Between playing President Ellis in Iron Man 3 and the fast talking Ed Musgrove in the pilot of The Onion News Empire, actor William Sadler has not slowed down. The actor, who in his free time loves to draw as well as play the guitar, the banjo, and the mandolin, told me that he dreams of being a rock star. "... I have like a rock star fantasy about putting out an album and having a late set in career as a singer-songwriter..."
Sadler, 63, who plays the leader of the free world in the latest installment of the Iron Man films, was all smiles when I met with him. I sat down to lunch with the actor, a mere two days before Iron Man 3 opened, and I asked him to tell me a little bit about his character.
"... President Ellis is a straight-shooting, squared-jawed, look 'em in the eye and give 'em hell president. He's a good man, and he wants to keep the country safe. And he finds himself utterly hopeless against the Mandarin and his minions... I wanted him to be believable as someone who carries the weight of protecting the country on his shoulders. And then, when you watch that, he's not able to. When you watch it slipping away from him, there's something at stake... you care, you go, 'Oh my God, he's going to lose it.'..."
"... I love the first two installments. I loved Iron Man 1 and 2. I was already a fan when they asked me to come on board for this one... I've done a lot of movies and I've done some fairly big movies, big budget movies, big sets... I've never been involved in one the size of this. It was an extraordinary experience to me. I've never worked with green screens on a scale like that..."
When asked what he believes draws people in about Iron Man, he answered with no hesitation.
"Robert Downey, Jr."
He then went on to describe a bit more of what he believe makes this film franchise so engrossing.
"I think it's two things. I think Iron Man himself, the idea, the comic book, is a great American Hero... A flawed man (Tony Stark), who uses his wits and his resourcefulness to put together this machine... that can save people, that can right wrongs, that can do what needs to be done. He's a great hero, he's a great American hero, and I think we need heroes in this culture. I really think there's a hunger in our society, in our country for real heroes... And the second part of that, is Robert Downey Jr.,... he was born to play this role. He is so good at personifying this man's flaws and how conceited and how self-absorbed and how... he's got issues, and problems and flaws like we all do."
Anyone could see just from talking to him how dedicated William Sadler is to his characters. He is currently in the new Amazon pilot for The Onion News Empire. The show is currently available only on Amazon's Instant Video Streaming Service. I asked William what his hopes for the show are.
"...I would love to see it picked up, and carried on for the foreseeable future... I love it. I love doing comedy and I don't get a chance to much. I get to play lots of serious people, and killers, and people with a lot of... sheriffs. Good people and bad people, but lots of drama and to get a chance to be genuinely silly, is a great treat for me."
"...Every once in a while in the movies I get a chance to be funny, like I was saying in the Grim Reaper (Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey). So I really enjoy it when I get a chance to do it, and to get a chance to do it with this cast, is phenomenal. Phenomenal. I mean, it's Jeffrey Tambor... So, I'm curious to see what Amazon has in mind for it."
To this day, his favorite character to play was Heywood in The Shawshank Redemption.
"[Heywood was] one of the most rewarding. One of the most complete, and well-written... and also any time you get to share the screen with Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins and James Whitmore all in one scene, it's like, everybody's game goes up... That was my major impression of filming The Shawshank Redemption is like, everybody's game came up because you were working with people that you respected so much."
When asked if he still speaks to anyone from his days on the science fiction show Roswell, he answered warmly.
"I do. The one that I speak to the most is Nick Wechsler [who played Sadler's son in the show]. I just talked to him, day before yesterday. We live on different coasts so I don't see him very much but when I'm in Los Angeles I make it a point to call him and we have dinner...David Nutter, who directed the pilot of it, I try to stay in touch with him. It's hard in this business... you're finished making a movie or a TV show and people scatter to the four winds... everybody goes on to other projects and other places and other casts and it's not easy to stay in touch...while we were shooting Roswell you would see them all day at work, then you would see them at night at this party or that party or you know, the Christmas parade or Covina or... but once the thing was over everybody blew to the four winds..."
Any Roswell fan knows the show ended abruptly. Being a huge Roswell fan myself, I had to slip in the inevitable question. Would he be up for doing a Roswell movie?
"Yes." He answered quickly. "Did I say that too fast? Yes."
"...I would love to... I had a lot of fun playing Sheriff Valenti. Jim Valenti. I had never done a TV show that lasted for three years before that, that length of time, and I enjoyed getting the script every week and seeing like the next chapter in the character's life. Sort of like reading a novel about your character..."
"... the whole first season I'm chasing the aliens...I'm their biggest problem. Then they save my son, then I spend the whole second season trying to save them. It ends up costing me my job. Then... I felt they developed Sheriff Valenti really nicely. You know, he had a girlfriend..."
He was talking about actress Diane Farr's character, Amy DeLuca, who played Jim Valenti's love interest.
Why do you think that Jim and Maria's mom don't work out? I asked him.
"...I don't know. It's hard to speculate... I think if the show had lasted another season it might have. I don't think that it was there wasn't chemistry or there wasn't an attraction. These were two really sweet people who had, clearly had feelings for each other you know. It was great, it was great, great fun to play. So, I was sorry to see it go away, as I know a lot of people were. And if they got together to do a movie, and they asked me to be in it... I would probably love that.
I don't know about the rest of you, but my fingers are crossed that a long awaited Roswell movie might happen one day.