Mike Vogel Interview
CHRIS NEUMER: I assume you are getting ready for an assload of talk about the movie that doesn’t even have a name yet. Possibly Cloverfield. MIKE VOGEL: (laughs) Yeah, I’d tell you that name if I knew it. It’s just […]
CHRIS NEUMER: I assume you are getting ready for an assload of talk about the movie that doesn’t even have a name yet. Possibly Cloverfield.
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs) Yeah, I’d tell you that name if I knew it. It’s just they still haven’t told me that name.
CHRIS NEUMER: Yeah, see my thing is I don’t care. I can wait until January.
MIKE VOGEL: Right, I love that. Could you be at all of these things?
CHRIS NEUMER: I will try, I will follow you around like a deranged stalker.
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs) Could you?
CHRIS NEUMER: Be happy to. I went to a screening of Southland Tales the other day. Apparently there was the big deal because some photos had been stolen off the Indiana Jones set. Two bloggers gave Spielberg a lead to follow and he thanked them by giving them a signed poster.
MIKE VOGEL: Oh, really.
CHRIS NEUMER: I don’t know whether it’s for the new movie, or if he’d just given them a memo, or showed them the trailer or something, but they were going nuts over him.
MIKE VOGEL: Okay.
CHRIS NEUMER: I was there, and I was like, “Come on, it’s just a signed poster,” and these guys said, “Oh, you don’t know what this means.” I asked what it meant and they said, “We got a signed poster!”
MIKE VOGEL: Wow. And you’re like, “Oh, okay,”
CHRIS NEUMER: Right, my question is, how do you deal with all the junkets, and the people in sweatpants who don’t exercise, asking you questions about what it was like working with so-and-so?
MIKE VOGEL: I think your first reaction is to figure out if they’re serious or not. Because you’ll have this function or that function, and somehow it’s incredible that the same people always show up. They’re these autograph hounds outside, and it’s just amazing how they always seems to have the right picture with them, and they know exactly where to go. It’s intrigued me for the longest time. My brother is an editor [at TMZ] and the practices of these places amaze me. He’s said that the place goes out of control, when it’s like, “Britney’s on the move Britney’s one the move!” He feels like he has to take a shower everyday when he comes home because he feels disgusting.
CHRIS NEUMER: Where does he work?
MIKE VOGEL: TMZ, he’s one of the editors for them.
CHRIS NEUMER: His name rings a bell.
MIKE VOGEL: I’m just torn constantly because you have the people who bemoan the fact, “Oh, leave me alone, they’re everywhere, my life is so hard!” But at the same time, you have to show up to these places [to be seen]. You have to make an effort to go and do these things. I find the best remedy is to live way the hell away from it all. I’ve often wondered, what’s going to happen if and when things would go absolutely haywire, publicity-wise for me. What if they see me walk into Home Depot in torn off sweatpants, and a sleeveless shirt, and come out with tons of wood and tons of tools. They’ll be there taking pictures of me building things in my backyard. Is that really going to supply a lot of entertainment for people, because they want to know what the life of a “star” is like?
CHRIS NEUMER: I’m already captivated.
MIKE VOGEL: Right, see?
CHRIS NEUMER: You see, my life is so bad that I have to live through you.
MIKE VOGEL: (Laughs hysterically) Yeah, I’ll throw you a hammer, Chris.
CHRIS NEUMER: When you get asked the same questions over, and over again, do you just fall into a routine, or lapse into a sort of general I-don’t-care mode?
MIKE VOGEL: Kurt Russell did an awesome job of dealing with this when we were in Italy on the Poseidon junket. One of these Italian interviewers asked, “What did it feel like to be wallpaper?” Basically he was calling us wallpaper because the star of the movie was the ship, not us. We knew that when we were doing it. But he asked, “What did that feel like?” and “Why would you do a film like that?” Kurt goes, “You know what, let me tell you what it’s like. We’re people, and we need to buy certain things for our families, like socks and underwear, and sometimes you do a film just for that reason and that reason alone. And that’s probably the same reason your ass is sitting there asking me such a foolish question.”
