Interview With Actor Marshall R. Teague, Part One

By Ruth on May 31, 2016 in Interview, movie, television
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(A portion of this article appeared a short while ago in Starry Constellation Magazine, but that was the “abridged version.” Below , you will read the nearly two-hour interview from that auspicious day with only minimal omissions. After reading Part One, be sure to read Part Two.)FullSizeRender

A little over a month ago, I had the supreme honor of interviewing an absolute acting legend whom I barely knew. In fact, had it not been for a couple of dear friends, I would never have even known the wonder that is Marshall R. Teague. I even questioned whether I was worthy of such an interview. I hadn’t even seen an entire movie of his. But he agreed to the interview, and I had done my homework. Furthermore, I was immensely impressed with Marshall as I witnessed and experienced our online interactions. And my good friend, Rick Ravanello, had nothing but good things to say about him. In fact, Rick himself agreed to share a special memory…

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collage by Lisa Flegal

collage by Lisa Flegal

KWIK KWOTE
Rick Ravanello, actor and friend

“I may have told this story, but here it is again. After being cast in Monte Walsh, I was sitting at LAX awaiting my flight. As I sat at the gate, I decided to have a protein bar. I was hungry. Lol. There was this fella who approached me–I had never met him before–and he asked me about my choice of protein bar. I explained what I was having and then offered him one. Neither of us knew we were flying to the same job until later in the conversation when the reason for our travel was discussed. This was my first encounter with Marshall Teague. :). Needless to say, I felt I met a good fella. :). Marshall became this mentor of sorts. We stayed at the same hotel, so we got to share a few meals and drinks together that leant well to good conversations. I loved absorbing the wealth of experience shared to me from Marshall.

As the days went on, and after we had many days filmed, I recall one moment I have never forgotten. We were out in the middle of nowhere filming a huge sequence of shots for the movie. We had this old 1800’s steam engine and something like 75 wild mustangs. That day, we were being sent out to capture film of all the cowboys doing various wrangling shots of the Mustangs. We would ride through the horse-crowded areas, whooping it up and doing what cowboys do.

The moment that stood out to me, above all of the other amazing things we got to do that day, was my ride along side Marshall on our way to the filming location. We were both on horseback, and about halfway out, Marshall stopped his horse, looked at me and said, ‘Look behind you.’ I stopped, shifted in my saddle and took a look back. There, before my eyes, was this incredible view of nothing but flat country–nothing to indicate our present day–and this old 1800’s steam engine howling down the tracks toward us. I remember being in awe when Marshall’s words broke the silence. He said, ‘You see that? You’ll never see anything like that again in your lifetime.’ He was so right.

I have never witnessed anything like that again. The serenity. The horses. That old steam engine. All together in this special place. Stuck in time. A time that has long left us. Wow!!!! I learned so much about how fortunate I am to have the opportunity I have in this business. I have never taken a job, a location, or the the people I get to meet for granted. I learned to cherish it all a little more. It changed the way I now approach my work and the people I work with.

Friendships, I’m certain, are measured in different ways with different people. A friend isn’t someone that needs to be in your doorstep or in your sight every day of your time. A friend, to me, is someone who has taken the time to help you discover the true meaning of life and who you are. I haven’t seen Marshall in quite a few year,s but I have comfort knowing that he will always be a friend. I hope–no–I’m sure, Marshall knows that he always has a friend in me. :)”

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Interestingly enough, Marshall’s and my chat began with a small discussion about Mr. Rick. And as you will soon see, he seemed to make an appearance on more than one occasion throughout the conversation.

MT: We have a really good mutual friend–Rick Ravanello. He is a dear, dear, dear friend of mine.

RH: I still haven’t gotten a chance to meet him. His schedule didn’t permit it when I was in LA last month.

You’ll like him. He’s a super, super guy.

He’s been incredibly supportive of me.  He’s really something.

He’s just that kind of guy. He and I worked on Monte Walsh together years ago. It was an interesting awakening for dear Rick. He’d never done a Western before, and I don’t think riding horses was at the top of his “I’ve done” list. But he’s just a super, super guy. I can’t say enough good things about him.

I do have some questions for you.

Well, I possibly have some answers. I understand you’re a teacher?

Yes, I am. I was a music teacher, and now I’m a substitute teacher. In fact, at one point, I was subbing in ten different districts. It was crazy.

