Thursday, September 6, 2012

Craig Hurley: Interview with former child actor & Author of ‘27 And All Washed Up’

Actor Craig Hurley writes a tell-all book about his career in Hollywood and the many stars he came into contact with along the way. From legendary film directors: John Hughes and Oliver Stone to former teen idols: Rob Lowe, Shannen Doherty, and Luke Perry.

Craig also made appearances on various TV shows, including Star Trek: The Next Generation and 21 Jump Street. He is also best known for his role as Kent from Life Goes On and as Danny Larsen from the short-lived TV series, Nasty Boys. spoke with the former child actor, whose career first started at the tender age of four after appearing in a Chevrolet commercial, about the harsh truth of working in the entertainment business and how young hopefuls can learn from the experiences he went through in his acting career. How many celebrities contacted you regarding the uncensored, candid statements you made about them in your book, 27 And All Washed Up?

CH: I had a couple of celebrities call me and they were all very happy that I even mentioned them in the book. It didn’t really matter what I said or didn’t say about them. They were actually happier about the things I didn’t talk about. I took a lot of things out that I think wouldn’t have been good for anybody to hear. But, so far, I have gotten great reviews on 27 And All Washed Up. Everybody liked it.

I originally never intended to write this book. The idea all started a few years ago when I was in the play, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at the Wheaton Drama Playhouse. My co-star, Zak Wilson, always wanted to hear my stories about what it was like working in Hollywood. He would ask me, ‘Can you tell me about Luke Perry? Or, what was it like meeting Adam Sandler or Johnny Depp?’ There were 18 cast members in that play and inevitably all the cast members would be standing around listening to every story I was telling them. Zak would say to me, ‘You have to write these stories down in a book.’ But I was adamant on not doing that. He followed me around for three to four months bugging me about writing a book. So then he thought of the idea to interview me and transcribe it into a book, which I finally agreed to go along with it. During the three years we got together about 20 times recording the interviews and about a year to transcribe them. The book also includes various images that I collected throughout the years as an actor.

TCC: In regards to the title of your book, 27 And All Washed Up, why do you think it is difficult to go from being a child actor to now a grown up actor?

Craig Hurley: Mostly because people don’t accept child actors as they get older. Part of it has to do with the transition not working for some. When I hit 27 and realized I wasn’t going to be on film anymore, I shifted gears and got into another facet of the entertainment business, doing voice over work in radio and television.

TCC: Like you mentioned you haven’t work much in movies or television in the past decade, was that intentional or was it just more difficult to find work as you got older?

CH: For the entire lifespan of my career, I have been on 10,587 auditions. But as I got older it was more difficult to find work. I wasn’t booking any on camera jobs so I was like, ‘I can’t continue to go through with this. Artistically speaking, I’m wasting my talent.’ So that is when I started to do voice over work for about 506 commercials.

TCC: Do you believe the old saying is true, ‘It’s who you know that makes you more successful in the entertainment industry’?

CH: It definitely helps to travel in a circle or pack in the entertainment business. It helps to hang out because this person knows that person and that person knows this person. There are literally zero degrees in separation when you’re in the industry. I can contact anybody I want just from being a part of it.

But then again it also depends on how talented you are. For example, if you wanted to be a director and in film school you shine, there is a strong likelihood your career will take off. That’s when it doesn’t matter what connections you have, but rather the amount of talent you have. So it’s good to pay attention to the people around you that are particularly really good because they are going to be working in the entertainment business.

TCC: Do you think there’s a point when a person should stop pursuing an acting career after they have tried everything and now consider it a waste of time?

CH: If an individual ever gets to a point like me when I was 27 and realized I wasn’t going to be in film anymore it’s best to find something else that you would love to do in the industry. My girlfriend, Katie Barberi, once told me, ‘If I never made it as an actress, I would love to have been a casting director.’ In her heart she loves the casting arena, but fortunately she never had to go down that avenue because she is doing well in her career path as an actress. In fact, she was recently nominated Best Supporting Actress on Telemundo. So that is the best advice I could give, just go into another facet in the entertainment business.

TCC: In your book you encourage actors to embrace stereotypical roles in order to be remembered. But don’t you think that cuts both ways because you can be a typecast by always playing the same type of roles, or maybe you’ll get limited roles because of playing a memorable character?

CH: I say take any role that is offered to you, but up to a certain point. When I was doing commercials, I just didn’t like pitching products I did not believe in. But as far as stereotypes are concerned I’m sure Christian Bale loves the fact that he’s known as Batman and thus stereotyped into that character. I personally would have loved to have been stereotyped into something. Everyone should accept exactly what they are given and then move on from there. But if you are talented enough you can move out of whatever stereotype role you’re put into.

TCC: Lately stars that have been in the industry for decades have stated in interviews that Hollywood has dramatically changed and it isn’t what it used to be. Some are even considering retiring because of this. Do you agree with them that Hollywood has changed?

CH: Yes, and I think reality shows have a lot to do with that. First of all, these types of shows like Jersey Shore are not real, in fact, not one cast member is even from Jersey - I mean, what the hell is that? To me that’s fake. The only exception are reality shows that involve helping people like the Dr. Drew show, now those shows I get, but if your going to be sitting there letting the cable T.V. wash over you for half an hour at least watch something that is real. People that are on these shows become famous so quickly like Snooki nobody knew who she was a couple of years ago and now she has become a household name. I’m like, ‘Who is she? She’s not talented. There is nothing to her.’ These types of shows only focus on building drama that is just fake.

I can see why people think Hollywood has changed because you can be a celebrity almost instantly but you can drop out just as quickly. Look at the show The Bachelor. Nobody remembers the names of the people on the first season of that show and they were huge 10 years ago. In a few years no one is going to give a sh*t who Snooki is, but they will give a sh*t about (excuse my language) Robert Downey Jr. Even if he screws up again, even if he starts taking crack again and does something stupid people will care because of who he is and how talented he is. So I could understand the frustration that talented actors would experience when they have to work along side someone with little to no talent at all. They would be like, ‘This really sucks that I have to be in a movie with this person that pretty soon won’t even be relevant anymore.’

TCC: I agree, but I also think there is more popularity for bad behavior rather than actual talent.

CH: Yes! (Laughs) though bad behavior has always been publicized in Hollywood, it’s more about who’s throwing which glass of wine in who’s face. It’s gotten pretty lame how someone can spark a drama that makes no sense at all and for no reason. That is something I just don’t understand.

TCC: If you had to do it over again would you have still continued to pursue an acting career as a kid?

CH: I believe so, but I had other passions besides acting. Growing up I was really into singing and playing drums. Which is why I’ve have been so busy focusing on the soundtrack of an independent film, Crazy, which my production company, Scrappy Co. Productions is right now editing. To me, the music in this film is so important. That is why I would highly recommend actors to rely on their other talents so you can use them at any time in their career.

For information about ‘27 And All Washed Up’ as well as Craig Hurley’s other film projects please visit his website:.

Written by: Bridget Campos


Book Cover
Image Courtesy of Scrappy Co. Publication  

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