The Working Actor EDITOR'S INTRO
This is the twenty nineth in a continuing feature at IndustryCentral profiling "The Working Actor". (See Archives below)
William Shakespeare said "There are no small parts--.". William Shatner may have said it too, but the longhair with the tights was first, or so the reports go. In this feature we will explore what it really means to be an actor working in Motion Pictures and Television.
Broad public acknowledgment may have eluded some who find their way to these pages, or perhaps they may have brushed against what is referred to as stardom by virtue of one or more remarkable performances. However for many, the rewards of plying their craft in a field which has allowed them to earn a living may exceed the burdens of public acclaim. Given the chance, some in this clan might prefer the longevity offered by anonymity over the potential for short lived fame.
These individuals, either by design or fate, have managed to sustain a career by crafting performances which rendered them a good casting choice. They are usually thought of as a face you recognize, but you just can't get the name past the tip of your tongue.
Most of these folks have spent countless hours on stage in theaters ranging from 20 seats to 2000, building characters from the works of Ibsen, to Eliot, to Williams, to yes even Shakespeare, and so many of the modern Playwrights. They have rounded their skills doing drama, comedy, & musicals. Their work is a serious venture.
These people have given us screen performances which quite often were the catalyst that brought an Oscar or Emmy to another and yet they continue to work as "Characters" or "Co-Stars" without the trophies and plaques adorning their mantle.
Bill Smitrovich
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Bill Smitrovich began his professional career at the age of thirty-three, as a stage actor with Arthur Miller in the World Premiere of American Clock directed by Dan Sullivan, which went from the Spoleto Festival to Broadway.

Filmmakers became more and more aware of Bill Smitrovich's ability to create characters that are so real they appear seamless, and as directors are still discovering this fine actor's talent, the best is yet to come. His journey as an actor has included working with such distinguished and varied directors as Stephen Frears, Wolfgang Peterson, Michael Mann, Rob Reiner, Bruce Beresford, and Roland Emmerich among others.

Smitrovich was recently seen starring opposite Kevin Costner as General Maxwell Taylor, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the Beacon/New Line release of Thirteen Days. The film directed by Roger Donaldson, chronicles the story of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Bill also received strong praise for his role as Byron De La Beckwiths public defender in the Rob Reiner directed, civil rights drama Ghosts Of Mississippi opposite James Woods and Alec Baldwin.

In writer David Koepp's directorial debut The Trigger Effect, one of Bill's favorite film roles to date, he co-starred with Elizabeth Shue and Dermot Mulroney. Bill played Steph, a self-righteous neighbor living in a bizarre time-warp.

Smitrovich was also seen in the summer blockbusters Air Force One opposite Glenn Close and Independence Day opposite Will Smith. His comedic abilities became evident in his collaborations with Ron Howard in Splash, Bruce Beresford in Her Alibi, and Tony Bill in Crazy People opposite Dudley Moore and Darryl Hannah.

The spring of 2001, saw Bill starring opposite John Cleese in HMO, a 1/2 hour, single-camera television pilot for Touchstone and ABC. He starred as a wisecracking surgeon, navigating the bureaucratic world of health management organizations alongside a cast of inept hospital workers.

His versatility was apparent in his early film roles and garnered the attention of television producers, most notably Michael Mann. His long time association with Mann began with his role as 'Sonny Crocket's corrupt partner' in the pilot Miami Vice and as a series regular on Mann's police drama Crime Story as Sgt. Danny Krychek. His relationship with Mann continued in the stylish thriller Manhunter. In other television roles, Bill is well-known for his portrayal of the sympathetic and admirable dad, Drew Thacher on the Emmy Award winning ABC series Life Goes On. He also starred in the critically acclaimed Fox series Millennium as Lt. Bletcher.

Bill was seen on the CBS 'live' television presentation of Failsafe, opposite an all-star cast including George Clooney, Richard Dreyfuss, Harvey Keitel, Don Cheadle, Brian Dennehy, and James Cromwell. It was produced by George Clooney and directed by Stephen Frears.

Earlier this season, Smitrovich was asked by David E. Kelley to join the ensemble cast of his successful ABC series, The Practice as a recurring character, the hard-laced District Attorney WaIsh. Last year, he starred as Inspector Cramer in the A&E television movie The Golden Spiders; A Nero Wolfe Mystery directed by Bill Duke. The movie was so well received, A&E began airing a series of one-hour Nero Wolfe mysteries with Maury Chakin as Nero Wolfe, Timothy Hutton as Archie, and Bill as Cramer. In September, they begin production of the second season of the critically heralded series. He also starred in the highly successful NBC mini-series The 60's as Bill Herlihy, the conflicted father of an Irish Catholic family.

His early theatrical work includes starring roles in Gary Leon-Hill's Food From Trash as Sudden Pisanger at the Actors' Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival, Requiem For A Heavweight at the Long Warf Theatre, directed by Arvin Brown and Terrence McNally's Frankie & Johnny at The West Side Arts Theatre.

Always making time to return to his roots, last summer he returned to the theatre and created the role of Captain James Anderson in A.R. Gurney's original play Far East. The play premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. It was then brought to Lincoln Center where Bill and the production enjoyed critical acclaim and an extended run. It then aired as the inaugural play on the premiere of the PBS series Stage To Screen.

