Gary Graham: Conservative Actor, Author, Musician
Gary Graham is one of those rare, fearless actors who is unafraid to say what he believes whether the rest of Hollywood disagrees with him or not.
A native Californian, Graham is best known for starring as “Detective Matthew Sikes” in the television series Alien Nation, which later spawned four Alien Nation tele-films.
Gary is also known for his role on Star Trek: Enterprise as “Vulcan Ambassador Soval” and continued his sci-fi career playing “Ragnar” on the online production of Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.
He has played more than 30 TV roles, and has also been in more than 30 movies. His films include All the Right Moves, The Last Warrior, Hollywood Knights, Robot Jox, Running Woman and more. Gary wrote a book about acting entitled Acting and Other Flying Lessons, and also had a column for Breitbart’s Big Hollywood, which featured a brilliant article titled The Hollywood Lock-Step: Why I Quit The Screen Actors Guild.
I first met Gary at a 2011 Republican Party Animals Hollywood Bash and was pleasantly surprised with his ‘I don’t care who knows’ attitude about his Conservative beliefs. When I asked him if he’d ever been blacklisted as an actor, he said “probably but they wouldn’t tell me that to my face; they’d probably just say my career’s stalemating’ or something to that effect.”
Especially for a long-time Hollywood actor, I have to say that Gary Graham is one of the most down-to-earth and genuine people I’ve met and I am proud to call him one of my good friends.
I interviewed Gary via Skype while he was on location in South Dakota for his latest independent feature film, Dust of War in which he plays Tom Dixie.
A-M: So Gary, how’s the shoot going?
GG: Really good. I saw some footage last night and it far surpasses my expectations for a low-budget movie. We’ve got this Austrian cinematographer, and it’s going to be funny and heartwarming and adventurous—so I’m really happy.
A-M: What’s the political vibe on the set? Anything you can talk about, or do you need to be silent about it?
GG: You can make a serious movie but you have to have fun on the set—and it’s a great story, sort of ‘Road Warrior’ and ‘Terminator’ in a Terrence Malick movie—that’s what it’s like. Actually there are more than a few Conservatives on the set and when we’re talking in the car on the way to our location, the liberals pipe up a little bit but they really can’t hold a candle because we have common sense on our side. So even if we just discuss Conservative politics when we’re around liberals, at least keeping we’re keeping them informed.
A-M: Have you always been a Conservative, and if not was there a pinochle moment when you saw the light?
GG: The first time I voted, I voted for Jimmy Carter—but in my defense I was stoned (laughs). I’m a reformed liberal. It happened sort of against my will. I was doing this drive from LA to San Juan Capistrano in my beat-up car and one night I decided to listen to Ronald Reagan’s Weekly Address on the radio. I started out deriding, screaming, but then I stopped screaming and actually listened. After months of listening to him, I finally slapped my forehead and said, “Oh no, I’m a Conservative!” (laughs) This guy actually makes sense, I’m a Conservative! Then I thought, ‘Oh no, my social life is going to be shit now’—but ever since then I took off the rose-colored glasses and looked at the world the way it is and started informing myself. Thank God for talk radio.
A-M: I have to ask you about blacklisting in Hollywood. Many Conservatives out there in the non-Hollywood world have trouble understanding why more actors don’t speak out on our behalf. All we hear are one-sided arguments and insults from Hollywood liberals. Can you help explain what the problem is? Or is blacklisting just a myth?
GG: I don’t really know. I hear there’s a blacklist from people who know, and I don’t know if my career is big enough to be blacklisted. If I do a movie and I get bad reviews, on the one thing it hurts but on the other hand at least they’re talking about me. I don’t care what they’re saying about me as long as they’re saying it. So I guess if I made it to someone’s blacklist that would be awesome (laughs). Fortunately I can’t shut up. I’ve met people here in South Dakota, people who are putting money up for the film and they tell me ‘you don’t sound like a Hollywood liberal’ and that’s what makes me happy.
A-M: Gary, people are starving for someone like you to stand up for us. We’ve been ridiculed by Hollywood actors and directors and no one speaks up for us.
