Graham Patrick Martin’s Obsession with a Good Story

Graham Patrick Martin of “Catch-22” fame talks with DAMAN about how he wants to be remembered and how Leonardo DiCaprio has inspired his acting career.

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Looking at his repertoire, you can easily tell that Graham Patrick Martin is a seasoned actor with an impressive list of notable works to his name. The Louisiana-born Martin started acting in Los Angeles when he was only 14 years old and never looked back. He is best known for his role as hustler Rusty Beck in “Major Crimes,” but now, he shares the screen with the likes of Christopher Abbott, Hugh Laurie and George Clooney. His latest miniseries project, “Catch-22”, based on Joseph Heller’s antiwar satire, aired last May and was met with great reviews.

DA: Hi, Graham. Great to have you with us. So tell us, what are you up to these days?
Graham Patrick Martin: Focusing on my favorite charity, The Sunshine Kids, which provides a fun life experience for kids undergoing cancer treatment. It’s a very special organization that I’ve been lucky to know for seven years.

DA: So, let’s talk about “Catch-22.” Have you read the novel before joining the cast?
GPM: I bought the book the moment I found out I got the role. It didn’t take me too long to realize how difficult of a read it is. So, I started listening to the audiobook. I found that you could increase the speed of the reading because I found that Heller’s language really comes alive when the pace is picked up.

DA: Tell us about your character, Orr. What do you love and hate the most about the character?
GPM: Well, I can’t say that there’s much to hate about him. He’s one of the most fun characters in the novel. He starts off by being established as one of the craziest members of the merry band and by the end it’s revealed that he might not be as crazy as he seems. I think my favorite part of Orr is his unwavering optimism and how he always seems to have a secret.

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DA: Orr is an off-the-rails pilot of a B-25 bomber in WWII. How did you prepare to play somebody like that?
GPM: They flew us out to Italy two weeks prior to filming. During that time, we had a military advisor teach us how to march. They also set us up with experts on the B-25 who explained everything to us and answered any questions that we had. Reading the book was also big, because getting Heller’s specific language down was vital.

DA: George Clooney produced and also directed “Catch-22.” What was it like working with him on set?
GPM: Working with George was one of the best professional experiences I’ve had. As a director, he knows exactly what he wants and is very clear—which is important to an actor. After seeing the final product, I’d trust him on anything. As a guy, he was even better. His energy is infectious and is never shy to remind you that he was voted sexiest man alive two times.

DA: What do you hope people take away from the show?
GPM: I hope fans of the book are happy with the adaptation. And I hope that people who aren’t familiar with the novel enjoy our absurd take on the absurdity of war.

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DA: You started acting at quite a young age. What do you love most about acting?
GPM: I’m lucky that acting is all I’ve ever done and it also happens to be the love of my life. It’s hard to put my finger on a favorite thing. I guess I just feel lucky because acting requires you to see humanity with a much more compassionate eye. The thought of being in a different line of work that didn’t require this sounds sad to me.

DA: What is your earliest memory of being on set?
GPM: When I was twelve years old I did my first commercial. It was for some kind of kid’s toy. I remember my first time stepping in front of the camera and I was physically shaking and my teeth were chattering as if I were in the cold with out a jacket. I was terrified.

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DA: You mentioned once that Leonardo DiCaprio’s work has inspired you over the years. Why him and which particular work was it that stuck with you up until now?
GPM: DiCaprio has always been someone whose work I admire. He seems to have the perfect combination of preparation, but maintaining a rawness and spontaneity in his work. It’s a very hard thing to achieve. Everything he did as a young actor was magic. I don’t think “Romeo + Juliet” is mentioned enough as one of his standout performances. If you really pay attention to the complexity of that role, it’s something special.

DA: What do you seek in a script?
GPM: I’m just always looking to be affected. Too many scripts come along that has no soul. I look for a script that stays in my head at night and when I wake up the next morning.

DA: How about your absolute dream project? What would that be?
GPM: My dream project would be one that is shot in my home state of Louisiana. Acting requires you to live in either New York or L.A. And the idea of working at home would be an absolute dream.

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DA: You’re no stranger to being in front of a camera. Are you interested in being behind the camera as well?
GPM: Yes, I enjoy directing a lot. I used to shadow the directors of my old show, “Major Crimes.” I directed my first short film, “Recondition,” which is about to start its festival run.

DA: What was the best piece of acting advice that you’ve ever heard?
GPM: It actually came from a director, Michael Robin, who said to load up your life with experience—traveling, going to museums, camping—because life experience is fuel for an artist. It’s all they have to draw upon when they’re creating.

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DA: Today, what do you see as the most rewarding part of your chosen career?
GPM: It’s cliché to say, but obviously giving back is the most rewarding part. Being in the entertainment industry links you with some of the most amazing charity organizations out there. It’s introduced me to my two favorites, The Sunshine Kids, which I mentioned, and Covenant House California.

DA: What do you do on your free days, then?
GPM: A typical free day for me in L.A. is a hike at Malibu Creek State Park, followed by a nap on the beach and dinner at a fish restaurant called The Reel Inn.

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DA: Who are your favorite writers?
GPM: John Patrick Shanley, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller.

DA: What do you want to be remembered for the most?
GPM: I just want to be a good person. The rest is dust.

DA: What is next for you?
GPM: I’ve got a few in the works that I can’t talk about yet!

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DA: Which talent would you most like to have?
GPM: I wish I were a concert pianist. I don’t play any instruments.

DA: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 
GPM: Better attention span.

Shirt & vest by Ports V / Pants by Calvin Klein Jeans / Shoes by Common Projects
Outfit by Calvin Klein Jeans / Shoes by Common Projects
Outfit by Canali