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Actor Anthony Starke - March 10, 1998


My type would probably be the boy next door with an extended felony record.

I suppose of late I prefer dramas, simply because I've done so much comedy, probably a hundred episodes of sitcom, and it's been nice to work on things where you don't have to get a laugh, just let the moment play. I also like that when you're working in a dramatic setup, in terms of how it's shot, the camera is much closer and it can be much more intimate and real. In sitcoms, you have that 4-camera setup. The small stuff gets lost.

PEOPLE Online: Okay! Showtime. Hi everyone -- I'm Patrizia DiLucchio This is PEOPLE Online on Yahoo!Chat and tonight's guest is actor Anthony Starke who plays Ezra on the CBS Saturday night show,"The Magnificent Seven." Welcome to cyberspace, Anthony! Have you done cyberchats before?

Anthony Starke: Thank you very much. It's fun to be doing this. I've never done an online interview before. It's nice because you don't usually get to do an interview from home. I'm also giving myself a colonic and doing my taxes...very efficient.

PandaBear7_98 asks: How did you get the role of Ezra?

Anthony Starke: It was actually a pretty long and difficult process. I had to audition initially for the producers, for Trilogy, and for MGM. Then finally I had to audition for the network. They all went well, but there was some disagreement about who should be playing the part. There was a bit of wrangling for a month and it was finally determined I'd get the job. I was told about 2 days before I had to get on a plane and go to Arizona and film. I had a 6-week-old baby at the time and it was quite stressful. But I was excited to get the job and take off and go to work.

Holdin_Aces asks: What's the most challenging aspect of shooting a western?

Anthony Starke: Probably the physical demands of it. A lot of it is shot outdoors, and we've been doing a lot of episodes during El Niņo. We've been shooting a battle sequence where we were in pouring rain till 3am. When you have a lot of fast riding, it can bounce you around quite a bit. But it's fun for the same reasons, being outside, riding horses.

Tirya2 asks: How much of your own personality is in Ezra? How much of Ezra is you?

Anthony Starke: I would say the fact that Ezra is a gigantic weasel is close to my heart. The fact that he's a bit of an actor, making his living pretending to be something he's not. The part that's not like me is he's more dishonest than I am.

PandaBear7_98 asks: Is the cast very serious - or a bunch of practical jokers?

Anthony Starke: They're more practical jokers, a very fun group of guys. A very lighthearted atmosphere on the set, which is nice.

Ezraddict asks: Any problems learning the skills to portray Ezra? Riding, shooting, card tricks, the derringer trick?

Anthony Starke: The riding and shooting weren't very hard. I did riding when I was a kid, and guns aren't that hard to pick up, unless you're using real ones. The guns are real, but the bullets aren't. The card tricks were hard. I studied with a magician from The Magic Castle, which was a lot of fun.

Wilmingtonsfinest19_M asks: So what made you decide to go into acting?

Anthony Starke: An enormous need for attention, I suppose. {laughs} I was always fascinated with movies and TV as a kid. When I was 12 I was taken with a school group to a Shakespeare festival in Ontario. I was totally mesmerized by the acting and production of these plays. It made me feel incredibly alive to watch this kind of work being done. On PBS I watched the BBC's version of "I Claudius" with Derek Jacoby and I was so spun around by his performance that I decided I wanted to do that. I got very active in high school plays and won an acting scholarship to college. But what made me become a professional actor was in my junior year, when I was to take my law school exams, I became depressed because I realized I wanted to be an actor, not a lawyer. I told my parents and eventually they were supportive. So I really started to pursue it in college and afterwards.

PandaBear7_98 asks: What did your family think about you becoming an actor and not a lawyer?

Anthony Starke: My parents were concerned. They sent me articles about how actors never work. While I was a junior I got a "Movie of the Week" job in Chicago, "First Steps" with Judd Hirsch. Then they got excited and became very supportive after that.

PEOPLE Online: So what advice might you have for an aspiring actor who is now in those shoes you wore before your career blossomed?

Anthony Starke: If you really feel a strong need to do this kind of work, and if you also feel deep down that you have the kind of ability that will sustain a life-long career...this is a marathon, after all...then don't let anyone talk you out of it. If you feel attracted to it, but not a real need, I would do something else. Do it if you have to, and if you have to, don't let anybody stop you.