GG: They’re afraid of being labeled unhip or uncool. It’s uncool to have traditional values. It’s not cool to be a Conservative and love God and love country and our Forefathers. It sickens me that I’m not allowed to get in fist-fights with people (laughs).
A-M: I also read you’re working on a production with actor D.B. Sweeney called ‘Universal Dead possibly for Paramount. How’s the progress on that?
GG: I’m in contact with the producer and we were going to do a web-series of it but in the middle of the shoot a guy from Paramount contacted us and said they want to make a feature out of it. So it will be big budget and we think we’ll be filming in the fall. So yeah, keep the work happening, that’s what I say.
A-M: Who are your current political favorites—alive or dead–and why?
GG: Ronald Reagan, of course our Forefathers. I’m very motivated by Rick Perry’s entrance into the presidential race. I’ve been a big Michelle Bachmann fan. I love Herman Cain. And one of my favorite is Marco Rubio. I think Steve Forbes would’ve made a great president but he’s the anti-charisma guy, along with Newt Gingrich who also has other problems. I think Rick Perry has a combination of being a smart, ballsy guy who has charisma and a plain-spoken, forceful common sense and he strikes me as being a stunning leader. Rubio’s expressed no interest in running for president but maybe vice-president. When Perry speaks it’s like a breath of fresh air. When Democrats speak I always feel like I need to take a shower (laughs)—their whole M.O. is that they know they have to cloud the issues. They don’t even know what they think; all they know is ‘wealthy people are bad and we need to tax them.’
A-M: What (or who) do you believe is currently the biggest threat to America, and why?
GG: George Soros. I’d say Barack Obama but I think he’s just the puppet and Soros is the man behind the curtain. I’m not going to go onto conspiracy theories, but there are a lot of like-minded people like Soros who just want one thing and one thing only: consolidation of world power for their global vision. I don’t believe they want to hurt or round people up, but there’s an evil movement afoot and it’s about controlling people. They hate freedom and liberty; they hate people standing up for themselves. They want government to be the end-all-be-all, the means and support. They don’t see it as enslavement; they see it as liberation because they’re collectivists, statists. Their religion is stateism. They think they’re so intellectually superior to you and I that if they can only get the right combination of people in place they can fulfill their dreams of a global, one-world government with them at the head. Just moving people and countries and economies and governments around like marionette players. It’s evil, it’s satanic because like all tyrannies murdering tens of millions of people and destroys wealth. The great destroyer is giving these people power because Obama’s going down and this is his last great attempt to destroy all that is good on the earth.
A-M: What do you think it will take to get America back to being that ‘shining city on the hill’?
GG: Prayer and action. Sticking to the truth, and every individual who knows the truth to stand on their little hill and sound the clarion call every day, all the time, constantly until people get tired of hearing it; so tired that it’s in their heads and repeated so often that they’ll start to believe the truth. Because the enemy has been sounding the lies for so long and repeating the lies on our mainstream media, on the television shows, in the movies, in the rock songs, on the college campuses, on and on such with these horrendous lies about our country and what we stand for and where we came from and what we love. The lies are repeated so often that people believe them. It’s common knowledge that conservatives want to starve old people and that we’re racists; it’s common knowledge but it couldn’t be further from the truth. So it’s time to sound off. We’ve had all this time to be quite and now it’s time to sound off and if we jeopardize our jobs, our careers in Hollywood that’s a small price to pay to save the greatest country the world has ever known. We have not only the ability and the opportunity like never before but also the responsibility for our kids and our kid’s kids to preserve the great idea, the great notion that is America.
A-M: What advice can you give to Conservatives wanting to make a difference in their communities?
