Ethan Philan Randall, known by his stage name Ethan Embry, is an American film and television actor. He is best known for his role as Declan Giggs on the Showtime television series Brotherhood.
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Actor, musician, LA native, dad.
My latest movie is ECHOES OF WAR (trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Rz8pm2Ab3Y) which is set after the Civil War, and stars James Badge Dale and Maika Monroe. Yours truly plays Maika's father, who is basically trying to pick up the pieces after the Civil War and stick to his religious values. ECHOES OF WAR is in select theaters as well as on VOD now.
Victoria's helping me out over the phone. Let's AMA!
Update: Thank you for joining, and not letting me spend another night at my house, staring at my computer screen by myself. I guess I probably should say check out ECHOES OF WAR, and we'll be starting up - they gave us a second season of GRACE AND FRANKIE, so we're going to start shooting again soon! So that'll be out in 2016. And maybe we'll do this again sometime. I'd love that.
What percentage of filming days where you high during Empire Records?
How are you doing tonight Mr. Papagiorgio?
I left my corrective lenses at home.
I've heard you have hair and wear shirts sometimes, is that true?
It's a little bit of a stretch of the truth. So it's not a total lie?
So there is a partial truth to that.
But since it's a slight stretch, I don't know if you could label it "the" truth.
I was wondering if working on a Netflix show was different in any way from working on a traditional network television show?
Yes. Very much so. I think it's very different.
I think they come at putting their shows together from a completely different place.
From what it feels like, they don't operate from a place of fear.
I don't have television. I don't have cable or broadcast tv. All I have is Netflix and my iTunes account. And their programming - they pull what they want out there, they make good content, and they're not doing it to please outside advertisers. They're doing it to please the public. Which I think makes for much better content. And it makes it less of a "numbers game." They're not chasing a demographic. You know?
How was it getting paid to make out with Jennifer Love Hewitt?
White Actor Problems. She's too pretty, and I was in a relationship, so it was really uncomfortable...
Hi Ethan! Thanks for doing this AMA.
Dutch looked like a blast to make. What was your experience working with Ed O’Neill? Did you get to meet with John Hughes at all and if you did what was that like? What projects or roles would you like to try that you feel like you haven’t gotten a chance to do yet?
Okay! I did get to meet John Hughes. And unfortunately, he didn't become a hero of mine until my later years. I wasn't turned on to the best work of his until after I'd met him. I think I was 11 years old when I met him. Yeah! But he couldn't have been a sweeter man. And the same goes for Ed O'Neill. I really look up to that guy, I always have. I met him in the height of the MARRIED WITH CHILDREN fame. The guy was one of the more successful actors on television at the time, and couldn't be more laid-back, easygoing, good man, taught me a lot about how to hold myself, I always looked up to him as a father figure as far as work is concerned.
Which I guess is kinda funny. To have Ed Bundy be a father figure. Maybe that says a lot about what I've become? Hahaha!
But roles that I would like to do - I want an action hero. I have an empty space on my bookshelf. I'm looking forward to and hoping that one day I get to play a role that warrants having an action figure. That would be amazing.
They're doing a lot of superhero movies these days!
In That Thing You Do you're credited as T. B. Player (The Bass Player). What do you envision that character's name to actually be? Second: do you regret not sticking with The Wonders and joining the Marines even though you received a Purple Heart for your service? What were the wounds you received?
I always thought it was Tobias.
I think he probably got shot in the ass. That's right, because he received a Purple Heart, didn't he? So he lived! I'm alive! I didn't die! I can be in THAT THING YOU DID!
I aspire to someday reach the being-eaten-alive-by-gwar level of baked.
Yeah, it's a pretty nice plateau.
The Oneders/Won-ders are getting back together. You in?
No, they're not.
Aww, so much highschool crush!
So I was named after Barry Manilow's song Mandy and had to argue with many a people that it is not about a dog.
What do you think Mandy is about?
Well, we all obviously know now that it was about his boyfriend. Right? So maybe it was just - I mean - what is Mandy about? I mean, I don't think I've ever heard the song.
Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories from Can't Hardly Wait?
Yeah! I was trying to think of new ones. Cuz I just told this one the other day. I'll tell it again. The day we did the kissing scene at the end of the movie with Jennifer Love-Hewitt, she got me this really big basket of breath mints, and a stuffed teddy bear, because she - pretty much everybody knew - I passed most of my time smoking massive bong rips in my trailer... she didn't want to make out with a skunk-scented chimney.
I used the breath mints. They were rather nice cottonmouth alleviators.