Tweedle_de asks: Do you do your own stunts?

Anthony Starke: I don't do all of them. I do most of my own riding and I do all my own sleight of hand stuff, all my fight scenes and shooting stuff. I wouldn't do a high fall or something dangerous with a horse.

Xode asks: Are any of you guys are expert rider on a horse?

Anthony Starke: I wouldn't describe any of us as expert riders, but we've all become competent and comfortable which is what matters most for TV and movies, that you feel and look comfortable. Horses can feel your nervousness, fear and tension. If you're in control, the horse will let you take over. If not, they'll keep testing you. We've gotten good enough to do what we have to do.

Maximillian_Sterling asks: This may be a silly question, but does Ezra have a last name? He's my favourite character, and the CBS page didn't provide any information along that line. Love the show, incidentally.

Anthony Starke: Ezra's last name is Standish, but everything about Ezra needs to be taken with a grain of salt because he's a dissembler. He may have had many last names, but his most consistent surname is Standish. But you'd even have to question whether his first name is really Ezra.

dorothyguest_2a8d7742 asks: You've had very varied roles--cult films, Bond, George Carlin, etc. How does the part of Ezra Standish compare?

Anthony Starke: I'd have to say that he's one of the richest and most stimulating characters I've had to play. He's a con artist, but he's also someone who has something deep within reaching out for redemption. He's a bad guy looking to be better. These kinds of people are very interesting to play.

Tirya2 asks: How do you feel watching yourself on the screen? Proud? Bashful?

Anthony Starke: That depends on what kind of job I think I'm doing. If I think I'm doing great, then I'm happy and proud. If I watch something and think "Oh my god, there was an opportunity there I didn't see!" there's a sense of "Well, I won't miss that boat again."

MikeBaby111 asks: Do you think that the TV show lives up the fame of the original?

Anthony Starke: Yes I do. In a lot of ways, I think it's better. The characters are more developed, fleshed out and distinct from one another. With a TV series you have more time to explore the differences and similarities among guys. A series that runs awhile gives you time to really explore who these people are. This is why I thought it was a good thing to adapt for TV.

PandaBear7_98 asks: What is your favorite role thus far, out of everything you have done?

Anthony Starke: That a tough one. Phew! Ezra would be way up there. My wife just said "father" and "husband", but I think you're talking about acting. Some of the roles I played, in Sam Shepherd plays, "Curse of the Starving Class" and "Buried Child." I really loved those. I also played Billy Crocker in "Anything Goes." It was a blast, not too profound. I've enjoyed doing the sitcoms...the character Jack with George Carlin and Jimmy on Seinfeld. Those would be some examples.

Scscout asks: A lot of the characters you portray seem to have a good sense of humor - do you?

Anthony Starke: Absolutely not. I spend most of my days sitting in a dark room wondering how I got to such a dark place. Actually, I think I have a good sense of humor and I've surrounded myself with funny people. All my friends are very funny. We sit around trying to make each other laugh.

MALACH1 asks: Hello Anthony! My name is Brandi and I was just wondering if you are working on any movies at this time?

Anthony Starke: Actually, Brandi, no I'm not and I was wondering if you'd call my agent about that. I've been reading for a few things but it's kind of difficult to do features as someone who's my type because someone of my type in a movie they want a star for. I'm at a point in my career where people recognize me but don't know my name. I'm trying to get into roles for movies I could get. Hopefully, if "Magnificent Seven" continues to do well, I hope that situation will change.

PEOPLE Online: Gotta ask, Anthony -- how do you define "your type"?

Anthony Starke: My type would probably be the boy next door with an extended felony record.

Winslet_16 asks: Do you get along with everyone on "The Magnificent Seven" (main character wise)?

Anthony Starke: Actually, I've received death threats from 4 out of the 7, who shall remain nameless. The other 3 and I have a wonderful relationship. In fact, they're over here now because they live with me.

PandaBear7_98 asks: Other than Ezra - who is your favorite character on the show and why?

