We all have those actors we discover when we’re young and follow through out their careers. Corin Nemec happens to be one of those actors for me. I first saw him at 16 or 17 when I saw “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.” Like most people I really enjoyed that show. It was fun and an intelligent comedy. The next thing I saw him in was Stephen King’s “The Stand.” This is where I saw what he could actually do as an actor, and I fell in love with his acting. Corin managed to stand out in what I consider an amazing cast. Which is not an easy task to do. From that point on I started to follow his career.
Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Corin. What I found is not only is Corin, a good actor but he’s very smart, well spoken, humble, and self-effectuating. Keep reading to see what we talked about.
The Star Trek franchise is very well-respected within the Sci-Fi community. What was it like being cast in Star Trek: Renegades?
It was cool. I mean I wasn’t sure what the show was all about at first. (laughs). I had a couple of business associates that were involved in it in some respects. Behind the scenes and a little bit on camera. So I got involved through a few relationships that I had. I’m happy it worked out. It’s cool to be a part of the project, and I love the idea of being the captain of a Starfleet ship as well.
Can you describe Captain Alvarez for our readers?
I kind of look at Alvarez as rough around the edges. There wasn’t a whole lot of back story to the character that’s revealed in the episode but, that said, I just try to play him as a rough around the edges character, not exactly your most polished Starship commander. While also being highly dedicated and motivated.
Walter Koenig is playing Admiral Chekov in ST: Renegades. How did it feel having an original Star Trek actor on set?
We didn’t have any scenes together, but I was surprised when I saw him on set. I thought that was pretty cool! It would have been nice to have done some work with him.
How did you get into acting?
I got into acting when I was about 12 years old at a company called Center Stage Los Angeles. Kevin McDermott was the artistic director there. It’s predominately a youth-oriented acting school. I got involved there because of a friend of mine (David Van Gorder). I was in school with David at the time. He was already acting professionally. He was known at that point for being Waldo in the Van Halen “Hot for Teacher” music video.
I had just moved out from Atlanta GA, so I didn’t know too many people. He and I became quite good friends, and I got into the acting class that he was already involved with. About six to eight months later we did a showcase for agents and managers. I signed with an agent shortly after that and started auditioning.
It was an organic process. It was good that I got involved in my younger years. For people who start acting when they’re already out of high school there’s a lot of responsibility on them. They have to juggle trying to develop/create a career while also enjoying the process of becoming and doing acting. So that was awesome as a child actor. That was amazing.
You started professionally acting at a very young age and have managed to transition into acting as an adult. How did you manage this without going down a darker path as some of your contemporaries have?
I think for me it was really because I was more interested in the acting aspect of it. I remained in acting classes and workshops from age 12 through my time on “Parker Lewis” and even after that. All the way into my 30’s. I studied from my early 20’s into my 30’s at the American Repertory Company in Los Angeles.
The artistic director was a gentleman named Manu Tupou. He passed away in 2004 and it was a big loss for me. Being grounded and remaining in theater companies and acting workshops are what I attribute the majority of my success to. They helped me navigate going from child actor to adult actor without so many hiccups. That and trying to remain ego-free about the whole process in regards to auditioning for projects that other people may not want.
I had an experience in my early 20’s where my ego got in the way of my auditioning process, and I lost a really good job because of it. I felt like I had done enough work that I shouldn’t have to go and do a preread with the casting person. I should just go in for the producers, and I blew a really big opportunity, because of that decision. So I decided there and then that I would never let that happen again. The willingness to just audition (like I did when I started out as a young actor) and not have the ego about it is also certainly a factor in being able to navigate through that transition.
How do you prepare for your roles?
It just depends on the character. The main thing I really focus on is what they are giving me in the script. I try not to over think the character too much. I go through different phases of trying different techniques out, different methods out. I found that being overly zealous about the character development has sometimes cornered me. I try and create the character, the dynamics of the character, and then naturally memorize my script, but I try to remain loose enough to be able to take creative direction and apply it accurately without being too caught up in my own choices.
