For most of my interviews, I Call and the artist answers. Every now and then the roles get reversed and an artist calls me and I Answer. That was the case with Will Van Moss. He was looking to get some exposure for his acting and one of his teachers Bobby Cronin recommended he write me to see if we could do an interview. Well, whenever Bobby Cronin calls, I ANSWER because Bobby is the best (I mean after all he wrote my incredible "Call Me Adam" theme song!) I am so thrilled to get to speak with Will about his acting career so early on!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? No one personally inspired me to become a performer. I kind of just fell into it and had a natural tendency towards being one. Neither of my parents are artsy people nor was anyone in my family busy making art when I was young. I just remember putting on these little shows with my sisters, from time to time when we were kids. I also loved singing a lot when I was a child and my parents pushed for a musical education, so it became logical to join a choir at the age of seven or eight. Two years into being part of this regional choir, my mom encouraged me to audition for the children’s choir of the National Flemish Opera. I got accepted, singing "This Little Light of Mine" funnily enough. Through the opera I then developed a passion for the theatrical. I just loved acting out scenes and singing on that humongous stage (it seemed so big at the time at least). I always enjoyed watching movies too, which I can now see has pushed me to do more on-camera work more recently.
I have several idols that I look up to though. Actors such as Meryl Streep, Neil Patrick Harris, Dame Judi Dench, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, Anne Hathaway, Kevin Spacey, Wes Bently and more recently such incredibly strong performers as Viola Davis, Tom Hiddleston, Sarah Paulson and Jake Gyllenhaal (just to name a few) have inspired me to become more open in my acting and dig deep into the character to give a performance that captivates the audience and pulls them into the story. Singing-wise such phenomenal performers like Jeremy Jordan, Norm Lewis, Tony Yazbeck and Andy Karl are the ones I inspire to be on the same level with at some point.
2. You have performed across a variety of genres: film, television, and theatre. What do you like about each medium? What challenges do they possess for you? Each genre has its own challenges and advantages. Most of all I just like acting alongside other people and telling a story that isn’t truly mine, but I get to live nonetheless to the fullest of my capabilities and make my own.
What I like about on-camera work is how spontaneous some of the scenes can be. You have a small rehearsal ahead of the shooting, but then most of it is about being in the moment with your scene partner. Some people say that the challenge for TV and film is waiting in a separate room or trailer before shooting a scene. Though I can agree with that statement some times, mostly I am not too bothered with it. I haven’t had to shoot a scene more than 50 times though, which I heard from other actors and directors around me can be a pain in the butt. So, maybe that will be something of a challenge, if it happens to me as I progress in my career.
As for theatre, I love almost everything about it. The interaction with the audience who are like another (silent) scene partner, the thrill of doing a live performance and the raw feelings you share with your scene partners are all so enticing. If anything goes wrong with a stage performance you have to be quick on your feet to try and fix it and bring it back to where it’s supposed to be going. That can be a challenge, but it’s an exiting one nonetheless.
3. You were born in Belgium, but when you were a teenager your family moved to Italy where you fell in love with Shakespeare and Musical Theatre, specially Little Shop of Horrors and Hairspray. What was it about Shakespeare that made you go, "Yes, this is what I love?" What did you relate to most about Little Shop of Horrors and Hairspray? The first time I was in contact with Shakespeare I was a little boy singing in the National Flemish Opera performing the first-ever operatic production of Richard III. I didn’t think too much of it. At that point in my young career I just did what I was asked to do and sang my lines with much gusto. Then at the age of 14 I had moved to Italy where I had to read Macbeth for my English Lit class. Shakespeare just took me in straight away; the man has a knack for captivating me and dragging me into another world through his luxurious words and enchanting poetry. I quickly read a bunch of his other plays (Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest) and I was hooked. Soon after this I started performing in Shakespeare pieces with a theatre company and became completely spellbound; getting to put actions and movement to the scenes made all his pieces spring to life from the paper and ink. From then on I knew I was going to love performing Shakespeare forever.
For musical theatre it was indeed Hairspray that hooked me, as well as watching Little Shop of Horrors and The Phantom of the Opera. Hairspray had such a strong message of unity in diversity and it tells a story of the civil rights movement that we must never forget. Seeing the cast dance, sing and act out scenes while making such an important and powerful message come across blew me away. I wanted to do what they were capable of doing.
For Little Shop of Horrors it was mostly just the entertaining aspect and the style that drew me in, but also the message that comes with it; "If you keep feeding something that isn’t good for you or the people around you, things will go drastically wrong." I knew I wanted to perform in musicals thanks to these movies, but sadly at the age I discovered them my voice was changing so much that I sounded like a drowning sea lion when I tried to sing. You can imagine how traumatic that is for a teenager who had sung in Tosca less than a year earlier. Ultimately my voice only settled when I had just finished high school and that’s when musical theatre came storming into my life.
