( ARTICLE AND INTERVIEW BY ME. IF REBLOGGED, PLEASE CREDIT ME AS THE SOURCE. IT'S NOT THAT HARD)
Have you ever listened to an advertisement and wondered who’s voice was compelling you to buy the product flashed across your screen? Odds are it’s Shane Taylor. A successful live-action and voice actor, Shane Taylor shot to worldwide recognition and fame after portraying half Cajun paratrooper and medic Eugene “Doc” Roe in the critically acclaimed HBO mini-series Band of Brothers.
The miniseries, which garnered six Emmy’s (including “ Outstanding Miniseries,” "Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special," and "Outstanding Directing for a miniseries, Movie, or a Dramatic Special.", as well as a Golden Globe for "Best Miniseries, or Motion Picture Made for Television," an American Film Institute award, and was selected for a Peabody Award for ‘...relying on both history and memory to create a new tribute to those who fought to preserve liberty.") helped illuminate the promising careers of the actors involved, one of them being Taylor.
“I was born in a crossfire hurricane...Sorry, I'm being silly. That's a lyric from the Rolling Stones. Which is ironic because I was born in Kent,which is the same county in Southern England that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were born. But I was raised on the coast by the sea,” Taylor explained in response to my first question of where he was born , the answer telling me already that this was going to be a good interview. Kent must have a thing for churning out talent, since Taylor, a native, has done several voice overs and been in several television and film works. As for his heritage, Taylor comes from a diverse group. “My family heritage is varied. My dad's side pings around English, Irish and Canadian. My mum's is Scottish and American. My wife is from Arkansas, so I'm a mixed bag!”
Unlike a lot of actors who start their careers in elementary or secondary school plays, or community theater works, Shane Taylor discovered his passion while attending college. “ I was studying to be a journalist at college, but then I started to hang out with the wrong crowd (students taking Theater Studies)! It didn't take me long to switch courses,” Taylor stated, before adding, “ I also met a lecturer who ran a youth theater company and that changed my world. On her advice, I decided to apply to drama academies in London. I auditioned for my first choice and, luckily, got accepted. The name of the drama academy was called Webber Douglas (no longer around), but the costs were high. Fortune smiled upon me again when I auditioned and won a scholarship which paid for all of my training and allowed me to live in London. After three years, I graduated and signed with an agent.”
As for what really drew him to the prospect of being an actor, Shane refers back to his childhood, and Star Wars action figures. “I was one of those kids that dragged their friends into plays who clearly didn't want to be there. I couldn't understand why others didn't feel the same way as me. I remember playing Star Wars figures with a pal who was three years younger than me. At this point, he was eleven or twelve, making me around fourteen; a big difference when you're kids, and I was way too old for playing toys! I remember the look on my friend's sister's face, it was like, 'Get a life!’. I think that moment made a profound effect on me. I've always resented a certain rule of society that decrees the need to grow up! I guess I was drawn into acting as a way to elongate childhood, just on a more sophisticated level. More sophisticated than playing with Star Wars figures, anyway!”
Shane first popped onto the acting scene as an extra in Mel Gibson’s Hamlet. “They were shooting in a local town. I was still at High School but I went along to see if I could join in. I ended up getting cast as a page boy to Glenn Close who was playing the Queen!” Shane explained. That must have been exciting for a young actor, being in the vicinity of someone with that stature.
“ 'Doc Roe'. Band of Brothers. Loved the role, loved the show,” Shane said of his favorite project he’s worked on. “ I loved the idea of playing somebody in a war series that was trying to save lives instead of killing them. The fact we were all depicting real soldiers in a piece of world history, being assisted by the veterans themselves and being backed by the best in show business, well, I don't care what level anybody came into Band of Brothers at, it's impossible to beat. It was more than your average acting job.”
Band of Brothers was obviously a big part of Shane’s life and he spoke of it fondly. When asked how it felt to work on a project of that caliber, Shane answered, “Great. The sheer scale of the project was mind blowing. We could be on set and walk around towns from different countries. For the majority of Episode Six &
Seven, “Battle of the Bulge”, it was shot indoors! It involved an aircraft hanger filled with trees and artificial snow.” The production spanned 8 to 10 months at the Hatfield Aerodrome in Hertfordshire, England, on which various sets, including replicas of European towns, such as Shane explained, were built.
As for the boot camp the actors had to endure before shooting began, Shane had a different view. “Boot camp wasn't what I'd call enjoyable. But it did its job in that it helped us understand soldiering a little more and brought us closer together. And my role as Doc made things a little easier. A lot of the time I'd be inside being taught how to treat various wounds, while the rest of the boys were out doing field exercises in the cold.” The boot camp, or certain parts, can be seen in “ Ron Livingston’s Video Diaries”, on the DVD extras.