GG: First and foremost, educate yourself like nobody’s business. Educate yourself not only about conservatism and America and our Constitution but also educate yourself about what they’re doing, the enemy. And by enemy I don’t mean our buddies who are liberal; they’re uninformed, they’re not the enemy. The enemy is the people who are intentionally destroying our country and our way of life and our economic system; capitalism, freedom, liberty, the Constitution—that’s the enemy. We need to be educated as to what they’re up to, what they’re doing. We need to be mobile on Twitter, Facebook and just day-to-day conversation because there’s something that happens when you’re educated and informed. It gives you confidence to take them on because you’ve got facts and figures because you’ve been following this stuff. You can talk them down and tell them when they’re lying. There are a lot of different styles for this—I don’t recommend getting in people’s faces and getting all hot and bothered, but if you simply speak calmly with the authority and confidence of someone who’s right you don’t have to be emotional. Emotion and passion and screaming and anger, that’s their thing; that and name calling when they don’t have facts and reason to support their argument. We can calmly tell them what we believe and that may not convince the person that you’re arguing with, but those who are listening to the argument may be swayed just one little notch. And I think it’s our duty, every day, to sway people one little notch. And it may be something as simple as being a good person; being kind, being sweet to each other and giving people the benefit of the doubt. Being supportive; being brothers and sisters to our fellow man and acting in love and charity and self-sacrifice in everything we do. Because people are going to look at that and that speaks so much louder than a rational argument. But the loudest argument, the loudest swayer of conservative thought we can possibly offer is to act like Christ would’ve had us act–to humble ourselves; to help people and to let everybody know that they matter. Everybody you come in contact with, whatever their station in life—let them know they matter and are worthy of respect. It may be five seconds you spend with them, but look in their eyes and let them know they matter and have worth. So few on the left bother doing that and we can make a huge impact doing that simple thing.
A-M: What are your 3 must-read books for Conservatives?
GG: I do love Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and The Fountainhead before that. I tell people this is my favorite book and the caveat is, ‘for an atheist’. I hear at the end of her life Rand opened the possibility for God; I don’t know how true that is. Man being his own god, I’m sorry—they’re really missing it there. The logic of individual responsibility and the excellence of achievement–those are just solid in Atlas Shrugged and actually jive really well with Christianity. I recommend the Bible. I’d always read pieces of the New Testament because that’s the ‘Christ’ part; I thought I couldn’t relate to anything in the Old Testament. But I forced myself to read the Bible cover to cover—twice now. The first time I did it I was amazed—it was an epiphany and I saw it so clearly through reading the Old Testament why Christ had to come the way he did. It became so crystal clear to me how he arrived so unassuming; nothing that would attract you to him, no flowing robes with a crown on his head swinging a big saber to slash the enemy– but humble. A carpenter. Just so perfect. I also love Liberty and Tyranny, Mark Levin’s book. And let’s throw in Wealth and Poverty by George Gilder, about our economic system and the whole reason and logic of capitalism as the most compassionate system the world has ever invented.
A-M: Will you ever run for public office? If so, when; if not, why?
GG: Gosh, only at the point of a gun (laughs). I hope not. I feel like I’ve got to go take a shower now just thinking about that (laughs). The whole running for office just seems anathema to my makeup. I’m a rock and roller, actor, a ranter, and I just can’t see myself getting up in front of people like that. But then you never know—I’ve given speeches that were pretty rousing and I seemed to inspire and jack up the crowd. That was pretty fun really; fun and I got inspired just having that response. But no, I have no aspirations of running for public office. I will trumpet others, though, who feel that’s their calling but I don’t feel it’s mine. I’ll be Johnny Appleseed; I’ll go around planting seeds. I’ll be the greeter, I’ll be that guy—or Paul Revere. I’ll stand on the hill, I’ll brave the bullets and arrows and stand on the hill sounding the warning trumpet but I don’t want to be that other guy (laughs). Thinking of having to do with dealing with those guys in Congress? Oh my gosh. I’d want to do what other countries do like China or Indonesia, erupting in fistfights or throwing chairs (laughs).
A-M: Name one event that changed your life.
GG: Most recently, 9/11. I knew that morning, and ever since I knew our lives were changed forever. Sort of like World War II and the bombing of Pearl Harbor for previous generations. But I knew that morning that the world would never be the same. You can’t get that toothpaste back in the tube. In my lifetime, that’s by far the biggest event.
A-M: Which actor or actress have you met who absolutely lived up to the image you wanted them to have?