4. Then at 18 you moved to London to pursue a degree in science and continue acting. Then you moved to NYC for film and musical theatre acting. First question is how do you feel all this moving around has shaped you and made you a better actor? Secondly, did you finish your science degree? If so, what do you love about science? If not, why did acting win out? Moving to different countries has made me a more open human being and actor I like to believe. You enter a new environment and a new type of society where dynamics are different every time you move somewhere new. This has made it easier to be open and accept new things, but it also has made me more adaptable. I developed one thing I hate though from hanging with different people and moving around; prejudice people. I have lived with different types of people from different nationalities, and through it all they taught me that the most important thing to live together is to be kind and considerate and that you should always be the understanding, curious and kind version of yourself who doesn’t care too much what people, other than the ones that are rooting for you, think. It isn’t that hard to be all this when you open yourself up to new experiences and environments.
As for my science degree, I did finish it; in three years nonetheless. My parents made me get a "real" degree, before they would allow me to go into acting. Luckily for me, I was studying in London and there was plenty of theatre to take part in while working on my degree. I eventually finished my BSC in Infection and Immunology in 2014.
I still love science though. I regularly read up on new discoveries in all scientific fields. I am a curious guy and I know science is the only thing that gives us the ultimate truth; one that is verifiable and repeatable. It is so important to have science in our lives. Especially these days when people just slur out their opinion and think we should all accept it, without providing real evidence. There’s one thing about science that I don’t like and that was doing it myself. I didn’t have the patience and desire to sit in a lab all day. I like to be more dynamic and like to express myself too much to work silently in a lab refreshing the medium of some cell cultures (that was most of the time I spent working on my final year project…). But throughout all this, I learned to always back up my claims with evidence!
Eventually acting just won out, because it was the constant in my life that I enjoyed the most. It is all about storytelling and educating people about someone else’s life (giving them a different point of view), which is what I like doing most and feel most comfortable doing.
5. While in NYC, you have studied with some of people I admire very much (and have all been participants on "Call Me Adam"), Bobby Cronin, Deidre Goodwin, Mark Price, and Erik Liberman (Erik has not been featured YET on "Call Me Adam," but we did perform together in Billy Mitchell's "Villain: DeBlanks" in 2016). What is one thing you learned from each of them that you will carry with you? I very much admire all four of these people. What is great about them is that they are all very passionate about their art, work hard for it and still are so very kind and human. Also once you get a chance to watch them perform, it is a magical experience!
For example, seeing Bobby Cronin behind his piano in a concert performing one of his songs is breathtaking! I will always retain a few important things from him. I actually have some of his quotes stored on my phone: "You are your own cheerleader," "Always keep learning and give it your best," "Keep pushing yourself and challenging yourself" and one of my favorites "Focus on the positive, even in a negative situation."
For Deidre Goodwin, I just love watching her do anything. She’s beauty, she’s grace and she is such a fierce woman. It’s empowering watching her do anything from acting in a movie, to seeing her dance in A Chorus Line and even directing one of the short films I was in. She’s focused and kind but can goof around and still always get things done when the time calls for it. I’ll always retain from her to keep fighting for what I want and keep practicing my art, no matter what.
Mark Price is in my top three of acting coaches I’ve worked with. He encourages me to stay curious, stay in the moment and dig deep into a character to truly embody whoever I need to play with help of my own experiences. He is also one of the coolest, most relaxed and kindest people I know.
Finally, Erik Liberman is a teacher who was capable of making me cry throughout more than half of a three-hour long class. He enabled me to push out something that was holding me back from letting go and just feel to the fullest; to be an artist. I cannot thank him enough for that. It was a semi-traumatic experience, but it has changed me for life in a good way. He is also one of the kindest humans I know, is so involved in the arts community and incredibly passionate about whatever he does. Getting to watch him shine on Broadway in War Paint was an experience I will never forget. He just knows how to portray a character in depth, while still putting in some bits and pieces of himself, the way that only great actors can do.
As you can see, all these people have in common that they are kind and are passionate about their art. I inspire so much to be like them!
6. Let's talk about one of your films, The Ghosts of Ethan Dean. First off, what made you want to be part of this short film? I got to work with the director, Chad Larabee, before when we worked on Chess at the John Cullum Theatre. He is a hard working, talented and lovable man who deeply cares about his projects and is intensely involved in them. Having that previous work experience with him and knowing how he is as a director and human being, really made me want to work with him again. When I was presented with the story, I immediately became intrigued. It’s all about mental health after a traumatic experience and feeling stuck because of it. This was a story I deeply wanted to tell alongside all the other incredible actors in our cast.
