Team-Twilight Exclusive: Interview with Michael Welch
On Monday, I had the pleasure of attending a screening of the film Unrequited, which stars Twilight‘s Michael Welch in the lead role. The film was screened as a part of the American Film Market in Santa Monica, California. The film’s director, writer, producers and actors were all in attendance. I had the opportunity to sit down with Michael after the screening and ask him about the film, as well as Breaking Dawn, and some other projects he has going on. Charity from The Welch Act (a Michael Welch Facebook fan page — check ‘em out!) went with me and helped me out during the interview.
How do you feel watching your own movies?
It’s kind of weird. The first time I see something that I’m in, particularly on the big screen is very difficult to get through because I’m kind of a perfectionist and I’m very knit-picky about my work. But after a while, though, if it’s something I really believe in and a character that I feel was well-drawn out, a story I think is worth telling, then eventually by the maybe 3rd or 4th time I can start to relax and enjoy it a bit more.
Ben [Michael's character in Unrequited] makes some interesting decisions in the movie that could easily be called “crazy.” Do you think he’s crazy or more just desperate.
Yes I think that Ben has disconnected with reality as a way of holding on to hope and trying to hold on to what he perceives as love.Â I think that he was very unstable and had issues from very early on in his life. And I think that what he wants is very clear. One of the things that is interesting about this movie is that it’s the exploration of love and what love can do to people. Or rather a lack of love, how that can affect someone and how far someone would go to hold on to love in their lives on any level. So I think he’s a little bit of both. He’s a bit desperate, and I don’t want to say crazy, but out of touch, probably purposefully. Subconsciously he may disconnect for a reason.
Without giving too much away, are you happy with the way [Unrequited] ended or would you have chosen a different ending?
I think the ending is appropriate, based on the journey of this kid. I think it’s symbolically appropriate. So yes I am happy with the way it ended.
Our readers are used to seeing you as very goofy. Do you prefer comedic roles, because this is pretty dark?
You know, I just like to work. I just love being an actor. Being able to create characters, tell stories, and find parts of myself that I didn’t even necessarily know were there. So I will say I do enjoy being in a dark place. I think that we all have darkness inside of us and for a living, I get to go into myself and explore all those areas that normally you would spend a lifetime trying to avoid. It’s a lot of fun, but I also enjoy the more lighthearted stuff as well. Mike, in particular, it’s been a great joy for me to be able to play that character. And over these past few years. He obviously has a lot of pain and his own issues that he goes through, but overall, the weight of the character is certainly not as intense as a role like this [Ben in Unrequited].
Have you read the [Breaking Dawn] script?
But you’re signed on?
Yes, I will be in Breaking Dawn.
Do you think it’s possible for Mike to get any closure?
It just depends on how you look at it. I’m thinking back to my lost first love from high school into my young adult life. I don’t recall getting closure, you just sort of move on. Rejection sucks and it certainly can’t be easy for Mike to watch this woman he loves committing herself to another man. Well, another â€œmanâ€ as far as he knows. But at the same time, I’m sure there’s also a layer of him feeling happy for Bella. It’s pretty clear how much Bella loves Edward. So I think there’s an element of someone that you care about being happy, so there might be some closure there.
Do you think you’ll get more screen time than you did in Eclipse? You were in Eclipse for about 5 seconds. That was disappointing.
Yes, in Eclipse I had my little cafeteria scene and then I had the graduation with that stupid look on my face sitting behind Bella and Edward in soft focus. I’ll probably get at least as much screen time in Breaking Dawn. New Moon is my peak in the franchise, which is strange when you think about it.
The theater scene is a great scene, though, when you get sick. It’s excellent. Very enjoyable to watch. I feel sorry for Mike at the time.
I’m very proud of that sequence. That’s my mark on the Twilight franchise, that little 3 Â½ minutes and the cafeteria.
I’d like to see you and your other human friends have a little more time, but knowing the story…
Yeah, there’s not a lot of opportunity for additional scenes in a book that’s close to a thousand pages, they’re not looking to add scenes. They’re looking to cut out whatever they can.
