Peter Dobson black and white cover
Peter Dobson black and white cover | Foto: Peter Dobson black and white cover

Peter Dobson “The actor behind the curtain”

Por: Karen Limón

27, November, 2021 en FLG

Peter Dobson Talks About his new success with Netflix and his passion project as a Director with “Asbury Park ” a movie in the works that he is co- writer, director, and producer on. “King” is the Music Video he created to promote the direction and give light to the film.

Born in Red Bank, New Jersey, Peter Dobson’s illustrious acting career began at the Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Lee Strasberg institute in New York City. Dobson went on to join the summer stock Royal Shakespeare Company in Monterey CA and after found his way to Los Angeles to begin studying with acting coach Sandra Seacat. Within three years of moving to Los Angeles at the age of 21, Dobson landed his first starring role after being chosen from a nationwide search in the Tristar Pictures musical, “Sing” from the producers of “Fame” and “Footloose” This was followed by the critically acclaimed adaptation of Hubert Selby’s “Last Exit To Brooklyn” opposite Jennifer Jason Leigh and Neil Simon’s “The Marrying Man” Director Robert Zemeckis cast Dobson in the title role of the short lived but highly acclaimed comedy TV series CBS’s “Johnny Bago” which led to starring roles in numerous TV series and TV movies, including Michael Mann’s “Miami Vice” A fan of Dobson’s work, Mann then cast Dobson in the original version of “Heat” in the highly acclaimed “LA Takedown” for NBC. Other notable series include CBS’s “Lenny” FOX’s “Party of Five” HBO’s “Tales From The Crypt” and “Norma Jean
and Marilyn” .Robert Zemeckis cast Dobson again, this time to portray young Elvis Presley in the Academy Award winning film “Forrest Gump”. Following that was Peter Jackson’s cult classic “The Frighteners’ ‘ opposite Michael J. Fox and “Drowning Mona”. With his growing
popularity, Dobson was then offered the title role in the USA Network series the critically acclaimed “Cover Me: The True Life of an FBI Family ”.

After the series-run of “Cover Me” Dobson moved behind the camera. He wrote and produced the hilarious Sundance Film Festival favorite, his first film, “Choose Life” (A story about two hit men obsessed with the 80’s pop group Wham!) He then went on to write and direct his second short film “White Mule” & proved he is a force behind the camera as well and was selected in numerous festivals across the country with multiple wins including best director and best short film at the Atlantic City Film Festival. This has led to his upcoming feature film in development “Asbury Park” & attaching Oscar nominated cinematographer Dean Cundey. Dobson also exec produced and co starred in the feature film “Hotel of the Damned” produced and co-starred in “Dirty Dead Con Men” and recently teamed with world renowned choreographer Travis Payne (Micheal Jackson’s This is it, Janet Jackson’s Scream, Coyote Ugly) to direct the cinematic the music video “King” recently accepted into The Garden State Film Festival and the Toronto International Short Film Festival.

Peter Dobson photoshoot
Peter Dobson photoshoot

Below is his interview about his most current projects.

Netflix’s Dubbed Shows Turn’s Voice Artists Into New Global Stars. Peter Dodson is the voice of several hit Netflix shows like “Money Heist” for Arturo Roman, “Triad Princes’’ for Huang, “Minions of Midas” for Victor Genoves, and “Sky Rojo for Romeo. Below is his interview about his most current projects.

Netflix is at the forefront of a surge in demand for voice talent as it has expanded its service from the US to more than 190 countries over the past few years. How did they cast you as part of this new process? Explain the current shows you are on to date and the characters.
Money Heist – Arturo Roman, Triad Princess – Huang, Minions of Midas – Victor Genoves, Sky Rojo – Romeo.

Dubbing isn’t as simple as just repeating the words in the local tongue – the challenge is combining an effective translation. Explain how it’s done?
Watching the scene several times and getting inside the characters head is first. The talent on all of these shows are exceptional. It’s their performance that you want to maintain. After viewing each scene, we discuss with a director who is present in the recording studio. At
times translation and delivery into English can be a bit different. That’s where the director becomes instrumental in switching a tad of your delivery to fit the scene and have it come off as natural as possible without distracting from it.

How do you turn an existing character into your own?
It’s really not making it quite my own. You want the actor that you’re dubbing to be the conductor and you do the best to your ability not to deflect from his performance.

What do you love about these characters?
Each is different and each has its own nuance. Most of the characters I voice are pretty large in personality. Once you’re in their mindset, it is a very cool feeling to be on par with them, you feel joined at the hip. At times I am drained from getting inside them the energy they
possess becomes part of you. it’s as though you become one. That is what is so great about this new process of doing dubbing for Netflix.

