By: Ashlee Wilson | Sun 06 Nov 2016, 09:00
The Black Sails actor shines overseas.
South African-born actor Sean Cameron Michael is no new name on the block. Whether you recognise him as Richard Guthrie from the epic pirate drama Black Sails or from hits like 24: Redemption; Of Kings and Prophets (M-Net Edge 102 on Thursdays at 20:00 and available on DStv Catch Up); or Scorpion (M-Net City (115) on Mondays at 21:00) – there’s no doubt Sean is bringing South African acting into the lime light.
We can expect to see him next in the role of Russian diplomat Grigory Krukov in the upcoming series Shooter, opposite Ryan Phillippe – as well as Old Man Heart in new series Blood Drive.
We had a chat to Sean to see how it feels to be on so many exciting projects.
Tell us what you’ve been up to recently?
Since I got my US green card, I’ve been living in Los Angeles for the past two years now. After 25 years of working as an actor in the South African entertainment industry, it’s been exciting and challenging exploring the business at an international level abroad. In August this year I got flown to South Africa to work on a new TV series for the Syfy channel called Blood Drive. It’s a gritty “grindhouse” action drama that we’re currently filming in Cape Town and I’m really excited to be playing a recurring guest star role on the show.
Out of all the characters you have played in your life, who would you most likely be friends with in the real world?
I’ve mainly been portraying really hardcore baddies and psychopaths over the past 10 years, so I think I’d prefer not to hang out with any of those characters. Hahaha.
The one “nice” character that I did play was Fergus Buchan in Regardt van den Bergh’s feature Faith like Potatoes. I actually met Fergus in person when we were filming in KwaZulu-Natal and he’s an awesome “plat op die aarde” kind of guy.
Which famous role do you wish you had played?
Rutger Hauer played Roy Batty in the classic Blade Runner, which was a flawless performance. That would have been an incredible role to play. We actually did a short film a few years ago called Tears in the Rain that pays homage to the film.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Working opposite Kiefer Sutherland and Robert Carlyle on the 24: Redemption movie is still a career highlight for me. I think it helped put me on the map as an international actor and was certainly my big break.
Over 12 million viewers tuned in for the premiere and I also got a mention in the Washington Post saying that I was one of the most villainous characters ever written for the Emmy-winning series. Quite a compliment.
Tell us more about Shooter?
Shooter is an action drama based on the best-selling Stephen Hunter novel Point of Impact and the 2007 Paramount film starring Mark Wahlberg. I got to work opposite the enigmatic Ryan Phillippe, Omar Epps and Tom Sizemore. I play the recurring role of Russian diplomat, Grigory Krukov and had to learnt fluent Russian for it. It has certainly been one of the most challenging and exhilarating roles of my entire career. The show is produced by Mark Wahlberg (Boardwalk Empire) and Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Transformers) and premieres 15 November on the USA network in the States.
What has been your favourite location/ set to film?
I spent almost two years of my life filming at the Cape Town Film Studios on Season 1 and 2 of Michael Bay’s Black Sails. Getting to work in my hometown on such elaborate and world-class, groundbreaking sets was something quite special and unique. Also, last year we filmed an indie feature called Last Broken Darkness on locations all over Gauteng for over a month doing mostly night shoots in the dead of winter, which itself was demanding and exciting. The film is currently at the American Film Market for worldwide distribution.
Who have you enjoyed working with the most?
Working opposite one of my idols, Oscar-winner William Hurt and Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean) on The Challenger Disaster a few years ago was so gratifying and reaffirming to be able to hold my own opposite these legends. Also doing Strike Back with Game of Thrones’ Charles Dance was an absolute treat.
If you could work with anyone, who would it be?
The list is endless, but to name a few: Jessica Lange, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, J.J. Abrams and Meryl Streep.
You have played in many period dramas, which costume has been your favourite and which costume your least favourite?
My favourite would be playing a cowboy in The Salvation (with Eva Green and Mads Mikkelsen) and as the biblical Nabal in Of Kings & Prophets. Least favourite was certainly all the wigs, stockings and high heels in Black Sails. The costume and make-up/hair department did an amazing job, but it wasn’t the most comfortable, especially in the sweltering heat on-set and location.
What was it like being considered for the 2014 Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Black Sails? What did you do to celebrate?
Although I didn’t make the final short-list for nomination in 2014 and 2015, I was also considered for a SAG award as part of the Black Sails ensemble cast, as well as Emmy consideration for my work on Scorpion this year, as a guest star. Personally and professionally, just being “in the mix” is a huge compliment. It means that the three decades of hard work, passion, dedication and obsession is slowly being recognized, but truthfully, as actors, we don’t do this for awards, fame and fortune. We do it for the love of pursuing our dreams and I’m blessed to be able to call myself a working actor.
Anything you’d like us to know?
The other day a young local actor came up to me and told me that I’m an inspiration to him because I’m paving the path for others wanting to pursue their dreams internationally. He asked what it’s like being so successful. Ironically, I don’t regard myself as being successful. I am lucky to be able to do what I genuinely love for a living. I am proudly South African and so appreciative for all the opportunities I’ve had in my career on African soil. I promised that I would continue to hold the flag high overseas.
I never leave home without: A charger for my cellphone. (Why do these silly batteries only last a few hours?)
My guilty pleasure is: Chocolate – it’s a serious addiction.
I’m currently watching: Animal Kingdom on DStv (M-Net Edge 102 on Tuesdays at 21:00 and available on DStv Catch Up). It’s an amazing show and happens to star the gorgeous Christina Ochoa whom I’m working with on Blood Drive.