Anyone who has ever pursued a dream knows there are no maps to the yellow brick road, no directions on the back of the box, and no scientific formula for achievement. No one knows this more than an actor trying to make it in Hollywood. Los Angeles based actor Mark Weiler has taken a road less traveled. After having starred in many ‘adult’ films, Weiler is now making a name for himself in mainstream television.
After recognizing Weiler on NBC’s The Event last year, I wrote mimosameltdown.wordpress.com/2010/10/04/primetime-pornstar. Weiler contacted me this past Easter Sunday via Facebook after having read that blog.
There was so much to discuss. Read on to discover the details of Weiler’s unique career path. You will see he is much more than just a dashing cameo in your naughtiest of wet dreams.
I read on your Facebook profile that you are originally from Wisconsin. What made you leave for Los Angeles?
There are very few opportunities for artists in Northern Wisconsin. Especially actors. Life is beautiful and simple there, and I was looking for some adventure and life experience. I spent some time in Michigan and San Francisco before moving down to LA and committing to it fully. Plus there’s the weather factor. I love the heat and the sunshine, and Northern Wisconsin is covered in snow for half the year.
I am someone who is fascinated with learning about people’s motives in life. What inspired you to pursue adult entertainment? Was it even something you pursued, or did it just sort of find you?
It definitely found me. I pursued acting work. Period. Anna Miller was the first casting director in town to take notice of me and call me in on a consistent basis for paid work. I had done 15 unpaid student, short films and plays, and wanted to make a living as an actor. When she first cast me she said, “you know there’s nudity and sexual situations in this?” and I said, “you’re paying me $500 a day, right? I have no problem with that.” The scripts were no different than any other script I had read and then there would be a short blurb to end a scene saying, “and they make mad, passionate love to one another.” I didn’t realize until I got to set how extensive that part of the script would be. And after I had done one, I didn’t even really have to audition for those companies any longer. They’d just call me and ask if I was available to shoot and that they’d pay me $500 to do more of the same. It was fun, easy money. I felt like a working actor, so I went with it. I didn’t know that anyone considered them “adult entertainment.” I just thought of them as “entertainment.”
Did your family/friends back in Wisconsin know about those movies while you were doing them? Did you have to come out to them about it? What type of reaction did you receive?
My closest friends knew about it. I’m sure some of my family did too, but we didn’t talk about it over Christmas dinner. Occasionally I’d go over to my buddies’ places, pull out a DVD and say, “let me show you what I’ve been working on.” They loved it. They’d laugh a lot and make jokes, and that was half the fun. In fact, almost everyone, even now, privately will approach me and whisper that they’ve seen me and have a chuckle about it. But somehow, publicly the culture has been conditioned to not discuss it, not celebrate it, and not acknowledge that anyone actually watches those types of films.
When did you decide to make the switch from adult entertainment to mainstream acting?
I never switched. Like I said, I’ve always only considered myself an actor. I continued to do student films, shorts and plays in between Skinemax films. When I started making some real money from my work in about 2008, I was able to get more selective about the kinds of roles I’d accept or even audition for. I was able to say no and turn down work for the first time in my life. And I’m sure that level of confidence made me more appealing to network casting directors, so they started giving me more opportunities.
When you go into an audition now, what types of questions do you get from casting directors about your past? Are they open-minded about it? Or do they just want all the juicy gossip?
No one asks me anything about my past in an audition. They don’t have time. They are looking for the best options to give their employers in efficient a manner as possible. If they’ve called me in, they either don’t know or don’t care. They just want me to give my best to the project that’s in front of them.
Has it been difficult to get casting directors/directors/mainstream actors to take you seriously?
This is a tough business in general. I have some very talented actor friends who never get auditions for any kind of paid work. So I guess I need to be grateful for the fact that I’ve been given some opportunities at all. But yeah, I’m sure people have judgments. There’s a lot of arrogance and egos in the business. People who studied at NYU, Julliard, USC, some Ivy League school, or did Shakespeare Summer Stock often think that they are more qualified and talented than I am. And that’s just not always the case. The challenge I have is that if they don’t take me seriously, I’ll never hear about it. They’ll only snicker and whisper behind closed doors, but never directly to my face. And when we ask why I didn’t get the job they’ll always only say, “we decided to go a different direction.”
