Guest Blog by Bob Valleau
David Novak played Tiso for two years on General Hospital among some other roles on Days of Our Lives, Passions and Melrose Place. He co-starred in Supercroc, Ugly Benny and was a starring lead in Dewitt & Maria. He is currently co-starring (pre-production), with Bo Hopkins and Morgan Fairchild, in a sci-fi movie that has spiritual overtones called EVElyn Rising. David Novak, a devoted Christian, has over 25 years of experience in the entertainment business, and I had the distinct pleasure to interview him.
BOB: Thanks, David, for this opportunity to speak with you about your career in film and television. Before the spotlight, what was your childhood like, and when did you come to know Christ?
DAVID: I was raised in a Catholic home. At one point, I thought about becoming a priest as I always had a soft heart towards God. I didn’t have a real encounter with Jesus Christ until I was in my twenties and became born again. That’s when the promises of God’s Word came alive to me. I call His promises whispers of His love. For instance, whenever I doubt what He has birthed in my spirit, He whispers this verse to me: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Or, when the enemy tries to deliver his package of defeat or depression, I anchor myself in this verse: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You,” (Isaiah 26:3).
BOB: I like that term, “whispers of His love.” God is a big part of your life, and I’m sure He was part of the reason why you became involved in entertainment.
DAVID: Oh my, yes. Many people nudge me toward the industry such as my wife, friends and acting coaches. Ultimately, though, it was God who had the last word. I began as a musician at age 12. I taught myself how to play the guitar and formed a band. In my mid-twenties, I formed a Christian rock group called Sonkist. We played original music which I wrote most of myself. In my late twenties, I became a worship leader at a local church. I was also involved with drama ministry and wrote skits and plays. About this time, I felt a tug towards acting on a professional level. I attended acting workshops, took acting classes and did extra work in film and TV. I auditioned for speaking roles and got an agent. Eventually, I was doing more smaller roles that turned into larger ones, some supporting roles and then some lead roles.
BOB: What are some of your other interests besides acting?
DAVID: I’m a huge fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I enjoy Disneyland since we live near it. I’m a gun enthusiast. I also exercise at a gym and do some photography work.
BOB: Sounds like you have a full plate for your spare time. I won’t hold your love for the LA Dodgers against you. You can only guess who I favor since I live in Dallas.
DAVID: (Laughs) You’re too kind.
BOB: Now, for the spotlight. What was your first role as a television and film actor? Have you ever done theater? And do you prefer TV or film?
DAVID: I did community theater before film, but I enjoy film much more than stage. Stage certainly helps prepare you, though. Between film and TV, I enjoy both. They have their individual enticements. Film is so much more involved, but TV is a lot of fun and much quicker. I especially remember having a recurring role as Tiso on ABC’s General Hospital. Talk about moving quickly! It’s block, rehearse once or twice, shoot the scene and move on. No room for mistakes, that’s for sure. Soap Operas are like that. However, episodics are a little slower. One nice thing on a TV role is that you audition, book and shoot, usually all within a couple of weeks. Then it airs soon after. Film takes much longer. One movie I auditioned for and didn’t hear from until a year later. That is not the norm, however the process is still usually much longer and then once you shoot the film, it can take up to a year for it to be released. Movie of the Week (MOW) of which I’ve done a few, are like a hybrid. The process is slower than a TV show, but faster than a feature film. A MOW I once did, All I Want For Christmas, was shot in July and aired that same Christmas. My first speaking role, though, was in Eraser with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I was a co-pilot in that film.
BOB: How do you prepare for your roles?