CHRIS NEUMER: About this movie.
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs) About this movie. When you’re young, and you’re trying to say the right things, and come up with the witty answer you realize, “The hell with it.” I go to work, I do my job, I come home and that’s it! I mean, I grew up the son of a plumber in Philadelphia who was doing that all the way till I moved out here [to L.A.] to be on that television show I got. No one’s throwing a microphone in my dad’s face asking him what he thinks about the world-shattering international issues, or other such world affairs, or this that and the other thing.
CHRIS NEUMER: Now that you say that, I actually might do that now.
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs) Hit him up. You may get some interesting answers. Way more than I’ll give you. But why do I have the right to speak on those things more than anyone else? I’m doing a job. That’s it! That’s the thing that’s baffled me most about all this. People will actually base their opinion, or a decision off of something that I’m going to say, when it’s nothing more than my opinion. I mean, I’m not more entitled to it than Joe Schmo anywhere else.
CHRIS NEUMER: That’s where we differ. I believe I’m a little more entitled to it than you are.
MIKE VOGEL: I’ll give you yours, it’s all yours to have. But, I’ll be back in Woodland Hills building a deck, and someone will throw a microphone in my face there. I don’t know. It’s just weird.
CHRIS NEUMER: Housewives in Iowa—the every woman—are of the opinion that there are two things that actors do: One is on set acting, and the other is going to glamorous red-carpet events. That’s it. And what surprises me is that I venture that there are more things in an actor’s life that aren’t directly related to acting than in any other profession I can think of. I was trying to explain it to an intern. I said, “Imagine if Alex Rodriguez had to spend four hours a day, doing something other than baseball. It’s like, “If you want to be a baseball player, you play baseball. If you want to be an actor, you get go to parties, or give interviews.”
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs)
CHRIS NEUMER: It has nothing to do with what you wanted to do. I mean, imagine is Alex Rodriguez had to spend four hours a day playing Yahtzee. You’d ask, “Why would he do that,” and I say, “That’s my point.” Is there ever a time you just sit down, and think, “I can’t believe I have to go to this party.”
MIKE VOGEL: To be honest with you, I don’t really go. It’s sad to say—it’s much to the detriment of my career—I could get more recognition by kicking the snot out of some paparazzi somewhere, and then showing up at a party, and taking my clothes off and showing up drunk, than I could by doing an incredible role. There’s something off about that. As far as it pertains to parties and everything, I just don’t really go. I get the invites because I see them come across the desk. It’s funny, I actually had a friend who was going in my name to different parties because he enjoyed it! He loved it. He was partying with Outkast, and enjoyed being with all these crazy people. All the while I’m at home, sitting in front of a fire doing nothing.
CHRIS NEUMER: Big Boi’s going to be really surprised—
MIKE VOGEL: Yeah, Big Boi’s going to be really mad when he shows up somewhere I am, and says, “but, you’re not…I thought…” I’m going to dash everyone’s hopes.
CHRIS NEUMER: Does [your publicist] ever get on you to do more? Or say, “Come on Mike… You’re paying me here, I’m trying to get you some help here, your brother works for TMZ, throw me a bone.” Is there any of that?
MIKE VOGEL: There’s a lot. But again, I think there are all these actors that bemoan the fact—I mean, I think a lot of it is what you make of it. Do you see Ed Norton in stuff anywhere? No. He stays out of the limelight.
CHRIS NEUMER: I don’t even know where he lives.
MIKE VOGEL: Of course. Because he goes to work and that’s it. He wants to be known for his work. And look, I’m still young, I’ve got a long way to go. Has every film I’ve ever done turned out exactly like I wanted it to? Absolutely not. Of course not. Can I say I’ve done earth-shattering, earth-changing ropes yet? No, but that’s the plan. That’s what I work towards, and that’s what I want to be known for. I don’t want to be known, “Mike Vogel was spotted at Chi Chi’s… or Fredrick’s today, and…” It’s just not what it’s about.