7. The Ghosts of Ethan Dean is about a young artist who battles the ghosts of his past. While you don't play the artist in the movie, what is a ghost from your past that you still battle? I didn’t get to play the young artist, indeed, but got to be another lead in the film instead; his boyfriend, "Kyle."
I don’t get "haunted" by ghosts from my past, like "Ethan" does in the film, but I would be ignorant to say that the past has no effect on me. Things that have happened before constantly affect us. Just look at what is happening in the Middle East right now for example. I don’t think I really "battle" with things from my past though. Instead I prefer to let them have an effect on me and deal with possible problems in the moment. I have done things I regret in the past and deal with the consequences when they present themselves, rather than pretending things never happened. One thing I do regret though is not pushing to have done more musical theatre when I was going through my awkward teenage years, but then again, I might have become a completely different person if I had.
8. On your Instagram, your tag line is "Will Van Moss NYC trilingual Actor, Singer, Model from Europe Spreading kindness, art, beauty and knowledge!" How are you spreading kindness and knowledge? Are people catching what you are spreading? To me kindness and knowledge are the most important things for people to live together in a well-functioning society. These two things are also crucial for any kind of artist. You have got to stay informed and stay kind, no matter what you do! There is no excuse for ignorance in the age of the internet!
I always hope, while being entertained, that my audience becomes a little kinder and a little more understanding of other people’s lives or their own by the end of a show or film I was performed in. I hope that the stories I tell through my art make them a better, more curious and compassionate person.
9. What is something in your career you hope to accomplish? (then I will hold you to looking back at this interview after you achieve it to remind you that you put it out there so early on). I will say something I said in another interview I have recently done and that is that winning or even just being nominated for a Tony Award or Drama Desk Award for acting in a play on Broadway will be the point for me where I know I have reached all of my dreams. Of course I won’t say no to getting an Academy Award or Emmy (or being nominated for it). Those will also very much do, but there is something about getting an approval that you are doing a great job in live theatre that is the cherry on top of every actor’s pie, I believe. Most of all though I think what I truly want to accomplish most is being successful (making a living and a good name for myself) in doing what I love, acting alongside great actors and working with phenomenal, passionate creative teams and crews.
10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I actually have a list of priorities on my wall that I try to commit to every day. One of them like you is getting fitter and bulk up, which is slowly but surely improving, though I would like to push a little harder on that. Every day as well I try to improve my acting by reading a play, doing a monologue (or learning a new one I found) or by watching some outstanding acting on a series or movie as well as trying to improve my singing. All in all there is something I try to commit to every single day to improve my life and to get me where I want to be.
Every day, one percent better than the day before.
Will Van Moss is an upcoming Belgian actor living in New York. He aspires to be able to make a living doing what he loves to do most; acting. Will has performed in a large variety of shows in Europe and the States and hopes to be able to keep working in this incredible country.
Will started performing at a young age in the children’s choir of the Flemish Opera doing such grand productions as Carmen, Rinaldo, and the first ever production of Richard III. In the middle of his teenage years he moved to Italy with his family where he finally discovered theatre and musicals. Will soon became hooked on Shakespeare and musicals such as Little Shop of Horrors and Hairspray. He performed in The Benvenuto Theater Company in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Aladdin the Pantomime and A Dog’s Life.
At the age of 18, Will moved to London to pursue a degree in science while also broadening further his horizons in the acting world. He played in Guys and Dolls, Romeo & Juliet, A Chorus Line, Footloose and two spectacular dance shows in college. He also performed critical roles in semi-professional shows such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Avenue House and Kiss of the Spider Woman at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013, which was highly rated by all critics who saw the show!
Will then moved to New York to study musical theatre and acting on camera. Here he performed in such shows as Chess and Carousel, the later in which he was one of the leading characters; "Jigger." Will also developed an enormous passion for acting on camera and ever since he has been the lead in two independent films already over his two years living in New York. Both films, The Ghosts of Ethan Dean and DECEPTUS will soon hit some film festivals in the United States.
Will recently performed in two theater pieces as well; Kiss it, Make it Better a piece created by upcoming writer/director Erika Phoebus and Revel’s End: A Tempest Dance Party, in which he played the lead, "Ferdinand." Will is currently working on an incredibly thrilling short web series, Psychadelic, as one of the lead characters and hopes to continue to progress in this business here in the United States where he can pursue his passion to the fullest.