Q & A
Questions sent by fans that I have had the pleasure of asking Mr. Riley.
Q. What kind of music do you listen to?
A. "I'm not sure what to say except that my musical tastes tend to run as eclectic as the kind of roles that hold interest for me. Currently I am listening to anything from Keane to Sigur Ros to U2 to Damien Rice to Pink Floyd to Brian Eno (Music for Airports) all kinda depends on what mood I'm in, or often times what I am working on, because I usually end up putting together a compilation of music for each character."
Q. What is the difference between working on a Canadian project and an American one?
A. "Its really much the same once you get down to the actual work and the mechanics of the thing. The American sets plainly just have more money, and therefore more time to deconstruct it all and "get it right". I don't really prefer one over the other as it's really only the character I happen to be working on, and the people I happen to be working with. It's these two elements that really shape the experience. Canadian or American."
Q. Which of the characters you played was the most like you, and which one was the least?
A. "I think that although every character an actor plays cannot help but have a little bit of him or herself inside, I have always felt strongly that an actors job is to really step out of the way, and let this completely new human being emerge. (The human being that the playwright or screen writer had imagined.) Too often, actors will purposely bring the role they are playing toward them, and into their own particular "comfort zones". I think the truer approach... the more artistically honest one. (and for me certainly the more enjoyable and rewarding one) is to go out to where the character is, and find "him" out there. In short, none of the characters I have played are like me, and yet they have all passed through me, on their way onto the screen. Frankly I feel it's a kind of wonderful compliment that you would have this question. It means the "disappearing act" of Michael (which is my professional responsibility) has been effective for you."
Q. Have you ever thought about directing or writing a movie?
A. Although many directors he has worked with suggested it, Michael has yet to direct. He was planning on directing a couple of Power Pay episodes if the series would have gone on for another year, but that fell through due to its cancellation. Directing is something he definitely would like to do in the future.
Q. What made you decide to become an actor?
A. Michael is not from a family of actors, both his parents were bankers, and none of his siblings are in show business. His drama teacher from 9th to 13th grade, Kate Roberts is one of the first ones who saw that he had a great acting ability and gave him roles in over 30 plays. She was also the one who suggested he go to the National Theater School in Montreal where he was one of 15 to be accepted out of the 24 000 auditions that year.
Q. How do you prepare for a part, especially one like Dennis/Rocky in Dogmatic.
A. Michael's favourite part to undertaking a new role is the research. He can have from 3 months to 5 days to prepare. For this part, where he had to portray a dog in the body of a man, he had about 3 and a half weeks to prepare. He used it, among other things, to volunteer at a dog kennel. He watched a lot of tapes about Jack Russell Terriers, Rocky's breed, and read a lot of books on canine behaviour as well. On the set, he was the only one who could interact with Barkley, the "actor" who played Rocky in Dogmatic.