How do you juggle fatherhood and your work?
It's tough, because a lot of the time, I have to go out of town for my work - I have to leave for long periods of time, and that was hard when he was younger. He's 15 now. And it's just become a part of our relationship - "Dad has to leave sometimes for a couple months." But when I was - when we shot BROTHERHOOD in Providence, R.I. - most of my weekends were spent getting on a plane Friday night, flying home, and going to his baseball games Saturday & Sunday, then flying back.
I have a 3 week rule that I've only broken once or twice with him, where we never go for more than 3 weeks without seeing each other, no matter where I am.
And then, other than that, when I'm not working, which is unfortunately sometimes a lot of my life, we get to spend ALL day together. So when I'm here, I'm really here.
With all the 80's and 90's flicks being remade and rebooted these days, do you ever worry that someone will get their hands on Empire Records and miss the Mark (pun intended)?
Also, what's your favorite band(s)?
I like the way you said "Miss the Mark," the pun part, you did good on that one.
I don't think that they will ever try to remake it, or reboot it, because it's not an industry success? It's a fan favorite. The industry could care less about it. It never made any money. It lost money. And I actually think that the vast majority of Hollywood is oblivious to what it became.
I was oblivious to what it became, until last year. They had a screening for it, out here in Los Angeles, they screened EMPIRE RECORDS and it sold out faster than it's ever sold out, and it was crazy-packed, and that was the first time I realized that it's sort of a classic, you know?
Favorite bands... as I look over to my computer, with the screensaver when it goes through your songs in your iTunes, the ones that are up here right now... Deftones, Rage Against the Machine, Massive Attack, Rocket from the Crypt, Ramones, Radiohead, Meshuggah, Stevie Wonder, Fugazi... I'm a 90's child.
Thank you SO much for answering.
Dutch is a must-see at least 2-3x a year for us.
Great performances all around and still hilarious.
So great to hear from you Ethan and I look forward to your future work.
Thank you very very much. Highly appreciated.
Thanks for answering! I think I'm biased when it comes to Empire Records because it was always a favorite in my house when I was growing up. I had the opposite situation going on: I had no clue it wasn't wildly popular until fairly recently. And your taste in music is A+, as I suspected.
Well, thank you very much, Brandon Chrkchrkchrk! Hahaha! How about "Thank you very much, BurneddownChickrk"?
Are you and Sunny officially back on? Are you going to not eff it up this time? You two seem so good together and adorable too. I hope it works out for you.
Yes, we are officially back on. Yes. I am planning on NOT fucking it up this time. And yes, we are very very good together, and thank you very much. I will try harder.
Where does the name Embry come from?
The name "Embry" - that's my mom's maiden name.
My first couple movies, I was credited with my dad's last name. Which is "Randall."
And my parents got divorced. And my dad wasn't around very much. So I changed my name to "Embry" because my mom was more a part of everything. And if I want to dive into it a little bit deeper - my grandfather was adopted - so my mom's legal last name is "Daugherty" - so he took on that name as his adopted name. He had 3 daughters, so he could never give his birth name, Embry, to anybody. So when my parents got divorced, and I saw him more than my dad - me and my brother, decided to change our last name to "Embry." So our kids could also have the last name Embry.
Hey, been a big fan for years. Loved Empire Records, Freakylinks, and Cheap Thrills especially. Do you have any plans to do any more dark comedies like Cheap Thrills again? I just think it suits you extremely well.
I just don't think projects like that are written very often? There was a little bit of magic with that one, that it miraculously managed to hit the exact right note between comedy and grotesque. That doesn't happen very often. It's so easy to tip the scale to just pointless, or not go far enough. It's a really - I think that that movie, 20 years from now, will still be enjoyed, and remembered, because it really does dance that fine line, you know?
Hey Ethan, naturally I'm a huge fan and have followed your career extensively. I really enjoy all of the super natural and horror acting that you have done especially. My question is: what is your favorite scary story, horror movie monster, or conspiracy theory?
Oooooh. Let's see.
I mean, they're all kinda different! My favorite conspiracy theory is the folded 20's. If you take an old $20 - not the new ones that we have now, but the ones that were around from the 1990's up until I think 2003 - if you fold them into paper airplanes, you can see the World Trade Center burning. It's crazy. So the folded $20s is my favorite conspiracy theory, because those bills were printed with that image at least a decade before 9/11, and then if you turn them over, reverse the folded airplane, you see the Pentagon burning. It's crazy! And good luck finding one of those older $20s now. Do a Google image search on "folded $20s conspiracy" and it'll probably pull up the image.
