Leif Gantvoort can now check ‘create a super hero’ off of his bucket list thanks to his role in The Amazing Spider-Man. Leave it to Leif to create a profound character that the audience both loves and hates. We caught up with Leif as he prepares to film a romantic comedy he wrote based on his real life love story.
MV: Welcome to Movie Vine, Leif. Thank you for taking the time to discuss acting, writing, and improv with us today.
Leif: Thanks. I love talking about me.
MV: Without giving too much away about your character in The Amazing Spider-Man, what was it like to play the central character who is the catalyst to Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man?
Leif: Exciting. I grew up reading comic books. So the chance to be a part of a franchise like this is a dream come true. And to get the chance to play such a pivotal role is truly humbling.
MV: Was it difficult to convey emotion without the audience ever seeing your eyes?
Leif: I think that might be why I booked the role. I had to audition with sunglasses on. So, I had to communicate without my eyes. It was a fun challenge. Then when I was cast they got a pair of sunglasses that were exactly like the pair that I used in the audition. I guess it was possible that I was cast because of the eyewear I wore and less about what I did as an actor. Who knows. I mean at first my character was even called “Glasses.”
MV: Tell us the truth, how awesome is Craft Service on such a big budget production?
Leif: It’s great. Honestly, though, I didn’t spend much time there. I was more impressed with the scope of everything else. I wanted to be on set and in video village as much as possible. Food was far less important than the rest of the experience. What would you rather do? Eat Twizzlers and bear claws or sit and chat with Avi Arad and Marc Webb?
MV: Actors like Harrison Ford and J.T. Walsh started hitting it big once they got older. Now that you have entered into a new decade what opportunities are you looking forward to in playing older characters.
Leif: Whatever comes. I look forward to it all. If it was possible to ask the younger me what he would prefer – he wouldn’t have wanted to wait for success to come. But now that I am older and I’m getting those opportunities, I feel like it was the way it was supposed to happen. I’ve learned so much along the way. I’m such a better actor, now. I think this is the right time for me.
MV: How did you become involved with ACME and what is it like working with Wile E. Coyote?
Leif: Wile doesn’t return my calls. But ACME is fun. It’s a great forum for me to use that comedic skill set. I don’t get cast in comedies that often. It’s nice to have a place to flex those creative muscles.
MV: You are an actor, writer, director, and producer of ACME’s Hollywood Saturday Night. How would you describe the show?
Leif: Our owner touts it as the west coast version of Saturday Night Live, and for the most part it is. We have a celebrity guest host and write a new show each episode. But I think we have our own style, too. It’s not a carbon copy. We like to mix it up as much as possible – depending on who the guest host is. Since we’re not under the thumb of some TV network we can do whatever we want, whenever we want. It adds a great energy to our show.
MV: Have you always been interested in improv?
Leif: I have. We don’t do improv in our ACME show, but I still enjoy it. I love rolling with what comes. It’s another one of those necessary tools that every actor should get.
MV: For any actors who are new to sketch comedy, what are a few rules you teach them to live by?
Leif: Play the scene. I mean that’s what I bring to the table as a director. I don’t like performers who deliver jokes. I want them to deliver an experience. I’m not a fan of the broad, over the top characters that seem to exist in their own dimension. I want to have something for the audience to connect to – characters that they might have bumped into in their actual life. That’s how you get them to laugh – you give them something that they know and understand, but you show it to them in a way that they didn’t consider.
MV: What advice did you give your daughter when she told you she wanted to be an actor?
Leif: Well…right now, it’s fun for her. She’ll get to keep doing it as long as it is. Once she worries about it or has any sort of stress associated with the experience – we’re done. I don’t want her to be an actor by profession. That’s a job that I don’t wish for anyone to have to experience.
MV: Is it difficult to be on set with her but keep your distance, or are you a dreaded ‘stage dad’?
Leif: No, I back way off for the most part. In fact she listens to the director more than me, anyway. I’m there to help but it’s best if I just get out of the way.
MV: There is the old adage that if you can act on a soap then you can act in anything. What was your experience like working on The Young and the Restless?
Leif: It was one of the best work experiences I’ve ever had. I loved it. They’re so efficient. You block the scene. You shoot the scene. You go home. That’s the way I like it. I’m not a big fan of rehearsals. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like doing plays, anymore.
MV: You perform many of your own stunts. Have there been any close calls where in that second you were wishing you used a stunt man?
Leif: Never. That’s part of the fun, for me. I always feel like it’s my job to play the character from beginning to end – no matter what that character is supposed to do. If the character falls off of a building, then it better be me as that character falling off of that building. Plus, I love the challenge. I’ll be a student of this craft until the day I die. Doing stunt work is part of that learning experience.
MV: Being a member of MENSA probably intimidates some people from having any sort of debate with you. In the past month, is there anything you have done that you would be embarrassed for those people to know about?
Leif: Uh…that’s hard to narrow down. I make lots of silly mistakes. I’m still human. Sometimes, though, I chose to do the stupid thing. Then I have the fun of trying to fix it.
MV: People might be surprised to know that you are also an accomplished musician. What is your favorite instrument to play?
Leif: I loved playing the guitar. I’ve lost most of my skills, though. I’m out of practice. It’s odd…playing music was such a huge part of my life for so long.
MV: What role does music play when you are working on a new script?
Leif: I listen to music all the time. I can’t listen to music with lyrics while I write, however. So I turn on the Light Classical channel on my DirecTV and type away. It’s fun when the intensity of my writing matches the crescendo in the music.
MV: You recently optioned one of your scripts. Are you able to share anything about it with us?
Leif: It’s based on my stage play “They’re Not Zombies.” It’s a horror/comedy. It’s one of my proudest scripts. I really hope it goes into production at some point.
MV: What other projects are you working on?
Leif: I have another script that we’re trying to push into production called “Surprise Wedding.” It’s a romantic comedy based on the real life experience of me throwing my wife a surprise wedding. We have some funds and are trying to secure the rest that we need to start shooting it. Hopefully, in the next couple of months that will happen.
MV: Rumor has it you are skilled in Disco. Which 70′s song is your favorite to boogie to on the dance floor?
Leif: What rumor? That’s crazy. But if someone threw on some “I Will Survive” it’s hard to resist that pull.
MV: Thank you for hanging out with Movie Vine, Leif! We can’t wait to touch base with you again and discuss They’re Not Zombies and Surprise Wedding.