You’ve been pretty busy lately with Unrequited, your Criminal Minds episode, and I’ve seen the trailer for Rough Hustle, and you said you have some auditions coming up. Do you manage to stay pretty steadily employed for Hollywood?
Right. You know acting is a unique profession because there’s 95% unemployment at any given time, so if you can find a way to work, then you are doing alright, and I’ve manage to, since the time I was ten years old, found a way to work and have an income, and live off of the income purely from my acting work, and that, in and of itself, is such a blessing. So many of us don’t have that luxury. So yeah, I’m not working constantly but it feels like I’m always busy because it feels like there’s always something going on, whether it’s traveling or auditioning.Â It does feel like I’m busy all the time. I’m not like Ryan Seacrest busy, but I stay pretty busy.
I wanted to ask about My Suicide but I don’t think a lot of people will know what it is about.
I’m very excited about. It’s a really spectacular film and I am very excited to be a part of it. We shot it in January of 2006 and it took about 3 years just to edit it the way they wanted to because it’s essentially a movie from the perspective of a high school filmmaker, so it had to look and feel like he made and edited and shot the film. So there’s a lot of really interesting choices that they made that just took a long time to execute. And it’s actually the set where I met my girlfriend who I am still with five years later, so that’s cool. I’m really glad that My Suicide has a theatrical release because I think it’s a movie that should be seen.
Tell us about your character in the film, Earl.
Earl, like Mike, represents a specific element of the high school experience. Totally different from Mike, but Earl is the guy who is just kind of a crazy party guy, super confident, he’s like the king of his own domain. He throws the house parties, he’s got all these tidbits of wisdom, he thinks he knows everything, but always about either booze or girls. But can tell you anything about those two subjects. He’s one of those guys that is kind of a dominant in a dominant-submissive relationship.
Do you get recognized a lot?
A lot is relative. I get recognized at least on a weekly basis. It just depends. Sometimes I am just busy and working and auditioning and I’m not outside in the world, so on those days I won’t get recognized.
You seem approachable.
There are two elements of the celebrity world that I really enjoy and oneÂ of those is when people approach me on the street because it’s just a really nice validation. I’ve been working really hard for a long time and when someone appreciates what I’ve done or what I’m trying to do, it makes me feel really good. The other thing is being able to do some good for a particular cause, which celebrities are in a unique position to bring a level of awareness to a particular problem and to be able to fund-raise, or whatever it may be, in ways that are really remarkable. Those two things are great. The whole blogosphere end of it, the TMZ celebrity culture, I could do without. But I like being able to do some good in the world.
You were teasing on your twitter a little about an announcement you were going to make. I’m not sure what you can say about it.
Yes. Just recently started working with an organization called The Thirst Project. They’re very young but they’ve been very effective with what they do, which is to bringÂ access to clean water to people around the world that don’t’ have it. We’re still working on the details so I haven’t made an official announcement, but I did want to tease it a little bit to let people know that we’re working on something really cool. And it’s not going to take that much to be able to achieve what we want. And I have no doubt we’ll be able to do it. So I’m super excited.
How do you like being on Twitter?
It’s fun. I actually enjoy it a lot more than I thought I would. When I was a teenager, which I guess wasn’t that long ago, but in my early teens one of the things I would do was AOL instant message with my friends, and this kind of brings me back to that. Except instead of talking to 9 friends at a time, I’m talking to like 20,000. So It’s cool to be able to interact with people that way. It feels very intimate and informal and nice.
As for the film, I think it’s fair to say that I think Michael is a highly underestimated talent in the pool of Twilight actors. He probably doesn’t get as much attention because he isn’t the lead in larger films, but he’s got the acting skills that explain why he’s been acting so steadily for 13 years. He definitely carries the film. I had read some reviews that mentioned that the story had kind of been done before, but I never felt like I was watching the same old movie. And I feel like there are a couple of twists that take you off guard that don’t leave you feeling like you could have guessed what happened. And more importantly, I felt emotionally affected by the story-line and the characters. I’m not sure of the status of the film’s distribution, but I would say if you get the opportunity to see it, definitely check it out!
As for my personal thoughts, Michael is charming and genuine and an all-around pleasant person to be around. I look forward to what’s next for him.
[Photos by Anne and Charity]
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