First of all, why don't you introduce yourself to those of us who
don't already know you?
my name is Barron Christian and I have been an actor since my late teens.
I have mistakenly been referred to as a playboy because I enjoyed
attending those more outrageous
parties rather than taking my career seriously.
became known because of a sign I had painted on the back of my Bentley Mk
VI. The sign read:
you are a producer or director,
pull me over and give me work!”
was simply a joke and not intended to produce results. However, this stunt had an untended side effect. I was surprised
that the media had picked up on the Starving Actor sign and I began to be
besieged by reporters requesting interviews. The TV, news and magazine
articles were showing up all over the globe and it seemed that the public
could not get enough information about my gag and me.
course those days were very different and I can’t imagine something like
this causing such a sensation in today’s world.
had become more of a celebrity or a
than an actor.
It was great fun, because I
enjoyed having my name well-known and I
was considered a top-of-the-list guest at the more
Your career by now spans about half a century, so let's
start at the beginning: What got you into acting in the first place, what
got you to Hollywood?
my early teens, I was given an 8-millimeter film camera and started making
my own movies. Just for fun, I would gather my friends together and cast
them in these amateur
films. I think this is how many people begin in the business.
If my information is correct,
pretty much at the beginning of your career in 1966, you
were set to star in Michael Musto sr's Educated Heart,
which unfortunately fell apart. What can you tell us about the project and
the story behind it?
living in film star Greta Garbo’s mansion in Hollywood Hills.
The house was rather large and had a maid’s quarter that I was
not using and wanted to turn it into a guest suite. To complete the guest quarters, I went down to
Sunset Blvd, to an antique and junk store in search of a kitchen sink.
was rummaging around, a soft, quite voice behind me said “You are my
Owen”. I turned to see a small fellow who repeated, “You are my
Owen”. Knowing that Hollywood
tends to draw eccentrics, I disregarded his strange statement and asked
if he had any kitchen sinks. He showed me a sink and then
as Michael Musto Sr. He explained that he was producing a film called Educated Heart and I was perfect for the role of “Owen”. I was
to play the love interest of a wonderful actress named
Ann Archer who later became a star and worked with such well known actors as Mel Gibson and
Sam Elliott. Another well known film actor, James Craig, who
starred in many films of the 1940’s, was also a lead in the cast. This
film was where actor Tony Geary got his start, later to star in the TV
A few months later we were on location in
Salt Lake City,
Utah, shooting Educated Heart. From the beginning, this film was cursed.
Anything and everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. I will spare
you the long and complicated details, except to add that we all begged to
go home as soon as possible.
Acccording to my informations, you
have been quite big on the Hollywood party circuit of the 1960's and 70's.
How did you hook up with the Hollywood jet set in the first place, and
what can you tell us about the Hollywood-scene back in the days?
In addition to what I previously
mentioned, unlike the “rags-to-riches” stories one frequently hears, I came to Hollywood
toting a rather substantial bundle of money. Since I did not have to work,
I threw myself into the fast crowd and began to seriously party.
Everything one has heard about
those legendary, “Old
Hollywood” parties was true. So much effort was made with a “Money is no object”-attitude
just to make the next party more spectacular and unforgettable
than the last. This was done to assure that the evening’s
glamorous and outrageous happenings would end up on the front page of The Hollywood
Reporter and Variety.
These soirées were also places to
conduct business. Actors were cast, finances for the next high budget film
were agreed on and you could always count on someone falling fully dressed
into the pool or running around naked to get the attention of the power
brokers without anyone really noticing.
those days and I am saddened to say that parties today are tame and pale
in comparison to the spectacular affairs of the past.
your opinion, in what way has Hollywood changed over the years?
Hollywood is not near as much fun as it once was. With
some exceptions, the film industry is less an art form and more a business
with those in charge making decisions that only pertain to increasing the
have done quite a bit of television work in the 1970's. Why don't you talk
about that for a bit?
Back in the seventies, I was
a member of the
Studios Club, which gave me free access to the studio grounds. I did a
little work in series that were shot at Paramount, but mostly just visited
the sets and hobnobbed with the cast and crew of such television shows as Mission
Trek, Bewitched and The Lucy
I was in my twenties, I thought that it was much more fun just to have the
benefits of a well known personality than to work for them.
You have also had your hands in
music video production, right?
Yes. Today’s music videos are so much more sophisticated and
entertaining than in my time.
The other day, I rolled some of the music videos I directed and was
surprised how dated they looked and yet it feels like I shot them just yesterday.
