Australian actors are often recognized for their fierce approach to success and chasing after their dreams. Sam Hayden-Smith is one of those guys who is reaching the ladder of success because of his down to earth and humble attitude towards his craft. We recently sat down with Sam and spoke to him about his inspirations and experiences growing up in Australia. This is what he had to say:
Please introduce yourself to the readers and how and when did you first get into performing?
Hi, my name is Sam Hayden-Smith, I was born in Adelaide, moved to the USA when I was 4 and lived there till I was 11, then we moved back to Sydney, Australia. I have been performing since I could speak. When my parents would have people over I would make them sit down and watch me do impersonations of the Hulk, Charlie Chaplin, Popeye or Fat Albert.
What inspired you to get into this industry?
I think I was always destined to be a performer. Like many other actors, I moved around a lot growing up: I went to 6 primary schools and 3 high schools. Reinventing myself and creating characters became a necessity. I think you learn to watch and read people so you know when to be cool and when to be funny in order to fit in. I did my first paid job in a professional Theatre Co. when I was 9 years old. But then we moved. I pestered my parents to get me an agent when I was 14, did one TVC and then we moved. I didn’t do much else until High School Drama classes and then did some after school classes. To be honest, I never thought this would become a career. So after High School I went off and did other things, I studied Chinese and Economics, did well in Chinese and failed Economics. I worked for a few years and then one day someone asked me if I wanted to be a model. I said ’sure, why not’. That led to catalogue and print work but most of my success was with TV commercials. I was acting again and I loved being in front of the camera.
What kind of training have you had, if any?
After a while the Casting Directors in Australia liked me but I think they thought that I was just a model who could act well, so I figured I should do some training. I auditioned for a 2-year program at NIDA called The Screen Actor. It was put together by some NIDA graduates that thought the 3-year program lacked screen acting techniques and I was never interested much in theatre. That really confirmed to me that this was what I wanted to do. I have also done courses at Screenwise in Sydney with Denise Roberts and I just finished a 6 month workshop with casting director Tom McSweeney. I always train and do classes. I have friends that don’t understand so I liken it to the gym. You stop training and your muscles go into atrophy.
What has been your favorite role to play so far?
I played a guy that had been kidnapped by 2 waitresses because he was really sleazy to them at work all the time. It was my favorite role because I had gaffer tape on my mouth the whole time I was on screen. It wasn’t because I didn’t have to learn any lines…I did have lines and even though I had tape on my mouth and they were barely audible you understood everything I said. I had to work really hard on a non-vocal performance and use everything I had. It was a lot of fun.
What has been one of the biggest achievements in your career so far?
I don’t know, maybe that I have been able to travel to cool places. I have done TVC’s in New Zealand, Japan and Thailand. Also, shot a film in Melbourne this year. I love not knowing what is coming next!
What projects do you have coming up?
I am looking forward to seeing the film come out next year. Other than that, like I said, I don’t know what is coming. There are a couple of scripts in Australia that are not green lit yet. Therefore, I came to LA to expand my horizons.
Who would you most like to work with?
Directors: JJ Abrams, Gus Van Sant, David O. Russell
What are your plans for the future?
Keep on truckin’. I want to move to LA but the traffic would drive me so mental that I don’t know if I could handle it (laughs).I love how we can self-tape now and book things from anywhere.
What is your advice to aspiring performers?
Don’t say to yourself, “I will be happy when…” because that might take a long time or never even happen. Enjoy the journey. Train. Do classes. Surround yourselves with like minded creative people and create art.