On AMC’s hit drama “Mad Men,” he plays Ed Gifford, the nebbish who just wants to do his job and not get fired in the busy (and often crazed) offices of Sterling Cooper & Partners.
On the web’s gay-centric series “EastSiders,” he plays Cal, who is deep in relationship drama when his boyfriend, Thom (Van Hansis), reveals an affair. Does Cal stay? Does he go?
Who’s the ‘he’ in both these series? Actor Kit Williamson.
Besides Williamson and Hansis, “EastSiders” also stars Constance Wu, Stephen Guarino, John Halbach and Matthew McKelligon. The show also has familiar faces as guest stars like Sean Maher and drag queen extraordinaire Willem Belli will appear in the second season both in and out of drag.
Williamson talked to me recently about his experience working on “Mad Men” as well as the business side of funding an online series, as he is currently doing with Kickstarter. In fact, there are only 3 days left in the “EastSiders” campaign and while close to their financial goal, they still need a little bit more help to push them over the edge and start filming Season 2.
I’ve talked to a lot of people that used Kickstarter to fund their projects. What would you say are like the pros and cons of Kickstarter?
Kit Williamson: I think that the biggest pro is relationships that you get to build with the viewers, the audience. To be able to have a direct line of communication with people is amazing, and it’s unique to the internet. I can’t think of anything else in the entertainment industry where you get to have that kind of relationship with people.
As far as cons go, it’s a lot of work, and it’s really stressful. You are constantly trying to reinvent and figure out new ways to get it in front of people so they can decide if they want to support it, so I would say…this may be a misconception that Kickstarter is free money. It actually is a lot of hard work, I think, in order to do it right.
How do you think you’ve changed as an actor with the experience on “Mad Men” and in your writer/director capacity with “EastSiders?”
KW: I think that having to go through hours and hours looking at footage of yourself should be a requirement of anybody trying to act for film because you learn so much about the artifice that you put on top of your acting and you’ll find that things that you didn’t think were that weren’t almost always are the best, the ones where you just truly let go and let loose and didn’t concern yourself with the ‘performance.’ At least that’s what I found and having the opportunity to really analyze my own work objectively in that way has been incredibly beneficial for me.
And there’s such secrecy with “Mad Men” that you can’t even talk about if you’re in the episode or not. That’s a no-no.
KW: I absolutely cannot talk about whether or not I’m in any episode. You can only talk about things that have already aired. I think it helps create an air of mystery and intrigue around the show, which really benefits the storytelling. It’s one of the few shows on TV you have no idea what’s going to happen.
I’m going to ask you a silly question. Do people sometimes think you’re on “Game of Thrones?” Because there’s a Kit Harington on there and you’re Kit Williamson, so there are two Kits.
KW: That just happened a bunch and I blame it on the size of your Twitter profile picture. I don’t know that anybody would ever mistake us for one another on the street or in a full-sized photograph but something about the thumbnail picture…it’s happened. There aren’t a lot of male Kits out there, actually and when we meet each other, we have to fight to the death with swords and absorb [the loser’s] power.
And I think shirts need to come off, so we can at least have a little, you know, sexiness to the whole duel aspect of it.
KW: Yeah, what’s a beheading with the shirt on? Come on, let’s make it sexy.
I love it. Actually, do you watch shows like “Game of Thrones?” Are you into that?
KW: I love “Game of Thrones.” I’m obsessed with “Game of Thrones.”
With that show, I think just because of the time in which it’s set and the situations, you really see that in the acting on the show. Do you see it that way as an actor?
KW: I totally agree. I think that one thing that’s so interesting to me about a great show like “Game of Thrones” or “Mad Men” is how consistent the acting is even though obviously all the actors come from very different backgrounds and are very different kinds of artists. You see that kind of cohesiveness of a cast speaks to the cohesiveness of the writing. The script demands to be acted a certain way and good actors will fall in line.
TBL: You’re wearing so many hats, especially with Eastsiders, but do you still study acting?
KW: I think that, when you are working, that can kind of provide that ongoing training for an actor but I do think it’s important in times of unemployment to keep sharp, so I definitely get into classes whenever I’m not working on something, but though I’ve had some great classes in my time, I’ve definitely found that the best education has been making my own stuff. I’ve learned so much about myself as an actor through that process.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.
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