Gilles Marini last spoke to us as he was on the verge of becoming a regular cast member of the hit ABC series Brothers & Sisters.
At the end of the fifth season the show finished and since then Gilles has been expanding his horizons with a variety of different roles.
We gave him a call to talk about the end of Brothers & Sisters, find out what else he’s been up to and to discover if there’s anything he can’t do.
How are you today?
I’m doing fantastic. It couldn’t be better. I woke up this morning and my wife took me to the most incredible spa at The Four Seasons. It’s a little private house and it’s fantastic. We have massage, amazing attention. I really needed that and I think it’s a great present from my wife.
Last time we spoke to you you’d just gone into ‘Brothers & Sisters’. Obviously now the show has finished. What was it like when it came to an end?
I was on my way to New York City to get a humanitarian award and it was kind of shocking because no one knew that it would happen. It looked like we were in the roster then a lot of things went off last minute so it wasn’t 100% ABC’s fault at all. I think there’s lot of things inside that no one’s aware of and the next thing you know they decide not to keep going with the show. The sad part is that it never really had a perfect ending. I’ve been thinking that maybe Brothers & Sisters should make a movie to close it.
That would be fantastic. The show ended with Luc and Sarah’s wedding but there’s definitely more mileage in it.
Oh my god yeah. The show respectfully needs to be closed and I think the best solution for that would have to be making a movie with all of the cast. I think it would be a great idea.
We’d love it if you did that…
I’m going to actually make some phone calls and see if anyone is interested in producing that. I think it would be a great way to finish the show and give respect to the audience who are really dying for that. It was a very successful show around the world. Not many shows can have any type of people, any type of culture whether young or old be able to like it. It was a very special show and I was very sad to see it finish.
Since ‘Brothers & Sisters’ finished you’ve been popping up in shows such as ‘Modern Family’ and ‘Hot In Cleveland’. What have those experiences been like for you?
As soon as the show started (Brothers & Sisters) as actor you never know what’s going to happen next. You come out of the pilot season and may be out of a job for a bit but that wasn’t the case for me. I got very lucky. I went into a play after the show (This at Kirk Douglas Theatre), something that was very challenging for me. The true form of acting is doing a play and I wanted to show Hollywood and all the people that only saw me as one thing that I was actually able to act in a very difficult environment with no strings attached and no safety net.
I did the play for about 2 months in Los Angeles and then I went into a show called Switched At Birth where they hired me to play the biological father of the character Bay. I’m actually still working on that now. Then I went on toModern Family; that for me was something incredible because they won all the Emmys on the Sunday then on the Monday they hired me to do the show. It couldn’t have been a better moment for me that there are some people out there that think of me to do a comedy. It was incredible to be blessed with the presence of all those incredible actors. Winning everything and being part of that show, we actually got the best ratings. When Modern Family aired we actually beat the Baseball World Series final in America that night. For me it was an incredible moment in my life because I felt like ‘wow people are watching and they obviously like what the show is about’. Maybe they were paying a bit more attention and saying ‘this dude from Brothers & Sisters is doing comedy. Let’s see what he brings to the table.’
After that I did Hot In Cleveland then I did Are You There Chelsea? the new Chelsea Handler show. That is going to be airing very soon in America, I don’t know if you guys have that show yet, but it’s completely hilarious. Chelsea Handler is a great comedienne and she has her own sitcom now. I’ve done a guest spot on that.
Now pilot season is coming so there’s a lot more to do for me and there’s movies. For the first time in the last three and a half years I’m free so I’m very excited to see what Hollywood brings to the table.
Last time we spoke you expressed the desire to do different roles and you’re getting the chance to do that in those shows. You also said you wanted to do action roles. Is that something you still want to do?
Yes. It’s the first time I’m free and I’m going to really pay attention to that. I’ve been doing martial arts for the longest time. I’m actually practising Ju-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). It’s something that’s becoming incredibly popular and in the UK with one of the greats fighters called Michael Bisping.
I’m really ready for any kind of action movies. The best thing that could happen to my career right now would be shooting a James Bond film and I’m the bad guy. That would be a fantastic gig because I know I could bring to the table something that they’ve never seen before. It’s something that attracted me since I was child where I can play a character that’s the bad guy and bad-ass. It brings so many different things to the table and I would be the perfect nemesis for 007. I’d love to play that.
It would be good to see you do something like that because it would be completely different to anything we’ve seen you do before.
