Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Interview with Tyson Houseman

Film Yap has a great interview with Tyson Houseman.

Most actors toil early in their careers, desperately taking one job after another hoping to hit the big time. Not so for Tyson Houseman, who, in his first-ever audition scored the part of Quil Ateara, one of Jacob Black’s best friends in “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.”

He is now starring in that film’s sequel “Eclipse,” opening this June, and Houseman is on top of the world. He took a moment to sit down with The Film Yap to discuss scoring the role, how Native Americans are portrayed, and meeting people who think he’s a werewolf.

The Yap: Hi, Tyson, how are you?

TH: Good. How are you?

The Yap: Great, thanks. So how did you get connected with the whole “Twilight” phenomenon?

TH: Well, “New Moon” was the first movie I’ve done, and it was the first audition I’d even ever been to. I remember I got the part, I was looking on the internet for a job on Craigslist, and I found this job that said there was an open casting call, and it didn’t even said for “Twilight,” it just said “a major motion picture,” for a Native American, age 15-25. I thought “I fit that description, so I’ll check it out.” So I went down there, and that’s when I first realized it was for “Twilight,” because there was a lineup from the open casting call like 4 or 5 blocks long, and it was just filled with “Twilight” fans with books and t-shirts and everything, and I thought, “yep, this is probably one of the ”Twilight” films. I didn’t really expect to get anything out of it, but I went and stayed at the audition all day long, and there was only like 5 of us left, and they filmed me at the end of the day doing a scene. The next week they told me I got a callback, and I went and I did the callback, and a week later they called me and said I got the part.

The Yap: So you were batting 1.000 right out of the gate. Quite an accomplishment. You have a theater background, right?

TH: Uh, yeah. It was really just like school plays and stuff like that, though.

The Yap: Wow, so they really did just grab you out of nowhere. Have you had any difficulty adjusting to this sudden fame? You’re not exactly doing an intependent film to start off, you’re jumping right into the mania of this franchise.

TH: Not really. It was kind of a lot to handle at first. You’re right, it’s this big phenomenon thing, and it was hard for me to deal with it. I just had to tell myself, yeah, this is just crazy, but I’m still like the exact same person I was a year ago. I’m still Tyson, and it’s not really changing me personally in any way. I’m staying true to myself and staying grounded. But other than that it’s been really great, just meeting a lot of really cool people. All the fans are just so great and passionate about it.

The Yap: Have you had any crazy experiences yet? Mobs of girls, or people approaching you at weird times?

TH: Actually, there was this one time, it wasn’t even really a crazy experience or anything, but there was this woman, she looked like she was 70 or 80 years old, and she came up to me and said “are you Quil Ateara from New Moon?” It was really funny. You expect 13-year-old girls to be fans, but it ranges across ages.

The Yap: Something I want to ask quickly: being Native American, how do you feel the “Twilight” series portrays Native Americans? Do you see it as proper and respectful?

TH: I don’t know. I like the way it is portrayed. It’s portrayed accurately, and it’s very respectful. I like the whole idea that they stick to the traditions and the stories, and the ideas of how wolves came about. It’s really cool how that’s introduced. But just the lifestyle as a whole in the film and in the books, it’s accurate, and I was really proud to be a part of it.

The Yap: Speaking for your character in particular, you slowly build in to becoming a more regular presence. Can you tell me about how that has helped you?

TH: Yeah. There were a lot of similarities between what was happening to me and the character. I only had one day of shooting on “New Moon,” but I was still friends with all the other wolf guys because we worked out together so much. So it was really cool. The character himself, he was the last one to turn into a wolf, so he always felt kind of left out. They didn’t really talk to him that much. But when he turns into a wolf he’s glad to have all of his friends back. For me, I was always hearing about their stories on “New Moon,” all the fun times they had, and I kind of felt left out. So it was really cool in “Eclipse,” when I’m a wolf, I can hang out with all the guys again. It really felt similar to the character.

The Yap: Great. Your character is one of Jacob’s best friends, so I assume you spent a lot of time around Taylor Lautner, and now he’s this…I don’t want to say teen idol. My first thought was sex symbol, but I don’t want to say that either.

TH: {laughs}

The Yap: {laughs} But anyway, is that something that has happened to everyone, or more just him?

TH: As far as being a more muscley dude with the six-pack, I think that’s more affected him more prominently than the rest of us, but it’s still there for all of us. I do feel sometimes like I’ve become a symbol. There are a lot of that will come up to me, and they won’t see me as me. They’ll think my name is Quil, that I’m the character, and I’ve had some younger girls scared to come up to me because they think I’m a wolf, or something like that. It’s weird to think about it in that respect, that you’re kind of a symbol reflecting that character. But it’s still pretty cool. It’s for the fans, which is nice.

The Yap: There was something else surrounding your character and Jacob’s too later on, which is the whole issue of them imprinting on young children. It’s not as weird or creepy as it could come off. How do you see them handling that as the series progresses?

TH: I think they’re handling it really well. There are a lot of ways it could be seen as creepy and it could be misinterpreted. I get jokes all the time about how I love little kids or something like that. But the way they explain it in the books is really well-written, and they translate that really well in the movie too. The whole imprinting thing, you’ll get a really good idea of what it means, and how it’s okay that it’s a little kid when you see the movie. It’s really excellent.

The Yap: What’s the best and worst parts of being involved with this franchise?

TH: The best part is that it’s a great time. Everybody’s really friendly and nice. Me and the rest of the wolf guys are really good pals, so it’s nice we get to go to these conventions together, and see each other all the time, we get to work out together, and other films you would work with the actor, then you wouldn’t see them after that. But I get to see the other actors at Twilight conventions and stuff like that, almost every month. So it’s really cool.

The Yap: The worst thing, then?

TH: The worst thing?

The Yap: Or the most difficult thing if you want to do it that way.

TH: Well, I guess with the number of people who recognize you now it’s kind of hard to go grocery shopping or something like that.


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