I recently had the privilege to interview Paul Greene. He is a talented actor best known for his role as Dr. Carson Shepherd on Hallmark Channel’s “When Calls the Heart.”
Kurt Manwaring: Welcome! Before we begin, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you first got interested in acting?
Paul Greene: Well sure, thanks for doing this. I am Paul D. Greene son of Earl and Fran Greene, brother to Stephen, father to Oliver, and in love with Kate Austin. I am and actor, musician, pilot, nature lover, spiritual seeker, small farm Canadian, adventure seeking, God-discovering man of a million interests and curiosities. I live In Los Angeles, but will always be Canadian in my heart.
I started acting because my neighbor happen to have the movies, “Bloodsport” and “Purple Rain.” After watching those two movies I immediately stopped eating sugar, started Martial Arts, and put myself in acting lessons at Darryl Mork school of film and television in Edmonton Alberta Canada.
I kept waking up from dreams where I was actually in a movie along side Jean-Claude Van Damme, fighting and acting and the dream kept recurring.
But shortly after that I went to college for marine biology on a volleyball scholarship, and somebody saw me in a bar and asked me if I wanted to model.
So I left a small town Alberta, headed to Toronto and three months later was living in Paris, Milan, London, Tokyo, Athens, Hamburg, Miami and New York.
It was in Miami that Morrie from Innovative Artists asked me to come to New York to act.
Shortly after that I moved to New York City for almost 10 years studying acting at Stella Adler, Uta Hagen and, Susan Batson. I joined the Screen Actors Guild in 1995. In New York I did many TV commercials.
Six months after my son was born I moved out to Los Angeles in 2003 to give acting my whole-hearted focus, leaving my previous career at the top of my success, taking a big risk, and with a six month old… moved to Los Angeles to refocus my sights on my original dream of acting.
And been out here ever since, “living the dream.” Which means being seasoned at handling rejection… but more about that later.
Kurt Manwaring: What was the initial vision for your character on “When Calls the Heart”? In what ways has it changed and in what ways has it remained the same since you first joined the cast?
Paul Greene: When I was first offered Carson there was another role up as well. I chose the doctor as I connected with the story of Carson and his journey quickly and I was excited to research practical medicine in that time and bring as much depth and heart as I could to Carson.
Carson has come a long way. His trajectory has changed from hiding and running from His past to now having a deep sense of community, belonging, purpose and home.
Kurt Manwaring: Do you have a routine for memorizing lines?
Paul Greene: I try not to memorize too much, Because then you end up with a bunch of lines in your head. I call my girlfriend, Katie, and she’s really great at breaking down scripts. Like REALLY good. We do it over the phone sometimes and in person when we’re together.
I also have an app where I can create the scene and listen to it back without my lines and visualize the scene and listen to rehearse the big ideas, beats some words. That’s for when I am alone.
Sometimes with my scene partner, right before we shoot, we run this scene a few times to figure out the blocking. We always do blocking before we shoot. Blocking is when we get little marks on the floor that tell us actors were to stand, so we don’t block the other actors light and we are able to effectively tell a great story.
Technically… Acting Is so technical, it is thought up to be very romantic and glamorous, and there are definitely aspects of that but most of time when you’re on the set it is very technical and incredibly distracting. Which is another reason why memorizing lines doesn’t work because if you’re distracted by somebody moving something you’ll forget your lines.
Kurt Manwaring: What is something a director does that encourages you to give your best performance? Conversely, is there anything a director can do that makes you feel restrained or self-conscious?
Paul Greene: There are many different types directors. My favorite directors are the ones that have studied acting, or used to be actors themselves, because they are able to communicate an idea and what they want using a shared language.
That is much better for me than a director who is more technical. Some directors are trained in school and they know how to direct and get coverage and make the day. Other directors are just great at communicating, and those are my favorite.
To answer the second part of your question the only time I would feel constrained or self conscious is if the director or producer puts pressure on you to make a certain time and doesn’t give you enough time to really do a scene properly.
That’s not always easy to do because sometimes lunch or end of day is looming on the near horizon, and they go into to penalty if we go over the lunchtime.
We have to “make the day,” which means get a certain amount of scenes done in a day to keep on track with the budget and wrap date. And this is another aspect that can be very technical and not always supportive of the creative process and add stress to the director.
The director has a very demanding responsibility. He’s usually the first one there and the last one to leave. Somebody was dedicated their life to directing is a person I respect greatly.
I know I’m eventually heading that way in my career… I have mad respect for directors and the amount of care in detail that goes into every frame that you see on your screen.
Kurt Manwaring: Andrea Brooks recently referred to you as the goofiest person she works with. What has been one of your favorite pranks on set? Are you worried that someone is going to get you back one of these days?
it was incredibly enjoyable and he took it so well which is the best part.
Some people that I won’t mention any names….
Erin Krakow does not like to be scared, so it’s hard but I withhold my pranks from her… sometimes.
Am I worried?
Well, Lori Loughlin and Erin did a pretty ridiculous prank on me once.
They pretended to be some guy that they said met me at Burning Man and were trying to make me feel bad that I didn’t remember him. The were texting me things that sounds like things you do at Burning Man… it was very creative and hilarious…
But I was honest with them and told him that I didn’t know who he was.
I like being pranked… so joke’s on them… a little 😒…
I also like being pranked because it gives me leverage to make my retaliation more grand and dramatic!
Lori likes to be scared which is exciting, and the kids are always ready to play. They love to be scared. I think it’s no surprise that I consider myself a big kid.
