If you mention the name John Wells to anyone that has spent any time around him, You will hear things like, “He is so humble.” “…one of the nicest people I know.” and so on. One simply needs to take a look at his IMDB page to see that he has the kind of drive and passion that it takes to make it in a competitive field.
What got you into acting and how long have you been doing it?
I was an awkward and insecure child, and for as long as I can remember took solace in the escapism of storytelling of every medium, but especially the movies. So, film and filmmaking have always been a passionate fascination, but growing up in the southeast it seemed an impossible dream to endeavor towards myself until I was into adulthood. By chance, I landed into the company of the independent film community locally, quickly fell in love, and grew from there. I’ve now been a working actor for a little over ten years.
What is the hardest part of being an actor?
Finding good work. Looking through casting calls. The auditions. The marketing. The rejections and disappointments. The deceptions and frauds. The waiting…so much waiting. And most of all, the depressive lulls between projects. Ultimately, all the footwork and “dead space” between acting.
Now, being on set, surrounded by the creative machine and actually doing the “acting;” that’s the payoff for all the rest. Having the opportunity to do what we love is the reward of all the real work we put in finding and securing roles.
What brings you the most joy as an actor?
For me, it’s being in the moment. On set, between “Action” and “Cut”, being completed enveloped in the scenario being created. Breathing life into a flesh and blood character you’ve helped shape, and turning printed text on a page into human assertion. That’s a beautiful and powerful thing. As that awkward kid, uncomfortable in his own skin, that immersion is true magical escapism.
It can also be rewarding to see a finished film, of course, how the whole symphony comes together. I deeply love being a part of a team and creating something greater than the sum of its parts. So, that’s also a great cause of joy and fulfillment.
But as a performer, there’s nothing quite like the energy of being in the moment.
What tips would you give a new actor starting out?
Before you decide to go in, ask yourself, with absolute honesty, if your interest lies in the art of acting or in the earning of celebrity. Do you want to be an actor, or do you want to be a star? Our society has a gross confusion between pursuing success as a working actor and the pursuit of celebrity, and they are two radically different things. If you’re simply looking for acclaim, attention, and time in front of the camera, please reconsider. The industry will be cruel to you, no matter how much talent you believe you possess, and there are easier ways to achieve the validity you seek (and without further saturating an already saturated market). But If you feel you have a true understanding and appreciation of the craft, by all means, boldly venture forward.
What has been your favorite role?
I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate in the vast diversity of roles I’ve been given. I’ve been heroes, villains, comic relief, the everyman, and the Devil himself, and they’re all my children in ways. They all contain pieces of myself, I’ve learned from all of them, and I could never declare one as my favorite.
When not on set, what else is “part of the job”
Never-ending networking and marketing. As I said earlier, finding the work is the real work. Updating resumes on casting sites, keeping up to date with your headshots and demo reels, and trying to get that material in front of the eyes of those with the power to create and grant opportunity.
What tips would you give another actor preparing for an audition?
Know the material, be confident, and make brave choices. It’s important to understand the nature of the scene and the intent behind the dialogue. Be comfortable enough with the lines that you can deliver them naturally within the context of the conversation, with cause and reason behind them, rather than simply regurgitating what you’ve just freshly crammed into memory. Lastly, make the character yours. Own it. Bring something uniquely you into the performance to leave a lasting impression. The worst thing you can be in an audition is boring or “expected.”
Any other thoughts on acting/the work of being an actor?
Forever remain a student. Never stop growing, and always be willing to learn from others. But in that constant learning and training, never lose yourself. This is, after all, an art form. It’s our uniqueness as artists and our individual methods we bring to the table that make us valuable assets to the filmmaking orchestra. So be your own instrument, and endeavor to stand out.