The Strut

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Monday, May 18, 2009

As many of you know, we were given the amazing opportunity to ask Gil Birmingham, who plays Billy Black in Twilight, a few questions. We are thrilled to finally present the results to you and we want to sincerely thank each and every one of you who submitted your questions for Gil. You’ve been in countless roles and have been involved with TV, animation, stage, and movies – how do you go about choosing your roles? Is there any role you’ve done that stands out in your mind as being your favorite, or one of your favorites?

Gil Birmingham: The first thing that draws me to a role is a well-written and compelling script. I look for characters with complexity, who have something to say and who will challenge me as an actor. Each role that I’ve done has challenged me in different ways. One of my favorite performances was that of Dogstar in Stephen Spielberg’s six-part miniseries, Into the West. Through the eyes of Dogstar, viewers were able to witness the atrocities and devastation of Wounded Knee and its affect on Native Americans. It was a challenge to “age” with the character as he went from a young warrior to a tribal elder. How did you first hear about the movie Twilight, and can you tell us a little bit about your audition process for the role of Billy Black?

GB: My agent brought me the script. At that time, I knew little about the Twilight books, but I knew that the character had a unique story, and that the vampire/werewolf romance genre had a great appeal. I felt very connected with the character, which apparently showed during the audition process. Has the Twilight hype affected you in anyway? After having gone through one Twilight film already, do you feel you are better prepared for the hype the second time around?

GB: The whole Twilight experience has been truly amazing. I am constantly in awe of the love and support that Twilight fans all over the world continue to give me. The downside is that I have less time now to communicate directly with my fans, but I hope they know that I feel truly blessed to be a part of this thing called Twilight. I’m at the point in my life where I can appreciate all the adoration from fans, but not get swept up in all the hype. I’m still the same Gil Birmingham I was before Twilight. It’s well known in the Twilight world that Billy Black is in a wheel chair due to a medical condition – do you feel that this has affected your performance in any way? Do you find it harder to play a role where you are confined to a wheelchair?

GB: I was concerned at first that working in a wheelchair and making the movements look natural would be a challenge. Once I got into character and into the wheelchair, it all just seemed to come naturally. How do you get into character to carry out your role as Billy? Do you find that you relate to the character of Billy in any way?

GB: I spent time studying the book and the character to understand the inner motivation of Billy and tried to get into his thought process and how he would look and react in various situations. Billy is the leader of the tribe, but is not a werewolf. Because of this, he brings a different perspective to the story, and it adds complexity to his character. I found that there was a lot of Billy in me, which projected in the film. Can you tell us what it was like filming New Moon?

GB: New Moon was a tremendous experience for me. It was great to be back working with Rob, Kristen, Taylor and the rest of the cast. With the addition of the werewolf clan cast members, the energy on the set was at a whole new level. Filming New Moon, like Twilight, wasn’t easy. We spent long hours on location, in cold damp weather, sometimes well into the morning. What impressed me the most was the many dedicated fans who camped out in the cold all night while we were on location. They were really amazing! Have you seen any previews of any of the CGI work being used for the film, or any sneak peeks at the transformation the wolves will go through on film? What are you most looking forward to seeing come to life on-screen?

GB: I have not yet seen any of the special effects that will be used in the film, but I understand that they will be awesome. I’m anxious to see the transformation of the wolves on the big screen. I’m limited as to what I can say about the film at this point, but I know the fans will love the action and effects in this film. On a final note, can you tell us about your upcoming TV and film appearances, and any other future projects you have in the works?

GB: I’m waiting for the release of Love Ranch, a film with Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci, about the couple who started the first brothel in Nevada. I also just finished a role in a film that I can’t announce yet, but hope to be able to release that information soon. Soon, I’ll heading off to Perth, Australia for the Supanova Pop Culture Expo, and will be in London, England, in October for a Twilight convention. There are a few other projects and appearances that I hope to be able to announce in the next few months. And, with the little spare time I have these days, I’m working on my music. I’m hoping to find enough time to put something together to release on my MySpace and my web site.

You can visit Gil’s website here, his Myspace here, and his Facebook fan site here.

Another huge thank you to Gil for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions! We look forward to seeing you in all of your future projects.

And stay tuned, Twilighters, we have a major project coming up in a few weeks involving Gil, so keep checking back for more details!

**Thanks to Twilighters Anonymous**

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