Good morning from cold and rainy Los Angeles! LAUSD is on strike, and in support of our teachers, I’ve got the kiddos home until it’s resolved, so I might not have time to get super profound here today. But thankfully, we have Carsten to do that for us! This fabulous actor (you might have recently seen him in The Infiltrator), lives in London now, but is currently off traveling the globe). He contacted me for a shoot when he was in LA a few months ago and I asked him if I could pry and ask him some questions to share here, and he happily agreed (Thanks, Carsten!!).
I’m so grateful to the actors and artists who’ve been open to sharing a bit of themselves here. I really think we have a lot to learn from each other. I have a bunch more interviews in the cue, and will be posting them weekly for the next couple of months...and hopefully beyond that indefinitely. And I’m also going to be sprinkling in other projects I’m working on to challenge my story-telling - I’m willing to be OK with not-perfect outcomes. I think that it’s in those moments, when you dust off the messiness of the process, that you find little gems. I have a documentary style personal project coming up that I’ll be sharing here later this week and have NO idea what it’s going to end up looking like, but we can all see together when I share it here. :)
In the meantime…enjoy Carsten’s interview! And you can check out more of our shoot HERE.
JACKIE: What was your very first job?
CARSTEN: Playing a flying monkey in The Wizard of Oz as a 7 yr old, in an itchy brown felt onesie with ears and tail (loved the tail) - in a very eager school production.
JACKIE: What do you do within the first 10 minutes of waking up? Do you have a ritual/routine?
CARSTEN: I made a decision a few years ago to turn my phone off over night, but with family and friends all over the globe my first action is to turn it on to make sure there’s been no emergencies in a different time zone. Then coffee!
JACKIE: What’s one lesson this year has taught you?
CARSTEN: An old cliche: You just never know what’s around the corner. If it’s good, enjoy it; if not, try and make something positive out of it. If that doesn’t work, have a duvet day, then move on.
JACKIE: When you feel creatively drained or up against a wall, what’s something you do to break through it?
CARSTEN: I like to think of it not as breaking through, but circumventing. I don’t get very far within myself if I’m too focused on on the frustration or blockage. It’s vitally important to have things (and people!) in life that aren’t work related; and there is so much out there in this huge world, all around us. A period of engaging in something else not only takes my mind off the negative, but also often puts things into perspective. My go-tos are photography, climbing, and DIY - generally doing things that are of a manual nature seem like a natural counterpoint to what can often be a very cerebral profession.
JACKIE: Whet’s your favorite thing for dinner?
CARSTEN: You’re joking, right? What you got?
JACKIE: If you could give advice to yourself 10 years ago, what would you say?
CARSTEN: Where to start…? Be confident, but never complacent. Ask yourself: are you really doing everything you could be doing?
JACKIE: What would you try for now if you knew you couldn’t fail?
CARSTEN: Not sure it would be worth doing in that case. Is it really “trying” if you know you won’t fail? And the trying is often the more fun. Case in point, theatre. The rehearsal period is often more rewarding than the production run. Probably shouldn’t be saying that publicly.
JACKIE: How did you start doing what you’re doing right now as a career?
CARSTEN: See answer 1 (playing a flying monkey). It’s sort of true, something clicked at that age even though I didn’t realize it until later. There was also an intervention of what I can only describe as fate before drama school, but as a profession? I got lucky pure and simple. I was doing my final graduation piece at drama school in an American accent. One of the people was a West End producer looking for someone my age to play a small American part in a newly discovered Noel Coward play. It was a huge cast of 26, really rare for the stage these days, and most were seasoned theatre actors. I probably learned more about the craft watching them for 6 months than during all of drama school. From there I went on to work with the director a few times, and also ended up doing theatre for the next few years.
JACKIE: When do you feel the most YOU?
CARSTEN: When I’m working. Besides that, when I’m in the presence of animals or children.
JACKIE: If you had a completely open day with no obligations, how would you spend it?
CARSTEN: When my dog was alive, those were the days for looooong walks. These days, alas, either going down a google hole or cleaning.
JACKIE: Self-care: do you practice it? If so, what are your favorite ways to take care of yourself from the inside out?
CARSTEN: See 4. Also, baths, though they work from the outside in.
JACKIE: Dream travel destination: what is it, why, and have you been?
CARSTEN: For 30 years, it’s been Japan, because I felt some magical personal affinity with the country and culture, and I JUST GOT TO GO!!!
JACKIE: Lastly, tell me what you’re working on and where we can find you!
CARSTEN: Not currently working on anything, just traveling on a round the world ticket. But I’ve been blessed with work this year. Roles I’ve played this year on productions due to come out were a doting father of two headstrong daughters, CIA agent, 1940s ‘degenerate’ German artist in captivity, and a cop married to his job. I’ve also been working on setting up a production company which should hopefully go live at the beginning of 2019.