DAVID: First, I thank the Lord for blessing me with an opportunity to act. I make sure He wants me to even do the role; hopefully I know that before I even accept it; and yes, I’ve made some mistakes and even taken some roles that perhaps, I shouldn’t have. But thanks be to God for His grace. Then I pray, asking His help, wisdom, guidance to do a great job, remembering my lines, being a blessing on the set to all I work with and meet and to help me to be a “light” for Him. I then read the script and read it again and really try to understand more deeply the storyline and especially my role, including any “back story” or inward insights into the character. Then I print all my scenes into what are called “sides” into small “packets” for easier handling and highlighting all my lines. I then record all my scenes into audio files labeled with scene names/numbers. I usually have my wife read the other parts/roles of the scenes. I have these scenes on my iPhone. Since I go to the gym a lot, I listen to my scenes on my phone repeatedly. I also read them repeatedly. I want to ingrain the lines into my brain as much as possible. In the midst of all this I also begin to “feel” the part; trying to understand the character’s personality, his thought process, desires, strengths, weaknesses, etc. If it’s a role that requires “heavy depth” I do some “method.” I research. If I’m playing a cop, for example, I might talk to some law enforcement people, etc. And all through this, I pray and talk to God about it. I am worthless in this whole thing, but with Him, all things are possible.
BOB: What actor inspires you the most?
DAVID: Sandra Bullock is probably my favorite actress with Julia Roberts a close second. Meryl Streep in my opinion is probably the most talented actress on the planet. For actors, Anthony Hopkins tops the list. Ryan Gosling, Robert Downey Jr., George Clooney, Tom Hanks are some of my faves for entertainment.
BOB: What was the hardest role you’ve ever played and why?
DAVID: General McFadden in Supercroc because it was one of the main lead roles. There were over 40 scenes with lots of dialogue. I had almost no time to prepare. I auditioned, went to call-back and was booked. I had a couple of weeks of prep time, but then they moved shooting up a week! So, now I’m learning the lines/scenes on the set as we go. It was really stressful, but somehow, with God’s help, I managed to pull it off and be believable! Another one, when I played Caiaphas in Color of the Cross 2. Again, one of the main lead roles with lots of dialogue and very little time to prepare. When I arrived on the set on day one, I am told by the director, they want a different accent. Can you imagine trying to put together an eastern Jewish accent amidst a great deal of dialogue with very little to no prep time?
BOB: What was the most fun role you’ve ever played?
DAVID: One would be Tony Vornelini in the movie, Dewitt & Maria, which is a romantic comedy. I was one of the starring leads. I love romantic comedies, and I got to “fall in love” with my leading lady Lee Benton in the story. She played Jean Fullbean. My character was a nice Italian guy. The role of Sheriff Holt in the movie Ugly Benny was another. I got to use my country accent in that one. Again, a “nice guy” sheriff in a small town.
BOB: Let’s talk about your current film project EVElyn Rising. What’s that about?
DAVID: I play FBI Agent Brooks. My character is on the hunt with my partner for a sought-after target who has a huge impact on our civilization. The project is a sci-fi/thriller with spiritual overtones but, in common with the best stories that have mass appeal, EVElyn Rising embraces deep philosophical themes. It’s a very unique film which bridges the gap between faith and science. The film offers a bold explanation to the questions that have plagued mankind since the beginning. The story is riveting and will certainly leave audiences with a feel good, thought-provoking and renewed interest in the creation of all things. It co-stars Bo Hopkins, Morgan Fairchild, Gilland Jones, Kristin Cochell, Mariel Gomsrud and me. Hopefully, it will shoot in fall of 2016 and be released within 12 months.
BOB: What do you hope to accomplish now or in the future as a veteran actor?
DAVID: I would love to do some faith-based projects. I have written a number of screenplays that I’m hoping to have produced. One of which is entitled Ruth. It’s a Civil War story based on the theme of Ruth in the Bible. My production company, Head in the Cloud Productions, is also connected to a movie for television through Lifetime Network and hopefully some other projects. The scripts that I’ve written and co-written include myself as one of the actors.
BOB: Final thoughts?
DAVID: For anyone considering a career in acting, or maybe they are a seasoned actor like me, continue to trust God, and put Him first. Believe He has a plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11), and always listen to His whispers of love.
For more info about David:
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