Last year, Bill was back at Williamstown to portray Mr. Antrobus in Thorton Wilder's The Skin Of Our Teeth. This performance and more specifically, Bill's portrayal was met with tremendous audience response and garnered wonderful reviews. This staging of the play "is a generous explosion of visual, aural and visceral energy on stage, big and colorful, loud, clever, and raucous. The performances are expert, Smitrovich is utterly threatening, full of smoldering passion and anger and frustration and bravado." (Paul Lamar_ The Daily Gazette)

Recently, he was back yet again, this time starring in the Williamstown production of The Winter's Tale. While receiving his Masters degree at Smith College and teaching theatre arts at U. Mass-Amherst, Bill was a founding member of the renowned No Theatre Company, now in association with the Wooster Group whose members include Willem Dafoe and Spalding Gray.

Bill was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where in I992 he received an honorary Doctorate from his alma-mater, The University of Bridgeport. He is an avid golfer who originated and has hosted the annual Life Goes On Celebmty Golf Classic for the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles. In I993 he received the Michael Landon Humanitarian Award for his work with the Down Syndrome Congress, then in 1996 he served on the executive board of the International Special Olympics committee in his home state of Connecticut. Bill currently lives in Los Angeles with Shaw Purnell, his wife of fifteen years and his two children, A.J. and Maya.

Lighthouse Entertainment
Steven Siebert / Adam W. Targum
409 N. Camden Drive, Suite #202
Beverly Hills, California 90210
(310) 246-0499 Fax (310) 246-0899

Bill Smitrovich's advice to the aspiring actor:

  • Love The Art In Yourself-Not Yourself In The Art - Stanislavsky
  • All Great Art Aspires To Music
  • Preparation Reduces Anxiety. Know Your Lines!
  • Speak The Truth
  • ......and have fun!
Acting generally requires a relaxed concentration. Preparation informs and relaxes and allows us to play with the words. It also uncovers the truth.
There is a reason a play is called a 'play'. Find the purpose of your role in the play (or screenplay). Look for the music in the words.

There is a reason we break down a script into 'beats', here is a reason a scene has a 'tempo' and there is a 'rhythm' to everything. Why do you think they call them 'notes'.

Being an actor requires great courage. Courage to risk. Courage to just 'be' and the wisdom to know the difference. Look for the heart, mind, body and soul of your character. Be selfless in the pursuit of honest truth.

Bill Smitrovich's Credits (partial)
"13 Days"
"Around The Fire"
"Air Force One"
"The Ghosts Of Mississippi"
"The Phantom"
"Trigger Effect"
"Independence Day"
"Nick Of Time"
"Bodily Harm"
"Crazy People"
"Her Alibi"
"Silver Bullet"
"Key Exchange"
"Killing Affair"
"Maria's Lover"
"A Little Sex"
Shooting Gallery
Castle Rock
20th Century Fox
Warner Bros,
DeLaurentis Ent.
Cannon Films
Dir: Roger Donaldson
Dir: John Jacobsen
Dir: Wolfgang Peterson
Dir: Rob Reiner
Dir: Simon Wincer
Dir: David Koepp
Dir: Roland Emmerich
Dir: John Badham
Dir: James Lemmo
Dir: Tony Bill
Dir: Bruce Beresford
Dir: Jack Sholder
Dir: Michael Mann
Dir: Dan Attias
Dir: Barnett Kellman
Dir: Ron Howard
Dir: David Saperstein
Dir: Andrei Konchalavsky
Dir: Bruce Paltrow

TELEVISION (Miniseries/MOW's)
"Far East"
"The Sixties"
"Mr. Murder"
"Texas Justice"
"Gregory K"
"Children Of The Dark"
"Labor Of Love"
Dir: Stephen Frears
Dir: Dan Sullivan
Dir: Mark Piznarski
Dir: Ernest Dickerson
Dir: Dick Lowry
Dir: Dick Lowry
Dir: Linda Otto
Dir: Michael Switzer
Dir: Jerry London

TELEVISION (Series k Pilots)
"The Practice"
"Nero Wolfe Mysteries"
"Life Goes On"
"Crime Story"
"Miami Vice"
"Outer Limits"
"Touched By An Angel"
"La Med"
"NYPD Blue"
"Miami Vice"
Pilot/Series Regular
Pilot/15 Eps.
Series Regular
Series Regular
Guest Star
Special Guest Star
Guest Star/Pilot
Guest Star

THEATRE (Broadway)
"Far East"
"The American Clock"
Lincoln Center Dir: Dan Sullivan
Dir: Dan Sullivan

THEATRE (Off Broadway & regional)
"A Winters Tale"
"The Skin Of Our Teeth"
"Far East"
"Frankie &Amp; Johnny"
"Of Mice And Men"
"Requiem For A Heavyweight"
"Food From Trash"
"The American Clock"
"Never Say Die"
"The American Century"
2001 Williamstown Theater Festival
2000 Williamstown Theater Festival
1999 Williamstown Theater Festival
Westside Arts Theatre
Hong Kong Int'1 Arts Festival
Long Wharf Theatre
Actors Theatre of Louisville
Spoleto Festival
The Classic
Theatre Annenberg Center
Dir: Darko Tresnjack
Dir: Darko Tresnjack
Dir: Dan Sullivan
Dir: Arvin Brown
Dir: Jon Jory
Dir: Jon Jurasas

For more info and credits see IMDb

-- End ---

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