Dale Dye, the strict overseer of the actor boot camp, as well as the historical accuracies of warfare in the war film genre, was another story. Shane, however, had nothing but nice things to say about the retired U.S. Marine Captain. “I saw Cap'n Dye recently and he was in fine form. He's a great guy and loves what he does. He certainly enforced a code of conduct and a work ethic which we couldn't let slip. In true military fashion we were all numbered turds for a while at boot camp. But it's all part of the master plan and when we were ready to shoot we were ready. And Cap'n Dye was always there for us, as a loyal leader and friend.”
Shane Taylor’s favorite member of Easy Company? “Roe, but then I'm biased. I think Spiers and Nixon were both interesting characters, in that they both had their inner conflicts and complexities. From an acting point of view, Matthew [Settle] and Ron [Livingston] did an excellent job, too. But then everybody that I worked with blew me away. I'm not going to name everybody because you know who they are, but the cast brought an incredible level of ability to the show.” With such an extremely talented ensemble cast, that’s to be expected.
The miniseries as a whole was extremely emotional, action packed, and a landmark achievement. Everyone has a favorite part, however, even the actors. “ [Episode] Six & Seven, “Battle of the Bulge” stuff (biased). But it's a critical and pivotal moment in the series and, indeed, in the life of Easy Company.” Shane explained, before adding, “ I like Episode Three a lot. It was a rare thing where the script was so good to begin with, it was just there to be shot without changes. Marc Warren, who plays Blithe, did a great job. It wasn't easy to come in as an outsider who didn't do boot camp and, yet, was one of the main points of focus for that episode. Marc was a pro and was compelling to watch. Episode Nine would be my other choice. It's beautiful and what an opening. The liberation of the camps and the focus on Nixon's personal angst - powerful stuff.”
One problem that faced Taylor was the prospect of getting the Cajun accent right, which was a huge part of Roe’s character. However, Taylor, now a professional voice actor, had little or no problem with perfecting the medic’s dialect. “ I love accents (especially American) and dialects. In truth, Roe was a hybrid 1940’s Cajun. It was a watered down essence rather than an accurate interpretation. But I had a couple of discussions with Tom Hanks to try and set the bar at the best level, without being too jarring on the ear for an audience. And I think it was O.K. In acting, finding an interesting character can mask many a flaw.” Taylor explained, and he did just that, although I have to admit, I adored his interpretation of the Cajun accent.
Voice actors can be heard all over the world, from advertisements to animated television. There’s a good chance that you’ve heard Shane Taylor’s voice and didn’t even know it. Taylor has a knack for different accents and dialects, which can be heard in numerous advertisements. On his voice acting career, Shane expressed, “I love voice work. It's my bread and butter. I actually stepped away from acting for five years between 2003-08 to raise a family and my voice work became my main career. I was able to earn well for little time and that meant I could be around to help raise babies!”
So what does Shane Taylor do on his time off? “I love to write. Most actors do! But it's something I truly spend any spare time doing - besides playing with my kids! And so, naturally, I love to read. Hunter S. Thompson, Bukowski, Dave Eggers. I recently finished Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey which was so cool. Graphic novels are big in my life: Neil Gaiman, Brian.K.Vaughen, Bill Willingham and Joe Hill are some the main cats I like to read. The Sandman series, Y: The Last Man, Fables and Locke and Key are top reads.”
Music wise, Taylor has impressive taste. “ Musically, I love Tom Waits. His collaborations with Marc Ribot (guitarist) are the best. It's carnival, freak show oddity, at its finest. And I don't think there's a better balladeer than Tom. Some of his melodies are sublime. John Zorn and Bill Frisell would get my vote for the more avant-garde. Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman on the jazz; in my youth, early REM, Fishbone, Red Hot Chili Peppers (up to Blood Sugar Sex Magic), Soundgarden, Nirvana and Mr. Bungle - I love Mike Patton. Serge Gainsbourg. Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Hendrix. My dad went to school with Noel Redding, who was the bass player for Jimi Hendrix. Erik Satie and Stanley Myers. Cavatina - The Deer Hunter theme tune - is one of my favorites from Myers. My car radio is always tuned to classical music. And I have a distant relative in Edward Elgar. Also, being a born Brit, The Beatles and Rolling Stones have gotta' be in there!” Shane also plays the guitar and played the drums at one point in his life, but didn’t keep up with it. “I'm not one for regrets, but that's a big one!”
As for now, Shane is a busy man. “I was in LA recently, not only for the ten year BOB reunion, but to record an audio commentary for an Indie-movie I did called Bomber. It's been doing the festival circuit for the last year. But I'm happy to announce that it's just signed a U.S. deal in New York which will give it an Arthouse theatrical, DVD, Netflix and airline release. Next month I'm also attending the Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of a new movie called Devil's Playground. It's a zombie romp and another American role.” So readers, keep an eye out for these upcoming releases, as they are sure to be amazing.
A respectable family man, extremely gifted actor and great father, Shane Taylor continues to capture the hearts of people all over the world with his incredible talent and his more than sweet personality. It was truly an honor to interview him and I will never forget this experience, as it has been a golden opportunity. Thank you, Shane.
© Copyright 2010, Cassandra Caruthers, All Rights Reserved