What influenced you to get into acting?
My older sister was an actress from a young age; I actually saw her in a stage production of Alice in Wonderland when I was about 6 and remember being very impressed. My parents would also take us to plays very early on, so maybe that also had something to do with it.
People recognize you on the streets as the host of Wild Chicago. Tell me a bit about the show & your role as the host.
The show explored the bizarre, off-the-beaten-track places in Chicago and profiled some of the city's delightfully quirky citizens. As host, I would go on location with a camera crew and conduct interviews, then oversee the editing of my segments. I also did most of the writing for the show.
I was a late-night viewer of the show, which I found very amusing & informative. You visited so many interesting places & met some unusual people. What are your most memorable moments while shooting?
There are too many to mention. I did 11seasons of the show, and with 13 episodes a year and 6 or 7 segments a show, that adds up to 14,456,321,980 segments. Within those segments, there were 3,876,032,123 memorable moments.
It's a shame that Wild Chicago was cancelled. Do you think that they'll bring it back? Would you be interested in hosting again?
Though Wild Chicago couldn't survive WTTW's recent financial troubles, it did have a 15 year run, which is 34 in TV years. I doubt it will ever come back, but for those who miss finding out about wild places in Chicago, there's always Wild Chicago the book, availble at bookstores or Amazon.com.
I saw your performance in Frodo-A-Go-Go: The Rings Recycled, a parody/improv play of The Lord of the Rings. It was hilarious & I enjoyed it very much. Are you performing in anything now?
I go into rehearsal for Stones in His Pockets at the Apple Tree Theater at the end of August. It opens September 25th.
Which do you prefer most, performing on stage or TV?
I think stage, for the immediate reaction you get from a live audience. But hosting Wild Chicago has to rank as one of the best jobs in the world.
Do you have any interest in becoming a movie actor?
I've done some movies, mostly independent, low budget features that play a few festivals and disappear. I did recently have an extremely minor role in a big-time movie being shot in Chicago. It's called Stranger Than Fiction, directed by the guy who directed Finding Neverland. I spent 2 days standing next to Will Ferrell and watching him get hit by a bus.
Not only are you a talented actor, you're also a member of the band The Famous Bros. I've caught a few of your shows & I own a CD. You can surely sing! How did you get involved with the band?
My friends Darren Stephens and Rick Vamos talked me into it.
With your busy acting career, how often does the band perform? Does the band tour or are you solely Chicago performers?
We get to perform once every few months mostly around Chicago, but we do have an upcoming gig in Three Oaks, Michigan at the Acorn Theater. We may be doing 4 Sunday nights in a row in November at the Lakeshore Theater, so stay tuned.
Do you have other interests besides acting & singing?
I like to write. I co-wrote a musical called Two for the Show with Jim FitzGerald, and I'm currently writing an occasional freelance article for Timeout Chicago.
What advice would you give to an aspiring actor?
Don't get into it for fame and fortune, do it for the work itself. Don't take the rejection personally and audition for everything you can. If you're not getting cast, create your own project and get as many casting people as you can to see it.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions, Will!