CHRIS NEUMER: It’s interesting too because the people who keep making it, are the people like that. Wait, Chi-chi’s?
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs) Yeah… But there’s a change coming. There has to be. At a certain point, people have to get fed up with what this has become about.
CHRIS NEUMER: Well let me ask you this in a chicken-or-egg question. Do you think it’s become this way, because people want it? I was at this wedding, and somebody found about what I did, and asked me who I had interviewed, and it was actually about Josh Lucas, whom I really should be hanging out with, I got to tell you.
MIKE VOGEL: He’s having fun, man.
CHRIS NEUMER: He’s just a great guy.
MIKE VOGEL: Yeah.
CHRIS NEUMER: We put him on our cover and the girl I was talking to says, “Oh my God, Josh Lucas is so amazing. He’s so much better than me!”
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs)
CHRIS NEUMER: I said, “He’s a really nice guy. A really talented guy, but, I mean, he’s just a guy.” I know he’s in Glory Road, and he’s in Poseidon, and all this, but honestly, just imagine me with acting ability, and more hair, slightly.
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs) Yes, slightly.
CHRIS NEUMER: And she says, “What do you mean?” And I said, “Part of the thing that’s so cool about him is he’s famous, yes, but he’s just a guy.” I think I asked him if he played Joaquin Phoenix’s role in Walk The Line whether or not he would’ve gotten an Oscar nomination, and he was like, “Well, I don’t know about that,” nodding his head slightly at the same time. I’m laughing because, well, how am I going to get around that and do anything with it? I can’t!
MIKE VOGEL: Yeah, I mean, he and I kind of—I just get Josh so much. We come from a lot of the same beginnings. He’s the one who actually said, “You can do a lot more for your career going out and kicking the shit out of some paparazzi guy than you could by doing a great piece of art.” He had the same struggles. It’s just that people don’t understand. I try and describe this to my friends and I tell them, “Yeah, I moved out here, and do I make some money? Yeah. I do all right. More than I ever expected growing up, yeah, but I have no idea when the next [paycheck] is coming. I have to assume that I’m going to make that stretch from year to year.
CHRIS NEUMER: Yes.
MIKE VOGEL: And then imagine that the average person, let’s say they interview for a job, like, ten times in their life.
CHRIS NEUMER: That’s a good week for you.
MIKE VOGEL: Yeah, that’s a good week for me, and I’m going into every one of those meetings with more of a I’m being asked to emotionally perform. Not just to show up and say, “Hey, here’s my resume. I studied here, here, here, and here the experiences I’ve had.” My resume precedes me before I go into that room; they know what I’ve done. But then on top of it, I have to bring the goods into that room, and then I’m supposed to walk out of it and forget about it and write it off and go to the next one.
CHRIS NEUMER: And after you nail an audition, the director tells you, “Well, we wanted somebody with brown hair.”
MIKE VOGEL: Yeah or you’re too young, or you’re not good-looking enough, or you’re too good-looking.
CHRIS NEUMER: Laura Ramsey told me that she that nothing ever pissed her off more than being told she was too good-looking for a role.
MIKE VOGEL: Multiply that times fifty. I mean, it happens so much more than you’d think.
CHRIS NEUMER: Well, for what it’s worth, I don’t really think you’re all that good-looking.
MIKE VOGEL: Thank you! Thank you. we should write a script together, or something. I don’t know… I mean, every other week, I’m still calling my dad and saying, “Dad, have a truck ready for me, because I think I’m coming home. I’m getting back into the truck, I can’t [do this].” But you keep going, and you keep plowing forward, and you hope the two ends meet.
CHRIS NEUMER: What you’re saying reminds me of that Rosie Perez speech in White Men Can’t Jump. When she does that speech where she goes, “Well, sometimes when you win, you lose and sometimes when you lose, you really when.” I wonder if there’s a story where there’s a young actor like that who has success, and then goes, “well I just can’t take it anymore,” and just gives up and leaves. Everyone in America would look at that and go, “Oh well, he lost, or look at him – he got beaten,” but the truth of the matter is, you wouldn’t get beaten, you’d be actually winning.
