Smooth SALLING. Talented singer/actor Mark Salling finally found a project, in hit TV show Glee, that would maximize his skill set. Glee has pushed Salling’s career to the forefront. He also looks quite suave in this exclusive fashion feature.
In showbiz, as with other careers, sometimes it’s just a matter of finding one’s niche, which suits a person’s strengths. Mark Salling, a native Texan, and natural-born performer, has found his ideal situation—after a couple of spectacular flops with films such as Children of the Corn IV and The Graveyard—and it is a gleeful time for him. Literally.
The TV show Glee, on which he co-stars as Noah “Puck” Puckerman, has become hugely popular, and Salling has become widely known, even to the point of household-name status, as a top actor and “international singing sensation” with a number of musical projects to his credit.
DA MAN: First of all, congratulations, we hear your first solo album is coming out in October this year. What can you tell us about this album?
Mark Salling: Thank you! This album was a long time coming. It is actually 13 selected tracks from my library that I have compiled over the last 10 years. I wanted to choose a wide variety of songs that showcased my broad musical taste.
DA MAN: We also understand that you wrote all your songs yourself. What are some of the things that inspire you to write?
Mark Salling: It can be anything, from the typical love and loss to thinking you are having a bad day; then seeing someone who is a quadriplegic and realizing that you need to count your blessings … oh, and my grandma.
DA MAN: Is it any different for you being Mark the singer-songwriter and being Mark the actor? Do you experience different levels of satisfaction after wrapping up an episode compared to finishing up a song?
Mark Salling: Sort of … acting and playing music can both be very stimulating for many reasons, including when you jam with musicians that you really vibe with. It can be satisfying in the same way as having a good scene with an actor you vibe with is satisfying. There are a lot of other parallels also, and they can both foster each other. Art is art.
DA MAN: If you only had to focus on one career, would it be as a singer-songwriter or as an actor?
Mark Salling: I hope I never have to make that kind of decision. I don’t really see why I would ever have to.
DA MAN: Let’s talk about acting for a bit. How did you prepare yourself for the role of Puck on Glee?
Mark Salling: Well, for the pilot I figured I was playing a football player, because that’s a big part of who Puck was in the pilot. But then they told me that they wanted me to be skinnier because I had put on like 30 pounds (14 kilograms). As far as his personality, I just drew from people in my past that might have been a bit ‘Puckish,’ then I threw in a dash of myself.
DA MAN: Did you go into Glee already knowing it would be an award-winning series?
Mark Salling: I don’t think anybody did, but I had a really good feeling based on the pilot script, so I felt like it had a good chance of being (successful and winning awards). But we work very hard, so any kind of accolade is gratifying.
DA MAN: What do you feel is the main contributor to the success of the show?
Mark Salling: I would say that it is a well-written show that is especially fun for viewers to follow. Then, you add the fun musical numbers on top of that and it makes for quality entertainment.
DA MAN: What is in store for Puck this season?
Mark Salling: Well, he doesn’t have to deal with ‘baby mama drama’ anymore, so hopefully that means he gets to have a bit of fun and possibly be up to his old tricks.
DA MAN: You were raised in Texas, but have been in L.A. for quite some time now. Do you feel like L.A. has changed you?
Mark Salling: Yes, I’m super-jaded now (laughing) … no, just joking, not at all. I still get very homesick and have the same friends and I feel music keeps me sane.
DA MAN: If you weren’t an actor or a singer-songwriter, what other career would you prefer?
Mark Salling: I would probably be working in the veterinary field, possibly doing wild bird and small mammal rehabilitation. It is something I feel very passionate about.
DA MAN: Tell us one of the best decisions you’ve ever made in your entire life.
Mark Salling: Hmmm… Maybe to take piano lessons at the age of five, I can’t imagine my life without music.
DA MAN: With so much hype surrounding Glee, how do you keep yourself grounded?
Mark Salling: It is not that hard, but I do like to play basketball and play music for fun, as well as playing Frisbee golf and chilling with my friends. Also, I try to visit home as much as I can.
DA MAN: Many Hollywood actors get typecast. Are you concerned that you’ll always end up getting offered Puck-type characters?
Mark Salling: Not at all, and if that ever becomes a problem, I will just go back to music, even if I have to go back to teaching guitar lessons. I will always have that to fall back on and if I only ever play Puck I will be alright with that.
DA MAN: What is your relationship like with the cast and crew of Glee?
Mark Salling: We are truly like a family in every sense. I miss them when I’m gone too long. Ryan Murphy is kind of like the father figure.
DA MAN: If you could have chosen a dream role out of any Oscar-winning movie so far, what would it be?
Mark Salling: I would say F. Murray Abraham from Amadeus. That is my favorite movie.
DA MAN: Puck is arrogant and has a tough exterior, but he can be romantic when he wants to in his own way. Do you consider yourself a romantic?
Mark Salling: Sometimes it’s hard to be when you work a lot. I think the most romantic thing you can do is not let yourself fall into a rut in a relationship. Don’t get too comfortable and keep reminding the other person how special they are to you. That, and write them a song.
DA MAN: Let’s talk about style a little bit: What’s your go-to outfit these days?
Mark Salling: I keep it pretty casual. You can most likely find me in jeans and a V-neck or possibly a T-shirt with a picture of a bird on it. I like to design them myself on the Internet. If I have to dress up, I usually fit well into Calvin Klein or maybe John Varvatos.
DA MAN: What would you consider the biggest fashion mistake you’ve ever made?
Mark Salling: (laughing) Maybe the gray tuxedo that I wore to the Screen Actors Guild awards.
DA MAN: Your birthday, coincidentally, falls on Indonesia’s Independence Day. What would it take to get you down to Asia and see us?
Mark Salling: Just feed me well, or maybe set it up with a cool venue to play a gig at … I really can’t wait to get over there, I’ve never been.
Mitchell Nguyen McCormack and Eric Silverberg
To see the full feature with more full-size images, click here for the DA MAN October/November 2010 back issue.
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