“Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Iron Man”, “Camp X-Ray”, “10 000 B.C.”-we can continue the list of the Hollywood movies, where Marco Khan, Armenian born Iranian actor has appeared. Having worked on such projects with stars like Johnny Depp, Keira Knightly, Kristen Stewart, Robert Downey Jr. and many others, Marco states, “My best work has been trying to rise my son (now 18) all by myself. My most important and fulfilling thing I've done in my life.”
NEWS.am STYLE represents you an exclusive interview with one of the most famous Armenians in Hollywood.
- Marco, how have you appeared in Hollywood movies?
- Before I got into the movies I used to have restaurants (3 in total, but not all at the same time). For 12 years I was working almost 7 days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day. I had no personal life, my restaurants were my life, girlfriend, wife consuming all my time. My father passed away in 1993! Let me set the story right! My father was a great opera singer when he was young. Everyone told him that he had a voice like Enrico Caruso and/ or Mario Lanza. But when he was in his early 30's he let go of his singing for work to take care of his family. Fast-forward to my restaurant days (I had started my restaurant by myself and a few years later my father came to USA from war ravaged Iran where he was stuck and couldn't leave because of house and business's there!) at closing time my father used to sing along to opera on cassette tapes ( before CD's ), I was so proud of him that still at the age of 64 he sang so good. I used to see his eyes light up and were so full of joy while he was singing. I used to tell myself " This man should have continued his singing because while he was singing he seemed like he was in front of an audience performing!"
Sadly he passed away at the age of 64 from a massive heart attack, leaving me with lots of regret, what if's and should have's! After his passing I sat down and decided that no matter what I didn't want to end up like my father! Don't get me wrong he was a great father and even a better man, but I didn't want to have any regrets in life! I wanted more out of my life! My first choice was to become a soccer player!
But first I was too old to start a professional football or soccer carrier! My other option was to listen to my dad, he used to say " When we go to America we'll have them fix your nose, then put you in the movies!" Little did he know that my nose would become my bread-maker!
So I wanted to get in the movies, but there was one small problem, I had no connections or idea where to start. I closed my restaurant so I had no where to fall back to. From the advice of people from a gym that I had started to work at as a physical trainer, I started to work as a background artist, then because I was very athletic I started to work at The Universal Studios live shows "Water World" and "Wild-Wild West", then stunts followed!
- How did your collaboration with the famous directors and actors begin?
-As a background artist I was always chosen to be one of the main actors/actress's body guard or bad guys main right hand man, which it worked to my advantage a few times! The director said "It looks awkward for me to stand in front of the camera next to the main actor and say nothing!" So I started to get lines (as we say in Hollywood.) At one point a few directors asked me "What are you doing here?" I said, "I want to act!" they said. "Why this? (As in background work)" Me, "What do you mean sir?" Director, "Why background acting? You have a good look, get some acting classes and training then get in touch with me!" So I did, started taking acting classes and commercial acting classes as well. That's how it all started.
-You have worked in movies with a lot of Hollywood actors. With whom especially you liked to work?
- I've had the privilege of working with some very talented actors in my carrier. Actors like, Johnny Depp, Adam Sandler ( 3 times), Robert Downey JR., Kristen Stewart, Camilla Belle, Steven Strait, Albert Brooks...Directors like Roland Emmerich (2 times), Gore Verbinski and Jon Favreau...unfortunately too many to name them all, but each one was a unique experience and would be so difficult to choose from.
- As you have already mentioned, you have collaborated with many famous directors. What other directors you would like to work with in the future?
- I would love to work with the ones I've worked before and as many new ones as they would like to hire me. I would really love to work in Armenia if possible and experience the talent there and Europe, Russia and...I would love to work with Roland Emmerich because he does BIG movies and they're done very well.
- In the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest” you embody a Turkish character. How did you get that part?
- Hahahaha, during the audition there were 2 other Turkish actors and we had all been ( about 9 of us ) called in front of the Director and the Producer ( Jerry Bruckheimer & Gore Verbinski ), the Turkish actors were almost sure they were going to get the part. Jerry and Gore asked each one of us to pretend throwing bodies in the sea and say some words in Turkish. We all did, the Turkish guys were going crazy, because they ( Jerry & Gore) looked most interested in me for the part and the Turkish actors kept saying " But we are real Turks!" then they asked me if I spoke other languages? I said yes 5 other! Needless to say that I got the job! Since it was the opening scene and I was the main actor for that day, I had a lot of one on one chat's with the Producer and the Director and so many shots from different angles, close ups and lots of dialog. But as it is expected in Hollywood almost all of it ended up being cut! I wish there was a way to see and keep the cut version!
- Marco, you usually embody so called “bad characters”. How it is working on them?
- Yes, it's true that in most of the films I play a bad guy, but if you watch " God's Not Dead", " Straw Dolls", " Camp X-Ray" you'll see a different type of character, much deeper than others which I'd love to portray ! I'd love to work in comedy also, and not too many people have seen that side of me yet.
- What’s your favorite character you have embodied so far?
- So far I have a few favorite characters, One Eye from "10,000BC" is the most favorite one because I worked on it the longest (6 months) and had time to create a character. But now that I've had more experience in life and as an actor Misrab in "God's Not Dead", Mahmoud ("Camp X-Ray") and Kevork ("Straw Dolls") are more deeper and well rounded characters.
-I n one of your latest movies, Camp X-Ray, you appear with the ‘Twilight” star, Kristen Steward. What can you say about her? How it was to work with Kristen?
- Kirsten was a joy to work with. Such a professional! During the film I had to fight with her and SPIT on her face. Originally I couldn't do it and kept spitting on her uniform! But the story/ script said I had to spit on her face! She pulled me to the side after I told her and the director "I've never spat on anyone's face before not mentioning a young girl that could be my daughters age if I had one!" after she pulled me to aside and said , "It has to be done! I want you to do it!" After doing it right, I went to her and apologized and hugged her saying " I'm sorry!" Later at the wrap party she told me "Give me your address I want to send you a thank you package!" I would work with her anytime again.
- And What are you working on in present moment?
-At the moment I'm working on a big budget film that I can't talk about it right now and writing and creating 6 projects of my own! From comedy to action and...Investors are welcome.
- What would you advise to all the Armenian actors, who dream to appear in Hollywood movies? What are the basic features they should possess for having success?
-Take acting classes is the most important one! Take time in figuring out what kind of roles you can play. Study in school, not only acting but educate yourself with something that you can financially support yourself and fall back on while you get there. Learn other skills behind camera so you can work on projects until your turn comes. Make sure you make a lot of friends on set, you never know who is going to become famous! If you want to work in Hollywood make sure your English is GOOD! Never treat people like they are beneath you! If someone criticizes you, thank him/her and learn from it. Don't take rejection as a failure, learn from it. And if acting is your passion then NEVER EVER GIVE UP! I'd like to create a Hollywood in Armenia, where there are great professional actors, actresses, directors, lighting, camera operators, makeup , sound...that projects from other countries would come there to shoot and instead of bringing their own crew they would say, " We need to hire Armenian's they work hard and they are professionals!"
- If I’m not mistaken, you have not been to Armenia, yet. Do you have any plans of visiting Armenia in the near future?
- No regrettably not yet. The timing has not been right, when I had time I had no money, when I had money, had no time! But I know I will soon, and I know when I land in Armenia I will get down on my knees and kiss the ground and listening to all my brothers and sisters speaking in my native language will make me cry! Not from sadness but from joy!
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