The Working Actor EDITOR'S INTRO
This is the thirty first in a continuing feature at IndustryCentral profiling "The Working Actor". (See Archives below)
William Shakespeare said "There are no small parts--.". William Shatner may have said it too, but the longhair with the tights was first, or so the reports go. In this feature we will explore what it really means to be an actor working in Motion Pictures and Television.
Broad public acknowledgment may have eluded some who find their way to these pages, or perhaps they may have brushed against what is referred to as stardom by virtue of one or more remarkable performances. However for many, the rewards of plying their craft in a field which has allowed them to earn a living may exceed the burdens of public acclaim. Given the chance, some in this clan might prefer the longevity offered by anonymity over the potential for short lived fame.
These individuals, either by design or fate, have managed to sustain a career by crafting performances which rendered them a good casting choice. They are usually thought of as a face you recognize, but you just can't get the name past the tip of your tongue.
Most of these folks have spent countless hours on stage in theaters ranging from 20 seats to 2000, building characters from the works of Ibsen, to Eliot, to Williams, to yes even Shakespeare, and so many of the modern Playwrights. They have rounded their skills doing drama, comedy, & musicals. Their work is a serious venture.
These people have given us screen performances which quite often were the catalyst that brought an Oscar or Emmy to another and yet they continue to work as "Characters" or "Co-Stars" without the trophies and plaques adorning their mantle.
John Aylward
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John Aylward may be best known for his portrayal of the hard-nosed Dr. Anspaugh on NBC's ER, however, he has spent decades on theatre stages throughout the U.S. and Canada and has performed everything from Shakespeare & Moliere to Shepard & Mamet. And while audiences of TV and film have generally seen him play serious men and downright curmudgeons, Aylward's comic prowess is legend. His versality and talent have made him one busy actor.

Born and raised in Seattle, John attended parochial school until the 11th grade. Aylward claims the biggest reason he became an actor was that "the nuns taught me how to read -- and to read ALOUD." His reading ability landed him his first role in the 3rd grade, Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh, "but I refused to wear short pants and get teased, so they gave me a yellow slicker to wear." (These days he's happy to be cast as the object of ridicule when it's a good part.).In the 8th grade John won an elocution contest and a scholarship to prep school, which required him to join the debate team and travel around the state on weekends trying to garner trophies for the school through "oral interpretation." In this he was very successful and for Checkov's one-act play The Marriage Proposal John won the prize for Best Actor in the state. "At age 16 I really caught the bug!"

After graduating Garfield High School (the alma mater of Quincy Jones, Bruce Lee & Jimi Hendrix, Aylward states proudly), he auditioned for and was accepted into the first class of the Professional Actors' Training program at the University of Washington. "The next three years completely changed my life. I was introduced to British Old Vic training coupled with Jacques LeCoq's mask work. It was an incredible time, to be able to study and practice what you love 6 hours a day and also to take advantage of all the University had to offer. It all made such sense!"

After graduation in 1970, John began a career that has now spanned 30 years and has never required him to take a day job. As a young actor anxious to do it all, he knew that what he did not want was to understudy "the old guys" on the Lort circuit, and so in 1973 he, together with a small group of like-minded actors formed the Empty Space Theatre. "It was a place where you could really work out, bang your head against the wall, and play roles you'd never be cast to play in the "commercial" theatre because of the way you looked. But believe me, we bowled people over with our productions of "Alice", "Mandragola", "Tooth of Crime", "Ronnie Bwana, Jungle Guide". We'd do a park show, an 8 o'clock and a midnight show and then stay out all night. Those were the days." After a period of about ten years during which John worked with other acting companies, including one specializing in the works of Samuel Beckett, he felt it was time to enter the mainstream circuit and actually make a living. "My age finally caught up with my face and I was allowed to play the parts that were right for me."

For the next 15 years he worked as a company member of the Seattle Repertory Company led by Daniel Sullivan. John played leading character roles in such plays as "Curse of the Starving Class", "House of Blue Leaves," "Tartuffe", "A Flea in Her Ear" and "The Miser", among many others.

John's break into the world of TV and film came in 1996 when starring in "Psychopathia Sexualis" at the Mark Taper Forum in LA. Carol Flynt, co-producer of ER, saw the play. "I was asked if I'd be willing to do my monologue for the writers and producers of the show and I said sure. Before I got home they had called my agent and said , "We love him; we're going to write a role for him." Needless to say, it was nice to be invited to the party." John has appeared and recurred on a number of A-list shows, including The Practice, Family Law, 3rd Rock from the Sun and Alias, as well as ER. He has appeared in 18 films to date and has just completed filming HBO's Path to War, directed by John Frankenheimer, in which he plays Dean Rusk. It will air in May 2002.

