You may not know the name Brian O’Halloran but chances are you’ll know the actor from his role(s) in Kevin Smith movies. The actor, best known for playing Dante Hicks in “Clerks” and “Clerks II,” recently stopped by to chat about Kevin Smith, even though he “wasn’t supposed to be here today.”
Q – You’re most famous for Kevin Smith’s “Clerks” and “Clerks II.” I have to believe people come up to you all the time and quote something from those movies. What is the most common thing people say to you when they see you?
A – The one I get the most is, “Are you even supposed to be here today?”
Q – Is primarily being only known as Dante Hicks a blessing or curse or a little bit of both?
A – I think it a bit of an advantage. People have a favorable reaction to the films and it gives me an opening into conversations with people. People seem to be more comfortable to talk with me. Usually the subject matter is a wide range of topics. If certain people can’t see me other than Dante, that’s their limitation, not mine.
Q – Was Dante Hicks based off someone real? It seems like you’re either Dante or someone related to Dante Hicks (Grant, Gill and Jim) in all of Kevin’s movies.
A – I’ve heard Kevin in interviews say that the role was based on his real life feelings at the time. Randal was the clerk Kevin wanted to be while Dante was the clerk he really was when working at the real Quick Stop. As for what part of Dante was a part of me? I guess the people pleasing weakness Dante had. I’m always putting other people’s interests ahead of my own.
Q – Kevin Smith has since gone onto write/direct major films with big time actors. Will Dante Hicks ever make an appearance in one of his future films?
A – I don’t know what the future holds for the Dante character. I would like to visit the character again, if not in a live action feature, perhaps in the animation world again. I really loved the animated series and thought it still could be a huge success in the future.
Q – Aside from appearing in Kevin Smith movies, you make your living performing as a stage actor in theatre. How is acting in theatre different from acting in film?
A – I’ve just finished a production of a play at the New York Fringe Festival. The production “Submitted by C. Randall McCloskey” is a comedy about the life of an actor in NYC (www.CRandallMcCloskey.com). Acting in front of a live audience is a great rush for me. I get an instant feedback if something is working or not. I get to take a story from beginning to end in one night. There is no “cut, can we do it again?” You are out there and have to get it done. While on film you don’t always have the choice of the best take. You usually shoot out of order so you need to know where emotionally you are in a film to make your performance seamless. But the upside is you are hopefully seen by many more people throughout the world. Plus films usually pay more.
Q – Is theater your first love or do you prefer movies?
A – The actor in me loves live theater for the reasons discussed above. But my bank account prefers film. With films you get to shoot in locations and do things you can’t do in a live theater. The world is bigger in a film. Both are great. In both there are great careers to pursue; it’s a creative, fun, long hours type job. But if you love what you do it doesn’t feel like work. In the end it’s up to the audience to see if what you did is something people relate to and hopefully enjoy.
Q – You’ve appeared in theatre productions like “The Crucible.” Have fans been able to separate you from your role in “Clerks” to your more serious roles in theatre?
A – Yeah, I’ve received a lot of positive reviews of my work in other roles. Once I’ve committed to a role you usually can see the character and not, “Hey, it’s Dante doing Arthur Miller!” I’ve been fortunate that the audiences and critics have been kind to my theater work.
Q – You called into “Plus One Per Diem” on Kevin Smith’s birthday and he mentioned that you should try pod casting. Is this something we can look forward to from you?
A – Yeah, I’ve done numerous guest appearances on radio shows and live events like Q&A’s at film festivals and a lot of people have enjoyed my shows. So I have been bouncing around what the “hook” would be of the show. So who knows, maybe sometime by next year. Maybe if Kevin and his Smodcast people had an idea they could call me.
Q – Do you still keep in touch with Jeff Anderson and the rest of the cast of “Clerks?”
A – With Jeff not as much as I would like to. I would love to do appearances with him. I’ve had tons of convention promoters asking me if he would do one. Jason Mewes I see every few month at conventions. He’s a great guy that is so much fun to hang out with. I chat with Marilyn Ghigliotti from time to time. We also see each other at conventions too. I haven’t heard from Lisa Spoonhauer in many years.
Q – Kevin Smith recently announced that after “Hit Somebody” he is going to retire from film. What’s your take on that and do you think that eventually he’ll get the desire to direct again?
A – I hope he’s wrong. I think he is a terrific director. If he does retire from directing I hope he still writes. I think he’s in the next phase of his life. With him starting his own distribution company and the huge success of the Smodcasts and personal appearances he is filling his creative outlet of his soul. I don’t think he’s retiring from life. He’s someone that will always have something to say and will have people wanting to hear it. Me being one of them.
Q – For “Clerks” fans, do you deep down hope that in about five years or so Kevin feels the need to make a “Clerks 3?”
A – I can see the desire for “Clerks 3.” Who knows? These stories come from Kevin’s deep urges to find out what those characters would do in their 20’s, 30’s. So we should hope that Kevin’s own curiosity stirs him to write it. If he does I’ll be there.
Q – Thanks again. Is there anything you wanted to add?
A – Thanks to all the fans who have been supportive of all my films and stage plays and appearances all these years.