South African-born actor Sean Cameron Michael has had a busy schedule since his role in the hit TV series Black Sails came to an end and he moved to LA to pursue other roles.
In the space of a year, he has landed roles in the acclaimed TV series Shooter (with Ryan Phillipe), popped up in the 11-minute homage to Blade Runner called Tears in the Rain, starred in the feature film Last Broken Darkness, has a recurring role in the grind house-inspired Blood Drive, now on the Syfy channel, and had a cameo in Tom Cruise’s The Mummy, which appeared on circuit earlier this year.
Along the way, this hard-working actor has picked up various awards, including best performance by an actor at the Boston Sci-fi Film Festival, and has been considered an Emmy Award contender in the category best guest actor in a drama series for Shooter.
More recently, Michael joined the cast of new film franchise AST, which is expected to start shooting in Toronto early next year.
We caught up with the actor while he was back home for a quick visit, and asked him about his various roles and life in La La Land.
Congratulations on your casting in the new film franchise AST. How did that come about?
"Thank you. My agents were contacted by the producers, who were already familiar with my work on Black Sails, Shooter and other projects – and wanted to see more. Over the course of two weeks I did self-tape auditions for the role of Gideon and also Skyped with writer/director Joël Colburn. Joël was specifically looking for an accomplished character actor who was very comfortable performing in numerous accents and languages and had also worked in the action genre. I happened to fit his very specific needs for the role with the wide range of foreign characters I’ve played and genres I’ve worked in over the years."
Sean Cameron Michael. Picture: Supplied
When do you start shooting?
"The franchise will shoot over the course of the next few years in numerous exotic locations around the world, including the States, Canada and Europe. We’re hoping to get cameras rolling before the end of the year or early next year. A lot depends on what tax incentives are being offered around the world to film-makers and also the availability of the recurring cast. The budget for the first instalment is $18 million (R240m), so the producers need to find the right locations where they can get the best “bang for their buck” filming a high action thriller."
Congrats on your Emmy consideration for outstanding guest actor in a drama series for your work on Shooter. How do you feel?
"Thank you. I’m honestly very proud of my work on Shooter and for the amazing opportunity given to me by the producers to work on the show, which was so well received by audiences around the world. Naturally I’m elated to be considered. I had just arrived back in South Africa on holiday, so that was very exciting news to share with my family and friends.
"Receiving an Emmy nominee accolade will be a career-changing accomplishment and obviously my fingers are crossed that I make the final short list for nomination by the Academy members."
You also recently had a small part in The Mummy. What was that like and did you get to hang out on the set with Tom Cruise or Russell Crowe?
"In the opening sequence of the film I play a British archaeologist being interviewed in studio by BBC reporters. I was so lucky to get the opportunity to work on the $125m feature, which was already in its final stages of wrapping production in Los Angeles.
"Unfortunately Tom and Russell weren’t on set for my scene, but I did get to work under the direction of the highly accomplished Alex Kurtzman, whose credits include Star Trek, Mission Impossible III, Transformers, Now You See Me and The Amazing Spiderman 2 – so that was an incredible experience.
Many feature films you’ve been in have won international awards, so it looks like you've had a busy 12 months or so?
I could not be happier. When projects are appreciated by the fans and win awards, it means that we as film-makers are doing something right. The art we’re creating is resonating with audiences."
Sean Cameron Michael. Picture: Supplied
You relocated to Los Angeles two-and-a-half years ago; tell us about life in La La Land?
"As a kid I always dreamed about living and working in the US. I love LA, it’s become my second home. It’s beautiful and so diverse with many different cultures and experiences to be had around every corner. It’s also very similar in many ways to South Africa, so that helps me to not miss home too much."
What do you do in LA when you aren't working?
"I try explore the city as much as possible and socialise with friends, but honestly, I believe to succeed in Hollywood you need to be 100% committed, so I’m very focused on my career and what I hope to achieve."
What do you miss most about SA?
"Obviously my friends and family and my dog, but also the familiarity of home and its people. South Africans are generally very friendly and welcoming. There’s a warmth and a calm that I feel when I’m in Cape Town, so I try spend as much time there as I possibly can when the opportunity permits."