I’ll make choices, but those choices will be tentative decisions that I’ll try out on the day. If they work great. If they don’t, then it’s good to be able to be loose enough to try different ways of performing the scene.
You have done a lot of impressive work. How do you decide which characters you want to play?
I enjoy comedy. I enjoy drama. I like all different genres. It’s not that I’m so specific towards any one type of role or character or anything like that. I’m just open to whatever comes across my desk that has something to the character. I like developing it out from there.
I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of different types of roles in a lot of different genres in different kinds of films. From broad comedy to subtle comedy to heavy drama. From horror to sci-fi. Bad guys, good guys, boring guys, fun guys, etc. You know what I mean? (laughs). I like to try all different types of roles.
You have worked with many amazingly talented actors and actresses. What is the best piece of advice one of them has given you?
Oddly enough it’s not really related to onset performing. I did the movie “Tucker” with Jeff Bridges. I played one of his sons when I was about 12 years old; Frances Ford Coppola directed that. It was after work and I was getting ready to leave set and my dressing room door was open. All my clothes were in a pile on the couch and Jeff was walking by on his way to leave and he stopped to say good-bye. He noticed all of my stuff piled up on the sofa. This was one of my first jobs, so I was a bit of a novice when it comes to what is being extra professional on set. (laughs). He said to me that I should hang up my clothes the way that they put them in the room. I should hang them up in the closet the same way that they brought them to me because all of the other departments have to work longer hours than us.
They have to show up before we get to set and they have to leave after we leave set. So the more that we can do to help them get out of there the quicker the better off they are and I’ve done that ever since. No matter what the size of the project is. Whether it’s an indie film, a major network TV show, a significant feature, or anything in between I’ve always tried to be conscious of everybody else’s efforts on the team.
One of your first TV appearances was in a movie called “I Know My First Name Is Steven.” Did you feel a deeper responsibility playing a person as opposed to playing a character?
Well I certainly felt a certain amount of responsibility to the overall nature of what the story line is. I’m not sure what to really say as far as what the outcome of that whole experience was. The real Steven Stayner passed away the night before the Emmys, and I didn’t meet with Stephen before production. What I did though is I worked with an acting teacher named John Land who was a senior member of The Actor’s Studio. I believe he was used to working with adult actors. I think I was 15. I had just turned 15 at the time I was doing that project. He had an intense way of developing characters and his rehearsal process was really, really intricate and detailed. I worked with him for about three weeks leading up to production.
By the time I walked on set, I was so well rehearsed with the scenes and where I needed to be that it wasn’t a heavy emotional experience doing the film. It was far more emotional for the people viewing the movie than it was for me performing it. For the most part, even though a lot of the scenes appeared to be incredibly dramatic and uncomfortable, the actual experience that I had making it was somewhat the opposite.
I didn’t have a massive emotional hangover from doing a lot of those scenes. Which a lot of actors do have. I tried to work from the character’s point of view instead of relying on negative experiences that I’d had that had a substantial emotional impact on me in order to generate emotion for the character. I just tried to rely on believing in what the character was going through. At the end of the day, I was kind of able to box all of that up and put it away and not take it with me when I left the set. Whereas people who use the method and utilize past experiences that have had a substantial emotional impact on them, it’s hard to shake that off at the end of the day. Sometimes they end up wearing that around for a while or wearing it around all the time.
I love the consistency when you’re working on a TV series. There’s something great about knowing what your year looks like ahead of time.
With that said the writing on that show, the directing on that show, the producing, all of it was just so ahead of the curve in terms of what most people were doing on television at that time. It was very cutting edge. I was so excited to get each script and I was excited to see each episode when it was finished. I would get early release tapes. As soon as it was hot off the presses, I would get a copy. I had that in my contract actually. I would get a copy of each episode as soon as it was done and go home and watch it.