GG: I am very, very impressed with my friend Gary Sinise. He puts his money where his mouth is and he is so self-sacrificing. He’s a humble guy but he can organize huge events and movements to help our service men and women. People will walk on hot coals and eat glass for Gary Sinise and I’m one of them. It says a lot about who he is because he’s such a giver; I cannot extol all his virtues high enough.
A-M: What has been your most favorite role so far, and what is your dream part to play if you could choose any film from the past, present or future?
GG: Just off the top of my head, my favorite role so far was the role I played on ‘Alien Nation’ playing Matt Sikes, a detective who works with an alien cop. That was just a dream job because they gave us the freedom to really ‘play’. We had the script, of course, but there was an unspoken agreement that whenever old Matt wanted to go off-script they’d let us. It was so much fun, and my partner, played by Eric Pierpoint, was perfect to adlib with and staying in character and just getting into the dangerous area when you don’t know what’s going to happen—if it was going to be funny or sad, you just never knew and the producers would let us get to that place of unexpected surprise and vulnerability. Sort of like flying, which I talked about in my book Acting and Other Flying Lessons, available on GaryGraham.com (laughs). When you’re so locked into the reality of the moment in your character that you’re not really aware whether you’re saying the script or making them up because they all blend together and things are happening—you’re not acting, you’re character’s living and you’re flying without a net. That’s the ultimate state to arrive at, to achieve, when you’re acting, when you forget that the crew’s there. You forget that somebody will soon say ‘cut’. You forget the cameras, it’s just the reality of the moment and surprising, amazing, golden things happen when actors shut down themselves. My dream role? I don’t know, maybe Spartacus (laughs)—I love all those old Kirk Douglas and Gregory Peck movies.
A-M: All your Star Trek fans—including my father– won’t let me come home again unless I ask you about your work on Star Trek and going to Star Trek conventions.
GG: Star Trek fans are the best. They are the BEST. I’ve met so many of them and they are sweethearts. They tend to be—how do I put this, because they know it—they’re social miscreants. They tend to be a group of socially challenged people who get together at the conventions. I’m very, very proud to be an alumnus of this vaunted tradition. I love doing shout-outs to my Star Trek fans and I’m thinking of doing an ode about my experience with Star Trek and conventions and how it relates to my career. They’re highly intelligent—all of them. They’re sweet people; there’s never bad blood or bad vibes or ‘tough guys’ or bad aggression at a Star Trek convention—it’s just fun and a celebration with people who love science fiction. And they love me (laughs)! I stand up on stage in front of 500 of them and they laugh at your jokes that are only moderately funny but they love you and they’ll laugh at anything. I meet Special Forces guys at conventions—I’ve trained with some of those guys. I just love my Star Trek fans. Wendy, the girl who runs my fan page on Facebook is a really sweet girl.
A-M: You are given $2 million tax-free to do whatever you want. A liberal might say he’d want to donate all the money back to the government—but what would Gary Graham do with it?
GG: I’m a film guy so I’m sure that would go to making movies. $2 million, oddly enough, doesn’t go far but I love making movies, especially small, independent movies like the one I’m in now. I see so much waste in the big-budget movies but I think you can get great stories told for pennies on the dollar. Everybody banding together, it almost makes the experience more fun when you don’t have a lot of money to burn because you’re forced to become creative and inventive and character-driven. Which is what we’re doing right now on (MOVIE). The shots that we compose on the day on the moment, sometimes putting our physical well-being at risk just to get the shot, you’d be amazed. Kudos and credits to these hard-working young filmmakers because they’re busting their butts with very little money to get these great shots. Part of the fun is after it’s out, you tell people how you got the shot and people are like, ‘you’re kidding? That sounds dangerous!’ but to me it’s the fun of film making. So with $2 million I’d make movies. I’m a big believer that movies and the media as the number one way to influence opinion. I think I can be much more effective in swaying public opinion by being a filmmaker forwarding Conservative ideals.
A-M: Your favorite, most memorable Hollywood moment has been what?
