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Galadriel Stineman Interview

Galadriel Stineman
Photo credit: Paul Smith

Galadriel Stineman's TV credits include "The Middle".

What did you like about filming Murder, Anyone?

I loved working on Murder, Anyone because it was, first of all, a new team of people I hadn't worked with before and now consider some of my favorite people to work with. I've done it again already, and the people I consider to be really good friends. And this was unlike any project I've done. It's part comedy, part horror, kind of a throwback to old horror and old comedy, and I really had to stay on my toes the whole time. So it was a challenge to play this role. So yeah, it was great to join in on this fun.

Did you find any scene or gag particularly funny?

Good question. I found a lot of things funny. There were a lot of times that we had to stop and redo stuff because we were cracking up. I think the time when I lost it the most and ruined the most takes was when Spencer's dressed as the chicken and I'm looking over the back of this chair watching and they're whacking him, and every time they whack him his legs fly up in the air and feathers fly up in the air. And a lot of the stuff he said in that scene was ad-libbed and improvised. So we weren't prepared for it. And God bless him, he could keep doing it over and over again. But I think Kristos, he played Cooper, and I both probably ruined a few takes because he was so funny.

Do you think that people that enjoy theater would also enjoy this movie?

Yeah, I think this is a great movie for people who love theater, love film or love both, because if you're a theater lover and not into film you could go with a film lover and debate which is better. The two narrators or authors I guess, screenwriters, playwrights, whichever you want to call them, do. I think that's why it's really interesting. We filmed part of it in a theater and part of it in a traditional film setting, and the writer is Gordon Bressack, the director's father, and he wrote it as a play and his son directs all these films. And his son, James Cullen Bressack, James told me that those were real conversations he would have with his dad often of whether something would be better as a play or better as a film. And as much as we creative types to stick together I think there always is a rivalry of stage in film or insecurity in the other, I think all of us can relate to that.

You've won multiple awards for the role on Murder, Anyone, how does that make you feel?

I mean, of course it's great to win awards. Murder, Anyone was kind of nice also for me because a lot of the film work that I do is specifically for TV, lots of TV movies and shows and things like that. So it's been a long time since I've had something at festivals, so I felt spoiled at first. James kept giving me all the trophies. So let's just say that I don't really have other acting trophies. I've won a couple little things here and there, but it's really been scooping up. And so it's not something that I, as as an actor for a decade, am used to all the time, I've been a newbie kid that I'm like, "I get a trophy?" I mean, I don't care if you're in fourth grade and it's your soccer tournament or if you're an adult and it's a film festival, it feels pretty cool to get a trophy.

So I put a lot of work into this role and found it really challenging. For anybody who doesn't know the film, just kind of every time you see our characters, they have to be different in some way. And I wanted to keep it authentic and specific. And my dialect coach, Bailey Massey really helped me develop the different accents that I would use, which I feel like was the foundation for her. So some roles are really walk and talk, you just kind of memorize your lines, you feel connected and you can just create it in the moment. But I had to really prepare for this one. Not to mention it was a quick shoot, so we covered a lot of pages in a day. So of all the things that I could get some recognition for, it was nice for it to be this.

You are from Kentucky, why did you move to LA to pursue acting on screen?

So I moved to LA from Kentucky about, oh goodness, 15 years ago. Losing track of the years already. And at that time in 2007, you had to be here in New York if you wanted to pursue a professional acting career, maybe Chicago, but you probably have a day job too. I was most interested in TV and film, so it was LA. At the time it was meant to be a trial. I think I got a nine month lease on an apartment. So I was like, okay, I'm committed to nine months and then we'll see how it goes. And at the end of that nine months I had booked my first movie, this indie film that people haven't really seen, which is fine. I've improved a lot since then. But it was enough for me to think, oh, okay, I got a shot at this.

It's had its ups and downs, but I can't complain for the life I've been able to build here both professionally and personally. But now that COVID changed everything. So most of our auditions are virtual. It's now more normal for me to talk to people on Zoom than driving around town, which is cool. But that also means that us actors don't always have to be here, which is nice. So I have been tempted, especially now that Kentucky just got their film incentive back, to start spending my time both places if possible. That's my goal for the next year because I'd really like to be a part of helping grow the film industry there. I don't think there's any reason why they can't have it the same as Atlanta or any place else has.