They should give out frequent flyer miles for that.

Oh, goodness, I was all over the place.

My mother was a substitute teacher, believe it or not. And her mother was a music teacher.  In fact, I was just contacted the other day by someone who had been a student of my grandmother’s, and she had a piece of sheet music she wanted to send me that she studied while being taught by my grandmother. Small world, isn’t it? (pause) Now what would you like to ask me? Come on, Ruth!

Why did you choose to become an actor?

I did not choose to be an actor. After I retired out of the Navy, I became a deputy sheriff. I only studied acting to become a better undercover deputy.  All I wanted to do was bring down the bad guys. I had no intention of becoming an actor. My thought was, “What would my fellow officers say if they heard that?!” They would never let me live that down. However, the more I studied the ART of acting, I realized that it was affecting me inside in a way I couldn’t explain, but  I needed to know and explore. That’s when I decided to pack my truck and tell the sheriff what I decided to do. He replied “I think you’re nuts, and I’m sorry to lose you. You’re a good officer, but I support your decision.” I climbed into my truck and headed to Hollywood with NO idea of what I was about to get into. Yet I HAD to follow my heart. Now 37 years later, I KNOW it was the right decision, and that passion has just grown throughout the years.

I really didn’t know anyone. I had written one letter to Hal Needham, who was at the time, one of the best stuntmen in the business, and he was kind enough to write me a letter back (which I still have). And he said, “Have you ever thought about trying acting?Lord knows, you’re definitely qualified to be a stunt man. Why don’t you give acting a try?” I liked it, and for the longest time, I didn’t know why, but I did, and it took off from there. That’s not the answer you were expecting, was it?

No, it actually wasn’t. But that probably stands as the most unusual answer I’ve gotten.

(Laughs) Yes, and it came from one of the most unusual men you’ve ever known. I could tell you a quick story about it, if you want to hear it.

Well, sure I do.

I had been studying for a while, and the group I was training with decided they were going to do A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the round in this park in Memphis {TN}. And I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a try. Guess what part I played. Now, understand I weighed 230 pounds at the time, had an 181/2-inch neck and a 48-inch chest, 17 1/2- inch arms and a 34-inch waist. And I played Puck.

I figured that’s what you were going to say.

So I played Puck–who should have been called “The Incredible Puck,” because I wore green tights. My partner at the time was subbing for a guy whose wife was having a baby. And he was riding with another a guy. And they drove by the park and saw all the lights down there. And they said, “Let’s go down and see what this is all about.” Of course, you have these two big cops with all their gear on, clanking along and with handcuffs. And here I come on with my first presentation on the stage, and the response was, “That’s the biggest Puck I’ve ever seen in my life.” And in the back of the crowd, you could hear this voice saying, “You’re right. He is crazy.” My partner, being the gentleman that he was, said, “Hell, man, that ain’t nothin’. You oughtta ride with him.” For a month after that, in my car or on the desk, I’d come in and find butterfly wings and leaves and things like that.

When I met Anna (Bowen), the script supervisor who worked with you, she said you had all sorts of stories you could tell, and she talked about you for quite a while.

Oh Lord.

Oh, they were nothing bad. She thinks so highly of you, and that is why I sent you a message at that point because she had all these wonderful things to say about you.

So sweet. She’s so sweet.

Oh, she is. She is one I finally got to meet. We had only known each other online.

That’s great. It’s kind of interesting when you finally run into the people you’ve been communicating with for awhile online. And you have all these preconceived ideas of what they’re going to look like or what they’re going to act like. Usually when people meet me, they’re like, “You’re not anything like the characters you play.” And they’re going, “Thank goodness for that!”

Well, I would hope you’re not like some of the characters you play.

No, of course not.  I used to scare babies. I don’t want to do that any more.

People still remember you from Walker, Texas Ranger. I remember you, and finally my mother remembers you after seeing the picture you posted from Bells of Innocence.

That was kind of creepy-looking character. With that role, I got a call from Chuck (Norris), and it was really strange how it came about. His son, Mike, directed it. He also directed AMERIGeddon, which hopefully we’ll talk about soon. But Mike directed that one, too, and when I got the call from Chuck, he said, “Hey, Marshall, I want you to come down and play this character.” And I said, “Great, what’s the character?” He said, “You’re going to be playing an angel.” And I’m sitting there going, “You said I’m going to be playing an angel?” And Chuck said, “Oh, no, I”m so sorry. You’re going to be playing a bad angel.” And I said, “Okay, I just wanted to make sure you hadn’t changed on me all of a sudden.” He said, “I couldn’t have you playing a good angel, because I’m the good angel.” And of course, it makes sense.

