Monday, April 11, 2011

OWF Interview with Hollywood Actor Timothy Bottoms

In 2007, Hollywood actor Timothy Bottoms (The Last Picture Show, Rollercoaster) did a little family film called 'Paradise Texas', which was about a washed up Hollywood actor struggeling with his family, marriage and career.  In real life, Timothy had a career that was one step from 'Superstardom' in the 70's and developed an impressive filmogrpahy, but when the movie roles thinned out, he turned to TV and faded from the A-list status. Since then, he has enjoyed a very successful career in several films and television, playing George Bush in TV's comedy satire 'That's My Bush' and TV's remake of Sid & Marty Kroft's 'Land of the Lost'. I had the oportunity to attend the red carpet premier of 'Paradise Texas' in Dallas and hooked up with Timothy the next morning for a sit down interview at his hotel.  During that interview, we got to talk about his faith and his career and how his character in 'Paradise Texas' reminded him of many area's of his own life. Here is a piece of that interview.

OWF (OneWayFilms): Thank you Mr. Bottoms for taking time with us this morning. I enjoyed ‘Paradise Texas’ last night, it is a great family film. You seemed very comfortable and at ease in your role of Mack Cameron. Let me start by asking, how did you get started into acting?

TIM: It’s just like the movie. When you watch the beginning, there is a montage of a little boy growing up. That first shot of the little boy eating birthday cake was actually me from 1952. My life kinda followed that (montage) in a lot of ways, as far as performing for family and friends. I finally got the opportunity in school to be in a play and sing. That carried me all the way though my high school years. My last year in high school, I was involved in a production of ‘Romeo & Juliet’  It was a pro/armature production and it received a lot of notice. The LA Times came up and did a review and called it one of the best plays in the country that year. I received an offer from an agent, and I thought this is a great way to make some money before I continue my education in college. I was accepted for my first year in the California Performing Arts, a school set up by Disney to discover new talent.

After that, I got a couple of movies. One of the big ones in Texas (The Last Picture Show), that one just shot me up in the Hollywood scene, right to the Academy Awards. The film before that went to international fame (Johnny Got His Gun), and all this happened just overnight. I got to work with Maggie Smith, Jason Robards, and some wonderful people.

OWF: It must have taken you by surprise.

TIM: It did. As I look back now, I think maybe it would have been better for me to go back to school and build a stronger foundation in my life before I jumped into the Hollywood thing, because I was just a kid from the canyons and beaches of Santa Barbara.

OWF: How did the sudden fame and success affect you?

TIM: Just like the character I play in this film, there were a lot of pitfalls in my life, and I’ve been struggling to find a place where I feel good about myself. I had fallen on my face after my first marriage and I just let the devil take a hold of me and I ended up destroying my own life. I was my worst enemy.

Then I met a wonderful woman, she was an eighth generation California catholic. I asked her dad for permission to marry his daughter, and he said “You can marry my daughter but I sure would like it if you were baptized in the Church.” I was baptized by a Priest who was involved with a circus.
OWF: A priest in a circus?

TIM: They were all priests who went around the country telling the parables of Christ in all their performances, and I just fell in love with all those guys. I went to seminary and stayed there a couple of weeks, got a crash course in a quick amount of time, (laughing) made my profession of faith, accepted it, and cast out the devil.

OWF: How has your life been since then?

TIM: It’s still a struggle, everyday it’s a struggle because there are so many things in the world that come at us from all around. I walked away from Hollywood. By running away, I abandoned morals, I abandoned my wife, my kids, my faith but I kept coming back because of the forgiveness of God, the forgiveness of Jesus. I kept coming back because he will forgive you, and you just learn from it. That’s what’s so wonderful about Him, you can ask forgiveness daily, and I think we all have to.
OWF: Your professional career sounds very similar to your characters in Paradise, Texas.

TIM: It is. When I read this script, I talked to my wife. She reads all my scripts before I do it, and I said “How could they come up with a story that is so close to my life?” She said “Maybe that’s God talking to you.” I said “Well, that’s kinda scary, it so close, I don’t know if I should do this.” She said “No, that IS the reason to do it.”

OWF: So it was the script that drew you to this project?

TIM: Absolutely. My manager came to me and said this was a great opportunity for me. He listed some other actors who were being offered the part. I like a challenge so I said, “Let me see if I can convince them that I am the one for this.” Luckily for me, the others passed on it. One passed because it wasn’t enough money, and the other passed because it was too close to his life. I thought the same thing, but this was the reason TO do it.

OWF: How did this film affect you personally?

TIM: I was trying to find work that would stretch me and I wanted a film that I could show people without being ashamed of my failures, but instead to learn from them and to teach that to other people. This film was a healing for me. I think I’m a better person because of this movie.

OWF: How has being a Christian influenced your decision in which roles you take?

TIM: As an actor, I don’t say I’m only going to do things that are morally right, because in my business, you have to be able to perform the evil bad guys to show people what evil and bad is, so as actors, we’re messengers. Our job is to pretend, I’m a pretender, that’s what I do. My real life is my family, to raise my kids to make moral decisions in the world. My real life is to try to do unto others what I would have them do unto me, and try not to kill anybody (laughs), try to love my neighbor. That is how my faith has influenced me, but in my work, I have to cast all that aside, put on the horns and the fork-tail once in awhile and I have to pretend. That’s what I love, telling stories. We have to be forgiven or we are not worthy of our faith.

OWF: Thank you for time today, you have been very gracious.
TIM:  Thank you, I enjoyed it as well.

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