Have you been offered adult entertainment jobs since you began acting in network television shows? Have you ever considered accepting those offers?
In 2006 I booked three of the last episodes of the WB series, “What I Like About You” with Amanda Bynes and Jennie Garth. I thought I made it. I thought I’d never have to look back. I figured auditions would come flying in. But they didn’t. In fact, I couldn’t even get an agent nor an audition. So several months later, I was offered a nude role in Hawaii, where I had never been, so I took it. I did a few more nude roles over the next two years, usually in exotic locations like Paris, Melbourne, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cabo, etc. Definitely life experiences that I wouldn’t take back. And then in 2008, when I had some money and started getting more steady mainstream work, it was easier to say no and not think twice.
Has anyone ever told you of any concern about advertisers getting upset/nervous about a former adult star being in a show they are sponsoring?
I’ve been the voice of Suzuki automobiles for three years. They don’t seem too concerned about it. I’ve been hired by NBC, ABC, CBS and the WB. Shows like “Hung,” and “Californication” have about as much graphic sexuality as anything I’ve ever done. Chloe Sevigny has gone much further on camera than anything I’ve done. Acclaimed director, Stephen Soderbergh hired hardcore actress, Sasha Grey, to be the lead in one of his features. The networks continue to hire Charlie Sheen, Lindsey Lohan, Randy Quaid, Chace Crawford, Heather Locklear, Andy Dick, Rip Torn, Mel Gibson, Christian Slater, Eric Roberts, Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves, Matthew McConaughey, Mickey Rourke, Nick Nolte, Pee Wee Herman, Tim Allen, Robert Downey Jr., and Woody Harrelson who have all been arrested. I’ve never been arrested. No one would have a problem with David Duchovny who got his start in softcore, or Sylvester Stallone who got his start in hardcore. Or Alyson Hannigan, Pamela Anderson, Rob Lowe, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Eric Dane or Colin Farrell who all have easily accessible public sex tapes. It comes down to that old advertising slogan…“Sex Sells.” And it’s difficult to find ANY program that doesn’t contain a hint of sexual innuendo. By my way of thinking, if you have fat, old or awkward people having sex, it’s called comedy. If you have sad people having sex, it’s called drama. And if you have happy, attractive, confident people having sex, it’s called pornography. So I really don’t think there’s any line between people who depict sex on film, and people who don’t depict sex on film.
I read that you recently starred in a Lifetime movie. That is quite a leap from doing adult entertainment. Or is it? Most of the Lifetime movies I’ve watched really do border on soft core porn. How different was it for you to act in a Lifetime movie? Did you have any nude/sex scenes? What was the difference between doing sex scenes in a basic cable movie than doing a sex scene in an adult movie often shown on late night Showtime?
If you were to hold up a script from Lifetime and a script from softcore, they wouldn’t look that much different. Almost every softcore film I did started with a very romantic title like “Romantic Escape.” And then got released as “Kinky Sex House.” Similarly, my Lifetime movie (in which I was a very supporting character) was titled “Locked Away,” and then released as “Maternal Obsession.” It was nice to keep my clothes on, but I missed getting to make out with my co-stars. Otherwise, it was no different. The budgets were about the same. The crunched production schedule was about the same. And instead of reading with Jessica Drake, I was reading with Jean Louisa Kelly.
While I try to be an open-minded person and as non-judgemental as possible, I have to admit that I was a bit surprised to discover how thoughtful and articulate you are. I kind of just had thought of you as hunky man meat with a probable substance abuse problem. But you aren’t like that at all. I would imagine you have shocked many people with your past, but how often do you shock people with your intelligence?
Ha. I love the statement and the question and don’t know how to respond. Uhhh… Thank you. I’m flattered. How’s that for intellect? I don’t think I’ve shocked anyone with my past. I think I’ve surprised them when they’re in the middle of masturbating and then recognize me. I’ve killed more than a few of my friends’ late-night relief sessions. I don’t know who or how I’ve shocked with my intellect. Thank you for thinking of me as a thoughtful, articulate hunk of man meat.
