DTK MEN Exclusive: Interview With Actor Taz Garcia
Taz Garcia is an award winning action film actor and director. As a part of the elite new blood generation of action movie stars, Garcia is committed and serious about his work. Aware of the journey and those that came before him, the actor is humbled by his seat at the table. The consummate professional, known for his intricate Hong Kong style fight-scenes is passionate about doing his own action scenes and stunts. An accomplished martial arts champion, Garcia comes fully prepared for the physical demands of his work, holding himself to very high standard. The hard working actor was recently recognized as the youngest recipient of the "Icon Award" at the Action on Film Awards in Los Angeles. We at DTK MEN had the privilege of getting to speak with Garcia who’s passion for the craft and joyful sense of humour were in full-effect during the interview. Here’s what the young action star had to say about the industry, his sports background, and his appreciation for the legendary Jackie Chan.
Akeem: First off Congratulations on becoming the youngest recipient of the Icon Award at the action on film awards in L.A.
Garcia: Thank you, Thank you
Akeem: can you speak on what the award means to you, and the work ethic it takes to be noticed as an action star in the industry?
Garcia: The Icon award was very very humbling for me. That’s one word I can say. It’s a milestone, that’s another word. It shows you you’re going in the right direction, but by no means is it the finish line. It’s one of those things where it shows you’re going in the right direction, keep working hard, this is one of many. It’s such an honor to be regarded as an icon, because icons are what made us get started in certain directions, certain sports or the arts. You know I wanted to be an actor, I wanted to be a performer, I wanted to be a basketball player when I was 16, so I became a role model and an icon for you. So it is very humbling to receive an award with such a title, knowing that one day you can make a difference for a someone and they would look up to you.
Akeem: Can you run me through the day of an action star?
Garcia: It’s living. It’s moving, that’s one of the most important things I would say, you have to keep moving. Just because you’re an action star, it doesn't mean that you’re not human. So you have to learn to live, you have to do what you love. You get up, you work out, because if you don’t put in the time, but in the effort, you don’t sweat and bleed for what you love, no one else is gonna do it for you. That’s what you gotta do day in and day out.
Akeem: Why was it not enough for you to simply be an action star, why did you want to be behind the camera as a director?
Garcia: In this industry, just like many other industries there’s a high involved, doesn't matter what industry it is, everything has to go up and then it comes back down and then it goes up, very much like gas prices (Laughs). It’s one of those things where, sometimes when it’s really really slow, it doesn't matter where you are in your career, a lot of times it’s just really really slow. And there’s people that wait until their agent calls them, there’s people that wait until a casting director, or director, or producer for a big movie or a smaller movie calls them and says “ hey guys we wanna see you for this part we want you to play this part, we wanna see you audition for this role”. There’s other people that say “ok you know what, I’m gonna shoot something in the meantime to stay fresh. When you look at it for a performance side, it keeps you on your toes. Very much like if you were at the gym, just because you don’t have a match, it doesn't mean you stop training. And that’s exactly why I ended up behind the camera, is to stay fresh, stay on my feet and my toes, and not get flat footed.
Akeem: It’s like a boxer saying they got the fight last minute but they stay ready in the gym. It’s that same mentality right?
Garcia: Exactly, Absolutely.
Akeem: To continue on this sports topic, you have a deep rooted history in sports. You’ve played professional soccer and tennis, you earned your black belt in the 90’s and have competed in combat sports. Can you speak on how competing at such a high level in multiple sports has influenced how you prepare physically for roles?
Garcia: I’ll tell you something, it really became a lifestyle. There’s people that do it for fads and phases, for me it really became a lifestyle, and with that lifestyle, I came to understand that no one is gonna put the hard work for you. It has to be you, you have to be the one that’s hungry, you have to be the earliest one in and the last one out. You know there’s no shortcuts, you’re gonna bleed, you’re gonna sweat, you’re gonna hit obstacles, you gotta figure out how to go over under around, through it. In sports, just like the entertainment industry, you are judged. You are performing, and if you don’t perform, you lose your fans, you lose your audience, you’re subbed out. Someone that’s younger, faster, stronger, more fit than you will replace you and that’s exactly what I’ve learned through the sports upbringing that I’ve had. The entertainment industry is exactly the same. You gotta stay tip top shape, you gotta be hungry, you gotta be fit for whatever you’re going for, you gotta be ready that’s all it is. You can’t reach a number one rank and say ok now I’m gonna go cruise control. You do that, and someone who was were you were yesterday is gonna really zoom past you.
Akeem: Is that the same reason you choose to do your own stunts?