MIKE VOGEL: It happened to—wait, what’s his name?—from the Arizona Cardinals.
CHRIS NEUMER: Pat Tillman.
MIKE VOGEL: Yeah, Pat Tillman. And I’ve often thought about that.
CHRIS NEUMER: Because that is winning, somehow.
MIKE VOGEL: But many people that I talk to—It’s the mentality that we’ve come to when people go, “Wait how could he give that up?” And we go, “Well he didn’t give it up, he’s doing what satisfies him.” At the end of the day, that’s what you’ve got to fall back on. That’s how I look at it, I guess, because at the end of the day, no matter how many bruises you take, or how many punches in the face… So many people tell me, “I think I want to give acting a try,” and I say, “Don’t leave town, because this is the last resort, when there’s nothing else you could possibly do.
CHRIS NEUMER: Do you mean L.A, or acting period?
MIKE VOGEL: I mean acting, period. It’s not something you can do—well, I take that back, there are people who have done it willy-nilly, and somehow string a career together, but it’s usually a career based off of publicity. When it comes to truly investing yourself in the work, and investing your feelings in it, it’s not something that’s worth leaving home, and not something you can do leaving one foot in and one foot out. Man… You always have to have a back up plan. But I think that’s what keeps people here; that it is unsafe. There’s that feeling that at any moment that you can fall off the edge of the cliff, and when you do fall off the edge of the cliff, you just hope that the magic carpet comes.
CHRIS NEUMER: (chuckles) Yeah… There are a lot of situations in this industry where it feels like you’re asking out a girl and getting brutally rejected. Every day! It takes either a special kind of idiot or a stupid, conceited asshole to be able to consistently go back to that. If I had to deal with this stuff with a girl I was dating I would break up with them every single time.
MIKE VOGEL: Right. Yeah, “I’m moving on, I need a different relationship.”
CHRIS NEUMER: Yeah, I don’t think you have that when you’re an accountant. I mean, actors deal with gruesome rejection every day.
MIKE VOGEL: Yeah, certainly.
CHRIS NEUMER: I noticed your IMDB page the other day, and it had you listed as “Rumored to be playing one of the roles in the new Star Trek picture…
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs) Yeah, I can’t talk about that.
CHRIS NEUMER: And I realized—here you are, you’re getting a lot of press for this role—you can’t enjoy it because, first, you don’t have it, and second because some people think you ‘lost’ in the whole scenario. It’s like a girl turning you down, but explaining why she considered going out with you for a brief second.
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs, imitates female voice) “I’ve always liked you and you would’ve had a shot if you just…” and you’re like, “What?” (female voice) “Well you could’ve done this!” [Star Trek] was a bizarre situation. Bizarre. And then you have to confront the issue of even if you did get the role [of Captain Kirk], would you really want it?
CHRIS NEUMER: The Brandon Routh problem.
MIKE VOGEL: Times twenty. It’s interesting. I let myself buy into the hype for a second. It’s impossible not to. Before I even knew anything, I was getting stopped on the street, and people were going, “Hey, Kirk! Kirk!” And I’m like, “Wait, what?” As much as people say, “You can’t read that stuff, It’s not healthy for you,” you kind of do. There’s the overwhelming curiosity part of it all. If you start reading a couple blogs and they say, “He’s not enough this, or that, or he had better do a great Shatner impersonation, or he’s the worst actor I’ve ever seen in my life,” it hits you. I’m like, “Wait, this is all based on rumors!”
CHRIS NEUMER: Yeah.
MIKE VOGEL: Could you imagine? Chris Pine’s doing it now? Chris, I wish you luck, buddy. It takes stones. They’re expecting somebody to come out and do a William Shatner imitation. That’s not at all what J.J. [Abrams] is doing! So people are going to be either extremely disappointed, extremely happy, or they’re not going to care one bit about Star Trek, anymore. This is all happening off of a rumor. Could I even stand it if it were true? Would I even want to attempt to fill those shoes?