Something that has really struck a chord with me is how positive you seem to be about life and how you put an effort into making your life meaningful. I’m of the same thought process. Were you always this way? If not, what turned you around into becoming a more optimistic person? And how do you apply that optimism while facing roadblocks in your career?
My mother is the most cheery, optimistic person I’ve ever encountered. I’m sure I’ve inherited or learned much of it from her. I get the concept behind, “The Secret,” and “The Power of Positive Thinking.” People who are positive and happy are just more attractive, appealing and fun to be around. I go through my seasons of doubt, depression and angst, but I try not to inflict it upon anyone else. It’s a tough business. I face rejection every day. I’ve learned to not take it personally. I’m clean and at peace with my past, and if people take issue with it, I know that’s their issue and not mine. Some people are going to like me, and some people are not. There’s nothing I can do about it other than be myself.
What is your ultimate career goal? Do you want to stay in television or would you like to break into mainstream movies?
It seems that the trend is to get on a TV series, and then do features. I just saw a billboard for that chick flick, “Bridesmaids.” All of those actresses are on TV series, and most of them wouldn’t have been cast in any feature three years ago. So there’s a progression to things. Right now, I’d like to have more steady work on a TV series. I love work! I love being on set every day. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. If I were a feature film actor, I’d still have way too much time to figure out what the hell else I’m doing with my life.
It is no secret that Americans are both obsessed and ashamed of sex. Are you actively trying to change the public’s perception of the adult industry? Or are you just trying to move past the stereotypes to evolve yourself in your acting career?
Great statement! Absolutely. In Europe my old films play on mainstream stations during prime time. In America, it’s the dirty secret that no one wants to discuss, nor admit to. I wouldn’t say that I’m actively trying to change the public’s perception. That seems like a fruitless up-hill climb. I hope that America’s perception changes through osmosis and through honest, open-minded interviews like this. I’m just trying to get more work. That’s all I ever really was trying to do. I’ve come to learn that mainstream entertainment pays a heckuva lot better than dirty little secrets do, so I’d rather stick with that. And it’s fun to be able to discuss my work with my family over Christmas dinner.
In a world where celebrities like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian become celebrities because of ‘leaked’ sex tapes, how do you stand out as an entertainer we should pay attention to? What do you hope to offer our culture?
As for the culture, I could see myself becoming an advocate for safe sex awareness. My feelings on sex have changed over the past ten years. I used to think it was something fun that everyone should do. The problem is with the shame and obsession that you mentioned above, there are way too many unqualified people having unsafe sex. If people are at home masturbating to adult films, then they are not out having unprotected sex in loveless relationships, and therefore cutting down on unwanted pregnancies, abortions and disease. The purpose of sex is procreation. And I think that the decay of our civilization comes from single parent households, not pornography. I believe that children should be raised by a mother and a father, or at least, in a homosexual family, a mother-figure and a father-figure. And therefore, the only people who should be having unprotected sex are people who are committed to each other eternally, and ready to raise another being in this world. Now, I know there are a lot of good single parents out there who have done their best to raise quality human beings. But there are a lot of people in this generation who were raised without the benefit of a father, which has created a lot of imbalance in our civilization.
Are you looking to show the world that you are more than just a pretty face with a scandalous past?
I know this may read as strange and surprising, but I despise superficiality. I’m a deeply spiritual person so to read about my “good looks” makes me feel cheap, hollow and misunderstood. That may be my biggest conflict with Hollywood more than anything else. I only care about reactions to my acting, and I rarely get reflections on that. I love actors like Gary Oldman, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Sean Penn. I think of myself as one of them. But no one ever writes about how they look, only how they act. So yeah, I don’t want people to think of me as a pretty face with a scandalous past. I want people to think of me as a talented actor, who did his best and told the truth. I know people fast-forward through my Skinemax work to get to the sex scenes, and I wish they wouldn’t. If anyone watched, they’d see that we were doing some good work with very limited preparation time. And if anyone took the time to watch any of the 30+ unpaid short films I’ve done, they’ll see the same thing. I know my best work is ahead of me and yet unseen. I hope people get the opportunity to share it with me.