Yeah. It’s simple. America sees me as a French lover and it’s normal. Don’t get me wrong I love that and it’s working now. At nearly 37 years old it won’t work like that anymore so I’m enjoying the prospect to play it wide. It’s very difficult to be natural, to be understood, to be charming, to be all of those aspects; it’s not really me so it’s somehow really hard to play that. I know America sees me like that and I have a lot of those roles. I’m blessed and I’m happy with that. I have to play differently every time with a tweak when it comes down to the characters.
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of comedy and sitcoms infront of an audience and that is something I’ve never done before. I rasied to the challenge and it’s been working really well. I can’t reveal the news yet but I’ve been approached by the same people that I work with already and they want me to work again with them. That means that maybe comedy is something I pay a bit more attention to and do a bit more.
Would you like to have your own sitcom?
Absolutely. I think sitcoms are for sharp actors that have to be included and passionate with what they’re doing. You’d never see one of those ‘I want to be an actor’ in the reality world be able to excel at comedy when it comes down to being able to have a real sitcom. It’s a very difficult and demanding job that requires that you to have passion and dedication as an actor. I think if ever I get a chance to be in a sitcom I will be extremely happy.
Do you think you may return to theatre at some point now you’ve had that experience?
Yes. Theatre was an incredible experience. Every night, and sometimes twice a day, you had a different audience right in front of your eyes and they all react very differently. Down the line you learn how to manipulate the character differently, you know when people are going to completely laugh their butt off and you try things that don’t work. I think for an actor if you’ve never done a play then you are three-quarters of an actor. You have to do a play to feel like you’ve finally made strides in this business that is extremely difficult. I felt I grew so much as an actor when I stepped into the theatre world and had so much respect for the people that were doing theatre for the longest time. You obviously don’t do theatre for the money, you make absolutely no money doing theatre, you’re doing it for the passion of the job. If you can break that then there’s nothing in this industry you cannot do so I was very thrilled to do theatre so why not do it again?
Some of the best theatres in the world, besides Broadway, are in England. Why not go to England where people who are passionate about theatre will come and watch?
You should get on a plane and come and do something in the West End. We’ve got some great shows…
Incredible. That’s why the English actors come and take over the world every time. They have this education. For the actor it’s easier if they pretend to be American but they have that thing, that je ne sais quoi that comes out of the theatre world. There’s nothing they cannot break and that’s why they’ve been so successful.
Theatre is very difficult and people don’t always give the actors that do it enough credit. What’s it like getting the instant feedback every night?
To be honest I was extremely scared. I’m my worst critic. Every time I do something I think it’s awful and I should just go back to the drawing board. It’s good to do that to a certain extent but then afterwards you have listen to what the real critics are talking about. We had incredible critics.
Melissa Gibson who wrote the play This, that I was in, is a genius. She’s an old-fashioned type of a writer so it was very technical and it was difficult to break that piece. The punctuation was different; it was very specific. It’s one of the hardest times I’ve had in acting but it was also the most thriving one. I thought that I was accomplishing something and the critics were fantastic.
People loved it and it was packed every day and every night. It was incredible. I can’t wait to feel that again, see the people laughing at you and what you say, smiling and feeling like they’re part of it. You can smell them…it’s so incredible and so different. I really enjoyed it.
In the future would you like to step behind the camera and have a go at writing and directing?
One very smart Welshman called Matthew Rhys (Kevin in Brothers & Sisters) was one of the greatest inspirations for me. I worked two years straight with this man and there’s no limit to what Matthew can do. He is an incredible actor, he’s very complex, very intelligent and a stunning director. The best ever scene I had (in Brothers & Sisters) was one he directed. Seeing Matthew being able to do that – we’re pretty much the same age – really made me feel like only you can stop you.
If you want to do something like that one day then you have to jump into it. Matthew is a great example of never saying no, never giving up and always doing things that he believes in. I thank him for that forever. I believe one day I’d love to write and direct a little project. I want to start with shorts and then down the line see if TV maybe a it’s something I know a lot about.
One of the things we’ve noticed about your career is you’re never afraid to try something and do things differently so why not give it a go?