I suppose, at my considerable mileage,
everything seems to be like it happened just yesterday. Nuff said.
With BabyVision, a
film you produced, directed and narrated, you broke new ground in
pre-school kids entertainment in 1990. What can you tell us about that
one, and how was the idea concieved?
In the early 1990’s, it
was common thinking that babies were not as smart and aware as they truly
are. My partner Robert C Boswell and I looked into this misconception,
found a need to create a program for this age range, then took the ball
and ran with it, so to speak. Because
of its obvious controversy, BabyVision was picked up by the media with
frenzy. The video was greeted with warm enthusiasm and demonized at the
same time. The majority of reviews were very positive; however we were
also accused of creating a generation of TV watching baby zombies. Yet,
these days it is generally accepted that stimulating and teaching young
minds is a healthy advantage.
You have worked on
both Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country and Star Trek: Deep
Space 9 - and since I know many of my readers are Trekkies, you just
have to tell a Star
Well I have a few. Since
Star Trek VI, was to be the last movie with all the original Star Trek-cast, everyone fought to be in it. When I was told I was one of the lucky
ones, I was warned by everyone to be careful of William Shatner (Captain
Kirk). They said that he can be difficult and gets angry at the drop of a
hat. In reality, while everyone else was going nuclear, Mr. Shatner
remained cool and calm. He was a very likeable gentleman; easy going, friendly and
had a great sense of humor. When the director Nicholas Meyer, would call
me over to position me on the set, he would say, “Klingon number one”.
I would then say “My name
is Barron”, or “Please call me Barron”.
The director continued calling me Klingon number one several times
more and I, of course, would again say “My name
is Barron”. Then, after hearing me continuing to say “My name is
Barron”, Mr. Shatner said quite loudly, “Oh Barron…” and then with
his oft imitated inflection and with great arm gesturing, continued,
“Barron!... Barron!, Barron!, Oh Barron!, would you kindly please stand
here Barron”. Shatner’s unexpected flood of theatrics broke everyone
up and it took quite a while for us to get back to the business of making
the film. Another, lesser known piece of trivia is that; many of the
Phaser guns, carried by the Star Trek
crew to blast away the bad guys, started disappearing. This was quite a
mystery since the set was the highest security closed set I have ever been
on and nothing could come and go with out the guards knowing about it. Yet
it seemed that each day another phaser would come up missing. This was
most perplexing to our director Nicholas Meyer. Finally, the mystery was
solved. A studio guard spotted the nanny for Nicholas Meyer, who brought his babies to
the set each day, was seen stealing a phaser and hiding it in the
baby stroller and then casually leaving. It
may be interesting to note that because of the popularity of television
and films, an original Star Trek phaser is extremely collectible and can
sell for thousands of dollars.
In recent years, you have done lots
of voicework, also for commercials and stuff. How did that come into
agent heard me speak and (perhaps
mistakenly) thought that
I had a rare sound that others have said sounds like the “Voice of
God”. It seems that when you are in the voice over business, your voice
touted as being much more than it truly is. But
It got me quite a bit of work. In 1996 I was the voice of the Ford
Tough-commercials. That same year, I narrated the Academy Award-winning
documentary A Story of Healing.
That one was a case of timing and luck.
The neat thing about working voice is that you can look like hell,
because no one sees you. A young lady once said to me “If you only
looked like you sounded, you would be so handsome”. After she realized what
she had said, I could tell that she was mortified. I quickly reassured her
that I understood and also had to agree.
Rather recently, you acted opposite Eddie Murphy
in Imagine That. A few words about that one?
It was quite a privilege to
have worked with such a gentleman as Eddie. (I’m not being too familiar. He told me to
call him Eddie.) Unfortunately, as I was told, a generous tax incentive given to
the producers by the powers that be was not honored, and 99% of the Denver
footage was dropped. Still, I had a great time spending the better part of ten
hours sitting next to him and exchanging lines.
late, you have collaborated with director Kristian Day [Kristian
Day interview - click here] on various films in various positions.
How did you two initially meet and hook up?
In 2004 a friend of mine said I
must meet this remarkable fellow who was into sound engineering of films.
So I stopped in the Diamond Shamrock mini mart where this guy was working
to get some gas, a hot dog and perhaps introduce myself. I got in line,
and while waiting to move up the cash register, I listened to the way
Kristian was interacting with the customers.
It struck me that he was way over qualified to be working in a gas
When it was my turn to check out,
I introduced my self and told Kris that a mutual friend named Aaron Long
insisted that we meet. After a short conversation, I became aware of this
brilliant intellect and the way he understood the entertainment business.
