Since I started writing (or typing) articles, and also the wonderful world of podcasting. Out of the many things I enjoy about it all (and there are many) is when I encounter someone new, be it face to face, online or by email. I still find the world of FromPage2Screen verey surreal sometimes and a week or so ago I recieved a lovely short email from a guy called Clint (not Eastwood) who has a client called Robert and who very kindly would allow me to send some questions over for an article.
Who is his client? Well that would be. .
Mr Robert F Lyons.
Since making his debut in an episode of ‘I Dream of Jeannie’, Robert F Lyons has appeared in an insanely impressive series of films and television shows.
Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Roswell, Cop Rock, The A-Team, The Fall Guy, Magnum, Falcon Crest, ChiPs, The Incredible Hulk, Kojak, The Night Gallery, and many many more.
Filmwise, Robert has roles in several Charles Bronson films such as Death Wish 2, Murphys Law, and 10 to Midnight and other films such as Platoon Leader and Dark Night Of The Scarecrow.
The Burning Dead (2015) marks Robert’s 100th acting credit and I had the pleasure of watching this crazy film recently, just before I was lucky enough to be able to ask Robert a few questions.
The Burning Dead takes us into a mountain setting and adds a volcanic eruption and a deadly fight to escape a horde of lava-filled zombies brought to life by a curse. Yes the films that mental but a lot of fun. Robert F Lyons takes the role of ‘Old Ben’ but dont let the word old put you off. ‘Old Ben’ kicks some serious zombie butt in this film and the fight scenes look like so much fun.
One of the most difficult things I find with ’email interviews’ especially when I am compiling a list of questions and then sending them off (rather than 1 question, 1 answer and then building it up into a long conversation) is how many questions do I ask? Its easier when you know the person but you certainly dont want to send over a list of 94 questions to someone who is more than likely a very busy guy.
I sat down and came up with the following and wonderfully answered by Mr Lyons I might add. I could easily sit down with the guy (well not easily as hes there and I am here – but you know what I mean)
So lets head over to my questions to the legendary Robert F Lyons.
(Stuart) :-Out of all the projects you have worked on, which ones are the ones most dear to your heart and make you smile when you think of them?
(Robert):- I have many for different reasons – some because I may have helped to improve the writing, or get more action, physical action into the role and scenes and some that afforded me the opportunity to do deeper work. The feature films I liked were Pendulum, Getting Straight and Cease Fire. A TV MOW (movie of the week) Dark Night of the Scarecrow was also another. There are many TV shows that I had scenes that I’d like for particular reasons of what I thought was given more to a role than what was on the page – Magnum P.I. was one for instance – there are others that a good scene here and there that made me feel I got a quality I was more satisfied with.
(Stuart):-My Aunt is perhaps THE biggest fan of TV series Bonanza and she might throttle me If I said I had the chance to ask but didnt. What are your favourite memories of working on the show?
(Robert):-First, this is one of the TV shows that as a kid I’d watch with my father so landing a role on it was a big personal win for me – Gun Smoke was another – on Bonanza, to get the role was such a huge thing back them as they were very early roles I won and at the start of doing and learning to do film (TV) acting – still learning and correcting things that I wanted to fit into my personal style of acting that I had been exposed to in acting classes. All the regulars on the show were pros and had been at it for a longer time – fun to know you were working with them. also, in that second half of the 60’s, there were only 3 networks or channels to watch, so those very popular shows of that period were the one’s every actor wanted to get on. Fond memories more of the feelings as a growing actor is what I recall at the moment. And the fact that you did one of these TV shows.
(Stuart):- With regards to the film industry, what do you think is the best change over the past few decades when it comes to films and those who make them?
(Robert):- First there are many more opportunities for upcoming actors to get work – the quality of such may be something that needs improvement – but that’s true of any age – larger TV sets and some are huge, have given film makes on TV a greater range of shots and moving cameras, etc. to use to create a larger or grander picture – just the size alone gives that opportunity to make a bigger picture – when I was a kid, TV set were like 12 or 16 inches and all black & white at first – each evolution technically has given wider ideas to film and put on the screen – new technology brings in new ideas of it’s use as well. I feel today, TV writers are writing better stories than a lot of feature films out there. But these are my opinions only.
(Stuart):-You have tackled pretty much every genre out there, but are there any roles or film styles that you are just itching to add to your filmography?
(Robert):- Growing older brings on taking on different roles, sort of automatically – I’d love to do more plays again – live audiences does something for actors to increase there awareness and perceptions (my opinion) of a needed but not always noticed by actors, quality that they can then bring to film roles – doing plays too,older plays I could get to do some of the roles I couldn’t have done due to age back in the day. Regarding film & TV, one has to see what is out there when it is available and get a shot of winning it – the actor makes the part. I try to make each role special whatever it is or for whatever medium and in that way almost any role gives me that “itching” you speak of and in that way any role could be the one.
(Stuart):- In The Burning Dead, you do a fair amount of fight scenes with 19th century Zombies in 21st century America. How much fun was the shoot on The Burning Dead?
(Robert):- Oh yeah, we had fun and some good laughs too – I even did one of my own stunts and remained healthy – but I always try to have fun in any acting I do . Liking your work has a built fun within it regarding acting – knowing what you’re doing and doing the best when you are on your top of game is always fun – can’t brag that quality is always there but you go for it just the same.
(Stuart):- and finally….you have worked in around 100 roles (and thats just according to your IMDB listings) If someone who wasnt familiar with the work of Robert F Lyons (and id be stunned it they hadnt seen you many times, even if they hadnt realised it) What 3 films would you suggest they watch.
(Stuart):- First, I guess this would be based on who is asking, meaning, an audience that is not aware of what it takes to do exceptional acting, because they just like good movies or a particular genre you can tell them any – for the more tuned in or studied actor, writer or people in the business I’d suggest these three: Getting Straight ( my second feature film) The Todd Killings( my third film) and Cease Fire – not sure where that fits in chronologically. Each is very different in story, character type – I always liked relationship roles and stories most.
Thank you for your interest and I certainly hope I’ve answered your questions satisfactorily. Warmly,
Robert F. (Bobby) Lyons
I could have carried on with lists of questions, and one of my goals this year is to begin recording feature length interviews.But it certainly is still wonderful to be able to email questions across to an actor who appeared in so many films and shows that I have seen and to get back such wonderful answers.
Thank you Robert for taking the time to answer these few questions but also thank you so much for working as hard as you go which gives film (and tv) fans like myself some fantastic content to watch over the years.
Thank you Clint for the emails and taking the time to chat with me.
I wish you the very best and I will keep watching.
You can check out Roberts filmography on the Internet Movie Database