Seattle Actor Profile: Nathan Graham Smith

Nathan Graham SmithNathan moved from Seattle to Los Angeles about 5 years ago but is back to play Orlando in Seattle Shakespeare Company’s production of As You Like It.  It’s a part he knows well as he played the role in the parks for Wooden O.  As the son of missionary parents, Nathan grew up as a world traveler and right after graduating high school he spent a year in South Africa. “Mandela had just become president, Apartheid fell, and they won the rugby world cup.  I was there for all that, and I was 18.  It was a phenomenal time to be there.  I can point to that moment in my life where I grew up in a big way.”

Reading

I read The Week. It’s a news digest and it’s how I get my news. I’m kind of reading everything I can about the play. When I’m in a play or dealing with a character, I tend to focus on that world, so I’m reading things about Shakespeare and his life and time period, anything that I can get my hands on. I’m reading the play a lot. It’s amazing that I’m still finding things in it and I’ve done the role before. I just picked up The Artist’s Way again for the third time. I brought that with me and I thought that would be good to have. Every artist should read that, I think.

Listening

I’m a big fan of KEXP here in town. I was really looking forward to listening to that while I’m in my car because I stream it when I’m LA. I listen to the radio a lot. I’ve been listening to a lot of Sarah McGuinn stuff. She’s doing the music for us. I’m trying to learn those songs. For some reason it’s hard for me to memorize lyrics if they’re just written down. But I can memorize a song just by listening to it over and over again.

Watching
I’m a big sports fan. I wasn’t so much when I lived in Seattle, but I became a big Dodger fan. I live right next to Dodger Stadium. In fact I’ve lived there for five years and I’ve been to over 60 Dodger games. It’s walking distance from my house. I’ve been watching the Sounders…super fun! It’s amazing how Seattle has really gotten behind that team. So I’m looking forward to seeing a live game. Also, I just finished up the first season of The Killing because I was coming up here. The homage to Seattle and the Northwest: so well done. The whole milieu is perfect.

I haven’t watched a lot of movies, but I did just watch Shakespeare in Love and 300 since I got here. You know, I’m playing the young lover and I’m wrestling with MMA style fighting. I go back and forth between gladiator films and period love stories.

What three characters from Shakespeare would you invite to a dinner party?

Shakespeare! I’d definitely like to meet that guy. The whole idea of who he was and the facts that we know about him. I’ve read a couple of different books on whether or not he wrote his plays, and I go back and forth on it, so I’d love to get to the bottom of that. I would love to hang out with other past actors who have played Orlando. And maybe Romeo, too. At least for this process. I would love to hang with the young lovers, pick their brains a bit. Romeo, Orlando, and Shakespeare. It sounds like a band!

Podcast: A Romance? Think Again.

Pygmalion 2012
Mark Anders as Henry Higgins and Jennifer Lee Taylor as Eliza Doolittle in Seattle Shakespeare Company’s 2012 production of “Pygmalion.”

If you think you know Pygmalion because you saw the film or the musical My Fair Lady, you may want to think again.  Mark Anders, who plays Henry Higgins in Seattle Shakespeare Company’s production of Pygmalion, tells us why George Bernard Shaw didn’t want a romance between Eliza and Higgins.

 

Seattle Actor Profile – Jennifer Lee Taylor

A native of Seattle, Jen Taylor made her Seattle Shakespeare Company debut last season playing Imogen in Chamber Cymbeline. Now with Eliza in Pygmalion, she has a role that she’s been dying to play since she was a teenager.  “At 12 or 13 I went into this weird stage where I would only watch black and white movies, because modern movies offended my sensibility (she laughs). I have no idea what was going through my head. So my mother introduced me to the film of Pygmalion, and I just fell in love with it.  And then of course I watched My Fair Lady.  I started working on my cockney dialect.  And when I was 14 I got to play Mrs. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and it was because I was mimicking Pygmalion.  Yeah, Mrs. Beaver was my first attempt at Eliza Doolittle. (Laughs).

Reading

“You’re going to laugh!  Right now I’m reading Death Comes to Pemberley. I’m so embarrassed. It’s a murder mystery written by P.D. James who is a murder mystery novelist that I quite like.  And she’s a huge fan of Jane Austen, who is my favorite author.  And she has written a sequel to Pride and Prejudice that is a murder mystery. In all honesty, I’m only a couple of chapters in.  I can’t really speak to its value yet.  I bought it for my mom with the hope that I could then read it.”

Listening

“I’m always listening to Radiohead.  It’s sort of my music of choice. In all honestly, I don’t feel like I have a ton of time to sit down and listen to the radio, unless I’m in the car, and then I’m listening to KUOW or the classical station, with a little bit of pop thrown in there.”

Watching

(Laughs) “I don’t have a television.  I have a whole bunch of movies from SAG, because I’m a SAG member and they send you films to watch for the SAG awards, which I never got around to watching, so I’m excited to watch The Artist.  I really want to see that when I have a moment to myself.”

Earliest memory of wanting to be an actor

“I was always putting on little shows.  But I remember I saw a play at the Village Theatre that was their kids’ summer stage show, and I must have been 11.  They were doing Bye, Bye, Birdie, and it was the first time that I had the realization of “Wait a second! These are all kids doing this. I could do this!” It was the first time I had a real concept of that for some reason.  Movies with kids in it seemed really far away, not something that was real. And my mother took me to a lot of theatre, bless her. Thank you, Mom!  She took me to the opera. She took me to the ballet. She took me to a ton of theatre, but it never really stuck in my mind that kids could do it.  So it was the Village Theatre’s KidStage that I really realized that “What a second!  These are all kids!”  That’s probably when I had the clear notion that I could be on stage, I think.”

Looking forward to this theatre season

“I would really like to see my friend Angela DiMarco in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at Seattle Public.  I am a fan of actors, so I want to go see their shows.  I want to see Nick Garrison’s show I Am My Own Wife at the Rep. I am also interested in Clybourne Park, which I don’t know much about.  I’m going to see The Bells at Strawberry Theatre Workshop.  And, once I close Pygmalion, I open up in Holy Days with New Century Theatre Company directed by Paul Stetler.”