Kurt Manwaring: There were some intense reactions to the death of Jack on social media. Do negative fan reactions ever affect you emotionally as an actor? Similarly, do supportive fan comments have any effect on you?
Paul Greene: There were a lot of intentions reactions to Jack’s character leaving – which is very understandable. People love the Jack-and-Elizabeth story and we’re heavily invested in it.
I’d be lying to say the negative reactions don’t affect me. Most people… I just wish them well and understand what they’re going through.
But when they get mean… I just delete them or block them. There is a certain tone, and a certain respect for others that I require an all of my social media and the soon as somebody breaks that code… they’re gone. Especially if somebody is bullying, or being mean in anyway to others or to me.
When supportive fans comment it feels great to get great feedback, I respond to a lot of my messages that fans leave for me when I have time. I weed through them and often answer questions when people are hurting or looking for some advice. I enjoyed doing that makes me feel like I’m actually helping people, making a difference. Which is what is very important to me as a person given the platform and exciting position I’m in.
Kurt Manwaring: What were your thoughts when you learned Daniel Lissing would not be renewing his contract & his character would be killed off?
Paul Greene: My thoughts were, “Man, I’m going to miss this guy,” because he’s quite the charmer and loads of fun to be around. Talk about a big kid.
Then I was like, “How are they going to do it so that everyone has a chance to grieve”?
And then I was thinking, “How are they going to cinematically actually film it?
I wish Dan all the best always. He’s a good guy and friend.
Kurt Manwaring: What is your filming schedule like for Season 6?
Paul Greene: Looks like we’re starting in July. Every year they try to do it earlier and earlier, but it always seems to get pushed back. We’re hoping for July this year. And then we’re there usually 4.5 months. I come home all the time out to see my son and my girlfriend.
Kurt Manwaring: One of your fans won the chance to ask you a question. Kathy Bjerke asks, “As an actor in an ever-changing industry, what keeps you centered, keeps your life grounded in the midst of change?”
As an actor in an ever changing industry, what keeps you centered, keeps your life grounded in the midst of change?❤️
— KathyB🌺 (@thekathyjane) April 14, 2018
Paul Greene: What keeps me grounded is my family, my amazing upbringing, my unique relationship with God, my son, Oli, and a 20 year journey in entertainment.
With lots of practice and many mistakes to learn from along the way.
Also, my amazing girlfriend Katie is an Aussie. And one thing about Aussies is they speak their minds and speak the truth which really helps keep my feet on the ground.
Life is change. I have accepted that and resist change less and less as it arises.
Kurt Manwaring: You are actively engaged in promoting awareness and research of ALS. Could you tell us what ALS is, why it is important to you, and what people can do to help?
Paul Greene: ALS is a neuromuscular degenerative disease, that attacks the nervous system and very quickly shuts down the body and eventually the lungs. Life expectancy is between two and five years usually. So far there is no cure.
The work and creation I do with ALS, Is to help find a cure.
My father passed from ALS a few years ago, and I decided it was very important that I do everything that I can to help raise money to help find a cure. So the group right now that I am working with is called Therapy Development Institute. It’s near Boston.
You can make a donation at www.ALS.net. Let them know you are supporting #ArtForALS – and then let me know on Twitter so I can thank you publicly.
That would be incredibly helpful. I’m on Twitter at @paulgreenemedia.
Kurt Manwaring: You are quite the talented guitarist. When did you first get interested in guitar—and have you ever serenaded a special someone? Are there any songs you are working on now?
Paul Greene: Thank you for the compliment. Guitar and piano are both instruments that just help me sing better. I don’t like singing a cappella, but I love singing with either one of those two instruments. I was interested in the guitar when I was very very young I took lessons for about six months, but then I found the drums and I really fell in love.
Technically, percussion big was my first instrument. I was the drummer for our church, and then when I was 18, Jenny Coates taught me how to play guitar and I was hooked. I traveled everywhere around the world with my guitar. I even played on the subway trains for years in New York City, Paris, and Italy.
That help me get over my fear of rejection as well – which is a skill that one needs for acting, that is for sure.
Just a side note. I have been in Los Angeles now for 13 years. I’ve probably had 600 auditions and 570 of those additions have been a BIG FAT NO. But the 30 yes’s are a good career that I am very proud of.
So learning to be an actor is a lot about learning how to handle rejection, being confident, and being true to yourself. When you actually are in the scene acting with another actor – that’s the fun stuff and that’s for free. They pay us to wait around, workout, audition be apart from our families. Not to act.
Kurt Manwaring: Let’s say you are asked to write a Carson-centric episode for Season 6 of “When Calls the Heart” in which you get into a heated disagreement with Lee Coulter over a misunderstanding and Faith helps the two of you to realize your mistakes and come out better friends than ever. What is the misunderstanding, what is something you do to Lee that you regret, and how does Faith help you resolve the problem?
Paul Greene: Maybe something where people are getting hurt at the lumber mill, and I step out of line to try to check on the safety standards of the mill. And the misunderstanding would be that Lee would think Carson was meddling in his business and that would cause some drama.
Then Faith would take Lee aside and share that someone came to me and told me about how the men were working long hours and getting tired and hurt. The three of us find a solution like… letting the kids work the mill… (ha kidding!).
We raise money as a town to buy a more efficient saw which speeds up production and the whole town saves the day… and all is right with Lee and Carson.
And Faith and Carson ride off in the sunset on a miniature pony… or just a regular horse.
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