“I know Rodneys. I try not to give advice since people usually don’t take it anyways, let alone from me” Steve Olson
Steve Olson stars in the hilarious indie comedy Fishbowl California, about Rodney, a 20-something slacker who ends up house-sharing with cantankerous, hard-drinking widow June (Katherine Cortez) after she catches him trying to steal her electricity. Check out my Q&A with Steve below, and read my 4-star review of the film and my interview with director Michael A MacRae. Fishbowl California also stars Quinton Aaron (The Blind Side), Kate Flannery (The Office) & Tim Bagley (Will & Grace) and is now available on Amazon.com and iTunes US.
1. Rodney, your character in Fishbowl California, is childish and entitled, but he isn’t malicious. I really liked that he didn’t change that much. It was more that he and June simply turned out to be really well-suited as friends, bringing out each other’s best bits and not being bothered by the worst bits. Do you know any Rodneys? And if so, did you dare give them any advice?
I know Rodneys. I try not to give advice since people usually don’t take it anyways, let alone from me.
I think your observation Rodney didn’t change much is astute. I don’t think people change in the ways they think they do. He was able to polish up his life a bit and maybe increase his contentment, but remains fundamentally flawed and misfortune-prone; and shows even if you solve one life problem, ten new ones appear.
I know lots of childish or entitled people, I may be one myself? That’d be a question for someone besides me to answer. The negative elements of entitlement are obvious, the positive element is you’re more disagreeable, which is a good thing, since you get walked over otherwise, so it’s striking that balance.
2. Was there much opportunity for you to improvise or build your own backstory for him?
Our director, Michael MacRae, was very generous in terms of allowing improvisation and encouraging spontaneous moments, which was much appreciated and I think gives the film some nice texture. I personally combine the written backstory with my own, and try to transpose that.
3. What was it like working with the rest of the cast, particularly Katherine Cortez and Kate Flannery (The Office)?
Everyone was incredible. Katherine is a seasoned professional; she gives a stand out performance in my opinion. We had some instant rapport personally I felt, which I hope translated into the film.
Katherine would put her foot down and stand up for herself if she felt something in the script didn’t fit, which I really liked about her.
Kate Flannery, goes without saying, beyond hilarious and professional. Both gals we’re also extremely kind. I admire both of them very much.
4. Rodney’s job interview with Kate’s character, Susan the CEO, was hilarious and I was praying he would be offered the role of “Assistant CEO”. I once interviewed someone for an editor’s job and half-way through, when it was all going really well, he stood up, told me he wouldn’t work for us if it was the last job on earth, and walked out. What’s been your worst interview experience, on either side of the desk?
Haha, that’s hard to top. I recently tried to hire a freelance Photoshop expert for something, his website work quite good, there was just a low quantity of it; I understood why when we got on the phone.
He was just weirdly angry and condescending towards every question, and he was completely oblivious to himself. He had the job before the phone call, all he had to do was not act like a psycho, but… that’s a tall order for some folks.
5. I’ll admit I spent about half the movie trying to work out where I’d seen you before. Do you ever get told that you have “one of those faces” or get mistaken for other people?
Ha! Hm… I do a fair amount of commercials, sometimes people “know-me-but-don’t” from those. Or, if you go to the Taco Bell on Pico and Bundy in West LA, I’m on the patio there eating a lot of Cool Ranch Doritos Loco’s Tacos, maybe that’s it?
6. I recently spent two days on a short film set and since then I’ve been asking every actor I come across (by which I mean you and one other person) if they remember their first time, so to speak. What was your first experience of TV or film acting? Was it completely terrifying or did you feel you’d found your home?
More taco talk – I think my first professional job was a Taco Bueno commercial, a regional taco chain in the southwest. I just remember being overly excited and nervous, which sounds hilarious.
7. For an actor, is social media a help or a hindrance? Can actors of your generation simply decide not to use it at all, or could that cost you work? (I’m a big fan of social media platforms, until it all goes horribly wrong and then I go on a different platform and complain to everyone about the first one)
You have great questions! I think you can skip it if you’re quite established, like any other business, like a dentist or restaurant who doesn’t need to advertise because they’re so good word travels by mouth. If you’re not established, I think any tools you can use to showcase your work are helpful, input equals output.
But developing your talent to an above average level is probably a higher priority than showcasing below average work on social media, or just floundering around on it with no specific goal.
Thank you for having me!
Check out my 4-star review of the film and the trailer and my interview with director Michael A MacRae.