M.C. Gainey: Unexpected Undertakings

M.C. Gainey: Unexpected Undertakings

There has been no shortage of fun in Gainey’s career as of late as he was seen around the world as Tom Friendly on “LOST”.

“It was the first time I experienced being part of something that everyone wanted to know about,” he explained. “It was incredible fun to be part of something that had that much attention of the public. People would try to take photos from far away while we filmed and people would come to Hawaii to try and find where we were. It was great to be with all these young actors nobody had heard of before and then ‘bang’ – worldwide famous. It was a career changing experience – combined with getting naked in ‘Sideways’. I didn’t know where they were going with the character though. I would try things to test and see where they were going. For instance, Tania Raymonde didn’t know she was Ben’s daughter and in a scene where we are at one of the camps I walked by her I stroked her hair as you would a child and they came over and said, ‘No, don’t do that.’ I didn’t know where it was going so I just tried to make interesting choices and keep it alive. Once the island moved I gave up trying to understand. I always thought they’d end with Jorge (Garcia) up at a bar saying, ‘Oh, what a dream I just had, give me another beer and some pretzels.’ That would’ve worked as well as what they had at the end.”

Another experience that Gainey enjoyed was working with Quentin Tarantino on “Django Unchained.”

“Quentin Tarantino is a genius,” Gainey explained. “I have major respect for his knowledge of films – not just bad films – but all films. This guy has tremendous knowledge of movies and literature and lots of other things. He has mad skills. He runs the sanest set I have ever worked on – the most relaxing, most welcoming. I like to have a good time. One of the first things you hear on set is Quentin laughing as he approaches –and he brings out a certain spirit where you are going to work hard and have a great time. He makes sure everyone has a lot of fun and he even directs the extras. There were slaves in the fields and he was out there directing all of them – 250 feet from the camera. He would give them something to understand what was going on. But with Quentin, it was as much fun as you could have in a bloodbath.”

Gainey would know a thing or two about having a good time when blood is being shed – having been a part of Broken Lizard’s “Club Dread” and “Beerfest”.

“I love those movies,” he said. “Broken Lizard are wonderful to work with. They want to have fun and I respond well to that because I think it should be fun. You should have a good time doing this stuff. There shouldn’t be drudgery involved in this. I love those guys – fun to work with and great to know. And, actually Quentin was one of the first ones who saw their stuff and took them around and really championed them. Quentin will help young talent in any way he can.”

Another film Gainey was part of that didn’t get the commercial acclaim but garnered critical acclaim was “The Cooler”. “It was a great script,” he said. “(Alec) Baldwin was nominated for an Oscar – so somebody was watching it! (William) Macy was fantastic. I am used to being in movies that don’t find wide audiences. ‘Happy, Texas’ was a great movie and great script and people didn’t see it.”

Undeterred by the size of the audience, Gainey has made a great career for himself on small and big screen alike. Up next for Gainey is the film “Greater”, a movie he believes will do well.

“I just finished ‘Greater’ – it’s a biopic of Brandon Burlsworth,” Gainey explained. “He went from a walk-on position to All-American at the University of Arkansas and died before he could ever make his professional debut. He’s a folk hero down in Arkansas and the SEC.”

When it comes to Southern heroes, Gainey is very honored to have been cast as one of the more popular lawmen of our generation in 2005’s “The Dukes of Hazzard”.

“I was proud to be cast as Rosco P. Coltrane,” Gainey beamed. “I didn’t want to do an impression because James Best had nailed it. I loved him when I was a young actor. I took inspiration from a sheriff in Mississippi that harassed me when I was a kid back in the ‘60s – I paid tribute to that son of a bitch. He wore lots of silver and black so that’s the way I wanted to go with that. It was satisfying to get that part because I’m a hired gun – but to play an iconic character like that was so satisfying. Working with Burt Reynolds and Willie Nelson is as good as it’s going to get. I was able to do the TV series in the ‘80s and the movie years later – you come back around.”

While Gainey is certain about things traveling full circle, he is much less convinced of his fame and the attention he gets for his performances. To Gainey, it’s all about self-awareness.

“I am not sure what the meaning of respect is,” he stated. “Sometimes you feel it. I feel it when a director wants to use me a second time in a movie – or a third time. The great directors had a group of people they used over and over again – that is what respect feels like to me. We are a fame-crazed culture now – and even supporting actors get so much attention. I’m not a star! I’m proud to be a working actor and my respect for myself is much more important than someone thinking I am famous.”