How do you get into character for comedy roles specifically?

Well I think most artists, the answer probably changes every year you ask me. I mean, if you're serious about your craft, whether you're a musician or a singer or anything you're always learning and changing and finding new things. So I can only speak about what I use now. But what often makes comedy the funniest is the high stakes. How much these characters care about something that sometimes could be mundane. We've seen those comedy scenes where a character breaks a nail and they're losing it. And so my goal is always to find what I can use to achieve truth. If that means that I need to equate it, the broken nail, to cracking my iPhone screen and talk from that place or some of the silly zany stuff from Murder, Anyone, I'm always trying to find my way to not only be able to tell the truth, but to keep it really important. Which is, I think what makes us laugh is just how important these things are to the people. So that's really where I come from whenever I'm approaching comedy.

What have been some of your favorite TV roles that you've played?

Wow, it's hard to pick. I'm getting up there in actor year, so I have a lot to reflect on now. My first bigger role that was a TV movie was the live action of Gwen Tennyson from Ben 10. And that was epic because I got to take on this role that people already loved and there was a whole world in that that was really amazing to be a part of. But I definitely wouldn't be where I was today if I hadn't spent several seasons on The Middle. I really learned so much about comedy there and was able to meet new people in the industry because of that and loved that. And now my favorite TV jobs tend to be my husband and I do a lot of Hallmark and UPtv and stuff, movies together. And so while professionally I've done it, we've done it, but it's always fun to go on a working vacation with my husband and just act in love on camera for a few weeks and then take home a check. It's kind of a sweet gig.

What do you like about doing comedies, whether TV or movies?

Comedy for me, at least comedy in the acting sense, wasn't something that came naturally for me. People would always say to me, "Oh, you should do comedy. You're just bubbly and funny and the way you talk." But I didn't know how to translate that. And it became a real mission for me to almost approach it like math or something. I was convinced like, okay, I just need to break it down. I need to learn from those who know. And so for me, comedy has become so satisfying because it's something that now I feel super comfortable playing. In fact, I do more comedy, I think, than anything else. But I worked really hard to develop the ear, to hear the rhythm and all that because it didn't come naturally to me. So, 'cause I'm also an acting teacher and coach. I love when I get a dramatic actor who comes to me that wants to learn to do comedy because I'm like, "It's possible. I've done it." And I think it's actually sometimes easier to help a dramatic actor find comedy than a comedic actor find drama. Although usually if you can do comedy, you can do drama. Many drama actors can't do comedy though, so I don't usually have to teach the comedy ones how to do drama.

When filming comedies, how often do the actors laugh and have to do the scene again?

Oh my gosh. How often do we break up and laugh? Well, I mean, you know, got to feel it out because a lot of times we're filming on a tight schedule and a tight budget, one or two but then after that they're like, "All right, come on." But I will share, I think my favorite ever career moment when it comes to somebody busting up, breaking, whatever you want to call it. I did a movie with Steve Zahn in this past year, it's not out yet, it's called LaRoy. And I'm this trashy character with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth half the time, and he comes walking into my house and I'm like packing up to get out of town and take after take after take he walks in and takes one look at me and just loses it. I've been a big fan of his since, I don't know, I was a kid and watched That Thing You Do! and he was my commencement speaker in Kentucky, coincidentally, he's a Kentucky resident. So to know that was the reason production was being held up and I was the reason he was laughing, it's pretty good for my ego that day.

Have you been inspired by any particular actor that you've worked with?

I've been inspired by so many actors I've worked with. It's hard to pick any, but one that comes to mind right away is Patricia Heaton who led The Middle. And long before I was on that show, she was somebody along with Julia Louis Dreyfus, who I really admired for the way that they approached comedy because they really knew how to play that fine line of truth, but the stakes are so high before it became forced and pushing. Comedy doesn't often get the same recognition that drama does, but when you watch... There were times when I'd watch her on The Middle do a monologue and it's comedic, but she's crying in these frustrated tears and I was just so blown away and she was so courteous to me and so gracious. We both are moms of boys and connected over that. I haven't seen her in years. And just recently a friend of mine ran into her at something and she sent her love. Also it is just nice to feel a personal connection to somebody that I admired so much. So if I could end up with a career like hers, a role she had on The Middle someday playing the matriarch of this kooky family, that would really be a dream job.

