Exclusive: Interview with Stark Sands of “The Minority Report”
We interviewed Stark Sands (of “Minority Report,” “Kinky Boots,” and “Chasing Liberty”) to learn what we can expect this first season of “Minority Report.” Stark also fills us in on how he got to Broadway, what led him to his staring role on “Minority Report,” his favorite shows to binge watch, and whether or not we can expect a Tom Cruise visit on “Minority Report.” Click play to listen to the interview, or read the transcript below.
CTV: So, first off I know you just had a birthday a bit ago, so happy birthday.
Stark: Thank you.
CTV: Did you get to do anything fun to celebrate?
Stark: You know what? I was working.
CTV: Of course.
Stark: That was fun. The cast and crew surprised me. There was a funny moment at the last take of the day. Well, I should start with this–at lunch we were all in line for the catering and people sang me Happy Birthday and they brought out a cake, a carrot cake which is my favorite–homemade carrot cake–and I was really surprised. And then six hours later when we finished the day, in the very last take, the scene ended and Meagan Good–who’s my co-star–started singing Happy Hirthday and everybody in the crew started singing Happy Birthday and I started singing Happy Birthday because I just assumed it was somebody else’s birthday, because they’d already sung Happy Birthday to me. So when we got to the part where it said, “Happy birthday dear…” I was looking around for somebody to tell me who it was, like, what name should I say? And everybody was laughing because they had turned the cameras and pointed them all at me. So they filmed this, and I suppose it may end up somewhere on some sort of reel when the season is over. That was a pretty funny moment.
CTV: That’s so fun.
Stark: Yeah, that was a great night.
CTV: And I know you sang in your high school choir, you had a garage band, you were on Broadway earning a couple of Tony nominations. Is the music and theater world still a big part of your life?
Stark: It is, absolutely. It’s something that put me in a new position, career-wise. It also is something that I did back in high school and college and that was my dream when I was growing up. Musical theater was the thing that really kind of kicked me off and I thought, “Man, maybe some day I’ll get to do this some Broadway.” And then, one way or another, it happened. And the funny thing is, even though I started out in film and television right after college and it took me a number of years to get to Broadway and I got there but now, when I get cast in things–like this job for instance–when the news gets released it says, “Broadway star” in Minority Report and it’s so crazy to me that that is language that they can actually use to talk about me. It feels really good and I pinch myself.
CTV: Cool. And one of our blog team members wanted to make sure I ask you how you got from Chasing Liberty to Broadway?
Stark: Let’s see if I can connect the dots. Well, I got to Chasing Liberty in a way that really made me proud. One of my first jobs was on a sitcom called Lost at Home on ABC and it was a director named Andy Cadiff who directed a few episodes of that show. And the show was, you know, a sitcom on ABC. It was about a family and I played one of the teenage sons. Years later I got a call from my agent saying, “Hey.” Actually, that’s not true, I got a call from this director, Andy, who we had traded information back when we were doing the first job and he said, “Do you have a passport?” and I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Okay, I need you to fly to London because I’m giving you a little small part in a movie called Chasing Liberty because you’re perfect for it.” It was the first time that I got an offer to do something and it was because of my– I don’t know, because of the way that I worked on that first job, he remembered me, and it really taught me that my work ethic had paid off. And being responsible and professional–it worked. So, that was how I got to Chasing Liberty.
Getting from Chasing Liberty to Broadway–let’s see. I think work begets work, and the more you work, the more likely you are to work, if you do a good job. There’s a number of things that happened in between Chasing Liberty and Broadway, but one of them was a movie called Flags of Our Fathers that I did with Clint Eastwood directing. I played a young artist soldier in a World War II movie and when the movie came out, a casting director named Jay Binder saw the film and called my agent and said “We’re trying to find a young artist soldier to be in this play, Journey’s End, about soldiers in World War I. Would Stark ever be interested in auditioning for a Broadway play?” Of course, my agent called me and told me this, and I was just blown away that I even had an opportunity. So it was my first audition for a Broadway play, and I flew myself to New York and I went in and auditioned for job and through a series of callbacks I ended up getting it, and that was my Broadway debut.
CTV: That’s awesome. That’s so cool to hear that back story. Thanks for sharing that. So Minority Report on Fox premiered September 21st, and there’s really nothing else like it on air right now. What made you want to get involved in this specific project?
Stark: You know, it’s a funny question. I finished doing Kinky Boots–it’s not a funny question. It’s a question that I get asked a lot, and the truth is, I’m an actor who wants to work and I don’t yet have that kind of control that allows me to just pick my projects, so it was luck. I auditioned for a number of pilots this past January. This was one of them. This was a good fit. I know when I read the part, I thought this is something I can do. It’s not much of a–I mean, it was a stretch in terms of a character because he’s a weird kind of quirky guy, deep down it’s a role that I can play. I got very lucky and went through another series of very difficult auditions to get it, and I was the guy who ended up with the job. The appeal was that it’s a movie that I loved when I saw it in the theaters and Steven Spielberg’s name is on it. Not just as the guy who directed the movie, but as an executive producer of the series. It’s pretty awesome to know that I’m a part of the canon.
