Interview with Fran Kranz, Star, CBS's Welcome to the Captain

Fran has been a friend of mine since college, where we were in a sketch comedy group together. He did improv and starred in a lot of plays on campus, and was sort of well known because he'd done small roles in Orange County and Donnie Darko; every so often, he'd be gone from school for a while to do another one. He was in a good little movie, The TV Set, about the soul-sucking process of making a pilot into a sitcom, and played the well-meaning but terrible actor who was the main character of the show. Now he's the main character on the CBS sitcom . (In the pilot episode, his character slept with Raquel Welch. So there's that.) He's one of the funniest guys I've ever seen, and when he's on a stage, you absolutely can't take your eyes off him. I'm really rooting for him.

This job is 99% rejection. There are ups and downs constantly and what's important is to keep your head up and don't let downtime or rejection defeat you. Yeah, I've made some bad movies and I know it and I've known it while it was going on and that can be very frustrating because it's a long hard process and if you know it's not good or lose faith in the project early on it's tough to get up and believe in the story and the character. But when you work on something you know is great, or even get close on a job you may not ultimately get, these are achievements worth sticking with it. The TV Set and Welcome to the Captain are things I'm proud of and [have] loved doing.

I started thinking I could make a career of it in high school -- I went to a special high school in that respect, Harvard-Westlake in North Hollywood. Gary Lundy, Jason Segel, Jay Paulson, and Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal are all people I knew that went through Harvard-Westlake who all make a living as actors. That and being in Los Angeles where the business was an overwhelming presence made it easy to say, "Yeah, I can do this and make money and be happy."

And today I am happy. It's not to say it's not hard or I don't want more but I am happy and very, very lucky. I've made a living off of it and can send you to Blockbuster to see it. That's cool. That's something that's hard to do and that people are lucky to say they've done. So yes, I'm happy. Would I be happier if I had an Oscar and a house in Malibu? Probably.

L.A.'s my home. After spending four years in Connecticut I felt like I was ready for a lifetime of warm weather. But you always miss the east coast. Seasons. The people. The heavy food.

What is foreign [to me], if anything, is becoming more immersed in the actor and entertainment culture of Los Angeles. I wanted to be an actor from a young age but actually becoming one and seen the ugly side of the world does feel different and sometimes unwelcome. There are shallow vapid untalented people zombieing the streets of Hollywood adding decadence and immorality to an already extravagant business.

Despite the bad stereotypes -- that unfortunately are true in small cases -- there is an insatiable drive for young actors everywhere in Los Angeles with the dream of making it. And without a doubt the majority is from good, driven people. People here want to work, and if it's not movies and television and more glamorous opportunities, there are little theaters full of original plays, sketch comedy, sketch videos, improv theater, you name it. It's a creative and healthy scene that shows that people want to be working and will work no matter if the job comes through an agent or has a paycheck.

Just thinking of the top of my head, [my] favorite actors would be Peter Sellers, Alec Guinness, Robert De Niro and Toshiro Mifune. Today, people like Nicholas Cage and Edward Norton. At least in the latter part of his life, and where it was clearly going, Heath Ledger. Daniel Day-Lewis. Shapeshifters who play all kinds of roles, comedies and dramas, and pick wisely, for the most part, and [do] interesting work.

As a professional actor I don't have much choice about what I've gotten into. I tend to be cast in comedies and I'm fine with that. Ultimately I want to be diverse or versatile. King Lear should make you laugh, too.

I want to keep working. I want this to be my life. And hopefully one day I can make my own career choices. I want to be able to do the movies or television or theater I want to do. Trends and flavors change so rapidly that it seems to be hot is far worse than being consistent. There are actors who aren't on the cover of magazines but still decide what work they want and when they want it. I want a family one day. So I dream of really being able to decide when to work and when not to.

In terms of worst or bad experiences, I'm pretty lucky not to really have any. If you don't have confidence and some stubbornness then you probably would give up but that doesn't mean you can't feel and embrace disappointment. There are ups and downs constantly and what's important is to keep your head up and don't let downtime or rejection defeat you. It can easily, some days, but ultimately you have to stick with it. And I will.