Tell us about your time on Walker, Texas Ranger. How did you get involved with the show?

Marshall R. Teague on "Walker, Texas Ranger"

Marshall R. Teague on Walker, Texas Ranger

Chuck and I have known each other for–yeah we tried to figure that out. We tried to figure out how long we’ve known each other. We got to about five decades, and we figured we had better stop counting. We started talking about the times we used to spar and do demonstration matches and fight each other. And then we ended up working with each other–fighting each other and doing all that other stuff again. It just came up on the first episode–you’ve got this guy that’s going to blow up half of Fort Worth and rob three banks, and you’re going to get in this big fight, and then Chuck asked, “You know a guy named Marshall Teague?”  They said, “Yeah, we know Marshall.” And Chuck said, “Him.” I’m used to fighting him, so I trust him. And he’s one of the dearest friends I have. I can’t complain. I’m semi-godfather of their children. I’m Uncle Marshall to them. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Is there a special episode of the show that stands out to you?

In many ways, they all did. But I would have to say, the Western ones. Obviously I played the lowest form of life you could possibly think of. But in the last one, which I think was “The Last Showdown,” I shaved my head. They put in a false eye, so it looked like it was cloudy.  Because it was a flashback, the character I played back then had been scalped by Indians, and he was probably the most evil character I had ever played. I got more hate mail than I could ever imagine. In the story, I supposedly kidnapped his wife and kept their baby. And while that show was on, I got a call from a guy in Alaska–a friend of mine who used to work on the pipeline up there–”If you’ve hurt that child, I’ll be on the next plane down there, and I’ll kick your butt!” I’m serious–he was serious.  It was one of those where I said, “Dude, just watch the show. It’s all good, man. Watch the show. You can hate me later. “  That one stands out because it made such an impact. The show was asking for me to play the character. And CBS, at the time, said, “He’s done so many of them.” The show had already brought me in and had me made up. The TV execs were there. Chuck waited to have this conversation while I walked up.  The execs said, “He’s been there. We know him.” Chuck asked, “Would you know him immediately?” And they said,”Well, yeah, we’ve seen him do all these shows. Granted, he changes the way he looks every time. But we would know him.” Chuck asked, “You know this guy right here?” They looked right at me and said, “No, who is he?”  Chuck said, “That’s Marshall.” They said, “Okay, yeah, that’s enough of that.”  That was the end of the argument.

You have to understand that Chuck had one of the greatest casts and crew I’ve ever worked with. It was just terrific. Everybody worked like a fine-oiled machine, and everybody got along. That doesn’t happen all the time. But when it does, you can cover a lot of real estate. Everybody’s there for the same reason, and they want it to be right. Every day was a fun day–let’s put it that way.

How did you become involved with AmeriGEDDON?

AmeriGEDDON

AmeriGEDDON

I was asked to come in and read for AmeriGeddon, playing a colonel. That wasn’t the end all, beat all reason, but I have a little bit of experience in that realm. When I walked through the door, Mike (Norris) was sitting over in the corner. I walked through the door, and he said, “The fact that you walked through the door, that’s all I had to see. You’re Colonel Crane.” That was my interview. He said, “I’ve got a bunch of young kids” (and surprisingly enough, a lot of them I had worked with on the show) You know, really good people. I had a bunch of young guys who were my troops. And they actually thought I was a colonel. I didn’t tell them differently. They would say, “The Colonel will be arriving shortly.” The movie is based on martial law. And I didn’t get it. I was a little slow on the uptake. So every day when I arrived,  the cast and crew, with Mike in the lead, would say, “Ladies and gentlemen, Marshall Law has been declared.” And I didn’t get it. Why were they saying this? And then I got it. It took me a minute. Every day, I’d walk on the set, and the second I would arrive on the set, everybody would say, “Marshall Law has been declared.” And the kids–I have to call ‘em kids ‘cause they’re all younger than I am–they were great. They tried real hard. If they didn’t know how to do something or they had questions  about doing something, they came over and said, “Colonel” They never called me by my name. Not one time was I ever called by my name. It was “Colonel.” They would say, “We’ve got this situation here. What’s the proper handling of or something like that.” We brought in some special forces guys who helped ‘em out to make ‘em look like they knew what they were doing. The one thing they had was enthusiasm. Plus, I got to work with a young lady AnnaLynn McChord–you might know her from 90210–the new one. She and I did a series before that called American Heiress–65 episodes together. And Dina Meyer, who I knew, though I hadn’t worked with before. There were a lot of pros. And India Eisley, from a rock ‘n’ roll background family–cute as a bug, sweet as she could be but a very talented lady. Everybody worked really hard to bring it to the dance.