As an actress, do you have a favorite genre to perform?

I would say my favorite genre to perform tends to be whatever I haven't done in a while. So if I'm doing a lot of comedy, then I might crave a drama. Same way, if I've done a lot of TV I might crave a film. The one thing that I haven't gotten to play in as much are period pieces or fantasy. And people always tell me, "You have a look for period." I'm all pale and 1700s looking I guess. Also I'm named after a fantasy character, Lord of the Rings. And so that would be a genre I would pick that I would love to do more of is something where I really get to play dress up.

What did you like about acting in video games, and are there any challenges associated with that work?

The only video game I've performed in was Until Dawn. And what a introduction to it. It was wild. I mean, first of all, nobody thought that game would become as popular as it's become. But I also was convinced for a long time in it that they made a mistake when they offered me that role because as we had Rami Malek and I had an Hay and Hayden Panettiere and I was like, I don't know how they really know who I am, and I have never done a video game. Is this an accident? And when they assured me that it wasn't an accident and they wanted me in it, I breathed a sigh of relief. But I don't know if I've ever been more stressed out than the first day I walked onto that set. I had a friend who had done one of the Halo games, and I called him and was like, "Tell me everything that you did." The motion capture and all that. I felt good and he told me things like you can't touch your face because then you're blocking the camera and you're going to move more physically than you're used to and all these things. It really, really helped.

But the thing I was most afraid of was that the script for Until Dawn at the time, set the world record for the longest script in video game history, I don't even know what it was, 1200, 1300 pages. It was something insane. So I never even read the whole thing. I think I read the four or 500 pages they sent me that my character was in, but it was impossible to memorize all those lines. So I showed up on set having a panic attack that first day, and then they pulled out a teleprompter and I was like, oh, thank goodness. So after that it was smooth sailing and I loved it. I hope the opportunity comes up again. I told my team that, that I would love to find another role like that and a video game. It was so fun to do something like that, just like I'd never done before. I mean, it was just like anybody who would be in a video game for the first time I was like a kid on Christmas once I got over the fear of rejection.

Do you also play video games?

I do play some video games, but I happen to live in a big gaming family. So whether I'm playing them or not, I'm always always, always watching them and I always know what's going on in them. So I tend to watch people play video games more. For example, my husband and my son are both separately playing Call of Duty and the new Hogwarts game, the new Harry Potter one that just came out a couple days ago. So basically my 12 year old is playing those during his weekend video game time. And then once they go to bed, my husband is playing them while I'm sitting next to him with my face in a book 'cause as nerdy as it is, I would say books are kind of my video games.

What would you say has been the biggest challenge of your career?

I think the biggest challenge of my career has been constantly trying to keep a balance in my life. So I became a mother pretty young by the standards of the town, a wife pretty young by the standards of the town. And when work is slow I'm spending time with my family, but I'm wondering if I'm ever going to work again. Last year I just so happened to be a year where I worked a lot out of town, so I was not here a whole lot. So I was working, it was great, I was doing things I was excited about. But then I'm not with my family, so I think the biggest challenge is always we can't just come up with a thing and that's our thing because our work always changes. That always changes.

So just constantly having to reassess and keep our priorities straight. My kids are 12 and 5 and they're only young for so long. 12 is just old enough for me to see how fast it goes, so I'm really hoping to be able to continue to find the balance. Sometimes work does it for me. I was supposed to be doing a movie next month out of town and it got canceled for some other reasons and I was bummed, but then at the same time, I'm going to be here with my kids while they're in school. So it's always about just trying to find the happy middle, I guess.

What is the best place for people to follow you?

Best place for people to follow me would be Instagram. If they come on right now, they might be like, "She doesn't post." I just took like a month break, but I'm coming back now and my handle is @Galaelf. It's not just acting stuff, I'm usually posting books I like, plants I grow, we go camping a lot, that kind of stuff. So I would love for anybody to come on by and hang out who wants to.

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