Anthony Starke: I'm kind of partial to the guy always lying in the corner face down drunk in a pool of whiskey. There's a pathos coming from him that's so hard to capture.

PandaBear7_98 asks: Did you use a voice coach to help you with the southern accent?

Anthony Starke: No, I didn't. The dialect I'm doing probably bears no actual relationship to geographical location. It's a cross between James Carville, Strom Thurmond, Foghorn Leghorn....a true hybrid. All Warner Bros. characters.

MrCoffeebean asks: How's it feel to play a gamblin' man?

Anthony Starke: Well, MrCoffeebean, let me just start by saying "way down among Brazilians, coffee beans grow by the billions." I like playing a gambling man because I'm not much of a gambler. Some of my friends are card players. I learned the general demeanor from a couple card sharp friends of mine. It's the body language and attitude of card playing that you study. It's been a learning experience from me. I don't get much past black jack when I go to Vegas.

Ezraddict asks: Was making "Return of the Killer Tomatoes!" as much fun as it is watching it? Or does it fall under the "Don't remind me of that one!" category?

Anthony Starke: It absolutely doesn't fall under the "don't remind me" category. It was a barrel of laughs. We knew it was a silly movie and we went full force. George Clooney and I had a license to play around with the stuff. We improvised a lot of lines and had a blast. We were in San Diego for 5 weeks. We were young and had a lot of fun. I have a lot of fond memories. I also think it's a good film because it accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish. A movie that's just looking to be a silly romp with a lot of laughs and succeeds is a good. By that yardstick, "Return of the Killer Tomatoes" is a successful film.

LadyK_8 asks: What was your favorite episode to shoot so far?

PEOPLE Online: Episode of "The Magnificent Seven," I would assume...

Anthony Starke: For my character, the episode "Witness" because I had a lot of interesting levels to play because of the relationship with my mother, played by Michelle Phillips. Probably the episode I felt was the strongest overall, just on, was called "Manhunt" because I thought it was the strongest story. It held you to the very end.

Auteur_98 asks: Did I read that you produced and directed a movie?

Anthony Starke: I did a short film last summer that my wife produced and a friend of mine directed, that I coproduced and cowrote. We have a feature-length film script and we're talking to people and I've gotten some interest. It's still in limbo. Eventually I'd like to write and direct films. It's a long process and hopefully I can stay busy as an actor.

La Bafunguest_228d7327 asks: What kind of hours are typical on the set?

Anthony Starke: Anywhere from 8-14 hours in a day. This is the actors. The crew work much longer. I can sometimes leave my home at 4:15am for a 5am makeup call and not leave the shoot till 6 or 7pm. But we're an ensemble cast and no one has to carry the whole show, so the hours have been pretty reasonable. My makeup calls are so early because I specifically request that on Wednesday I be put into full Klingon makeup from 5-7am to get in the mood. So perhaps it's my own fault.

Xode asks: Anthony : what is like working with Michelle Phillips

Anthony Starke: It was great, except for her initial insistence on wearing the headdress of a Bantu maiden which she had become very attached to. I thought she was one of the most delightful people I've ever met.

Ezrastailor asks: You obviously have a stage background; will you be headed to stage again?

Anthony Starke: I don't have any plans for that right now. I've been focused on writing when I'm not working. I write a lot of poetry, screenplays, a novel. I'm hoping to get the book published at some point, get some of these screenplays going. The commitment for a play is potentially a very long time and I want to do some other things first.

MikeBaby111 asks: Have you ever watched "Baywatch"? Would you rather be on that cast or on "Seven"?

Anthony Starke: I would probably prefer "Baywatch," but only if I could play someone's Speedo.

Tirya2 asks: There are some great lines in the "Mag Seven" scripts - what's it like during rehearsals or first run-throughs when you first see the lines?

Anthony Starke: My initial reaction is usually to start rewriting my lines and then see how many of them the producers will go for. A lot of times, though, there's nothing I want to change and that's really delightful.

Ali_r_82 asks: Did you watch the movie before taping of the show began

Anthony Starke: Yes I did.

Scscout asks: Where were you born and raised?