AmeriGEDDON

It’s based on something that in one way or another people are thinking about, or have been thinking about, because the world is changing, let’s face it. And it’s based on one article out of the War Powers Act, which gives the president the right to declare martial law in the United States–which I seriously doubt is going to happen, but it is there. And it’s based around “What would you do if this happened for a long time?”  And we’ve been known as the strongest nation in the whole world. And to all of a sudden have that take place. How would you react? What would be your first thought? And are you prepared if it does? It’s a strong question. All that being said, you try to bring the reality to it–Colonel Crane, the character I play–is a very strong character, to say the least. And everyone is going to look at him and say, “He’s the bad guy.” But he’s not. He’s a career military person. That’s all he’s got. The military is all he knows. He eats, lives, and breathes military.  So when he’s given an order by the boss, he follows that order. And obviously, it doesn’t sit well with everybody. There’s a lot to it. And people will see things that you hear about every single day in it. It was designed to make you ask a question of yourself. Gary Heavin and his wife wrote and financed this thing. And Mike Norris directed it. He did a heck of a job. There were nights when we were working and it was 17 degrees, and all my soldiers were huddled around trash cans that were burning, and I walked around in just my uniform. And they would say, “Do you ever get cold?” And I said, “I don’t have time to get cold.” So I just kept laying it on them pretty heavy the whole time. I never came out of character.  It will get you to ask a question.

Well, that’s good because I don’t think there are enough films being made like that.

No, I don’t think there is either. I did one that came out in 2012. It was along those lines. It was called Last Ounce of Courage, and to me, it was  probably one of the deepest films that I’ve  crawled inside of. It’s another one where you had to think about our country, our people, our families. The people that protect us day in and day out and what you stand to lose.

Speaking of Last Ounce of Courage…

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KWIK KWOTE
Joseph McClelland, friend

Joseph and Marshall

“This picture was taken at Space City Con in Houston, Texas, August of 2013. I work at a movie theater and after seeing Last Ounce of Courage, the film moved me. So I wanted to thank him for making that movie and gave him that Last Ounce of Courage poster. ‘Marshall, I have something for you.’ He said, ‘ You have something for me?’ I gave him a gift bag with tissue paper in it with that poster framed. He was moved and overwhelmed with emotions. We both had tears. He choked up saying, ‘You’re giving this to me?’ ‘Yes, sir, I want you to have this.’ He said, ‘Would it be all right if I signed this and gave it back to you? I made this movie for you.’ 

A few more things I can say about Marshall is that he and his wife, Lindy, are very humble, down-to-earth, good people. I saw them again last year, and they noticed me about 500 feet away in the middle of 10,000 people, and they waved at me with big smiles. Marshall and Lindy are wonderful friends, and I’m very blessed to know them.”

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I hope the movie makes it out this way so I can see it.

Well, there are those who may not want you to see it. Some facets may not want you to ask the question. They don’t want you to know or question anything. I think some are trying to dumb the American people down, and I refuse to go there.

If for some reason I can’t see it, those are the films we wait until they release them on DVD. This is one I definitely want to see. Even watching the trailer was enough to get me interested in seeing it.  I do prefer films like this with a deeper meaning.

Those are the movies I like to do. I’ve done movies that they have spent 200 million dollars on. I did Armageddon and now AmeriGEDDON. Then there’s The Rock, that’s 175 million dollar film. I’ve done big films. They’re exciting, and when you’re working with Michael Bey, it’s high energy. They may not be big budget films, but they have a lot to say. Some of the smartest films I’ve ever seen are independent films. That’s why I like working with these new, young directors because I want to see where their head’s at.

I loved going to the film festival recently in LA. There were lots of independent films that made me stop and think. It was a nice weekend.