CHRIS NEUMER: Right.
MIKE VOGEL: There’s just so much more that goes into choosing something like this than you’d think about. Most people would say, “Well Captain Kirk is a no-brainer…”
CHRIS NEUMER: Yeah, nobody even knew who Chris Pine was, and now he’s got this huge movie, and it’s interesting that you’d have to think twice to sort of think of the “real world” application of all this would be.
MIKE VOGEL: Someone said that about James Bond. It’s a lot like that. I mean there have been eight hundred Star Treks… There have been eight hundred Bond movies, but there one “all time favorite,” who will forever be (in faux-Scottish accent) Sean Connery… forever! I think Pierce Bronson did a good job, Daniel Craig did a good job, but it’s hard to stamp something that’s been stamped eight hundred times. You run out of pages in your passport. I think it’s the same thing with this. I mean [in Next Generation] Patrick Stewart had the benefit of playing an entirely different character – he wasn’t playing Kirk. Yeah, he was a commander, but he wasn’t playing Kirk, so he could do his own thing. This new person has to come out and win Shatner fans. It’s a BIG undertaking.
CHRIS NEUMER: It dawned on me yesterday while I was explaining to a group of publicists—I had a very, let’s called it contentious relationship with one of them like three years ago—but I realized that they don’t even deal in the now. They deal only in the future.
MIKE VOGEL: Yeah.
CHRIS NEUMER: Once something is scheduled, they’ve almost completely forgotten about it and it’s not even over yet, and then it’s next week. It’s literally like they only deal in the future. Most people in a real world setting don’t deal with things that way.
MIKE VOGEL: Yeah. Your decisions that you make now – there’s that old adage that “your sins will find you out.” You have to think that eventually, stuff will come back to bite you. It’s the same gamble with this. Every film, you can control everything only when you’re on set.
CHRIS NEUMER: Right.
MIKE VOGEL: And after that it’s in a completely different group of people’s hands and your fate basically rests with them.
CHRIS NEUMER: And whether or not they liked it, you’re getting the blame.
MIKE VOGEL: Exactly. It’s always your fault, no matter how bad the script was to begin with, no matter how misdirected it may have been, or misacted, or mis-anything. And then people say, “Well, you’ve got to hold out for the good ones.” They’re right in theory, but, I’ve also got to eat. And I’ve got a little daughter, and a wife I’ve got to take care of. I enjoy that. I enjoy being the provider. This is my job. You reach a certain point where, even if it’s not the best material, it’s a chance for me to perform an act. This is what I love, and get paid to do. I have to do it for the creative juices in me. I have to do it. It’s just a catch-22.
CHRIS NEUMER: Right. Somebody had mentioned something to me where they weren’t denigrating acting, but they were talking about how Nicolas Cage made a film because he just wanted the money, and I said, “Do you really want to get up early in the morning to go teach the eighth graders? You’re telling me that this is what you want to do?”
MIKE VOGEL: Right.
CHRIS NEUMER: And they said, “Well that’s not a passion project, he’s just doing it for the money,” and I said, “Well you’ve got to do it for the money… you need money, look at that kid from 3rd Rock.”
MIKE VOGEL: I love that guy.
CHRIS NEUMER: Yeah, he’s got 3rd Rock money. He doesn’t need to do a damn thing, that’s why he can go play gay prostitutes and all that.
MIKE VOGEL: Yeah, right.
CHRIS NEUMER: So I figured I’d ask you, I know you did some modeling, so did you have the ability to sit around and pick and choose certain—
MIKE VOGEL: Well, no. The modeling does nothing. When I was modeling and doing commercials, I was also plumbing at the same time. I didn’t want to move to New York City. I mean, I love the city, but I can’t take it for more than several days and then I’m climbing the walls. Philadelphia is a one-hour train ride away, and that way I can get back to my family.