Garcia: Well the stunts really comes down to two things. One is growing up loving and admiring Jackie Chan stunts. The second reason is because of the amount of respect and the amount of edge it gives you. A lot of people, when they look at someone who puts themselves it that danger, through that risk, they really really admire how much you are passionate about your role. I’ve seen it before where one of the super heroes had a stunt double and a small kid came up to take a picture with him between scenes, and then when he took his mask off, the guy that was doing all the cool stunts on the motorcycle ended up being the stunt double, and I saw the look on the kids face, and I said never ever do I want to see any of my fans old or young to have that look of disappointment. That this is someone that they look up to, and then in the end, this is someone else. Back to Jackie Chan, growing up watching him, admiring him, and finally getting to work with him in early 2000, it was one of those things where you see, a lot of people look up to him, whether they want to work with him, whether they like him, that is a personal choice but you see how much influence he’s had. And you see that the language of the body, how he expresses himself with his body throughout his stunts has earned him respect regardless of whether he’s an emmy award winning actor of if he’s an oscar [nominated] actor, any of that. It’s just the physical ability that has taken him way way across countries and borders and continents, and that’s one of the things I really want to continue doing.
Akeem: One of the next projects you are starring in is a movie called The Rebeccas, an action comedy about two women stuck in the Victorian era. What can you tell me about your role in the film?
Garcia: Well actually The Rebeccas is a TV show, it’s very funny because for that one, you have two girls called Rebecca, so both of them are Rebecca, and their dad is gone. Before he left he said, please Jack, take care of my daughters because they think they are still living in the Victorian era, and that’s what I have to deal with. So there’s a lot of comic moments, it’s really really funny. I actually helped them out with the action, but I don’t have any action scenes in it. I was more of a comic relief in this one and I was very happy to be so. They keep calling me Raphael, just to shows you the delusion they’re in, but it’s great. You these two ladies dressed as queens, and they’re just walking around people dressed in Under Armour and Nikes, and they look really out of place (Laughs). But it’s great.
Akeem: Needless to say the idea is pretty put there. How much fun did you have on set?
Garcia: You know what? So much fun (Laughs) It was just comedy. We had the best chemistry together on set. I worked with one of the Rebeccas before, the director, and also the producer were good friends of mine. So we had good chemistry on and off screen. It was a blast, it was a really good time.
Akeem: You mentioned Jackie Chan as being your influence. Obviously, Jackie Chan, he started in action films and he went into action comedies and now dramas. What do you look for in a script. Are you looking for comedies or dramas, do you have a preference?
Garcia: You know it’s inevitable that when people see certain individuals and how they’re built, they’re like “ok you are an action star, you have the figure of someone who likes he can’t get jumped”(Laughs). Sometimes you can’t work around that. Most of the time I look for a script that is believable if I play that character, and challenging at the same time, because where there is challenge there is growth. I don’t wanna limit myself and say I’m just action, I don’t want to say I’m just comedy, I don’t want to say I’m just drama, I want to be able to go back and forth.
Akeem: Another role who have coming up is on the Shadowhunters series, can you tell me about your character on the show?
Garcia: I can tell you it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s quite something to play. last time I played something that was along the lines of werewolves and vampires, I might have been twelve. This is a good two decades later that I play something with that theme. I’m really excited for it, we start filming next week and I really look forward to that.
Akeem: You mentioned having to dress up as werewolves and vampires and stuff like that. Going through your previous work, you’ve been dressed in different outfits, like on pacific Rim. If you could have an action figure of yourself, which character, that you have played in the past, would it be based on?
Garcia: I would say jeans, white shirt, and a black jacket.
Akeem is that from a specific role?
Garcia: It is actually, it was for the briefcase. You know there’s something about that hero that can walk up to save someone in jeans, a tee, and a black jacket that you know this guy… this guy is gonna do something. He either gonna save the day, or attempt to save the day, something along those lines, or maybe that’s just the 80’s era talking (Laughs)
Akeem: Is there anything you would like to add?
Garcia: It’s been a blast. I just wanna tell anyone thats getting started in this industry to understand that it’s tough, you’re gonna hear a lot of no’s, a lot of skepticism, people telling you to get a real job, it’s good as a passion but go get a real job. Listen to that little voice inside you, trust yourself and just keep pushing. Grow that thick skin and just really really keep pushing.
It's easy to quickly right off action stars as being these one dimensional tough guys with no sense of humour because of the roles they play in films. This is far from the truth. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan, two of the greatest action stars to grace the big screen, are known for their charisma, likability, and jovial demeanor. Just like the greats who came before him, Taz Garcia expresses the same joyous spirit and hard work ethic it takes to one day stand with the giants of the industry. Garcia also has made it a necessity in his eyes of being the real deal. This is why he performs all his own stunts. Be on the lookout for him as he reaches his goals in the film industry one stunt at a time.
You can follow Taz Garcia on instagram: tazito.garcia, and on Twitter at tazito_garcia