I can imagine it would be. They touch on subjects that are not spoken about on an everyday basis.  It’s just like–why do they put some of the stuff they put on TV that’s absolute crap? Because they can sell it. And if it came down to something that made sense or something that someone can learn something from, they say, “Yeah, it would be boring. We wouldn’t make any money on it.”

It’s always about making money, I know.

We all like to get paid, but it isn’t necessarily the money. I’ve done movies for nothing. Just because I like what it had to say. And I wanted to play the character. And I’ll probably do it again. I’ve got to be able to look myself in the mirror. When I leave this earth one day (and my career), I want to be able to say, “I did something that made a difference. It may be a small difference. But I did something in such a way that not only entertained people. It made them ask questions. And I touched their heart.” And if I can say I’ve done that, at the end of the day, that’s what I got in the business to do.I never got in the business to be a movie star. It’s just not in my cards. Would I like to do other things? Absolutely. But by the same token, I like doing what my heart tells me.

It’s people like you I enjoy connecting with.

Thank you.

I still have a load of your works to look up.

I’ve been around a while.

But I was thinking today that I’m just impressed by you as a person. Yes, it’s great that you’re an actor and doing all that, but just the way in which you’ve chosen to live your life–that’s what I like.

Let me tell you what being an actor is.

Okay.

It’s a job. It doesn’t make me any more important than the person that wakes up every day and delivers papers or gets up and opens up the doors to the pharmacy so people can get the medicine they need. Or the waste management people. Yeah, they’re bustin’ their humps. Marshall Teague is not any better than they are. I treat people the way I want to be treated myself. If I was to sum up Marshall Teague, that would be it. I want to treat people the way I want to be treated myself. And if people have something nice to say about me, great. If they don’t have anything nice to say about me, that’s their right. I don’t get mad at them about it. I can choose not to talk to them.  I don’t attack them. I just say, “Honestly, you’re more impressed with yourself than I am, and I don’t want to bore you, so I’ll just leave.”

I hope I’ve changed a little bit over the years. I wouldn’t want to be the same person I used to be years ago because it would be a lot like the character Jimmy Reno in Road House.

I love supporting actors who are humble and deserving.

That’s where actors fall short. Some actors, not all. There’s a lot of really, really good actors in this industry who are really really good people. And I think the world of them because they realize–this is the bare facts–it it weren’t for the people who come and see your movies or watch your television shows, you would be nothing. You’d be Joe Blow or Joanne Blow or whatever you want to call it. You’re just a person. No better than anybody else. I’ve had people come up to me and say, “But you’re a celebrity.” No, man, I’m an actor. It’s my work. It’s what I do. It’s not any different than what you do. Well, it’s a little bit different than what you do, but it certainly doesn’t make me any better than you.

Speaking of Marshall’s masterful concept of actors…

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KWIK KWOTE

Mary Anagnostopoulos, friend
mary

“I know I haven’t known you very long but time isn’t always the best judge of a friend. I have enjoyed getting to know you through Twitter and Facebook. You are an amazing person and a wonderful friend. I hope our friendship continues to grow 😇 Mary”

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The interviews that have often challenged me the most have been with directors.

As indicated by the title, directors direct. And that’s what they do. It was like when I worked with Michael Bey. I think he’s great. Some people say he’s hard to work with. Well, I don’t find him that way.  The trouble with most people is they can’t see as fast as he thinks. I call him “crazy like a fox.” I know that Michael has already seen in his mind what’s going to happen. I watch Michael on set, and he’s taking it in as fast as you can mentally take something in. That’s just the way he is. And I respect that. He is a director. And so he’s going to direct. And a lot of ‘em are like that. Not that they’re bad people. They’re just very particular about how they see things, what they’ve seen, and that’s just–well, welcome to Hollywood. And you know what you tell ‘em to do? Just tell ‘em to chill out.

Whatever you do next, DO NOT forget to read Part Two of this amazing interview with the phenomenal Marshall Teague!
Note: To go directly to Part 2, click on “Part Two” above.

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

2 Comments

  1. glenda henderson June 3, 2016 Reply

    Marshall Teague is a perfect example of what an actor should be. He had never forgotten the place or the people where he came from. He is just plain down to earth and very humble

    • Author
      Ruth June 3, 2016 Reply

      Amen! Thank you Glenda for commenting! And I couldn’t agree more!

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