CHRIS NEUMER: What is it you don’t like about New York?
MIKE VOGEL: Nothing, I love it, but coming from Bucks County with trees, and fall, and seasons, and land.
CHRIS NEUMER: You’ve got a real “in” with Shyamalan don’t you?
MIKE VOGEL: Yeah. Then you go to New York, and the energy of New York, I love it, but when I can have the best of both worlds, I’ll take that. I can’t stand being shoe-boxed in. I have to be able to go sit in the woods, so when I was modeling, I’d leave at four o’clock in the morning and tell my agent to stack all my appointments early in the morning, and I’d take the train up, do my lines and everything I needed to do, and I’d come home around 2:00 in the afternoon. I’d be plumbing until 10 o’clock at night…
CHRIS NEUMER: That’s the glamorous life, right?
MIKE VOGEL: That’s glamorous. It doesn’t get better than that. You still have sewer-residue by the time you get downtown the next day.
CHRIS NEUMER: You’re doing something very similar right now if I understand correctly.
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs) The answer to it all is that everyone always thinks that the minute you get a project that you’re set for life.
CHRIS NEUMER: “You just got the new J.J. Abrams project… and it’s going to be big, and huge, and that means you’re going to have back-end points, and not only that, but I think it means that because it’s such a big budget that all the money goes to the actors… Yeah, I think I know how Hollywood works.”
MIKE VOGEL: Yeah, we won’t talk about all that on this one, but, yeah that’s how this thing works. That’s what it comes down to. And look, at the end of the day Deniro went off on an actor one time when this actor went nuts waiting in a make-up trailer saying, “I can’t believe they brought me in early, I’ve been waiting for four hours, what could they possibly be doing out there.” Deniro’s sitting there reading a magazine, he turns to the guy and he goes, “Shut the fuck up.” (imitating Deniro’s voice) “The waiting, the make-up, the time you spend here, the time you’re doing nothing, that’s what you get paid for. The acting, you do for free. That’s the pay off.” That’s the truth of it. Even if you’re making nothing, there’s a release that comes from, those forces inside you. You couldn’t pay money for that. But to answer the question, you try and space things out as best you can. I look at it as kind of like a race—a long distance race. You’re just hoping you get the bottle of water at the right time and that sustains you for the next five miles. You hope at that mile marker that you’re not dehydrated and somewhere in between all of it, you have to hope you’re running on perfect terrain, that’s flat for a while, where all the right things are happening.
CHRIS NEUMER: Like with Matt Damon. If there’s one thing I don’t like about Matt Damon it’s that he’s making it look too easy.
MIKE VOGEL: He is, he really is.
CHRIS NEUMER: People say, “Well look at Matt Damon, it looks so simple! You get some good scripts, you do this, maybe you don’t make twenty-million, but you’re making fifteen.” He’s really making it bad for everybody…
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs)
CHRIS NEUMER: …because he’s just making it look too easy.
MIKE VOGEL: He is, but you know what? More power to him. You hope the cream rises to the top. I think, in his case, it has. He’s earned it. He’s worked hard. He’s skipped out on a lot of things and it’s worked out.
CHRIS NEUMER: I’m sure there was a veiled Matthew McConaughey joke in their somewhere… But I’ll have to go looking for that later.
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs)
CHRIS NEUMER: I don’t know why I was thinking about this while you were talking—it wasn’t even something I was originally going to ask—but how has Entourage affected you? Has that affected your life any?
MIKE VOGEL: (chuckling) How has Entourage affected me?
CHRIS NEUMER: The things about acting in Hollywood that the American public knows are basically what they’re spoon-fed. The truth of the matter is, it’s more cutthroat than any other industry. It’s more progressive than almost any other industry and it’s probably more fucked-up than any other industry, but nobody really knows that because—
MIKE VOGEL: Because they watch Entourage.
CHRIS NEUMER: Yeah. I’m curious to know if, because of Entourage, people are asking you why you’re not doing three-somes in the hills or things like that?
