Friday , May 24 2024

GalaxyCon: Vampire Guys David Boreanaz and Harvey Guillen Talk Origins and Inspirations

From Bela Lugosi to Christopher Lee and even, this year, to Nicolas Cage, vampires have been a staple in horror films, both scary and funny. The recent GalaxyCon in Austin featured two actors for whom vampires have played a big part in their professional development: David Boreanaz and Harvey Guillen.

GalaxyCon, which calls itself a “Festival of Fandom,” came to Austin, Texas, for the first time this September. It brought together celebrities, artists, writers, voice actors, entertainers, creators, and fan groups to interact on the topics they enjoy. Topics included comic books, pop culture, sci-fi, fantasy, anime, gaming, and cosplay.

Those two vampire guys, David Boreanaz and Harvey Guillen, both drew large and enthusiastic crowds.

An Angel Lands

David Boreanaz in “Married with Children” in 1993

David Boreanaz came to TV like many actors with a few uncredited bit parts. His first named credit was on one 1993 episode of Married with Children where he played Christina Applegate’s boyfriend. His big break came a few years later on Buffy the Vampire Slayer where he played the vampire Angel/Angelus. This led to five seasons of the spin-off Angel, and later to 12 seasons of Boreanaz as a (non-vampire) FBI agent on Bones.

GalaxyCon host, talent manager and author Lanie Labens interviewed Boreanaz.

Labens asked Boreanaz what draws him to a show that gets him into the cultural zeitgeist.

“Something from the get-go,” Boreanaz explained. “As you read it, you can almost see it. You want to understand whether it’s going to go anywhere with the story’s structure and whether I can take that character anywhere. It’s a gut feeling and I’ve always been about characters who have a light and dark side.”

David Boreanaz talking about his early career

Beginnings

Labens inquired about Boreanaz’s pre-actor life and how he got started.

Boreanaz decided he wanted to be an actor when he was just seven years old. He studied movie-making in college and then moved to Los Angeles.

He shared stories of a string of failures including selling gourmet food door-to-door in Beverly Hills, working at a place where a door got stuck so he kicked it open and got fired. Eventually he got into painting houses and that led to painting sets. He got a job as a production assistant on a set where he got to clean out honeywagons.

Not very glamorous, but, he commented, “Working around a set was great for me.”

Labens asked about the best advice he had ever received.

David Boreanaz being introduced at GalaxyCon

Boreanaz said that came from Art Rooney, Sr. Rooney started and owned the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers for 55 years. He got to know Rooney because Boreanaz’s father was a radio/TV broadcaster and would sometimes sit around with Rooney watching football games.

Boreanaz recalled, “He did tell me you had to be lucky, but that you can do whatever you put your heart and mind into. He was a big inspiration.”

A Different Path

Our vampire guy number two, Harvey Guillen, answered questions from GalaxyCon’s Patty Hawkins. Guillen describes himself as a content creator and programming host for conventions and geek-related events.

Guillen had an extremely different path to stardom than David Boreanaz. Guillen, who plays Guillermo de la Cruz, a vampire’s familiar on What We Do in the Shadows, did not have a father in broadcasting who watched football games with a millionaire. Like Boreanaz, though, he set his eyes on an acting career at a young age.

I Want to Be…

Guillen explained to Hawkins that he decided he wanted to be an actor when he was six years old. He said that coming from an Hispanic environment, many of the films he was exposed to were in Spanish, but then one day he got to watch Annie. That film, based on the musical, inspired by the comic strip Little Orphan Annie, got Guillen excited. He said, “I ran to my mother and yelled, ‘Mommy, I want to be an orphan.’”

Harvey Guillen at GalaxyCon in Austin

His mother was confused and not amused. Guillen mimicked her response yelling something in Spanish that was outside of my limited knowledge of that language. He got a great laugh from the crowd with this gag and repeated it several times as he shared stories of his youth.

When she understood what her little boy was trying to say, she explained that the people in the movie weren’t orphans, but actors. Guillen said, “She told me that they took acting and dancing classes and that we didn’t have the money for that. I felt bad. She told me afterward that I could do anything I wanted to.”

The Path

Guillen continued, “Later I heard about an improv class at the local community center. I needed money for that. Saw a homeless man going through trash collecting bottles and cans. I asked my Mom what he was doing.

“She explained it and I used that same technique to raise the money for my first improv class. I really enjoyed it. It took weeks to raise the money. I asked myself, ‘Do I really want to do this again?’ Yes!”

Over the years Guillen has done a lot of voiceover and animation work. Hawkins asked him if he enjoyed it.

“You can do voiceover from anywhere,” Guillen observed. “Sometimes I’ve worked on one project during the day and at eight at night, I’m doing a voiceover. For voiceover, you don’t have your face or body. You just have one tool. Your voice must convey everything. You have to work harder and control all the muscles in your throat. It’s harder, but I love it.”

Inspirations

An audience member asked Guillen if there were actors who inspired him.

Guillen thought about it for a couple of seconds. He said “I watched a lot of Mexican TV and farcical comedy. Comedy is all about timing and the set-up. It’s like ballet. I’d watch reruns of I Love Lucy. Meryl Streep helped me find my inspiration. I watched a lot of people who looked like me on screen, so I kind of meshed them all together.”

Harvey Guillen and co-star Natasia Demetriou

Another audience member asked if Guillen was setting out to inspire people.

Guillen answered, “I didn’t set out for doing that. That wasn’t my goal. My goal was to do something every day that makes me happy. I do what I can to entertain and if that inspires somebody, that’s good.”

Note that references to particular shows are mine. Actors and GalaxyCon representatives followed SAG-AFTRA strike guidelines during their discussions.

For more GalaxyCon fun, check its website which contains links to all its social media, and info about its other events online and in Des Moines, Richmond, Columbus and Raleigh.

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

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