GG: In looking back, I think I worked years in the film industry and I was so nervous and tense and petrified that I was going to screw up and embarrass myself and future generations that I just never relaxed to the point that I could enjoy it. I think I was doing it because it’s what I could do (laughs)—I was so nervous, like climbing Mt. Everest that I forgot to relax and take in the view. One moment stands out when we were filming Alien Nation. There was one episode called ‘Real Men’ in which my partner, one of the aliens, when the couple has a baby the woman carries the ‘pod’ for half the gestation period but then they do this weird thing where they pass the pod to the male and the male actually carries the baby inside his body and they’re pregnant for the rest of the pregnancy. The episode was all about how a real macho friend of mine comes into town and we’re investigating a murder and my friend’s pregnant. He’s got a maternity thing over his coat and he experiences hot flashes and is temperamental and emotional, all the things that pregnant women experience in the last part of their pregnancy. So I’m trying to be all macho and here’s the pregnant partner. We’re mining comedy gold here with all these little moments and it all comes down to this big fight scene. The scene falls in the gym and we finally subdue the bad guy but the tumble causes my partner to go into premature labor and I end up delivering his baby inside this gym. It was a remarkable experience I gotta say. Crazy and weird and strange but fraught with emotion and beauty, oddly enough. It was a funny thing, but it was deeply moving while we were doing it and sharing this thing with my buddy Eric Pierpoint as an alien delivering his baby. The baby was breech, too, so I had to reach up inside to turn the baby to save his life, and it was cold so I had to whip off my shirt and hold the baby and my partner and it’s a big explanation of what makes ‘real men’ and I’ve got to deal with these animalistic notions of what macho is, but at the end we’re all holding each other to keep the baby warm. It was a very warm, touching moment. It ain’t glamorous, but it really hit the spot.
A-M: Speaking of favorites: the greatest meal you’ve ever eaten was what and where were you?
GG: There was a dinner in Bonn, Germany. They drove us out to a castle, and there was a collection of sci-fi actors they’d flown out to this incredible convention. Just the atmosphere—in this many hundred-year old castle being served on these ancient dishes, it was quite awesome, talking to a famous sci-fi writers about all kinds of crazy things like aliens, space travel and stuff. It was good.
A-M: What can you say to encourage people who believe all is lost in America and why is she worth saving?
GG: America is truly the last best hope for humanity because America represents freedom, liberty and all that is good about human beings. Strength, courage, honor, duty, self-sacrifice, individual responsibility, an unending and unyielding quest for excellence, positive spirit, rugged, self-determination, kindness, generosity—that to me is what America represents. The way America was born, out of self-sacrifice, these Forefathers of ours banding together loving liberty and rebelling against tyranny, putting everything on the lines—their lives, their sacred honor, their fortune, their families, and in many cases, most cases, lost some of those things in their fight. You read the stories about sacrifices they met, sons were killed or tortured, they were hung, their farms were burned, and they knew this stuff would happen or could happen to them and they signed anyway. No going back—that sort of determination to be free and to set an example for us, resounds strongly in my heart and to me, that’s why it’s worth fighting for. What I would say to anybody, before you give up in America, even if we lost the election in 2012, before you give up, as long as there are people who still have freedom and liberty and love for this country in their hearts, and love for what this country really is and not what Obama and the Obama bots are trying to make it into—as long as there are people who are willing to give their lives for America, the brave men and women in our military, people on Facebook, like all my friends who are willing to sacrifice their careers and their lives if need be to keep America free for our kids and future generations, we will win this struggle. We will win because we have Right on our side. They are wrong, and we are right. And also we have God on our side; I know that sounds trite, but God is on the side of America and those who would ‘fundamentally transform’ our great nation, it sounded so good when he said it to many people but there were so many more of us who knew exactly what he was talking about. So this infatuation that’s evolved into disappointment in Obama which we saw coming 4 years ago—it’s no surprise to us. We don’t have to see socialism, Communism, progressivism and statism; we don’t have to see it fail yet one more time to know that it is a failed philosophy. It has no chance of advancing mankind, it has no chance because it’s based on lies and flawed logic. As long as there are men and women who are freedom-loving, have our wits about us and our guns locked and loaded, there is nothing to fear about losing America. We may not win it back in 2012, but we’ll win it back or die trying.