Spotlight On William Mapother, Actor

| August 17, 2011

William MapotherWhen some actors hit it big, they leave for Hollywood and never look back. But despite an incredible acting resume, including roles in “Lost,” “The Grudge,” “Mission: Impossible II,”  “In the Bedroom” and other well-known films and television series, William Mapother still finds time to visit his hometown in Louisville, where he attended St. Xavier High School and currently serves on the board of the Community Foundation of Louisville and the Louisville Film Society.

We caught up with him before his arrival in Louisville on Friday, Aug. 19, for the opening of “Another Earth,” a romantic drama and sci-fi film, which will be showing at Baxter Avenue Theatres, 1250 Bardstown Road. He’ll be doing a Q & A after the 7:40 p.m. show.

In “Another Earth” you play John Burroughs, a character battling depression after the loss of his wife and child. Was that a challenging role?
It took a little bit of work, you know, the character’s experiences are very different from my own. I was very happy to do it because it’s a new type of role for me. It’s one that a lot of people haven’t seen me do before.

How did you prepare for the role?
Like most actors, my preparation involves three things: my own experiences, my imagination and research. From my own experiences, I looked to times when I have grieved, and with my imagination, I had to create an imaginative bridge between myself and the character, and that required inventing memories. And then finally, for research, I spoke to people who had lost children and asked them how they had handled it. There’s little I can imagine as horrific as losing a child. It wasn’t easy, but taking on emotionally challenging roles isn’t something that’s new for me.

Some of your best-known roles, like Ethan from “Lost” and Richard from “In the Bedroom,” are roles in which you play sort of a villain. Do you enjoy those types of roles?
I don’t view those characters as villains. Any self-respecting actor doesn’t view themselves as a villain. When you view a character that way it distances yourself from the character and makes it very hard to play that character in dialogue. (In reality) if someone does something unethical or immoral they find ways to justify it … I enjoy playing characters that challenge me. That may mean they’re very different from me or similar to me, but I haven’t played them before.

Actor James Mason once said that he made three movies a year: one for the art, one for the money and one for the location. For me, I make movies that call to me personally (where I’m) challenged and engaged emotionally and intellectually.

Going back to your connection with Louisville, you went to St. X for high school. Do you visit or stay involved with the school?
I’ve gone back and talked to the students. I didn’t do theater there. I didn’t do any theater at Notre Dame. I was actually more interested in writing and directing. I’ve always been writing. I’m still writing and directing some short films, and I’d like to hope that there’s an opportunity to direct in the future.

What advice would you give other actors in Louisville trying to make it big?
If someone wants to make their living primarily through acting, they can do it in Chicago perhaps on the stage; in New York mostly on the stage and a bit in film and TV; but if you want to make a living primarily through acting, it’s very difficult not to live in Los Angeles. There are various opportunities in Louisville, and as you know, the Kentucky Legislature tax incentive was passed as an incentive to produce film and television in Kentucky.

Is that why you co-founded the Flyover Film Festival in Louisville – to help bring films to Louisville?
I wouldn’t say that the Flyover Film Festival was necessarily to bring production to Louisville but certainly has a larger goal of bringing films and the film industry here.

How often do you visit Louisville?
I come several times throughout the year. I’m on the board of the Community Foundation. A couple of years ago, I shot some PSAs for the cause of elder abuse awareness. I own a building in NuLu in East downtown with Gill Holland. I come back for those things and the Louisville Film Society. And I have friends and family in Louisville that I visit.

You mentioned your involvement with raising awareness of elder abuse. How did you become involved in that?
My cousin Jennifer Leibson is involved in the local chapter. She asked me a few years ago to become involved and … I’ve become a spokesperson for elder abuse. It’s something that’s gotten too little attention and (cases are) only growing because the baby boomers are getting older and need to be taken care of.

Anything specific you’re looking forward to with this coming trip to Louisville?
People in Louisville are going to think I’m crazy, but I haven’t been back to Louisville in August for a while and for variety’s sake, (I’m looking forward to) the Louisville weather. Often we can only appreciate what we really enjoy by revisiting what we don’t. I’ll appreciate the weather (in California) a lot more after having experienced the humidity in Louisville.

Anything else you’re doing to stay busy?
I’m also an entrepreneur. A couple of years ago, I co-founded Slated – an online marketplace for film financing. It brings together filmmakers and investors for the first time ever on the Internet. We expect to be in beta in October and investors will be able to come to our site to browse independent films that are seeking financing.

I often say my job is not to act. My job is to find a job. The hardest part of acting is not acting. Most of the time actors are not working, so the challenge becomes what do you do with your downtime and how do you avoid going crazy.

“Another Earth” opens at Baxter Avenue Theatres on Friday, Aug. 19. Mapother will be holding a Q&A session on Friday, Aug. 19, and Saturday, Aug. 20, after the 7:40 p.m. showings.

Contact writer Ashley Anderson at

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Category: The Spotlight

About the Author (Author Profile)

Ashley Anderson

Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).

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