MIKE VOGEL: I’ve had to make a choice—and it’s not even a choice that anyone should have to think about, you shouldn’t have to sit and weigh whether or not this is the choice you have to make—I’m a family man. It’s what I am. I married young. I had a kid, my daughter, seven months ago and I’m enjoying being a dad. That’s the joy that I want.
CHRIS NEUMER: Right, that’s season six of Entourage.
MIKE VOGEL: Right! We need to have them have their affairs and their flings. Wait until you see season six. Son of a bitch. I can’t believe any of it, and I can’t get into any of it. Maybe my whole perception of this will change someday, when it’s all different, and maybe it won’t, but I’ve chosen to take the path of—this is what I love doing. This is my job, and I’m living my dream and I’m living my dream with a family. I’m living my dream, doing everything I want to do and that doesn’t consist of going out to parties and all the insane, drug-filled nights in the hills. It doesn’t consist of all those things that maybe other people look at and say “Mike, you have to at least play that part, you have to at least leave something for people,” and I’m like, “You know what? If people can’t respect and appreciate the fact that [I don’t do that]. If anything, it should [make people realize] that there are some normal people left in all this insanity.” It is possible to do all your work, and go home, and just leave it at that. It’s not this fantasy that people have made it into. And if they can’t see it for that, well, maybe I’m headed back to Philadelphia, and that’s fine, because I’ve done it my way.
CHRIS NEUMER: I can’t tell, was that, “yes,” or a “no”?
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs) About Entourage? Well… yes and no.
CHRIS NEUMER: I mean, do you have any good stories about how you were in the Playboy Mansion and let out some zebras or something?
MIKE VOGEL: (Laughs) Pay ten thousand dollars a month for a publicist and you’ll get all the great invites that you want. I’ve never been to the Playboy Mansion. I couldn’t tell anyone where the back door is. I couldn’t tell anyone how to get in. I’ve never been. I’ve got nothing for you.
CHRIS NEUMER: I tried to get into Entourage in season one. It was when one of the boys hooked up with Ari’s assistant and the assistant actually had time to do stuff.
MIKE VOGEL: It happens in every agency.
CHRIS NEUMER: Oh, I’m aware of that, but my problem was that this girl would leave at five. My friends were like, “This is what you have a problem with? That the assistant is leaving at five?” Yeah. That’s what I have a problem with. I remember I was having this conversation at 9:30 on a Friday night—11:30 for me in Chicago, 9:30 here in LA—and I was out. I said to my friends “I will call this agent I know at ICM right now and I absolutely guarantee you his assistant will answer the phone. They were like, “Bullshit.” So I bet them twenty dollars that she’d be in, called and she answered.
MIKE VOGEL: And it ain’t even pilot season.
CHRIS NEUMER: Right, and I said, “I just wanted to call and see if you were still working,” and she said, “I’m still working, Chris.” I said “I just won twenty bucks betting that you’d be in the office.” She laughs and says, “I’m glad my pain can bring you some form of happiness.” Really, that’s what it’s about. So assistants, yes, they date people, but they don’t leave at five and have a lot of time to spend shopping during the middle of the week.
MIKE VOGEL: And the time they do have is spent reading, and doing treatments, and dissecting materials so that they can write it down on a piece of paper so that when you call your agent and get them on the phone and ask, “What are your thoughts on this project?” And they look at the notes and go, “I think the project is a really genius breakdown of two lovers getting together.”
CHRIS NEUMER: And then they do the sitcom joke of where they can’t quite read the other person’s handwriting but still keep trying to. You’re asking, “Is it right for me?” And they respond, “Yes, because you like… uh, roller-coasters?”
MIKE VOGEL: Best regards, Jake. (laughs)
CHRIS NEUMER: Exactly. I’m assuming that you have talked to other actors in your position. I’ve always been under the impression that it would be harder for male actors to try and transition from young actor to rising-up-and-comer. However, the more I talk to people who are doing the doing, everyone else seems to have the opposite opinion: namely that it’s harder for women. I always thought it would be easier, because they can take their tops off if they wanted.
