ABOVE PHOTO: Shemar Moore stars as self styled relationship guru/author, Matthew Taylor in ‘The Bounce Back’.
Interview with Kam Williams
Shemar Franklin Moore was born in Oakland on April 20, 1970 to an African-American father and a mother of Irish and French-Canadian extraction. Moore spent his early years abroad with his single-mom in Denmark and Bahrain until the two returned to the U.S. in 1977.
They settled in Palo Alto, where he graduated from Henry Gunn High School before studying communications and theater at Santa Clara University. While still in school, he started modeling on the side to help pay the bills.
Since college, Moore has flourished both as an actor and a model. He’s probably best known for playing Derek Morgan on the TV-series “Criminal Minds” for 11 seasons. Prior to that, he spent eight years as Malcolm Winters on the popular soap opera, “The Young and the Restless”.
Here, he talks about starring opposite Nadine Velazquez and Bill Bellamy in the big screen release, The Bounce Back.
Kam Williams: Hi Shemar, thanks for the interview. I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.
Shemar Moore: Well, I appreciate your taking the time to show me love and to talk about the movie, Kam.
KW: What interested you in The Bounce Back?
SM: It was the sweet, fun script that had been around about a decade. But it’s all about timing. Ten years ago, I was just getting my feet planted with Criminal Minds. It didn’t work out with my schedule back then. Fortunately, the script came back around. I thought it was a silly, fun, sweet story that people would like. To be honest, in the beginning, I knew that the transition from “Criminal Minds” was on the horizon, so I started thinking about the next steps I could take as an actor, going forward with my career.
After unsuccessfully shopping the script around, I seized upon the opportunity to produce the film myself. I said, “Why not go the independent route?” I felt that I could identify with the Matthew Taylor character. I just needed some help with the others. So, I went and found Bill Bellamy who I’d so much fun and chemistry with on “The Brothers” years ago. I knew he could deliver the jokes and bring the relationship of being my best friend and manager to life. He liked the idea and we knew Nadine Velazquez from within our circle of friends. We showed her the script. She was interested, and pieces kinda of fell into place from there. And the next thing you know, here I was executive producing the picture, and raising $630,000 through my fan base. I call them “my baby girls.” It was a great hug and pat on my back that they believed in me and were so loyal to me. I’m very proud that we not only made a movie, but got it out into theaters, and that my “Baby Girl Nation” was a part of it.
KW: How similar are you to your character, Matthew Taylor?
SM: As an actor, I find the essence and elements of myself in any character I play. I think I believe a little bit of Matthew’s philosophy and a little bit of Kristin Peralta’s (Nadine Velazquez’s character’s) philosophy. One can’t exist without the other. Love is a tricky, beautiful, exciting, complicated, elusive entity. But it hits when you least expect it. Matthew Taylor figured it out, and so did Derek Morgan in “Criminal Minds” towards the end. So, now it’s Shemar Moore’s turn. I’m a romantic, and I believe in love.
KW: The Bounce Back has a nice twist at the end.
SM: What I love about this movie is that we didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but we did find an original way to tell a love story about falling in love, the heartache of being betrayed and still having the courage and faith to fall back in love, and from both the male and female perspective. It illustrates that relationships are about standing strong, and about making compromises, too.
KW: What would you say is the movie’s message?
SM: Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t forget to smile and have fun.Celebrate today. Be open to love, because it doesn’t come easy. But when it does, it’s so beautiful. It’s a magical feeling! Another thing I love about this movie is its diversity. There’s a bunch of color in it, but it’s telling a colorless, universal story. It’s a story that everybody can relate to, regardless of how old or what color you are. It’s a movie that gives you a sense of hope and makes you feel good about who you are.
KW: Are you more interested in movie than TV work now? TV series are very demanding.
SM: Everybody’s ultimate goal is to be a movie star like the “Brad Pitts,” “Matt Damons,” “George Clooneys” and “Tom Cruises.” Of course, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’d like to see my career materialize in that way. But “The Young and the Restless” was like high school. “Criminal Minds” was college. Now, I’m ready for grad school. It’s a blessing to be on a hit show. But, you’re right, it’s a grind. That’s something people don’t realize, unless they’re in the business. 9 to16 hour days for 8 days. And day 9 is day 1 of the next episode. It’s a grind for 10 months out of the year. But a beautiful grind. Am I still willing to do television? Yes. Am I intrigued by cable TV? I am. True Detective, Game of Thrones and Ray Donovan are some of my favorite shows. I just want to see what the next chapter is in terms of my telling stories. But I’m also having fun wearing this producer hat. To me, producing is paying attention to detail, connecting dots, understanding actors’ chemistry, putting all the parts together, and bringing the story to life. So, I think you’re going to see me doing a little of both, although.