Favorite scary story, I'll have to think about that one. Because the dude's hook hand, at the drive-in theaters... I think my favorite scary story is the birth of MS13. Because it's true.
And my favorite horror movie monster - what are those things in The Dark Crystal? Skeksis? Those things! It's so creepy!
Hi Ethan!!! Thanks for doing this AMA! Empire Records is my favorite movie of all time.
Just one question....How good were those brownies?
The brownies were real.
It was my last day of shooting.
So... I think that was my last scene. So they were real. And potent.
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes has an amazing cover of it. Listen to that version and you'll think its the greatest song every. I promise or your money back. From someone..maybe not me.
I should be familiar with that song. So I will go buy that one right now.
Any thoughts or feelings about participating in conventions, like Comic Con or Wizard World?
With those shows becoming more and more about pop culture in general, and your body of work full of classics, fans like myself would enjoy a chance to chat and get a photo, if even for only a few minutes.
I am totally not opposed to that at all.
I've been entertaining the idea of going and I think it would be a lot of fun. The only reason that I've hesitated in the past is because I feel a little guilty charging people that, you know? Like, I feel bad charging to say hello and take a picture and hang out.
I did this - we went to New York, Johnny Wentworth and I, and GWAR was there, and we did that for 3 nights, each night was about 400 people, and then afterwards met everybody and took pictures and hung out, and we did that for charity, you know? The money went to New York City schools. And that was awesome, and I loved doing it. There's a couple jobs that I've done recently that would actually slip into the convention world really nicely. I'm not allowed to talk about 'em yet, so I have a feeling i will be doing to some - either the end of this year or next.
Ethan, can you tell us something about yourself that we may find surprising?
Tell us something about yourself that we may find surprising... I have a surprising amount of tattoos.
Hold on a second.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine...somewhere around 11.
Is it with a K or a C?
Have there been any projects that you have worked on that you felt went under the radar?
CHEAP THRILLS, CHEAP THRILLS, CHEAP THRILLS, CHEAP THRILLS, CHEAP THRILLS, CHEAP THRILLS, CHEAP THRILLS, CHEAP THRILLS.
Such a good movie.
And with a name like "Operation_Hennessey" I know you're gonna like it!
Ethan, was there any hesitation in joining a cast for a Netflix show or do you feel the format has proven itself by now?
Also, were you so excited to work with such amazing, accomplished actors? Must have been awe-inspiring!
I don't have regular TV anymore. I don't like being inundated by advertisements. I don't like being told what car or perfume or shoes I should wear. So all I get my entertainment from is through Netflix, and Apple TV. So I think that the format totally has proved itself.
At first, meeting them, yes. I was scared. When I got the job, my celebration lasted for about 5 seconds. And then I realized that I had to step my game up against the 4 of them, and I got kinda scared. Meeting them, though, they couldn't be more humble, they couldn't be more unassuming, and they're just genuine, normal people, and it's funny - for how successful the 4 of them are, how little their egos are. It's really lucky to be involved in that one. They're a really good group, those 4.
How did it feel taking a trip back in time shooting Echoes of War?
I'm glad that I was born in 1978.
Well, if you think about - I guess it would be from about 1960's - whenever they came out with the transistor radio - that was the first time we could be surrounded by music at all times. Before that, we couldn't even - like you go to the grocery store now, you go walking down the street, there's music playing everywhere. In your car, in your house, you're surrounded by music.
And that's so new.
It wasn't mobile. It was the first time - unless you were playing music yourselves, you couldn't be around it. And it was so quiet. Life must've been just so quiet.
Which there is something to be said for that. And it obviously worked for, what, the 40,000 previous years? But I personally am far more interested in what we're living through right now. I mean, god, we might be seeing the end of it, but at least it's exciting.
Hi Ethan! Super excited you're doing an AMA!
1) How does it feel to have been a part of such huge cult classics? (Can't Hardly Wait, That Thing You Do!, and Empire Records)
2) What was it like being a part of the iconic "Vacation" movies, and do you have any thoughts on the reboot?
Thank you so much!
1.) Yeah, question one! I'm the luckiest dude ever! And I think it means more to me now that these films are still remembered. It means more to me now than they did when they happened. Because when they happened, I was just doing what I did. I was just working, doing my job, and then going on to the next. And now, that they're still thought of and remembered and a part of people's lives means a lot to me because it validates what i was doing when I was younger. It's pretty nice. It feels really good.
