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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Paul Sparks, SAG Award Winner, Independent Spirit Award Winner, True Gem of American Theater, Highly Acclaimed Actor of Stealing Cars, House of Cards, and Boardwalk Empire Our Coverage Sponsored by Stribling and Associates

Phenomenal Actor Paul Sparks, as seen on Whom You Know in Stealing Cars

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Paul Sparks, long regarded as a true gem of the American theater, is currently in the casts of the celebrated Netflix series “House of Cards”, "The Girlfriend Experience," a new show on Starz while recurring on the upcoming HBO series, “On the Night of,” created by Steven Zaillian. Paul previously completed a five season run on HBO’s award-winning series, “Boardwalk Empire.” Produced by Martin Scorsese, the show explores the criminal undercurrent in Atlantic City during Prohibition. Paul plays ‘Mickey Doyle,’ a thug and bootlegger, and has won two SAG Awards in the Ensemble category.

Paul can also be seen in Midnight Special, his second collaboration with Jeff Nichols after Mud. The Warner Brothers film is about a father and his son who are on the run from people looking to exploit the son’s special powers. Paul also stars in indie drama, Stealing Cars, directed by Bradley Kaplan, with an ensemble including William H. Macy, John Leguizamo, and Felicity Huffman.  Stealing Cars was Highly Recommended by Whom You Know.

Recent film appearances include critically acclaimed Sparrow’s Dance, opposite Marin Ireland, directed by Noah Buschel, as well as Clark Greggs’ dark comedy, Trust Me and Parkland, written and directed by Peter Landesman.

Paul most recent stage work was with Ed Harris and Amy Madigan in Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize winning play Buried Child at the New Group where he has been nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award.  
Paul’s distinguished work on stage has also earned him five Drama Desk Awards nominations, His first came in 2000 for the play “Coyote on a Fence” and his frequent collaborations with playwrights Adam Rapp and Craig Wright have resulted in three others.

Paul first worked with Rapp in 2004 originating the role of Baylis in the London production of “Blackbird,” a role he repeated in New York, earning him a second Drama Desk nomination. (Paul’s appeared in the film version of “Blackbird” as well.) In the same year, Paul’s performance in the off-Broadway production of Rapp’s “Finer Noble Gases” was called “mesmerizing” by The New York Times. He performed the play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where he won The Stage Award for Acting Excellence. Paul’s appearance in Craig Wright’s “Orange Flower Water” earned him a third Drama Desk nomination in 2005. He again collaborated with Adam Rapp in the 2007 production of “Essential Self-Defense” resulting in his fourth Drama Desk nomination.

His other stage credits include “American Sligo,” “Pumpgirl” and Craig Wright’s “Lady.” Paul also appeared on Broadway opposite Mary Louise Parker in “Hedda Gabler.”
Paul’s other television credits include a recurring role on “Underemployed,” produced by Craig Wright, the HBO miniseries “Mildred Pierce,” and all three NY Law & Orders, “Person of Interest”, “Brotherhood” and “Trinity.”

Paul was born in Oklahoma and studied at Oklahoma State University until transferring to New York University, where he graduated with a BFA in acting, and a minor in philosophy.  
Paul lives in New York with actress Annie Parisse and their children.  We are so thrilled to present Paul Sparks as our latest Mover and Shaker and thank you to Sony Pictures for the introduction.  Peachy Deegan interviewed Paul Sparks for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: 
Please tell us about your first acting memory.
Paul Sparks: I
 remember being caught not going to piano lessons when I was in the first grade and manufacturing some tears in an effort to lessen the discipline I was about to receive. There was a heap of acting required in that exchange. 

When did you realize you were a great actor?
I don’t know that I feel comfortable copping to “great” but I’ve always known that I was a good actor.   Just like I’ve always known I was a pretty average chemist.

What motivates you as an actor and what kind of roles and productions attract your great work?
Special writing. Complicated/contradictory roles. I also try to surround myself with talented people.

What is the difference between a successful actor and one who is not?
Good question. It seems like persistence, fortitude, determination, genetics, and luck. Or maybe it’s just luck.

What have you enjoyed the most about each of your acting ventures and why?
I don’t know how to answer that as I’ve been doing this a long time. I suppose I like the new experiences. I have an explorer's temperament. I love to see what else is out there and each venture is something new. 

Do you enjoy being on the stage or being on the screen more and why?
Stage, because of the rehearsal process, the audience, the uninterrupted control of the final performance.  I also enjoy the elegance of an art form that burns up the moment you do it and only remains in people’s memory.

What do you think of the historic pay discrepancy between men and women in acting?
I don’t think it makes any sense. 