I’m definitely chasing Mark Wahlberg, Jamie [Foxx], Denzel [Washington] and those other guys. I want to get on the same train they’re on. I’ve been doing this thing for 24 years, and I hope to do it for another 30, and those are the type of footsteps I hope to follow in. I’m excited and inspired by them.
KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?
SM: I can’t think of one off the top of my head. But a lot of people say I should do Harry Belafonte’s life story. That would be quite the honor, if it ever came my way. I want to do films like “Jason Bourne” “The Equalizer,” “Begin Again” and “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Films with great content. Plus, I’ve got a few projects in the pipeline that I’d like to produce. This is just the beginning. I’m still finding out what’s out there for me to do.
KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
SM: My earliest childhood memory? Wow, that’s interesting! I remember kicking around a soccer ball when I was barely able to run around yet. I also remember leaving my Curious George doll that I loved in a taxi when I was about 3. We’d gotten out of the cab quickly because my mother was in a rush. I literally screamed, “My George! My George!” as I watched the car drive off, and my George was gone forever. I don’t know why, but I still remember the tail lights of the taxi as it pulled away. It broke my heart.
KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
SM: I’m not the best cook, but I like to bake. I can make basic stuff like tacos and a brown paper bag pork chop. My cousin’s mom showed me how to do that. But I’m more of a sweet tooth guy. So, I’ll make some cheesecake, oatmeal cookies or chocolate chip cookies.
KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
SM: Ben & Jerry’s ice cream with home made chocolate chip cookies. I’ll put a little fudge on it and sprinkle a few walnuts on top. That’s a party in your mouth!
KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?
SM: I’m very blessed to be in Hollywood, but I refuse to be Hollywood. I’m just a regular dude with extraordinary circumstances. For the red carpet, you put on your outfit, you flip the switch, you flash the smile, and you swag it out. For me, it’s work, but it’s not work. It’s more like play time. I feel so grateful that I never take it for granted that I have the opportunity to be in this line of work. I’m so fortunate to be able to attend these events and to hobnob and have your picture taken with some of the most talented and interesting people in the entertainment industry and in the world. I’ve met some fascinating and phenomenal people. And I’m always star-struck to a certain extent. I pinch myself and say, “Wow! This is really my life.” And away from showbiz, I’m a homebody. I’m in sweats or jeans and a t-shirt. I love my two bulldogs; I take care of my mom, my partner in crime. She drives me crazy, but that’s my momma. I listen to music… I watch sports… I hang out with friends… I’m a pretty normal cat. People who know me a long time see that I haven’t changed. My circumstances have changed, but I’m the same old guy I was before Hollywood.
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
SM: You know what I look for when I look in the mirror? I make sure the little kid in me is still alive and still has a smile on his face. I make sure that that little innocent boy is being taken care of. I don’t let life get to me too tough. I don’t celebrate myself too tough. And I don’t get down on myself too tough. As corny as it may sound, I tell my fans that what they’re witnessing is the journey of a dreamer. And I look to see if I’m taking care of myself. I can tell when I’m tired. I can tell when I’m feeling good. I just check in with myself and tell myself everyday to tell the truth, have fun, and go for what you want by any means necessary.
KW: I know you’ve lived in a number of foreign countries. How many languages do you speak?
SM: Yeah, but I was a kid. Technically, my first language was Danish, but it was broken Danish. I was in Denmark from 6 months to 3 years of age. So, I only remember the word for “move,” although my mother, to this day, speaks it fluently. My mom grew up outside Montreal. My maternal grandmother was French-Canadian. She’s passed away now, but she was born in Quebec City. She would always greet me in French. So, I took French when I was in 7th and 8th grade to impress grandma. I still remember a little broken French, but I don’t speak another language fluently.
KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?
SM: My mother, Marilyn Wilson Moore, was my mentor. I didn’t grow up with my father, but I did have different male role models along the way. My mother’s brother, Uncle Steven Wilson, was like a rock for me. And later on, my high school baseball coach, Melvin Harrison, who’s up in heaven smiling down on me, was like a father to me. Those three were the foundation for me to feel love and guidance, and to grow up and believe in what I was capable of.
KW: The Anthony Mackie question: Is there anything that you promised yourself you’d do if you became famous, that you still haven’t done yet?
SM: One thing I was able to do was to buy my mother a home. I bought her a beachfront condo in Redondo Beach. That’s one of the things I’m proudest of that I’ve ever done in my life. On my “bucket list” was becoming successful enough to be able to give back to my mom.
KW: Thanks again for the time, Shemar, and best of luck with the film.
SM: Alright, Kam. Appreciate you, man.
To see a trailer for The Bounce Back, visit youtube.