Lee Majors - A Seasoned Veteran Reinvents Himself
By Brian Taylor
Lee Majors plays The Figure in Nicholas Gyeney’s Matt’s Chance. I spoke to Lee in between shots for his latest appearance on the TV show Raising Hope.
Lee Majors is best known for The Six Million Dollar Man, The Fall Guy, and The Big Valley; and has been in the business now for 50 years. He began his career as a “cowboy actor” (as he called it) and has continued to work steadily throughout the years and is lately more interested to continually push himself to explore new characters and new genres. He spoke about appreciating the opportunity he has now to play very different characters in projects throughout the years. He is thankful to have worked in many different genres, and being able to push the envelope rather than stay locked in on one role for a long stretch anymore.
In this darkly comedic film about love, revenge, and human nature, Matt’s Chance, Majors serves as Matt’s (Edward Furlong) barber and inadvertent therapist of sorts, and we later discover he has an agenda. He listens to Furlong plot revenge against his fiancée and her new lover after walking in on them in his bed the evening of his birthday. Majors’ character provides Furlong’s character “the opportunity to have one redeeming quality and encourages him to turn his life around.”
The film also includes an array of characters including an eccentric pawn-shop owner played by none other than Gary Busey, and an aging stripper played by Margot Kidder.
Majors had nothing but praises for Gyeney and the experience he had while shooting Matt’s Chance. “Nick is a very talented director . . . I received the script and initially thought, ‘This was not my thing. It’s not in my zone.’ It was such a dark, violent, and tragic comedy, but then it grew on me, and now after watching the film, I was really drawn in, and it holds my attention. Each character had their own journey that makes the film progress, and it really held my attention.”
He also had nothing but positive things to say about working with Furlong. “Eddie did a great job. He’s a great talent, he’s a hard worker, and it was great to work with him.”
When asked if he had any advice for rising actors, Majors responded, “Keep your nose clean, and study your craft. Know your lines, and be nice to everyone as you hopefully move up, because you may see them on the way down, too . . . don’t give up. . . . Pound your agent on the head if you have to in order to get auditions . . . Auditions are not bad; everyone has to do them.”
He encouraged continually working at your art, studying, and doing whatever you need to in order to get your talent out, and striving to meet anyone who could hire you one day.
When asked if he has noticed any changes to his life or process as an actor through the years, Majors noted that technology has been a major factor. “Sure the films nowadays look amazing, but the process is a lot different how you make them. When I first started out in the 60s and 70s, the director could not see what he shot until he got it in the editing room. You’d shoot a scene, and the director would then turn to the cameraperson, and he’d nod his head and you would move on. Now, you shoot a scene, and with the amazing advancements, everyone gathers around over in a tent somewhere to watch the take and then discuss it, and then maybe you’ll shoot it again, or maybe you’ll move on. That intimacy is now gone between the actor, the director, and the camera operator. Honestly, it seems like it’s a big waste of time and everyone has an opinion, but it seems to be the style that’s here for now.”
When asked what career path he would have pursued if he hadn’t become an actor, Majors quickly responded, “Coaching football.” He said he would have been content coaching college-level football. He attended Indiana University on a football scholarship, but was sidelined after an injury and later turned down an offer to play in the NFL for the St. Louis Cardinals. Majors’ passion and love for football was evident, but did not outweigh his thankfulness for the career and life he carved for himself throughout the past half century.
Majors appeared to be a warm-hearted gentleman with a strong work ethic, curious to try new things and continually push the envelope. He also was thankful for his longevity in the business and for the opportunities he has had throughout the years. He noted his willingness to reinvent himself as the secret to his success. “In the beginning I was type cast as the cowboy actor, but now I am able to do lots of different kinds of projects and various types of characters, and I love it.” He also went on to say, “When I go to the movies, I want to leave with the feeling that I watched something really good progress. . . . I am not interested in the franchise action films. Once you’ve made something like that and know how it’s done, it’s really not that interesting to me to watch.” He also seemed to be uninterested in the recent zombie craze.
Matt’s Chance will have a theatrical release opening on Christmas Day and is sure to provide moviegoers with an alternative to mainstream offerings.
Click here to read Brian's interview with the director, Nick Gyeney