I was as big of a fan of the show, and I wouldn’t watch it going “Oh hey look I’m on the show. That’s so cool.” I’d look at it like I wasn’t in the show. I was a huge fan of that show. It was so well done, and it was a lot of fun to work on.
In “The Stand” you play Harold Lauder. Was playing Harold a conscious decision to distance yourself a bit from Parker Lewis and to show that you were capable of playing more dramatic roles?
Well no it wasn’t specific to that. During each hiatus that we had when we weren’t in production on “Parker Lewis,” I would do a movie of the week. One year I did another one, I think, called “Summer of Fear”. There’s one called “My Son Johnny” (with Rick Schroder). I did a number of them. Every hiatus I did a different one in order to keep my dramatic acting out there. So that I wouldn’t be pigeon-holed as a comedic actor. Previous to “Parker Lewis” I had just gotten an Emmy nomination for my dramatic acting. So I wanted to make sure that I kept up that side of things as well.
As a matter of fact, I had auditioned for Mick Garris (the director of “The Stand”) two years before it for a movie called “Sleepwalkers.” He had said that he really wanted me for “Sleepwalkers” but I didn’t have the physical appearance that they wanted for it. He wanted me, but the producers said no. They went with somebody else.
When they were trying to cast “The Stand”, at least the story that I’ve been told is they couldn’t find anybody that fit the description of Harold Louder, so they went to New York, Chicago, San Francisco, L.A., Miami. A bunch of different places to try to cast that character. Mick Garris kept telling Stephen King that he knew an actor that could do the role but didn’t look the part. Stephen finally acquiesced and allowed me to come in and audition for it.
When I got the breakdown for it I was like “I don’t even know why they’re bringing me in for this part” (laughs). Based on the character description I wasn’t a good fit. But I went in and I auditioned, regardless of whether I looked the part or not, and I performed the role, and Stephen King went for it. He said “Yeah I totally buy it. Let’s do it.” They ultimately cast against the character description and put me in it and I was just so excited and honored to be cast in that mini-series.
It was such an epic mini-series, and it had such an incredible, incredible line-up of talent. To be listed alongside all of those other actors, even to this day I’m very excited to have been a part of that particular project.
What was it like working on “Operation Dumbo Drop” with an elephant?
(laughs) Fantastic! I mean that was probably one of the best parts about it. I was allowed to ride the elephant. The elephant trainer there said that the best thing to do is to spend as much time around/with and on the elephant as possible. That way she’d be really, really comfortable with me. So when we did our scenes, she’d…well there’s different kind of hand signals you can do. Like with touching them on the top of their head. You kind of tap one side or the other side, you pull an ear, and they’ll turn and go whichever way.
You can actually do it when you’re riding, and you can kind of control the elephant without looking at her. You’re controlling the elephant’s behaviors and movements. You can make the elephant stand up on its legs by pulling or tugging on its ears but when you’re filming you won’t see that necessarily. They also had a trainer right off camera too that was doing their thing but it was unbelievable. It was a really amazing experience to be able to get to know one of my favorite animals in the world. To actually get to know one. If you could compare them to the behavior of an animal they’re kind of like dogs. They’re very sensitive and they’re very emotional. They’re actually quite loving. Elephants gone wild is a very unusual thing.
When you joined the cast of Stargate SG-1, it had already been in production for a few years. What was it like for you to join the established cast?
For me, it was really exciting actually. I mean I knew that I was going onto a show that was very well received by its audience. That had a really strong ratings presence on the global scene and was very well written, well produced, well directed show. The genre is right up my alley. I was a huge fan of the original film. Even though the movie didn’t do so well in the movie theaters. Which really surprised me because I saw it when it came out at the movie theaters and I just thought it was fantastic.
