Bill Smitrovich talks 'November Man,' 'Life Goes On'by jmaloni
On stage, in film and on television, Bill Smitrovich has made it a point to work on diverse projects. Last year, he starred in the critically acclaimed "American Buffalo" at the Geffen Playhouse in L.A.; he recently boarded TNT's sci-fi actioner "The Last Ship"; and he's about to film what's sure to be a raucous comedy, "Ted 2."
"Variety is the spice of life, and the spice for me is getting to do all different kinds of things in the theater and also on film," Smitrovich said in a phone interview last week.
Tomorrow, Smitrovich can be seen alongside Pierce Brosnan in the spy thriller "The November Man." The film's IMDb plotline reads, "An ex-CIA operative (Brosnan, who plays Devereaux) is brought back in on a very personal mission and finds himself pitted against his former pupil (Mason, played by Luke Bracey) in a deadly game involving high-level CIA officials and the Russian president-elect."
Roger Donaldson, whom Smitrovich worked with on the JFK-Cuban Missile Crisis film "Thirteen Days," directed "The November Man."
Smitrovich said, "Roger Donaldson attracted me to it. He's a wonderful director, and I was really thrilled to work with him again since Thirteen Days.' And the script attracted me. I thought it was great and it got better as we worked on it."
The actor plays Hanley, someone from Devereaux's past.
"The role is so - it goes somewhere," Smitrovich said. "It really is; it's a lovely arc for this character, and you get to play with the audience a little bit. And I couldn't have asked for a better playmate than Pierce.
"He's great, and we've become good friends - and we discovered we have the same birthday. So, that was kind of cool on top of that all. Because when I arrived in Belgrade, it was my birthday and his birthday, and that was my first day in Belgrade.
"It was a lot of fun. We had a great time on set. He's a wonderful actor; he's a giving actor, and a great star to work with. He doesn't lock himself away and show up on set. He's there and available for everybody, and makes everybody feel great - cast and crew."
Smitrovich said the cast and crew were top-notch.
"As the work experience is concerned, it really was the best film experience I've ever had," he said.
"The November Man" might look similar to Brosnan's version of James Bond, but Smitrovich said it's more than shaken martinis and Walther PPKs.
"Pierce is known as one of the best Bonds, I think, and working with him you can't get away from that," Smitrovich said. "But this is a little bit more like Bond and 'Bourne Identity' together.
"In terms of his ability, it's not just suave - although he is suave and debonair - that's not what gets him out of trouble.
"(Pierce) still can kick some a** on screen, and he looks good and he does it well. He's a great action actor. But he's also brought a certain - I think the whole film has, and the characters - brought a humanity to this character. Unlike Bond, where he's slick and you kind of adore him from afar, here, I think, Pierce and the character lets you in a little bit, into his life.
"And that's kind of what the story is about, in the first place, 'The November Man.' He didn't want that life anymore. Now, my character goes in and drags him out of his bucolic life and back into the game."
"I think the humanity is there, I mean much more so than Bond, where he had to live up to some kind of image, you know?" Smitrovich said.
While "The November Man" is poised to generate significant money at the box office this weekend, Smitrovich fans will think of him not as an action star, but as restaurateur Drew Thatcher on "Life Goes On."
That show, of course, introduced the world to "Corky" (Chris Burke), and put a national spotlight on Down syndrome in the early '90s.
"It was the most gratifying work I've ever done - 'Life Goes On,' " Smitrovich said. "The letters I got from the siblings of these Down syndrome children were incredible. I mean, we changed lives and perceptions and things of that nature, and I've very proud of that."
Smitrovich has worked off-screen to raise awareness about Down syndrome.
"I take part in some Special Olympics programs now and then," he said. "I play in the Down syndrome golf tournaments at Santa Clarita. I had my own golf tournament for four years - the Down Syndrome Association of L.A. That was fantastic.
"I was also on the international Special Olympics board many years ago when they had the international Special Olympics in Connecticut."
"I've always had a soft spot in my heart and a real love for those people (with Down syndrome)," Smitrovich said. "You think they're struggling, but there's so many of them that are just so much about unconditional love that it helps you in your day when you meet these people. I feel that we're challenged when we meet these people, because those other people are not challenged by love at all.
"You know, we learn to hate. We're born to love."