Q & A with actor Sean Astin

Editor’s Note: Senior Reporter Brad Canze had a chance to talk with actor Sean Astin before his lecture Tuesday at Plachta Auditorium about life in Hollywood and some of his experiences lecturing.

Brad Canze: How have you found Michigan so far?

Sean Astin: Michigan is great. It’s my adopted state. I made a movie here in September and October of ‘08, and then my dad was in a play here all summer, and I came up to visit with my family and stayed in Lansing.

BC: A lot of movies have been coming here now that they have passed new tax exceptions for movie companies in the state. Do you think you’ll end up spending more time in Michigan making movies?

SA: I have no doubt. I think the tax incentives that were passed by the state is the smartest thing they could have possibly done ... I’m sure in the next three, four or five years there’s going to be tons and tons of movies coming here, and I would expect that I might be in one or two of them.

BC: Have you been touring around doing speaking engagements, or do you just do one every now and then? What’s that schedule like for you?

SA: Throughout my life, I’ve done a lot of speeches in a lot of different venues for a lot of different reasons. This is the second in a series of speeches at universities that I’m giving between now and the end of the year ... the University of Georgia last week was amazing. A real great turnout. I’m hoping that it will be the same tonight, I’m sure it will ... I enjoy doing it. It makes me feel useful. It allows me to kind of spread my wings a little beyond my acting life.

BC: When you do these speaking engagements, what is the main overlying topic of the speech?

SA: It’s a speech about leadership. I use movies like “The Goonies” and “The Lord of the Rings” and some others as a hook to kind of draw out similar themes and ideas of what I’ve learned from those movies and those characters. And then, I basically talk about civic responsibility and being engaged and my kind of take on the nature of leadership.

BC: What’s an example of how you would do that? How would you use those movies and your experiences to tie into that theme?

SA: The themes of the movies are pretty obvious. “The Goonies” is an adventure movie, “Rudy” is about being motivated and determined, “The Lord of the Rings” is this epic adventure that deals with the nature of good and evil and right and wrong. I just find little moments in the story or little anecdotes and I kind of connect them to things in my life.

BC: Your most recognized from those movies you mentioned. Do you often find yourself getting recognized as Sean Astin, or someone like Sam from “The Lord of the Rings?”

SA: I pretty much get recognized most of the places I go, from “hey, you’re that guy,” to “how are your daughters,” because they know about my biography or something.

BC: Is there anything else you’re working on right now? Any other films you’re developing or going to act in?

SA: I have one more called “Stay Cool”...I do a lot of voice over stuff. Right now I’m doing that for the Disney Channel.

BC: You’re mother was an actress. You’re an actor. Can you see your daughters following that?

SA: I think it’s a possibility. I always said I would support them with whatever they want to do with their lives ... I have mixed feelings. My oldest daughter has done a lot of community theatre and she has a great time doing that.

BC: If the audience members tonight took anything away from your speech, what would you want it to be?

SA: I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to them. I care about them and their progress ... and the idea of hearing from an actor and filmaker about leadership, I think that’s what will be most meaningful to them ... I want to be sincere and open.

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