Anthony Starke: I was born in Syracuse, New York. When I was 5 we moved to Pleasant Hill in the San Francisco Bay Area. When I was 10 we moved to Northern Illinois. I went to Antioch High School, then Marquette University. I worked briefly in Chicago, then came out to LA.

PEOPLE Online: Was one of your parents in the military? I mean -- that's a whole lot of moving!

Anthony Starke: I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. Actually, my dad was in the insurance industry. Both my parents are immigrants from the Netherlands. My mother was a schoolteacher.

Ezraddict asks: Future?Are there any particular aspects of Ezra's character that you would like to see explored?

Anthony Starke: Something that was touched on but not fully explained was his tendency towards cross-dressing.

PEOPLE Online: Gotta ask you -- do you speak Dutch? And have you been back to the Netherlands to visit relatives?

Anthony Starke: I understand more Dutch than I speak, because I wasn't formally taught it. I grew up around it. I've been back to the Netherlands many times, and am close to my grandfather, aunts and uncles. When my son was born last year, my cousin in Holland had his son on the same day. So my grandfather became a great grandfather twice in the same day on two different continents. I try to go back there once a year.

PEOPLE Online: Wow! First time great-grandfather? Very cool!

Jadzia73 asks: During the filming of "18 Again" did you get to meet Mr. George Burns?

Anthony Starke: Yes I did, and he was absolutely delightful. He was, at that point, in his mid-90s and still full of piss and vinegar and told stories on the set and was extremely charming. At the wrap party he even got up and sang a few songs. I've had the opportunity to work with a lot of the great old-time comedians. My first film was "Nothing In Common" which was Jackie Gleason's last film, and my first TV series was Danny Thomas' last TV series, a show called "One Big Family." The moral is--If you are a comedian who is advanced in years, you may not want to be working with me.

Madroxguest_258d6136 asks: Were you worried about singing on the show?

Anthony Starke: No, I wasn't worried about singing, but I was worried about singing like a woman on the show. That voice was my voice. We prerecorded that song in the studio. I've done a lot of singing, but trying to sing in that key was a bit challenging.

Cutie421 asks: Who was your favorite actor growing up?

Anthony Starke: I was very struck again by Derek Jacoby when I saw him in "I Claudius," a 12-part series I watched twice all the way through. Patrick Stewart was in that series. I also liked James Dean when I was a teen. My favorite actor of my generation is Sean Penn. I thought he was amazing in "She's So Lovely," and was completely overlooked for the awards.

MrCoffeebean asks: Do you prefer doing dramas as opposed to comedies?

Anthony Starke: I suppose of late I prefer dramas, simply because I've done so much comedy, probably a hundred episodes of sitcom, and it's been nice to work on things where you don't have to get a laugh, just let the moment play. I also like that when you're working in a dramatic setup, in terms of how it's shot, the camera is much closer and it can be much more intimate and real. In sitcoms, you have that 4-camera setup. The small stuff gets lost. You're encouraged by the writers and producers to push more to sell the joke. I certainly admire the technique in doing comedy, and I'm proud that I've developed the skill to play that stuff, but I'm enjoying doing something different right now.

EzrasCat asks: Do you have an official fan club and if so, do you know how we can get in touch with them, and if not, would you be interested in having one?

Anthony Starke: No, I do not have a personal fan club, but please feel free to make all donations to Amnesty International.

PEOPLE Online: And for our last question of the evening -- it's a question that has been submitted at least a hundred times tonight. I've saved it for last.

Tannerguest_10a06884 asks: The show is great. Do you think it will be picked up?

Anthony Starke: I honestly don't know. Our ratings have been hard to read because they've gone up and down strangely. We had a very strong with the pilot, then off with the Olympics, then into a new time slot, then delayed by the NCAA, and we lost our usual lead-in with Dr. Quinn. I don't know how the network and their analysts are viewing this. I believe our audience is growing.

PEOPLE Online: Anthony, you've cracked me up. This was fun. Please come back again. In fact, please come back a lot. You're a cyber-natural! Thanks for joining us.

Anthony Starke: Thanks. I too had a lot of fun. Everybody have a great weekend.


Contact the webmistress at webcat @ anthonystarke.com