Michael Beach

The Chameleon

Television and Hollywood veteran Michael Beach brings truth and authenticity to every role he portrays. He consistently demonstrates his ability to portray any character at any time.

With his appearance as high-seajacker Manta/Jesse Kane in the blockbuster smash hit film Aquaman, to his role as Frank Hunt in the Golden Globe nominated feature film If Beale Street Could Talk, to his upcoming supporting role in the action comedy film Superintellligence and Rim of the World which can be found on Netflix.

Michael is an actor who defies all limitations and bounds. Initially, his sights were not set on acting, believing sports would deliver him from the rough streets of Boston Roxbury. But once bit by the acting bug, he recognized his true calling. Now with numerous TV appearance and 60 films later, there’s no denying this man was destined to be on the silver screen.

Monarch magazine: For someone who had no plans in acting you have certainly done an amazing job.

Michael Beach: Well, I had no plans to act when I was in high school, but after I tore the lineaments in my ankle playing in a Lacrosse game everything changed in a matter of months.

Monarch magazine: You have a diverse body of work. Do you have a role that you enjoy more than another?

Michael Beach: I like any role that’s complicated. Often times, that happens to be the bad guy. But once in a while an interesting character who is not the bad guy gets messy and is really fun to play.

Monarch magazine: What are five of your favorite projects, either TV or film?

Michael Beach: It’s hard to pick favorite jobs. Projects are special for different reasons. But off the top of my head I’d have to say:

1) One False Move – As a young actor I would have never been given such a great character in a studio film.
2) ER – I had a great storyline, fantastic writing and a strong acting partner (Gloria Rueben).
3) Third Watch – Again, great material and acting partner (Anthony Ruivivar). On that show, I also started a few lifelong friendships.
4) Aquaman – It was a lot of fun to work on and it is cool as hell to be in a movie that has made 1 billion dollars.
5) Are You Sleeping – Love the material, working with my old friend Mekhi Phifer and it’s been great fun working opposite and getting to know Octavia Spencer.

Monarch magazine: This questions is double loaded. Aquaman did you ever think that you would be in a superhero movie? And what are your thoughts on the genre in general?

Michael Beach: Working in Australia on Aquaman was lots of fun! And, no, I never thought I’d ever be in a super hero movie because the types of films I’m usually in are dramas. Even though I’m a very physical person, I don’t do nearly as much action as I would like to do. I love the super hero genre and really hope I get the opportunity to do more of them.
Some roughhousing happens in few scenes you appear in, and being roughhoused by Jason Momoa is not a walk in the park, was there any special regiment you took on to prepare for the role?

Michael Beach: There were a few times when my body naturally started to panic as my head submerged under water. It was scary even though I knew there were a couple of guys paying strict attention to me in case of an emergency. There was also one stunt that I kept doing over and over and Jason reminded a few people that I was in my mid 50s and maybe they should give me a break. But I was good because everyone on the film had been working out for a couple of months before filming started to not only look good, but also be ready for the rigors of super hero movie making.

Monarch magazine: If you were a super hero, what super power would you like to have?

Michael Beach: If I were a super hero I would like to be able to fly. I can’t imagine topping the feeling of controlling your body through the air. Of course, part of my power would have to include having an amazingly strong body just to compensate for all the stress on my body from flying at super high speeds.

Monarch magazine: If Beale Street Could Talk was such a powerful project and timely, growing up in such a rough neighborhood, were you drawn to this project?

Michael Beach: Growing up in a rough east coast inner city in the 70s, like the one in Beale Street, did give me a good connection to the material. In fact in ’78 I was stopped in the Copley Square area of Boston and questioned by police who were looking for a rapist that they said fit my description. I was about 15 years old at the time and they questioned me right there on the street for quite a while. I was definitely in the wrong neighborhood. Boston was a particularly rough place for black people.

Monarch magazine: Besides acting, and sports, how did you stay on course and avoid pitfalls growing up?

Michael Beach: Growing up in Roxbury in the 60s and 70s most families didn’t have fathers at home. Mine was no different. I saw many older neighborhood brothers going into the prison system including some in my own family. I was lucky enough to have a teacher recommend me to a private high school far from the hood that was looking for inner city kids to help diversify their school. I ended up boarding at the school and I think that is what really helped keep me out of trouble. I wasn’t hanging out on the street with nothing to do because at prep school so much of my time was accounted for by positive activities.

Ebony Obsidian as Adrienne Hunt, Aunjanue Ellis as Mrs. Hunt, Regina King as Sharon, Michael Beach as Frank Hunt, Colman Domingo as Joseph, and KiKi Layne as Tish star in Barry Jenkins’ IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, an Annapurna Pictures release.

Monarch magazine: What do you hope audiences take away from your performance in If Beale Street Could Talk?

Michael Beach: Beale Street is essential a film about love. My character, Frank, is the father to the main male character Fonny and is willing to do anything to help his son get released from prison on trumped up charges so he could be with his girlfriend, Tish, and raise their child. Frank and Joe are dedicated fathers and I hope audiences are reminded about the importance black fathers play at home with their families.

Monarch magazine: After such a heavy role, were you ready for a comedy?

Michael Beach: I’m not really an actor that does much comedy. But, Rob Cowan, a producer on Aquaman who was now producing a comedy with Melissa McCarthy thought it was time for me to spread my wings a bit more and offered me the job. It was scary, but I ended up having a ball! Going from Aquaman to Beale Street to SuperIntelligence was a dream as an actor.

Monarch magazine: You’re truly a Hollywood veteran. Have roles or opportunities increased in Hollywood or television since you emerged?

Michael Beach: It would be cool to be a young black or minority actor in today’s Hollywood. Opportunities are much more plentiful and central to projects’ storylines. When I started out it was an accomplishment to make it through an entire film. Then a powerful film like Lean On Me would come along and we would think things were going to change quickly, but quality films dealing with the Black experiences were still few and far between.

Monarch magazine: Is there anyone you have not worked with that you would like to?

Michael Beach: I’ve been lucky to work with many great actors over the years and don’t get that excited about who the next job might have me on camera with. But there are a few actors that would definitely get me thrilled to share the screen with if even for a line or two. Meryl Streep. Sidney Poitier. Halle Berry. Jeff Bridges. Tom Cruise.

Monarch magazine: Is there any role that you would like tackle?

Michael Beach: One of the great things about being a working actor is the possibility of the unknown, great next job. And who you may be on camera with on that job. I would like a few of those next jobs to be more action based. I wouldn’t mind being the bad guy either.

Monarch magazine: What advice would you give anyone inspiring to enter acting?

Michael Beach: I always tell young people to study. Learn as much as you can about how you best manipulate your instrument. Get ready. When you get called in that room be ready to show them that you would be an asset to their production.