2.) The only thought on the reboot is I wish I could've been part of it! Yeah! They should've gotten all the surviving Rusty's together... wait, we're all still alive. Hahahahahaa! And I'm going to Vegas this weekend, to bathe in the perks. I get a lot of love in Vegas because of it, and it's only a 3 hour drive from my house.
Sounds like it can be tough. Does your son have any interest in following in your footsteps?
He's a baseball player. He wasn't interested in it, at all, I think because he saw how much of a real job it was, and how stressful it can be at times. So he wasn't interested in it when he was younger. I think that things have been for me for the past 3 years - the industry ebbs and flows, and the past 3 years have been a good 3 years - so he's begun to entertain the idea of it. But his true love is baseball. And I actually think that he's pretty good at acting? He helps me with my auditions. Helps me learn my lines and run 'em with me, and he's actually pretty good at it. But maybe I'm biased. But he honestly is one of those that can do whatever he wants, he just has to pick one.
He'll have a good life, that kid.
How relieved were you when I stuck my balls in the sauce instead of you?
On a deeper note, what are some actors and/or directors you would have loved to have worked with, but can't because they have already left us?
The list is probably a lot longer than it should be, because we've lost a lot of really talented people over the past couple years. And there's also people that I really respect that just don't do it anymore, that have just decided to retire. Nothing pops right up at the top of my head. But I find it a lot of fun lately taking the risks on the new guys, like I had no idea that Evan Katz would be as good of a director as he was. And being able to be a part of his first project is really special. That being said, you also end up making a couple turds that way. But I think it's worth the risk. Because they're also taking a risk with me. I think that it's not guaranteed how well I'm gonna perform either, so it's only fair, you know?
What are your top five favourite movies of all time?
Okay, GWAR is amazing. They're incredible.
I just saw them - sorry, I was just reading about James Badge Dale being naked - uhh - GWAR is amazing. They're great guys. And they all have kids. And I just imagine them breastfeeding their babies in their costumes. PTA night, all dressed up! They stay in character the entire time. Hehehehe. They sleep, shit, eat in costume. It's amazing. Very committed.
And the ship has completely sailed for Freakylinks. The closure has already happened.
Is James Badge Dale as impressive naked as I imagine him to be?
Um... unfortunately the lighting was soft, and didn't do him justice, but next time I'll be sure to get him out in the daytime.
What is one project that you didn't do but regret passing up?
Well, there's a lot of them, that I almost got to do, that never ended up completely lining up.
A lot of them are very, very memorable. Not only movies, or TV shows, but really really memorable roles.
There haven't been any that I passed on that I regretted. After CAN'T HARDLY WAIT, there were a lot of those high school films that I had the opportunity to be in, but I didn't want to do another "high school film." I don't regret passing on those. But there's a good amount of films & tv shows out there that I either got cast in, and it fell through, or I just narrowly missed. Like, I recorded the entire voice for RATATOUILLE - we went in, and I did the whole film, recorded the voice, and then when they put it to the animation, it didn't match. But that one. I mean, that was huge. SO there's a good amount of ones like that. But nothing that I purposefully said "I don't wanna do" and regretted it.
Hey Ethan! Big fan solely for the fact that we have the same first name. If me and you were to do a porno, would you prefer i have a penis, vagina, or both? Also would you be willing write and perform the score for it?
Hmmm. So... it's Ethan-on-Ethan?
I think that that's the answer. So it's "Ethan on the Ethan."
And I love playing music. Hehehe!
So an Ethan-on-Ethan porn with mathematical instrument music.
Beggars can't be choosers.
You did a movie with Malcolm McDowell, Jane Seymour and Keith Carradine...what was that like!? Any cool stories about these actors? Or even your favorite actor to have ever worked with.
Malcolm McDowell - my scenes were with Malcolm and Jane. Jane is an absolute sweetheart. And Malcolm - GANGSTER NUMBER ONE is an amazing film to see him in. Again, they're legends, you know? True veterans. So I of course jumped at the chance to be able to work with those guys. And they're good people that know what they're doing, and have been doing it for a long time.
Speaking of names...
How do you pronounce your middle name?
And would it be weird if I told you that I kinda named my 6 year old after you? It wasn't an, "oh I'm naming my baby Ethan after Ethan Embry" kind of thing. It just sort of happened. ;)
Okay, it's the winky face that's weird. The rest is totally acceptable.
And for the middle name - think of "Philadelphia." Or, better yet, think of "Philanthropist," and get rid of the "thropist."
And there you go.
Yeah, I think that falls into that other? See response to /u/abattoirbluze