What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role? You’re an actor that has been in many films with some of the most famous Directors in Hollywood who is directing you on these Netflix’s shows?
This whole experience came out of left field. When I was approached initially I passed. More out of fear than anything else, my perception was like out of the old Kung Fu movies, that I would wreck their performances .I didn’t have an understanding of it until it was explained that it was not going to be done as just dubbing, that Netflix was in search of actors to do it. Long story short, they asked me to give it a try for the day and if it didn’t work out I would still get paid, so figured what the the heck. I went in and in essence it was like making a film without a camera there was a director present along with the engineers and they went over the scene I was about to do as though I was the actor on the screen.There was then a rehearsal, next thing i knew i got enveloped in the character and suddenly found myself not in a recording studio but rather on set with the overseas actor, becoming part of him. I finally saw the light how this was being treated. It’s been over a year now and I have done four shows for them and can honestly say, I really love doing it.

“King” is a music video you directed and Produced with Melissa Prophet and Marc Clebanoff associated with “Asbury Park” a movie script you co-wrote and are very passionate about. Please explain your passion.
It goes back to childhood memories of growing up in Red Bank NJ and going to Asbury Park on weekends to visit my grandparents. It was like going to Disneyland on steroids with the amusement park, the music scene and an auto culture called “The Circuit ” where on weekends
they held local drag races on Ocean Ave. It was like an East coast American Graffiti. The imagery of it all left an indelible image that seared into my soul to this day. Obviously Springsteen is forever affiliated with the town, for he himself was a kid from Freehold searching
for a music career. Asbury Park was the mecca for so many talented musicians. Its musical roots go all the way back to the 1930’s golden age of Jazz. Count Basie (also from Red Bank) was part of its musical roots along with Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn then into
the 40’s WW II swing era onto the Doo Wop groups of the 50’s. Then it continued into the hard rock & roll era of legendary performances that were all held there throughout the 60 & 70’s, including The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Lynryd Skynrd – all locked in as part of its musical past. Mix in the car culture – it was a very special place.

You’re an actor who has worked with several Oscar winning directors and films. As an Actor, Writer, and Producer yourself who are your mentors? Please acknowledge the films and directors you have worked with and how you are inspired.
It started with Uli Edel in Last Exit to Brooklyn. A powerhouse filmmaker out of Germany. He had an apocalyptic yet beautiful sense on how to shoot the film based on Hubert Selby’s best selling book starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Stehpen Lang. That was my first real
experience working with someone completely unique who artistically marched to his own drum – An incredible director. Also working with Micheal Mann, first in the TV show “Miami Vice” along with creator Anthony Yerkovich. Although Micheal didn’t direct any of the episodes his fingers were all over the production. Micheal’s approach was style and rawness at the same time and a great sense of music & timing which was the trademark of the show.The other was a TV movie called LA Takedown. Michael had already made great films in the 80’s, most notably “Thief” and “Manhunter” which in essence was a prequel to “Miami Vice”. Working with him again on “LA Takedown” proved vital to see a technician at work. “LA Takedown” not many are aware of, was the original version of “HEAT”. It was done as his blueprint before he made the feature two years later. It is literally the same film. I portrayed Chris Shiherlis, later played in the film version by Val Kilmer.

Working and watching the shootout scene after the bank robbery was like watching Picasso do a painting, not a detail left out, his sense of realism mixed with a high tech approach was mind blowing.Then I had a fortunate run working with Robert Zemeckis – four
times. First, a short lived but way ahead of its time TV comedy for CBS “Johhny Bago” produced by Bob, Frank Marshall, Peter Seaman and Jeffrey Price. Between them their films included some of the most iconic films of the 80’s. “Raiders of the Lost Arc”, “ET”, “Back to the
Future”, “Who Framed Rabbit” and on and on. This was the Holy Grail for me. Bob is an epic filmmaker in every sense of the word, with an insatiable gift for comedy. Working on that show was like going to film school. I was surrounded by the nicest creative bunch ever devised. Their love of storytelling and filmmaking was addicting. Learning lenses, angles and depth was all because of Bob’s eye for detail. After the show ended, he asked me to do a small stint in “Forrest Gump” to portray Young Elvis. I had no idea while filming that scene, how enormous
that film would become. Bob made his epic masterpiece without question, winning his first Academy Award for best director and best picture. From there, an episode of “Tales from the Crypt” a series he also produced. He’s a huge horror fan as well and from that episode, he set up a meeting with a new director out of New Zealand named Peter Jackson. Bob was onto Peter’s genius and executive produced his American debut “The Frighteners” starring Michael J. Fox. Peter is a pioneer of special effects far beyond anyone’s time that to this day are
monumental. I did 80% of the film in front of a green screen and learned quickly that Peter was in fact a mad genius. His “Lord of the Rings” films certainly display that.I was extremely fortunate to have worked with all of these creative giants and absorbed as much as I could into
the foray of filmmaking.