How would you compare and contrast working in New York and London as an actor?
London seems smaller and ironically seems to be less concerned with hierarchy. It seems everybody does everything and supports everybody no matter the medium. In New York, it’s all divided.  People aren’t as familiar with one another depending on what venue they are performing in. For example, Broadway/off broadway/tv/film represent these contrasting mediums; of course, I’ve only worked in London a couple of times and I have been in New York City for almost 25 years. 

We loved your performance in Stealing Cars, particularly because in person you seem to be a refreshing sharp contrast of the character you played. Please tell us how you got into this role and delivered such a convincing performance.
I just studied the script and thought about a person living in that part of the country that finds himself at that job, treating people the way he was treating people. I remember thinking a lot about a guy who behaves horribly to those kids but thinks it’s the only way to help them.  Because this might be the last chance for these kids to turn their lives around, he will do whatever it takes to turn them around. Then again, maybe he watched too many episodes of Scared Straight. 

What did you enjoy the most about making Stealing Cars?
I thought it was a lovely script and a complicated guy. It also had a really nice cast. John Leguizamo and Emory Cohen were both a lot of fun to figure it out with. 

What is the most fun aspect of playing a bootlegger?
Mickey Doyle was a dream to play. I think I described it as driving a really fast car with a really small steering wheel once, and for me, that sums it up. Everything about him was fun. I miss him. 

In House of Cards, you play author Thomas Yates, whom the President on the series wants to write a book “selling”. How much of acting is selling and what makes a successful acting sell? 
I don’t know the answer to that one.  I think selling is about knowing what people want and then giving them that for a price. But I feel like the more I have concentrated on doing what I can do and what interests me and worried less about what the people want- the more successful a salesman of my acting I have become.

We believe Thomas Yates wrote reviews online of video games; what do you think of online reviews generally and if you could review anything what would it be and why?
I read them sometimes.  I think cross referencing reviews enables you to find some kind of truth. I would review running gear; I like to run. 

Do you believe writers should write what they know about?
I think writers should write what they want to write about. 

What is it like working with Martin Scorsese?
Surreal. I don’t know if he ever sits down. He is funny and full of stories about people like Kurosawa and in the middle of all that, he manages to put you at ease and in my case help me figure out who Mickey Doyle is.  He gave me the confidence and the permission to climb way out on that limb. It was pretty cool.

What should people know about the great actress Annie Parisse that they might not know yet?
She’s a really good mother.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?

What are you proudest of and why?
I don’t really think about things like that but I am proud of being a father, of my kids, and my family for the obvious reasons. 

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
Be in a western.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
I have won a couple SAG awards for ensemble, an Independent Spirit award, an acting award at the Edinburgh Fringe Fest, and been nominated for some other New York City theater awards. 

What one word best describes you and why?
Particular, because I am. 

What do you take your sense of identity from?
I don’t know what that means. Philosophically? I don’t take it from any one thing. I’ve always been me based on my experiences. I can’t ever remember being surprised at the decision I made. 

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? And Oklahoma?
In Manhattan, the East Village. In Oklahoma, my parents' house. 

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan? And Oklahoma?
In Manhattan, I like Odin. In Oklahoma, I like the bait and tackle shop near my parents' house. They also sell vacuums. 

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why?
Trump. I’d like to boss him around. 

What is your favorite drink?

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?
I once saw a guy put about $3 dollars in change up his nose.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan? And Oklahoma?
Manhattan - Atera.  Oklahoma - Enrique's Mexican Restaurant, Ponca City.

What is your favorite Manhattan book or favorite character in Manhattan literature? And Oklahoma?
Manhattan- Know Your Beholder by Adam Rapp, Oklahoma-the Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.

Who would you like to be for a day and why?
Professional Football player. Because, inside, I’m still a little kid. 

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why? And Oklahoma?
A park, because parks are awesome.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience? And Oklahoma?
Yankees game and Oklahoma sooners football game.

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else? And Oklahoma?
In Manhattan - grab a nyc slice. In Oklahoma, go to Enrique’s Mexican Restaurant.

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why?
Probably President Obama. I think we might be friends. 

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience? And Oklahoma?
In Manhattan, I saw Yo La Tengo and Big Star play a concert in the 90’s. In Oklahoma, I saw a play called Journey to Jefferson (based on As I Lay Dying) that changed how I thought about theater.

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world?
My family picks five charities each year to give money to but we also try to be good citizens.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated in Manhattan? And Oklahoma?
Underrated in Manhattan- how helpful people are. In Oklahoma- how smart people are. Overrated in Manhattan- how fast it all moves. In Oklahoma - how slow it all moves.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite WhomYouKnow
​.com​ column and what do you like about it?
 think Top Teeth is pretty funny. 

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you? 
I am a Type 1 Diabetic.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers? 
Smoke signal. or they can send stuff to paulsparks9@gmail or One entertainment. (my management company)

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