So I was very excited to have been given the opportunity to come on board. Even if it was for just a little over one season. That alone was a great experience for me as an actor, and everybody on the set was really cool. Chris Judge and RDA. Donnie Davis was just fantastic. He and I got along really well. He was from southern Missouri, and my family is from that region as well. We got along really well, just a couple of southern boys. (laughs).
You and David Faustino starred in a web series called “Star-ving.” What prompted the two of you to spoof your life in Hollywood and make it into a web series?
We had been trying to shop some other shows. They were kind of like farcical reality shows. We had come up with a number of gimmicky reality shows. One of them was something like “David Faustino’s Dog House” and it was one of those false/fake versions of those MTV shows where they all live in the same house. Like a “Real World” type of thing but you’d have a bunch of people who want to become Faustino’s best bud, but it’s like “I’m his best bud.”
They’d all come and live in a mansion together, and he’d put them through a series of tasks to see which one of them messes up, and they’d have to be in the dog house. Which was in the backyard and you literally would have to go live in a dog house for a day or whatever and if he considered you one of his dogs you’d get a dog collar. Stupid stuff like that.
We’d go, and we’d pitch all these shows, and the problem was that the versions of what the networks wanted to do were really more along the lines of “The Two Coreys” or something like that. Where it’s like, they were the ones in charge of making fun of us. Not us being in charge of making fun of us and that was imperative to us. So one of our writing partners, Todd Bringewatt, came up with a basic treatment on his own for “Star-ving.” Which was based on the idea that “Hey if you guys wanna make fun of yourselves and just have it be yourselves, trying to reinvent yourselves then do it yourselves.” He delivered us the rough treatment for “Star-ving.” Which we were lambasting ourselves.
That developed once we got Sam Kass involved. He was a writer/producer of “Seinfeld” and some other stuff. He’s a great comedic writer. He was the fourth member of the writing team and producing team. We put it together and we shot a teaser for it and the teaser was really hilarious. We took that to a lot of networks and we came so close to selling it to major networks on a number of occasions but ended up going over to Sony TV and they bought it for Crackle, their online division which was perfect for us. So we did short format episodes which were eight to 10 minutes instead of 22 minutes.
It was just a lot of fun. We had a great time making it and I really think that we pulled it off. It’s not on anywhere anymore as far as online goes. I don’t know if it can be purchased through Amazon or elsewhere at this point anymore. They had it for sale for a while but it’s been pulled from the internet. We actually successfully offended a number of people at Sony Television with some of the content (laughs), but they had script approval, and they approved all of our scripts before they went into production. We got feedback after we turned in edited episodes and when we offended people we had to re-edit some stuff and take some stuff out. We were like “all of this is in the scripts.” So we determined that they likely didn’t read any of the scripts because they would have gotten wind of what we were up to in advance of when we shot it. With that said it is a real bummer that it is no longer available online.
What has acting meant to you?
It means the world to me really. It’s what I love to do. It’s my passion. It’s my career. Acting means everything to me.
You have done a lot of work in the Sci-Fi genre. Is that a genre that is close to your heart?
Yeah of course. It definitely is. I’m from The “Star Wars” generation. The original “Star Wars” movie came out when I was around seven years old. I remember going to see it with my mom and my sister, and there was a huge line. It went all the way around the block of the movie theater. The level of excitement for this film was palpable, and I just recall being in the movie theater watching it in absolute awe. My jaw dropped at how believable the whole world was. Not only visually believable but the way the story was told made it seem like this world could exist.
Both my mom and dad are artists. My mom was a graphic artist in the theater and film business most of my life. My dad was an architect at first and then got involved in the movie and television business in the early 80’s. He worked his way up from being a set designer to an art director to a production designer. He was an art director on the movie “The Goonies” and his whole function on that was designing the interior of the ship set and he did a phenomenal job.
That movie was really the movie that made me want to become an actor. When I saw that and understood what it took to make films (I had been on sets that my dad had worked on) I was like “I wanna have that experience. I wanna go on an adventure like those kids went on.” Even though I know, it’s fake when they put it all together at the end it’s like it was real. That’s really what made me get into acting.