Davey LA is the songwriter for “King”. He also wrote ”Gloria”. Both songs were inspired by your movie script. How did he get involved with the film project? Why is your passion his? How did you meet him? Do you feel he Blue Printed and captured your movie script?
Word had gotten around about the project “Asbury Park” 3 yrs ago, which is also a good time to bring up my producing and writing partner Marc Clebanoff, who has been with me since day one on this. Since the film was very music-oriented, I started receiving demos from across the country from various artists. All were very good, in fact some were superb, but not quite the vibe of the project. My manager and other producing partner Melissa Prophet came into play and said “There is an individual I think you’re going to like.” It turned out Davey had taken the time to read the screenplay and he himself got immersed in the world and sent me two tracks that blew my mind. When I heard his demo of “King” I couldn’t believe how on par it was with the project.

It turned out Melissa had told him my personal story of what I was going through to get the film made and how many obstacles there are to get through. Davey took that into account and it was like a double edged sword. It was perfect for the film but also beyond that, it was personal.It was like an anthem of never giving up. When we finally met, it was lightning in a bottle and I felt compelled to make a music video. Gloria is another gem he wrote as well. It turns out Davey knows the history of Asbury Park well. He spent a lot of time there so it was perfect. Then we got hit with the pandemic and had to shut down production in March. A decision was made to hold off but we could only afford to wait until September. So another hard decision was made to move forward with all the new Covid safety precautions now in play. I knew if we didn’t shoot this year all would be lost. I made phone calls to the entire cast and crew to get their feelings on working. All were in, provided everyone was tested and all safety measures were made. All were met and we miraculously pulled it off in a 3 day shoot. It was like jumping into a time machine for 3 days. I didn’t want it to end. Honestly I don’t think anyone did.

You mentioned Travis Payne choreographed the Music Video “King” he is a well known name in Hollywood for his work with Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson. How did that come about?
Again, Melissa Prophet. She knew Travis through her good friend and mentor, the late Frank Dileo who was Michael Jackson’s manager. Also she and Frank both appeared in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” both in iconic roles themselves. (Melissa, always very musically
inclined) had recently produced a music video with one of her clients Asher Knight that Travis directed and choreographed. After the treatment for the King video was written, Melissa suggested we start with the top in terms of choreographers. Knowing it was a long shot, I had nothing to lose by approaching him. Travis has choreographed some of the biggest videos of all time starting with Micheal and Janet Jackson, En Vogue, Lady Gaga and feature films like “Coyote Ugly” all with his signature choreography. When we spoke to Travis, he asked to read the treatment and the following day he called back and said “Count me in”. After that, we were off to the races to put production together.

What is the time Period for “Asbury Park”? How did you create your characters?
1962 and 1974. All through the eyes of an older mechanic reliving his youth. The characters for the most part are loosely based on real individuals that I remember well at that time and others that Marc Clebanoff and I would have fun inventing for story purposes.

What is the process for producing a Movie like “Asbury Park” How much money do you need to make this a reality?
We have two very strong attachments that I don’t have the liberty to announce yet. Our budget is very modest. Certainly enough to get it done properly.

Where do you get the cars for the music video?
One from a very close friend and the others at an actual real drive-in that is still in operation, Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank. They have cruise night there on Fridays so that’s where we wrangled the other classic muscle cars.

How did you pick the location to shoot the music Video?
The drive-in was built outside of an establishment called the Cowboy Palace Saloon out in Chatsworth, CA. For interiors we used their own stage while other locations were in Burbank CA.

Tell me about the key actors in the Music Video. Did you have a casting or reached out and scouted your talent?
It’s a wonderful cast that stars Joe Cortese from the Academy Award winning film “Green Book” and “American History X”. We were really fortunate to have him. Also an array of talented newcomers that are repped by Melissa and an exciting new actor that we did find in casting,
Zack Cosby who portrays BOBBY, the title character in the video, and of course Davey LA with two amazing musicians. It’s been some journey to get this done, but one I would do all over again without hesitation.