At Tupelo Con, Andrew and Kinsey had the opportunity to speak with actor John Anderson! John hails from Birmingham, Alabama, where his involvement in the local cosplay community inspired him to pursue acting. He has appeared in many films and television shows such as “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Spiderman: Homecoming,” “Black Panther,” “Tag,” “Logan Lucky,” “Stranger Things,” and “Sleepy Hollow” among numerous others. Check out our conversation below and let us know what you think!
Your love of acting was born out of cosplaying. What made you want to get involved with the cosplaying community?
I’m a giant nerd [laughs]. It’s always been easier to dress up and be somebody else. I think it’s why I like being an actor so much. I cosplayed for children’s hospitals and did charity events as the Joker, Darth Vader, Chewbacca and other tall, lanky, weirdo, characters. It just really suits me and I thought “Maybe I can make a career out of this.”
Do you still cosplay?
Technically, I’m not allowed to at the moment. It’s kind of a career now so they don’t particularly care for you to go out and do it, especially if you work at Marvel or do a Marvel movie, they don’t want you going out as a DC character.
How did you first make the leap to appearing in films?
Atlanta has become the new mecca of Hollywood, we call it Y’allwood now. There’s so much stuff going on there. I literally answered an ad on Facebook seeking a tall skinny ugly guy with crooked teeth and it turned out to be Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II four months later.
I read that Oprah Winfrey helped you get your first speaking role. Is that correct?
Yeah! I went to a background job where I was playing a scientist and the people that were making the movie picked me out and gave me lines. It got me a SAG card and now I’m a SAG actor and performer. I’ve upgraded myself.
You’ve had background roles in a lot of big movies. One of them was “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. II.” What was the process like of having the makeup applied for that character?
I live in Birmingham, so I had to get up at about 11 p.m. the night before and drive two hours to be at Pinewood Studios at 2 a.m., since they’re an hour ahead of us. In the beginning, it took about four hours to get it on. The mask is glued to your face so it’s not one that you just could take off and go eat a cheeseburger. I think they got it down to about two and a half to three hours by the end of it. It took about an hour and a half to take off.
You’ve appeared in a couple other Marvel films like “Spider Man: Homecoming” and “Black Panther.” What is it like being a small part of this huge series of giant blockbuster films?
I’ve been reading comics since I was like four or five years old. I love it and I’m on the other side now. I’m kind of where every nerd wants to go to. Everybody wants to do it once, but I’ve been blessed to do it quite a few times. I remember I begged to be in Black Panther, I’m not gonna lie. I remember they said “Well John, you know we love you, but not a lot of 6”8 white guys are gonna be running around Wakanda, Africa” but I ended up getting to be in a bonus scene. Being 6”8 is very helpful when they’re looking for background actors if they need an alien or a witch or a vampire or whatever.
It was really cool. Very early on I did Logan Lucky as a background guy and it was funny because that was my first Hollywood time-out I got. That’s a term I coined. Being 6”8, he kept seeing me running through like every scene I was working in and he finally pulled me aside and said “Look dude, you gotta go sit out for the rest of the day.” I’m like “Why, am I in trouble?” He said “No, I can just see you in every effing shot. There’s a seven-foot tall man running through every shot in the movie.” I called it a Hollywood time-out. To be an effective background actor, you’re supposed to blend in.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve gotten from someone in the entertainment industry?
Chris Pratt once told me to never give up on the day you would have succeeded. I’ll always remember that.
Is it often that you get to interact with the actors and filmmakers if you’re a background actor?
It’s very irregular, but it depends on the actor. Some of them are really cool. Some of them are just people. I find it best if you’re in that situation whether it’s on set or just at a con or anywhere, just be a human being and you’ll get way more traction out of it than freaking out and going “Oh my god, there’s Beetlejuice!” or whoever it is.
Being that we are at a convention that celebrates comics and pop culture, do you have a favorite piece of pop culture that you’re currently consuming?
That’s a hard question because I’m into so much stuff. Star Trek has always been my favorite. I don’t like Discovery though. I’m not a big fan. Of course “Avengers: Endgame” came along and that’ll probably be the showstopper for the summer. I’m really looking forward to the next “Spiderman” movie. He’s my all time favorite comic book character. I met a guy in a Spiderman suit when I was four years old at a mall and this is a 1980/1981 kind of Spiderman cosplayer. It was just spandex with a zipper, but I never forgot it. It was amazing, no pun intended.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re working on?
Yeah, I have a few things, but I’m not allowed to say what they are yet.
Do you have anything else you would like to add?
I am the keeper of the cheese. I like so much volleyball, and I didn’t even know Elvis. Incoherent nonsense is all I’ve got, I couldn’t be funny at this hour [laughs].