If you were a fan of Arkansas Razorback Basketball in the early 90′s when we ruled the World, then you probably remember Guy Whitney. Check out his highlight reel:
After college Guy went to play ball in Europe, and after a career ending injury he moved to NYC to pursue acting. He comes to the 2011 LRFF as the star of the indie film The Crab. Watch the Trailer here:
I spoke with Guy, about Razorback Basketball, the transition to acting, and the move to NYC and back again.
A lot of people in Arkansas will remember you for your time as a Razorback Basketball player? What happened to you after you graduated and how did you get involved in acting?
After graduation i went to Iceland to start a pro-ball career in Europe. I had a minor knee injury that I turned into a career ending injury by playing hurt for 4 months. When I returned from Iceland, I made a conscious decision not to jump directly into anything other than my dream job. But since my whole identity had been created around basketball, I had no idea what that was. So for a couple of years I just wandered and explored: worked odd jobs at the mall, a lumber mill, washed dishes, went back to Europe. I made it a point to run in different circles and didn’t watch a second of basketball on t.v. I did my best to leave that part of my life behind which isn’t always easy for an ex-Razorback in Arkansas. I gradually built up the courage to admit that I wanted to be an actor. I started reading books about it and was certain. Once I said it out loud, that was it. I moved to New York City and for the next 6 years took classes and acted in plays, short films, and did extra work on tv anytime I got the chance. And of course worked as a waiter.
Are your former teammates surprised to know that you are an actor?
The word “actor” if often mistaken for “wanting to be a movie star”. I took my first acting class in my late 20′s and for awhile there was the perception that I’d decided to play the fame lottery and hope to get lucky, that acting was a short term hustle and that once i rolled the dice a few times I’d come home and “grow up”. And I understood that. I certainly rubbed shoulders with actors all the time who just wanted to get rich and meet women. It’s one of several reasons I avoid talking about acting. So most of my old teammates still have no idea that i’m an actor. Pat Bradley is one of my best friends. I don’t think it was until he saw a rough cut of The Crab that he fully realized what I had been up to for the last 6 years. But I know my old teammates will be rooting for me. I would love for them to see The Crab. They would love it.
Tell me about The Crab? How did you come to star in the film?
One of the women who was hired to help cast The Crab was Gioia Marchese. 5 years earlier, she had directed me in my first play in New York. She called and told me about the auditions for the part of Levi. I read the script and it was awesome. the kind of part I was dying to play: Gritty, raw, and ugly. a real monster. But with soul. The character came at the right time. I had just quit my job and was completely broke. I was on one hell of a losing streak. I had an angry desperation about me. Auditions went well. I liked the writer/director Rona Mark as soon as I walked in the room. Filming The Crab was a great experience. I get to do everything in this movie. We had the coolest crew in the world and we shot pretty much the whole thing in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan in 18 very long days. By the time I got done, I had no angry desperation left in me…for a week or two anyway.
What are you up to next?
There is a project in pre-production in New York that I am looking forward to sometime in the next year. I’ve got a couple days work in a film this August in Pittsburgh as well. In the meantime, I’m happy to be back in Little Rock. I am enjoying it after being gone for so long. I am excited about the Little Rock Film Festival and am looking forward to seeing the work of Arkansas filmmakers. And I’ll be looking for auditions.