You have to man. You only live once. It’s one of those jobs where you’re allowed to be anything and get away with it. I think you have to be able to be and do anything. Always something you feel in your heart will be successful but most of all something that will make people feel. I would love to make people feel, happy or sad, just feel and understand the process of what I went through when I was either shooting it or maybe writing it. I’m very attached to that. Silly enough when I did Dancing With The Stars I had people send me emails saying ‘listen, I’m in a wheelchair but every time I watch you dance I feel like I’m dancing’. For me I didn’t need the 10s from the judges and going all the way to the final. What I needed was someone out there who actually, saying things like that, would bring tears to my eyes and make me feel I was doing something positive for the world. That’s what I really look for.
You can act in a variety of roles, you can dance…is there anything you’re not so good at?
I don’t know. People have to put me to the test. I didn’t think I was able to dance, then I did. Maybe singing? Maybe singing’s next? I sang a little bit at the end of the show (Brothers & Sisters) with just a boom mike over my head and the sound was ok.
In life there’s nothing you cannot do. Some people have their abilities but in the end if you do it with passion you’re going to get away with it. I don’t think Mick Jagger is the greatest vocalist in the world but is he the most passionate? Yes. Why’s he still working? Because he’s the most passionate. That’s why everyone loved the Rolling Stones. It’s not about how good you sound or act, it’s about how passionate you are when you’re doing it. That’s why some people are very good at what they do because they are passionate about it.
Like you say if you don’t throw yourself into something whole-heartedly and give it a go then you never know do you?
You can never know. I’m doing a lot of mixed martial arts lately and I’m thinking maybe I should fight once or twice? Maybe I’ll get my ass kicked but who knows? If I don’t try then who knows? I don’t want to be a fighter as a career but putting myself to the test makes you realises how good or how bad you are and what you need to work on. For me there’s nothing you do bad when you try. If you try and fail who cares? At least you tried and that gets my respect. If tomorrow I decide to fight and in three seconds get knocked out I still stepped into that cage for example. It could be anything like that, anything at all.
It’s the positive attitude. If you go into something positively…
Often if you’re positive and you try your best then there’s no regrets. For me I say a lot that if you make a choice there is nothing wrong about it, good or bad, you’ve made a choice. You went for it and you believed in it. Don’t let other people tell you what to do. You can always have friends and family guiding you and thinking that’s silly but in general you should the make the choice if you’re passionate about it. Then it will be a good choice.
On a bit of a different note we notice you’re a very active tweeter. How is it for you to be able to connect with your fans through social media like Twitter?
What’s fun about Twitter is that you tweet something, and for me it’s more family related and fun times – I try to keep the political under the radar because I have very strong opinions about things – so fans, people and friends out there can read and see what you do. The person doesn’t have to answer and it’s so not invasive. If you don’t want to tune into Twitter you just don’t go into it. If you want to see what people you like in the business are doing you just go and look at their page. The secret with Twitter is it’s invasive if you want to and not if you don’t have to. It’s not like watching the news or having the same person for the last three years doing silly stuff on the Internet and it being in your face everywhere you go. That’s invasive; you don’t want to see it but it’s still in front of your face.
With Twitter if you don’t want to see it you don’t go there, if you want your friends and fans to connect with you then it’s very simple and very easy. I personally read everything and you know it because we connected like that. I personally read everything that people say and I know there’s a lot of people that will look at but not answer it, comment on it but that’s not the point.
The point is to read it, answering or not is a secondary thing like the ‘like’ button. Twitter is very successful because you can actually look at and know what people do who you like without having to do anything specific. Just go, login, look at it and go ‘oh you’re doing that, let me contact him because I think this is cool or let me answer that because I think this is wrong.’ You have this very close encounter with the people from the industry and I think that’s why Twitter is very successful.
It’s a great idea and whoever made that happen is set for life.
What else have you got coming up this year?
Hopefully I’ll get chance to work with one of the major networks here this year on a new pilot. This is the goal and it’s what I’m going to concentrate on for the next three months; getting my own TV show. I think I’ve paid my dues and shown the producers in America that I can handle a lot of things and a lot of pressure. I’m a good hard-worker and I make people feel so hopefully they see that and understand that maybe it’s time to bring something different to Hollywood. Something with a bit more flavour that’s never happened before. Hopefully that will happen.
That’s my main goal for 2012 – getting my own show. Besides that I’d love to work on independent smart movies. That is something I want to do because I want to be challenged, I want people to be able to say ‘what you did was fantastic’ and I want to be recognised for it. This is more like a legacy thing. I’m doing my job and I’m taking it so seriously. It’s silly, I’m taking it very seriously.