CTV: Yeah. And that was one of my next questions actually, so Steven Spielberg–I mean, that’s huge. What’s it like working with him?
Stark: He’s great. We’ve become really good friends. He’s always calling me. He’s producing from afar. Just knowing that he’s watching all the dailies–he picked me. He chose all of us, all the actors. All the auditions had to go past his desk, and he picked me and that’s pretty awesome. I remember having done Kinky Boots back in 2013. If we want to know, the stage managers will tell us who’s in the audience that night. If there’s a celebrity in the audience. I remember when they told me that Mr. Spielberg was there. I love it, because it makes me want to do better. So I know that he’s seen me before on stage and I remember when I took my bow at the end of the show, and you’re high on adrenaline and you’re on the stage and they’re in the audience applauding and I always try to find that person, especially if there’s somebody who I admire and after the–when the show’s over and we’ve all taken our bow and are walking off the stage, I always find them and I point at them and give them a thumbs-up, and I always remember that he pointed right back at me and gave me a thumbs-up. It’s just this one fun little moment of connection. So I should say that I have met him. It was just in a different experience.
CTV: Yeah, that’s amazing. Can you tell us quickly just a bit about your character, maybe three words to describe him?
Stark: Three words to describe him: earnest, driven, odd.
CTV: Yeah, those are good. And the show takes place in 2065, and there are so many cool special effects. What’s that like getting used to? I know you don’t see that all when you’re acting, but maybe, you know, afterward when you’re watching. What’s that like?
Stark: It makes it really fun to watch. This is the first job I’ve had where, even though I’m in most of the scenes in every episode, it still is completely new watching it. When it comes out on Monday nights, because there’s so much extra added in post. And it’s slick. It’s really fun, you know? You can see, you know, all this futuristic stuff that we’ve imagined whenever we’re doing it on the day that, you know, our brilliant minds in the Visual Effects Department has made to reality, and it’s really fun.
CTV: So I don’t want to get my hopes up and I feel like I probably know the answer to this, but can we get our hopes up about Tom Cruise guest starring at all?
Stark: You know, that’s another one that he–
CTV: Everyone asks, I know.
Stark: Well, he was actually just here, and he spent the night last night. On Thursday nights, that’s the night that we go out and ride motorcycles all night. With our leather jackets. So that’s the reason I was late [laughs]. No, I don’t know. You’ll have to wait and see.
Stark: You know what? Get your hopes up, why not? Do it.
CTV: Good point. Good point. We’ll do that. So what can we expect from the show, the rest of the season? I know you can’t say a ton, but what can you share with us?
Stark: Well, I can say that the show–like any new show–finds itself in the first few episodes, which now we’ve seen, and starting in episode four, the sort of procedural murder of the week aspect of the show becomes secondary to the larger, overarching story line of what is happening behind the scenes with the precogs. What’s the deal with Agatha’s vision? Is it real, and are we going to be thrown back into the milk bath? For me, it is so enjoyable to do scenes that are about character and about discovery, and about–just getting into acting-wise. Just little, good, nitty-gritty, chunky, meaty acting scenes. As opposed to the procedural stuff which is obviously very enjoyable for lots of people to watch, but it ends up feeling similar to do the same scenes week-to-week about saving the guy who’s the guy. I’m really encouraged to see that that is the direction the show has taken and will take in the next–for the rest of the season.
CTV: Love it. Final question: we’re an entertainment blog so I have to ask–what are your favorite shows to binge-watch when you’re not working? What do you love to watch?
Stark: Okay. I probably shouldn’t admit this but when my wife and I had our child five months ago, we were in the middle of a binge-watch of The Walking Dead and we did not stop. So our sweet little boy has–
CTV: His first moments of life.
Stark: A lot of time, maybe if not looking at the screen, listening to the sounds of zombie apocalypse.
CTV: That’s amazing.
Stark: Because that was one we had put off for many years that we finally watched because my friend Alexandra Breckenridge is on the show now. And I was like, “Well, now I have to watch it because Alex is in it.” And that’s one. I’m binge-watching Portlandia right now. It’s something I can watch–we only have a 30 minute lunch on the job and I can finish an episode during that time while I’m watching it over the phone. I’m excited to watch Game of Thrones because I’ve read all the books and I’m waiting for my wife to agree to watch with me. She’s not into fantasy, so that’s the one I’m looking forward to next.
CTV: Very cool. Well, thank you so much. I’m so excited to see what happens the rest of the season and we are just really grateful that you chatted with us today. Have a great rest of your week.
Stark: Thank you so much.
Sarah is a writing teacher and pop culture addict. Her current TV obsessions include "The Mindy Project" and "Girls" (and endless reruns of "Sex and the City"). She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram.