Thursday, August 23, 2007

Two Cents & Five Questions With...

... Marcus A. York, Actor

You may have seen him in an episode of "CSI:NY" or "8 Simple Rules", but fans of "The Office" know and love Marcus A. York as "Billy Merchant" the office park property manager on the show.

Marcus appeared as "Billy" in two of the all-time fan favorite episodes, "The Injury" and "Casino Night". Both in Season 2.

TheTwoCents caught up with Marcus and here are his Two Cents & Five Answers. Enjoy!

Two Cents: Tell TheTwoCents readers a little about yourself and how you got your start in "show biz".
Marcus A. York: Well, I was born & raised in Arcanum, Ohio (seventy miles north of Cincinnati) located in Darke County (the birthplace of Annie Oakley and offensive lineman for the New England Patriots, Matt Light). It's a great area with genuinely-nice people...a little laid back. I love to travel, stay in shape, write, act and anything else that piques my interest at the time.

I got my start in 'show biz' while going to Anderson University (just over the state line in Indiana; where I triple-majored in psychology, sociology, and social work). While going through college, I modeled for a few different agencies in four surrounding states. Print work led to videos, which led to commercials. Then I noticed they were shooting a film in Indianapolis where soldiers were returning from the Korean War (set in 1954 Indy). It was before "Good Will Hunting" and starred Ben Affleck, Jeremy Davies, Rachel Weisz, Jill Clayburgh and Leslie Ann Warren. (My brother, Brian, and I checked it out and I played an injured soldier). The director was Mark Pellington ("Arlington Road" and "The Mothman Prophecies" and Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" video)...and he gave me he and his wife's home address and phone number and told me to call him if I ever made it to Hollywood.

I loved how everything "came together" on the the actors were really no more important than the camera guy, the sound guy, hair & makeup, props people, etc.,...and I kinda "caught the bug". I'd always loved TV & film and wondered if I could be a part of it somehow. I write screenplays as well, so I thought I'd check out Hollywood and see if I could "make a go" of it.

And after a quick year and a half living in beautiful Puerto Rico (I wanted to live at least a year of my life in the Caribbean before moving onto what I wanted to "stick with"), I moved to the West Coast. I called Mark Pellington, and he sent me to casting directors Michael Lien and Dan Cowan, and they sent me to Matt Terry at Kazarian-Spencer & Associates (KSA), and I met with Matt Terry (then Riley Day, now Leslie Stokoe) and I've been with them the entire eight years I've been in L.A. It's a great agency and I'm so glad the recommendation/'contact thing' worked out.
President Cindy Kazarian and everyone there are a pleasure to associate with during one's career.

TC: You've appeared on shows such as "CSI:NY" and "8 Simple Rules". What path led you to playing "Billy" on a few episodes of "The Office"?
MY: Simply put, the 'path' that led me to playing "Billy Merchant" on "The Office" was the creative writing of Mindy Kaling (who plays "Kelly" on the show). Sure, I had to 'win' the role, but first and foremost, it takes open-minded writers like Mindy (which Hollywood needs more of) to write it into the script initially. Too funny, a property manager of an office park who uses a wheelchair. Just one more person to whom "Michael" can make inappropriate his role (in my mind) of the modern-day Archie Bunker.

TC: Any word on whether Dunderheads will be seeing more of Billy in the next season?
MY: Well, yes, thankfully. Producer/Director/Writer Greg Daniels wrote "Billy" to come back in season four's opener. It's a pretty funny "physical" episode, that might have you 'running for your life'.

TC: You've been featured on two of the most popular episodes of "The Office" - "The Injury" and "Casino Night". What was it like working on a show where the ensemble is so beloved to its fans? Where every single character, no matter the size, is one the fans really enjoy?
MY: It's a very humbling experience. Again, Mindy wrote "The Injury" (which I thought was just hilarious); Steve Carell wrote "Casino Night" (the season finale, which was equally as funny)...and I so appreciated him writing "Billy" to come back.

The ensemble being beloved is pretty valid. This cast of actors are so talented and personable, it was a little intimidating at first. My first Guest spot ("The Injury") could've had me fired before the cameras even rolled (thank God they weren't rolling). Too funny, on the the first 'run-through' ... I 'drew a blank' on my lines because I rolled into the conference room full of cast members and it felt like public speaking (which I'd rather die than do). But it 'smoothed out' soon thereafter and worked out pretty well.

But, long story even longer, the cast members are a joy to work with and I actually love watching all their characters come to life at home as well. It's also interesting to watch some of their choices in feature film work as their careers explode.

TC: Do you have any future projects that we can look forward to spotting you in?
MY: Well, in addition to the season opener of "The Office" (which I hope turns into something more permanent with them...hmmm, wonder if Greg [Daniels] will read this?), I just shot a national commercial for "Secure Horizons" (that will air from Aug. 20th 'til the end of December of '07), I'm shooting my own Documentaries, have smaller roles in a couple films coming out soon, and continue to shoot short films. Just pluggin' away like everyone else, I guess.

**TheTwoCents Bonus Question**
TC: If someone were to climb off a desert island and only have time to watch five movies to learn what American cinema is all about, what five movies would you show them?
MY: Bonus Question?!? Does this get me lunch at Jerry's Deli?
I'd show them "Cool Hand Luke" (my favorite), for the 'pacing' of the film which stayed 'true' to itself the entire time; the characters involved; and the 'you-can't-break-my-spirit' role that Paul Newman played.
I thought "Walk the Line" was a pretty sweet BioPic...a nice mixture of a personal story with his (awesome) music (as was "Ray"). I actually ran into Joaquin at Aroma Cafe (near me) and almost freaked. I pulled my tongue back out of my throat, introduced myself, and told him how much I appreciated how much work he put into it. (He pulled off his shades, and in a light smoker's voice said, "Well, thank you. Thank you very much. Really.") Leaving, I then swallowed my tongue.
I thought "Good Will Hunting" was a pretty nice progression in a person chasing and overcoming their demons...and realizing their (possible) potential.
I caught "Everything Is Illuminated" recently. Nice combo of holding onto one's history, no matter how painful it may be, with rich characters and (again) 'natural' pacing that evolves into a touching climax.(And who wouldn't fall in love with a dog named "Sammy Davis, Jr., Jr."?!?!). Liev Schreiber did a fantastic job.
All of these, to me, were really a great combo of rich characters with a great story, and believable "real-life" pacing. Now, let's talk about that lunch.

A major thanks to Marcus for taking the time out to fill us in about himself, the show and so much more! You can catch up with Marcus on his website,! Tell him you read about him here on TheTwoCents!


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