"Call Me Adam" chats with actor Joey Oglesby about starring in NBC's Friday Night Lights and Contemporary Theatre of Dallas' mounting of James McLure's Lone Star through July 26 at Theatre Row's Clurman Theatre in NYC (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue). Click here for tickets!
1. From July 5-July 26 you will be starring in Contemporary Theatre of Dallas' production of Lone Star, written by James McLure's about a pair of Texas "good ol’ boys" who go carousing on a Saturday night. What made you want to audition for this show? I was in a production of Lone Star in 2006 with Contemporary Theatre of Dallas and was offered an opportunity to do the show again. I also directed the show in college and played "Roy" (I play "Ray" in this one) in high school. So I have a great familiarity and affection for the play and jumped at the opportunity to do it here in New York.
2. What do you identify most with about your character? His non-judgmental and affable demeanor. Unlike his brother "Roy," "Ray" takes everyone at their best. In a lot of ways he is like a puppy dog, willing to please and be friends with anyone who accepts him and generally concerned for those he cares about. I sort of base him on my Great Dane Bruce: he is simple, easily distracted and sometimes his instincts lead him to make some bad decisions, but ultimately he doesn't have a malicious bone in his body.
3. What made you want to work with Contemporary Theatre of Dallas? This is my third time working with CTD: Lone Star previously and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Over that time I have become very close to the Loncars, who founded the theatre. They have been tremendous supporters of both me and many other artists in the Dallas area, both in Dallas and as they left to pursue their careers in other places. Sue is very loyal and when she asked me to be apart of her dream to take the show to New York, I gladly accepted.
4. What excites you about performing in NYC? I lived here in the early 2000s after college, so just returning to do a play is fantastic. But I love the simple things about it: riding the train to work, the busy streets after the performance, the education of the patrons. Theatre is more alive here than any other place in the world. So to be a small part of that is exhilarating after a hiatus from the stage while pursuing my film and tv career.
5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Lone Star? First of all and most importantly, I hope they laugh. But more than that, I hope they are able to see the current relevancy of the script 30 plus years after it was written. Yes, this is a play about small-town Texas and big personalities and sometimes simple people. But at its heart, Lone Star is about a soldier coming home from Vietnam, struggling with PTSD, trying to find his way in a world that continued on without him. And those things are happening every day, everywhere in this country as we face the consequences of sending our soldiers to war. There is a huge cost (our current soldiers suicide epidemic being the most pressing) of this tremendous sacrifice and, between the laughs, this is Lone Star’s true meaning.
6. Texas has played a big part in both your personal and professional life. Not only were you born in Texas, but Lone Star takes place in Texas, and you played "Guy Raston" in Season 2 on NBC's Friday Night Lights, which also took place in Texas. Why do you think so much of your work has been with Texas based projects? I spent about half my childhood in the suburbs and half in tiny towns in Texas and Tennessee, so I I have a a lot of personal experience around rural, southern characters. I also have a blue collar look and there were times in my career where I really fought that casting and didn't want to always play lower class characters. But as I have gotten older, I have embraced it more and found that there is a lot of range with which you can play these characters. And it doesn't always have to be Texans, sometimes it's Oakland street thugs or a immigrant New Yorker. And working mostly on camera the last 7 years, you learn the camera doesn't lie so you better figure out who you are, how you come across, embrace it and get damn good at playing it.
7. Speaking of Friday Night Lights, what did you enjoy most about your time on that show? Everything. It was my first major film/TV experience and it couldn't have been a more perfect scenario. Coming from the stage where you aren't worried about camera angles or hitting marks, I was given absolute freedom with their filming style. The show shot on three steady cams with the camera operators moving around the scene throughout each take. And if possible they would try to edit the scene from the same take, using edits from each of the cameras to give a more accurate depiction of the arc of that particular take.
I think it is one of the reasons why the acting on the show was universally praised and appreciated for its authenticity. In the audition process, after going through the sides, most of the guest star actors were basically put through a lengthy improvised interview of the character. It was intense, but the director Jeffrey Reiner wanted to make sure we were able to keep up with the sometimes improvised nature of the show. Before the first day I shot, Reiner basically told me, "I don't care what you do, where you move, or what you say, just be the character you were in the audition room." So there was a lot of trust given to the actors, even the guest star ones like me, and I think it shows in the great performances throughout the show.
8. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was always dressing up and doing some sort of "Top Gun" or Weird Al lip synchs or Sunday school skits, etc, as a kid, and I was also an athlete, so it was pretty obvious I liked to be in front of an audience. From an early age, I loved Saturday Night Live and grew up watching Dana Carvey, Chris Farley, and the rest. But I had one cementing experience my senior year in my major studies high school program at Plano East High (outside of Dallas). One of my classmates wrote a play about the loss of her younger brother to a drinking and driving accident and I was cast to play him. And although it was only one performance and just a high school play, the spiritual experience of that night changed me forever. All of her family came to see the show and the beautiful and emotional, cathartic and magical experience I was apart of that night left me knowing how important this form of art is and how I desperately wanted to be a part of it as a career. And getting to be a part of Fruitvale Station last year, where I got to once again be a part of the telling of a story of a son gone too soon was inbcredibly fulfilling.
9. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? Bryan Cranston. I have a couple friends who have worked with him closely on Breaking Bad and All the Way and couldn't speak higher of him as an actor and as a professional. And being someone who really didn't "break" till later in his career I would love to pick his brain on finding contentment in the daily grind most of us face.
10. What's the best advice you've ever received? My mom and Dad have always hammered into me the mantra: "Keep on keepin’ on."
My Dad has an incredible work ethic and no matter the many obstacles, he just gets up in the morning and keeps on working. And they both could not have been more supportive of me following my dreams. Being an actor is a marathon and you just got to hang in. I recently had a friend get a huge lead on a show after years of not much on the acting front. But she stayed in the game and ultimately ran into the right part and now is getting the just reward for her considerable talent and belief.
11. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? That when push comes to shove, I can step up and perform when the pressure is on. As an actor you go through so much self-doubt, but when you get the job, you have to lean on your training and your inner confidence. And when the lights go down or they yell action and whether your across from an Oscar winner, in front of New York theatre critics, or a reading with your friends , you know that you have something to say as an artist and that you belong.
12. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I would fly. I am not a big fan of hurling through the air on compressed cylinders, but I suppose if I could do it naturally, I could spend a lot of time in different places in the world, learning about different types of people and cultures. Plus I would be able to dunk nasty, so I could play shooting guard along side Dirk and the Mavs. That would be badass.
13. What do you want to be remembered for? That I was a man of great compassion.