Mitchell K. Stubbs & Assoc.
1450 S. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90035
(310) 888-1200 Fax (310) 888-2222

John Aylward's advice to the aspiring actor:

"Remember, there's a reason it's called "play". Find yourself teachers who don't take themselves too seriously, or a theatre group that you perceive to be having fun and check it out. This is not cancer research that we do, but it does require skill, discipline and physical stamina (not unlike an athlete). Remember that you are part of a team and theatre works best when the team is firing on all cylinders. So leave your ego at the door, be willing to make a fool of yourself and dive in. Come on in--the water's FUN."

John Aylward's Credits (partial)
"Path to War" Dean Rusk Dir: John Frankenheimer
"Bad Company" aka "Black Sheep" CIA Agent Dir: Joel Schumacher
"13 Days" Orville Dir: Roger Donaldson
"Finding Graceland" Sheriff Haynes Dir: David Winkler
"The Visitor" Byron Dir: Jean Marie Gaubert
"Instinct" Warden Dir: Jon Turtletaub
"Armageddon" Dr. Banks Dir: Michael Bay
"Mercury Rising" Curio Dir: Harold Becker
"Fathers Day" The Detective Dir: Ivan Reitman
"Buddy" Bowman Dir: Caroline Thompson
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" Niles Dir: Stuart Gillard
"Three Fugitives" Lampost Cop Dir: Francis Weber
"Third Degree Burn" Det. Lomax Dir: Roger Spottiswoode
"Seven Hours to Judgement" Cabbie Dir: Beau Bridges
"Dangerous Affection" Officer Daly Dir: Larry Eliken
"Child in the Night" Dr. Wendt Dir: Mike Robe
"The Escape" Sheriff Lawson Dir: Stuart Gillard
"Eden" Doctor Dir: Howard Rosenberg

"Alias" Guest Star CBS
"Citizen Baines" Guest Star CBS/Warner Bros.
"Nathan's Choice" Victor/Guest Star FOX/Warner Bros.
"The Practice" Recurring ABC/Kelley Prod.
"The Fugitive" Matthew Ross/Guest Star CBS/Warner Bros.
"Family Law" Judge Berger/Recurring CBS
"3rd Rock From the Sun" Provost/Guest Star NBC/Carsey-Warner
"The Others" Albert/Recurring NBC/Dreamworks
"E.R." Dr. Anspaugh/Recurring NBC/Warner Bros.
"Then Came You" Bob Thornton/Recurring ABC/20th Century-Fox
"Secret Agent Man" Guest Star UPN
"Swing Vote" Hon. Ripley ABC/MOW
"From the Earth to the Moon" Dr. Pemberton HBO/Limited Series
"Creature" Ben Madera MOW
"3rd Rock From the Sun" Guest Star NBC
"Northern Exposure" Recurring CBS

THEATRE (Representative)
"Three Penny Opera" Tiger Brown Indianapolis Repertory Theater
"Death of a Salesman" Willy Loman A Contemporary Theater
"The Kentucky Circle" Ensemble Broadway/Dir. Warner Shook
"Psychopathia Sexualis" Dr. Block Mark Taper Forum/Dir. Daniel Sullivan
"Waiting for Godot" Pozzo Seattle Repertory Theater/Dir. Doug Highes
"A Flea in Her Ear" Poshe/Chandabisc Seattle Repertory Theater/Dir. Michael Maggio
"Richard III" Richard Oregon Shakespeare Ashland/Dir. Denis Arndt
"Loot" Truscott Dallas Theater Center/Dir. Jonathan Moscone
"Lulu" Dr. Shoen Berkeley Repertory Theater/Dir. Sharon Ott
"Hedda Gabbler" Tesman Cincinatti Playhouse/Dir. John Going
"King Lear" Lear A Contemporary Theater/Dir. Arne Zaslove
"Glengarry Glen Ross" Shelly Levine A Contemporary Theater/Dir. Miles Potter
"Born Yesterday" Brock Manitroba Theater/Dir. James Roy
"Cuckoos Nest" Cheswick Charles Playhouse, Boston/Dir. Lee Sankowitch
"Mench Meier" Otto Empty Space Theater/Dir. M. Burke Walker
"Quartermaine's Terms" Wagner Old Globe Theater/Dir. David McClendon
"Man and Superman" Straker Intiman Theater/Dir. Liz Huddle

For more info and credits see IMDb

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December 2001
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November 2001
Alice Hirson [October 2001]
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Octobber 2001
Warren Stevens [September 2001]
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September 2001
Stephen Elliott [August 2001]
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August 2001
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March 2001
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February 2001
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January 2001
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December 2000
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November 2000
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May 2000
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April 2000
Tom Bower [March 2000]
Tom Bower
March 2000
Amy Aquino [February 2000]
Amy Aquino
February 2000
Danny Chambers [January 2000]
Danny Chambers
January 2000
Eve Gordon [December 1999]
Eve Gordon
December 1999
Barbara Niven [November 1999]
Barbara Niven
November 1999
Bill Lucking [October 1999]
Bill Lucking
October 1999
Richard Roundtree [September 1999]
Richard Roundtree
September 1999
Pat Harrington [August 1999]
Pat Harrington
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Robert Donner [July 1999]
Robert Donner
July 1999
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