It’s a trite question, which you’ve heard many a time: What inspired you to be an actor? It’s a common question asked by talk show hosts. You’ve heard it asked by the Oprahs, the Degeneres and the Liptons of the world. Every now and then you’ll hear an answer from an actor or actress on this subject that rings true. You’ll see it in their eye—a little spark—an inference that on some level, the person that inspired them really inspired them.
Local actress Elizabeth Anne Gmaz was inspired by late Hollywood star Alan Rickman, who recently passed away from cancer. Rickman was the suave criminal in the original action-adventure film”Die Hard”, one of the classics in the genre, and more recently portrayed Professor Severus Snape in several “Harry Potter” films. Gmaz credits Rickman’s, and other British actors’ mastery of their craft, to being excellent on stage. Gmaz met Rickman during his tenure as director of the stage play “Creditors.”
Gmaz also sites Rickman’s “sense of truth” that he brings to his roles. She’s used the techniques she learned from Rickman’s performances to create a busy career for herself, which lately includes voice-over work, an upcoming film, and roles in two prominent Webseries. Gmaz is clearly willing to go wherever the winds of the the acting business takes her. Gmaz recently spoke about her many projects and how the passing of Rickman deeply affected her.
William Powell: How are you feeling about the loss of this great actor?
Elizabeth Anne Gmaz: My heart is shattered. I’m having a hard time handling this one. I’m so damn sad.
WP: What made Rickman so special to you?
EAG: Alan Rickman was my inspiration to be an actor. I have been of fan of his since “Die Hard.” There are no words that can possibly express the sadness I feel. I’m so crushed.
WP: Did you ever get to work with him?
EAG: I had the honor to meet him in New York when he was directing the stage play “Creditors.” I’ll never forget that warm smile and love he had for his fans. His demeanor was a gentle soul, and he will be missed.
WP: What are some other of your favorite performances of Rickman’s?
EAG: Of course, his portrayal of Severus Snape will always have a close place in my heart. I doubt any other actor could have done as well. I’m team Slytherin for life! My personal favorite performance though has to be Colonel Brandon from “Sense and Sensibility.” It’s one of those movies that just touched your soul, and Colonel Brandon was just someone I just wanted to hug the whole time.
WP: What did those performances teach you?
EAG: Alan Rickman said “Acting touches nerves you have absolutely no control over.” All of Alan Rickman’s performances shared with the audience a sense of truth. From “Dogma” to “Harry Potter” to “Love Actually,” each character felt real and pulled against your heart in some way or form. His career should just be a testament of his talent and how he has affected the world.
WP: Why are British actors so damn good?
EAG: Plain and simple. The Theater. Many British actors work years on the London stage. Unfortunately, Americans are not so focused on stage as they are in film. Film acting is nothing like stage acting. There is no second chance to fix a mistake, and it does take a special type of talent to be able to do both. I truly believe more actors should get on a stage and perform. I’m not saying all British actors do; however, more Americans need to be classically trained. I think it would be an amazing benefit to their careers.
WP: What would you tell young actors to look for in his performances?
EAG: Alan Rickman was a serious actor but loved comedy as well. You shouldn’t take this career too seriously. When watching his performances, you can honestly see that he’s truly not really “Acting.” He just “is” the character. I believe I read once that Alan wouldn’t play a character he judged. If he judged the character, he couldn’t possibly play it. I learned from [acting coach] Tom Todoroff that when you refer to a “role” you’re portraying, you shouldn’t speak about it like you are not that person. You should be the character and that’s how I feel Alan played all his roles. It’s something definitely to look for when you watch his work.
WP: What projects are you working on?
EAG: Happy to report quite a few. I’ll be starting to film “R-Naught 15” in the next few months as well as two Web series “Shotgun Mythos” and “The Arcane Wars.” I just finished recording voice-over for “Chronicles of Humanity: Redemption” which is a UK production. Of course, to add to the pile of awesomeness, I’m also running a costume designing makers-space in Silver Spring, MD called “Studio Cosplay.” I’m hoping to get back on stage by the end of summer, but who knows how the wind will blow. I am blessed to be able to work with some many amazing people in the DC Metro Area and hope to continue to support this local industry!
WP: Bonus question, the site Change dot Org is petitioning for a PG-13 version of the upcoming film “Deadpool” do you agree?
EAG: If Deadpool isn’t rated R, then it’s really not a “Deadpool” movie. I cannot wait to see this movie and how Ryan Reynolds portrays the character. Everything I have seen so far screams fantastic to me. If people want to go see a rated PG-13 Marvel movie, they have Two Phases worth of them. This movie is not for children, and that is why it will be awesome.