote and star in (at least your voice does) alongside Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler, Matt Bomer, and Jerry O'Connell. What do you like about writing and acting in the same project? What do you get from writing that you don't get from acting? Everything about Space Station 76 thrills me. I'm so proud of this film, and my work on it as an actor and screenwriter. This was my first experience as an actor/writer on something of this magnitude and it was a blast. Though, independent features tend to shoot very quickly, so it didn't last as long as you might think. I did all my "Dr. Bot" scenes in one voiceover session, and spent two days on set working with my scene partners, Patrick Wilson and Marisa Coughlan, who were both brilliant. I guess the thing you get from writing you don't get from acting is that writing feels more solid, more permanent. To me, acting has a fleeting quality to it, even when it's memorialized on film forever. I love them both dearly, but acting feels ephemeral, whereas when you write something it feels like you've made a genuine connection to posterity.
6. In Space Station 76, you play the robot "Dr. Bot," so audiences actually only hear your voice. What do you like about voiceover acting over "in person" acting? Is your preparation process different? Voiceover acting is great because you can roll out of bed and put on sweats and a t-shirt and go do your thing. It's a lot less intensive; no hair, makeup, wardrobe, lighting, blocking, etc. I think most actors will tell you their process is the same, though. It definitely is for me. I'm basically full on acting in front of a microphone. Gesturing, gesticulating and basically physicalizing the role as if it were an on-camera performance. It must look a little crazy to the sound techs on the other side of the booth, but it's the only way I know to get it done.
7. I've read that when you left Blossom to go write for Late Night with Conan O'Brien, you later regretted that decision. Why did you regret it? While you did regret that decision at one point, have you gotten to a point where you were glad you did leave Blossom for Late Night with Conan O'Brien because of where you are at now? That's a great question, and thank you for asking it. I have seen that in the media from time to time, and it's on my IMDb page, too, but I think it's overblown a bit. I think I may have mentioned in an interview, one time, that I regretted leaving Blossom before it ended, which I did, and I do, but I definitely don't regret going to Conan. That was an amazing experience, working at 30 Rock in New York, and I worked with some super talented people like Louis CK, Robert Smigel, and Dino Stamatopoulos. And it led to a lot of other great opportunities, so absolutely no regrets in that sense. To be fair, though, I do still think it was a mistake not staying on Blossom until its run had finished. Those opportunities still would've been there for me. I consider myself a very loyal person, and, in that specific sense, I still regret that I left the show.
8. What's the best advice you've ever received? Don't be afraid to just go for it, because the worst feeling in the world is not going for it and failing, it's wondering why you never dared to try.
9. What have you learned about yourself from being an actor/writer? That I wear my heart on my sleeve. That I'm emotional, passionate, invested in life. And that it's probably better to figure out ways to work with that, than to pretend to be otherwise.
10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Time travel. Duh.
11. Favorite way to stay in shape? I like them all. I like sports a lot; basketball, snowboarding, tennis, racquetball. I also like running, swimming, and yoga. Lately I've been doing a lot of boot camp style classes at the gym, which is a fantastic total body workout. One of my favorite things to do is travel to a city I've never been to and just run all over the place. It's a great way to familiarize yourself with a new city, and a great workout. My least favorite way to stay in shape is eating right. Dear god, I love pizza and tacos and ice cream.
12. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer Briefs.
Michael Stoyanov is a writer and actor. In addition to writing for Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Michael has written for MADtv, The Dana Carvey Show, Mr. Show with Bob and David, and his latest movie Space Station 76. As an actor Michael has been seen on such hit series as Beverly Hills 90210, Married with Children, Baywatch, Prison Break, Reno 911!, Monk, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.