What is it about art that means so much to you?
I just really enjoy the expression of it. Having an artistic outlet is just having a way of expressing myself. Especially my creativity and having something to do with my time. Something interesting to do with my time.
Which artists and what type of art inspires you?
The three artists that I think I’ve been the biggest fan of over the years are M. C. Escher, Frank Frazetta (he did a lot of the old “Heavy Metal” magazine covers) and Rick Griffin (who did all the “Grateful Dead” album covers). Those three are pretty much my three favorite artists whose work I’ve enjoyed over the years again and again and again. I always go back to it.
Well, I was a break dancer when I was a little kid, and I was in a break dancing crew. My break dancing name was Kid Cruise. (laughs). We’d break dance behind movie theaters and have battles with other teams. We’d tag our name on the trash cans. We’d do little bubble letters or whatever. Eventually, when I got to be a preteen around 12 years old or so, 13, I moved from Atlanta to L.A. I was already interested in graffiti art because of the break dancing scene, the hip-hop scene, that was the artistic expression of hip-hop. So I was familiar with it.
When I was living in Atlanta, there’s was an artist out of New York named Seen who is very famous for bombing (Editorial note: Not as in explosions) trains and stuff in New York. He went out to L.A., and he bombed the Hollywood sign. He’s one of the first and only people to do that size of a mural on the Hollywood sign itself. It made the news. It made national news. I remember seeing it on the news in Atlanta, and I was like “OMG that’s just like so epic! I wanna do stuff like that.”
We ended up moving from Atlanta to Los Angeles, and break dancing had kind of become taboo at that time and kids that I was in school with, in some of my classes were doing graffiti art. I just saw what level they were at in terms of what they were drawing vs. where I was at, and I was like “Oh I gotta take it to the next level.” I just started getting really into it, and I started painting walls. It just became so much more real and fun. The adventure of finding a place to paint and driving there and going down some abandoned railroad tracks, a bunch of abandoned stuff, being in the hood, and the danger of it. It’s an interactive art form. You’re not just trapped inside of your house.
I also got involved with journalistic style photography while I was traveling. I was taking a lot of pictures. I still use a 35mil camera. I don’t use digital. That’s been a lot of fun. I did an album cover for Mickey Avalon for his first album (the rapper Mickey Avalon). His very first album is one of my photographs.
How do you, as an artist, feel about arts programs being defunded in schools?
The loss of arts programs in schools is an enormous tragedy. Not giving young people the options to have a way of expressing themselves in an artistic medium is a real, real tragedy. I see that happening a lot across the US. Art programs are just disappearing at an alarming rate. It’s definitely a tragedy because a lot of kids who are artistic could benefit from these types of classes and courses. That expression that needs to come out of them is going to come out one way or another. So it’s always better to have that option.
Are there any upcoming projects you would like to share with our readers?
I have a number of films coming out. A Sci-Fi film for the Syfy channel called “Drone Wars”. That should be coming out early next year. An action comedy called “Doomsday Device,” which also may or may not release on Syfy. I don’t know yet. It is kind of in the vein of a “Big Trouble In Little China.” It doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s got some great comedic moments. It was a lot of fun to do. Then I have a film called “Puppy Love” it’s a kid’s movie that’s coming out hopefully sometime next year. And I have a horror movie called “Hunted: 333.” That also should be coming out hopefully sometime next year. I’m leaving to go shoot a film in Ft. Lauderdale, FL in a few days called “Boyfriend Killer”.
We at TNWU all have something nerdy/geeky about us. What is something nerdy or geeky about you?
I enjoy reading books about theoretical physics. I like reading them. I can understand it conceptually. I can’t understand the mathematics of how they get there, but I can understand it conceptually. (laughs).
Where can you find Corin