MIKE VOGEL: It just could happen to different people at different times. Women. Women got it tough, for sure. I guess, to a certain extent, a lot of pressure is put on a looks-based job acquisition. But, it’s the same thing, a lot of times, for guys. It’s become so commercialized that it’s not even about the best actor, or let the best actor win. That’s why I love professional sports: Because it’s about the performance. No one could look at A-Rod and say, “We’re going to make him a star,” Someone else would point out, “Well, he’s only hitting .180 this year.” “Doesn’t matter! Kid’s got a great smile and God, does he look good in those pants!” That doesn’t happen. When a guy goes out and hits fifty home runs, and makes phenomenal plays then he’s getting that star label.
CHRIS NEUMER: Augie Ojeda is not getting it.
MIKE VOGEL: (Laughs)
CHRIS NEUMER: But, is there anything else you wanna throw in, talk about, touch on, complain about, tell stories about, bad mouthing somebody in another agency?
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs hysterically) Have you done that?
CHRIS NEUMER: In a round about way, yes.
MIKE VOGEL: What happened?
CHRIS NEUMER: I was eating at the Peninsula—
MIKE VOGEL: There’s your first mistake. Never eat at the Peninsula. There’s an underground tunnel that leads to the C.A.A. from there, and it’s all connected.
CHRIS NEUMER: Yeah, I know that now. At the time, it was a different story. What happened was, because I wasn’t looking behind me to see Jim Cameron’s agent there, I told a joke where this studio executive dies and goes to heaven. He sees St. Peter and then he looks up on this hill behind the pearly gates and he sees this guy with a beard and a megaphone, yelling orders at all these extras, and there’s a phenomenally huge boat on a gimble, and the bearded guy is ordering everyone around and demanding things. The executive turns to St. Peter and asks, “Is that, is that Jim Cameron?” and St. Peter says, “No, that’s God. Sometimes he just thinks he’s Jim Cameron.”
MIKE VOGEL: (laughs out loud)
CHRIS NEUMER: And that’s the joke, and the agent, was quite literally, like right here, I mean within arms reach, and I was like, “Ohhhh…”
MIKE VOGEL: (mimics slide whistle)
CHRIS NEUMER: But, I’m at the point now where I’m glad that I have these things that entertain me later. I’m actually at the point where I can be entertained by my own misfortune.
MIKE VOGEL: When you’re doing articles on up-and-coming minor league tennis players, I’ll laugh at the Jim Cameron joke. No, you’re exactly right, man. Why can’t we take the piss out of people here? Why not? Why is it almost such a closed society where everyone wants to protect everyone else? But even anymore, it doesn’t matter…
CHRIS NEUMER: What if your agent called you up and said, “Mike, listen we don’t think you’re right for that role in the remake of WarGames, but we’d like to have you look at this script because we think you’re right for it.” The world could spin off its axis!
MIKE VOGEL: Yeah, you’re right.
CHRIS NEUMER: You could fall apart, and start crying, hysterically on the phone. It’s far better to be told, “Mike, you’re great for everything,” even when you’re not.
MIKE VOGEL: Right.
CHRIS NEUMER: Forget about the fact that then you’d be wondering why, if you’re so great for everything, you can’t get the roles you want. Push that to the side.
MIKE VOGEL: Yeah, it is what it is. Somehow, all of us are still here in the soup, and enjoying it… somewhat.
CHRIS NEUMER: And, as you say, at the end of the day you get to go home to a wife and kid which takes you away.
MIKE VOGEL: Right. Exactly, that’s what it’s about.
CHRIS NEUMER: And what do I have? I just have my many beautiful models, and stacks of money.
MIKE VOGEL: That’s awful.
CHRIS NEUMER: It is. It really, really is.
MIKE VOGEL: I mean, how do you sleep at night?
CHRIS NEUMER: I never sleep.
More Like This
Chris Neumer's Twitter
Inside Stumped Magazine.com