I have always had this talent for sensing if
someone was going to do extremely well in the film business. I am not in
the least psychic, just somehow intuitive in this matter. When on the set
of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I told Will Smith that he would be a
major star. I often wonder if he remembers that. I have told this to only
five people and I was right each time. Kris was one of these people and I
was not at all surprised when his career began to rocket well beyond even
what I expected.
He is still amazing me by blazing forward with success after success.
Well, Kris and I became fast friends and today we work together in a film
production company called Modern American Cinema. Kristian
is a voracious reader and when there is something he wants to know, he
quickly becomes an expert on the subject. My
belief in him keeps being fortified by the next thing he does and that is
why he is great fun to be around. Oh, I must add that because Kris decided
to drag an old
relic out of retirement and back into the light of day, I am once again
working in films and other productions.
Thanks, old fellow.
What can you
tell us about the films you have worked on with Kristian Day, and what
kind of a director is he?
He is a relaxed and supportive director that
lets his actors do their thing, unless of course they go too far off script. His motto
is “Never set anyone up to fail”, and carefully casts actors that he
feels are easily capable of doing the role they will play.
Kris Day and Carey Kilpatrick are the two directors that, if called
upon, I will unhesitatingly jump
at the chance to work with.
Other films you were involved
with you'd like to talk about?
Generally, one talks about
the current or upcoming productions when it is time to promote them. Since
there are a few films in pre and post production, I will if I may, reserve
my comments until a more appropriate time. I do this so I don’t risk
getting a spanking from the producers for inadvertently saying something
that might spoil the plot.
Any future projects?
Thanks to Kris Days dragging me,
kicking and screaming, back into the business, I am now frequently being
offered work. I’m completing narration and some on camera work in two
exquisite documentaries and doing a film trailer for United
are some interesting projects in the pipeline and since I believe that
life is a “treasure hunt”, something new is always popping up.
have pretty much done it all, acted on the stage, the big and the small
screen - where are the differences, which do you prefer, and why?
With the stage you get instant
gratification with the applause from an audience. That feels good, but
working in film or video allows you make many mistakes that are thankfully
edited out, resulting in what appears to be a brilliant performance.
you'd love to play (no matter how unlikely)?
A substantial role in another Star Trek film would be great to work
good part in a well written comedy like The Hangover or the classic
Airplane would be on the top of my list.
I would enjoy
work on more
animated productions like Dane Bernhardt’s Nikolai and the Vedma,
where I had the privilege to voice the part of the Russian story teller.
Accents are great fun to do. For
me the most fun in being an actor is to work a character while disguised
behind heavy makeup, or doing the voice of a character that no one would
guess was you.
indeed actresses) who inspire you?
The great Richard Burton. I
idolized him so much that I tried to drink a quart of vodka each day as he
did. I lasted one day. I
don’t like vodka anymore. Another was Sir Lawrence Olivier. He was the
biggest star in films between the 30’s and 50’s. When I was sixteen, I
had the privilege of traveling with “Larry” on a road trip from
Versailles. I wish I had asked
questions and listened more closely, but I was too young to appreciate the
2001, A Space Odyssey
because of its uniqueness and ahead-of-its-time effects. Sunset
Boulevard - if you have seen it, you know why it is a favorite. If you
haven’t, then I highly recommend that you do. Elvira Madigan,
because it is poetic. Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, just because. Spirited Away or any anime produced by Hayao Miyazaki.
... and of course, films you really
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Don’t get me started. There are
so many badly made films that I have begun writing a book called What
Film Makers Should Never, Ever Do. For instance, films that are
directed in a lackluster way, without creativity and inspiration.
Lame productions with plot holes big enough drive a truck through.
Motion pictures that over-use hand-held camera work because it’s cheap and
easy. This takes me out of enjoying the film and slaps me back into
reality. Films that have not carefully choreographed their fight scenes,
but instead go on the cheap and rely on quick cuts to make the audience
think they are watching an exciting movie. Poorly written dialogue, etc,
etc, etc, ad infinitum.
Your website, Facebook, whatever else?
I have a few, but I don’t keep
up with that stuff. Sometimes, when I surf the web, I find some mention or
another about me that comes from God-knows-where. I figure that’s good
else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
it’s like thinking of something clever one could have said after the
conversation is over. I will most likely think of something after your
article comes out. But, thank you for asking.
for the interview!
Thank you for being interested in an old
relic like me.