Although 2016 mostly sucked, actor Harvey Guillen has been able to pull something good out of the last 12 months. Between working on projects like IFC’s Documentary Now! and the Netflix series Haters Back Off, he’s taken time to reflect on what worked, what didn’t and what he’s learned about himself in the last year. We talked to Harvey about working, learning to live in the moment, and how leaving a toxic relationship has given him a newfound clarity he didn’t have before.
We survived 2016! What were some of the highlights of the year for you?
It was a busy year with all the projects that I shot. There are a few I’m really proud of, like Haters Back Off on Netflix. Colleen Ballinger has been working so hard on that for years. I did Documentary Now! season 2 in Colombia. I went to Canada for the first time to shoot Haters Back Off and then later for The Magicians, which is like a sexy Harry Potter with older kids. That airs in late January, and I’ll be a recurring character. I went back to Canada about 6 times last year, so it feels like a second home to me [laughs].
What is the audition process like for a show like that, or for you in general?
The audition process in Canada was so different from L.A., it was intense and serious, very Shakespearian. In general, breakdowns go out to agencies, saying they are looking for an ethnicity, a certain size, all these specific details. Sometimes it can be vague. With The Magicians, they were looking for someone 18-25 and funny, anyone of any size. When the breakdowns are vague, you go in with a specific idea. Your job as an actor is to be true to yourself and to come up with a specific character.
I’ve booked several jobs where I’m not what they’re looking for, and I do it my way and win them over.
I’ve booked several jobs where I’m not what they’re looking for, and I do it my way and win them over. Even if I’m not right for something in the moment, I book the room, meaning I get people on my side, and they bring me back. Get the casting directors on your side and they will always look out for you.
Usually when I go in for auditions, I see the same small pool of people like Ari Stidham and Charley Koontz. We’ll audition and then go get lunch, because that’s when we see each other.
It feels like we’ve learned a lot about ourselves and the world around us in 2016. What are your big takeaways from the last year?
I’ve learned so much about myself this year. I wanted to be working more, and to be healthier after a close call with diabetes. There’s nothing wrong with being big, but it’s good to be healthy. I made small changes and it was kind of an aha moment.
I met other plus size people like Tess Holliday, and I love how everyone is doing their part to represent and own their beauty no matter what size they are. I’m still the same person in the great professional pics as the one with the eyes crossed and messy hair every morning. Maybe sometimes we need to stop and see the beauty in everyone as the human beings they are.
I’m also learning to live in the moment, to enjoy everything you’re doing, and just take it in, even the things that aren’t planned.
I’m also learning to live in the moment, to enjoy everything you’re doing, and just take it in, even the things that aren’t planned. I believe living by the improv rule of ‘Yes, And..,’ and just going with what life has in store for you is so important.
I got out of a long term relationship that wasn’t working out. It was a roller coaster of emotions and events. In the end, we weren’t good as a couple. Sometimes love isn’t enough, but I wish them the best.
What are you looking forward to in 2017?
I shot so much stuff in 2016 that’s coming out 2017, like the movie, (Status Update) and The Magicians. I learned that I love being on location, and becoming a character. We create life as actors, that’s our job. So I guess what I’m saying is I want a baby [laughs].
Follow Harvey Guillen on Twitter and Instagram, and catch him in season 2 of The Magicians, premiering January 25th.