Will Van Moss talks about his many different stages, experiences and hopes as an international actor.
Q: New York City can be a somewhat daunting place to take on. What was it that led you to NYC?
A: Throughout my life I have always felt drawn to both London and NYC for some reason but didn’t understand why. I was never obsessed with either cities but I always found myself gravitating towards the idea of living there. So, after finishing high school at a European School in Italy, I moved to London to study at UCL. It was a great place to live and I loved it very much but New York was somehow still calling me. Therefore after my graduation at UCL, I flew to NYC to study at the New York Film Academy in September 2014. I came to New York with hopes of further diving into a professional career as a performer and to really enhance my techniques and spirit as an actor, singer and dancer. The New York Film Academy (or as we always call it, NYFA) really gave me all of that. NYC was definitely a little intimidating at first though, seeing that it is the center of the world. All sorts of cultures come together in one big, highly populated city and that can be quite shocking but all people here have one thing in common; they want to be successful in whatever field they work in. Therefore after my studies at NYFA, I knew I just had to stay here and work because that is also exactly what I want to do. Luckily I had and still have a lot of people who really want to use me in their upcoming projects. Eventually, I want to be a successful international actor in this crazy but oh-so-fulfilling global business that is the acting industry. New York City is the epicenter for my art and my profession as an actor, and that is why I still feel so drawn to her and becoming successful here.
Q: Was there any form of culture shock for you upon arriving in America?
A: There was quite a big culture shock at first. London was also a very multicultural city, so that wasn’t part of the shock. However, the fast pace and the seeming stand-off like nature of New Yorkers was quite frightening at first. Needless to say, I quickly adapted to the NYC tempo and attitude. Nowadays my parents and siblings often call me on that. Another big shock to me was that EVERYTHING is commercialized and needs to be advertised. Even such simple things as painkillers are highly advertised in the USA, which was a big shocker to me! It felt quite disheartening in a way that these big companies felt the need to advertise so much, when people know they can just buy painkillers when they need them. It also felt like everyone was trying to con everyone and trying to get as much money as they could from others. Coming from quite a social country as Belgium, having lived in Italy and for the longest time being an inhabitant of the social city that is London, this had the largest impact on me. Nowadays I am so used to it though and I just try to drown out the big “in-your-face” advertising and the fake salespeople trying to sell you something you don’t need.
Q: What has been your favorite theatrical role to date and why?
A: Jigger in Carousel at the John Cullum Theatre. I really got to dive deep into this character. I was working with a vocal and acting coach throughout the rehearsals to get the raspy, growly, creepy voice that this character so highly needed. This coach and my director, Chad Austin really helped me understand the acting beats of this character and his motivations even better. It was such a joy working with these two people developing this widely hated, yet entertaining key-character to the story of Carousel. Jigger has this tremendous scene with Carrie Pipperidge where he tries to seduce her in a very subtle, but vile and yet weirdly funny manner. It’s a brilliantly written scene and it becomes something the audience cannot stop talking and laughing about. Mellissa Gonzalez, who played Carrie, and I worked hard on this scene and it was flawlessly executed (most of the times). My other female scene-partner was Mrs. Mullin, played by the extraordinarily talented Anne-Marie Pietersma. Our scenes were always the most entertaining to perform.
Q: You have performed on West End in London as well as Off-Broadway and off-off Broadway in New York. How would you compare and contrast these experiences?
A: They were all very different experiences! Every single play or musical I took part in was completely different from the next and every stage adds a distinct value and feeling to whatever piece you are performing! On the West End the stage added grandeur to whatever piece you put on resulting in a lot more extravagance. The performances were sometimes a little larger-than-life, which called for bigger movements and higher stakes. The John Cullum Theatre (an Off-Broadway venue) is a little smaller than the +500 seats in the West End theatres which makes acting with your scene-partner a little more intimate, that includes the scene partner that is the audience. I love it just as much as the big theatres.
Then there’s performing in off-off Broadway shows. This is similar to on-camera acting, because everything is incredibly intimate. People see you up close, which enables you to start acting a bit smaller, yet with passion and strength, to keep it going forward and interesting. I love acting in all three types of venues.
Q: You have also performed in the Edinburgh Festival, what was that experience like?
A: That was a life changer for me! I was there performing in UCeLswhere’s production of ‘Kiss of The Spiderwoman’, a phenomenally dramatic and dark musical written by Kander and Ebb. We got great reviews. The festival is something magnificent to experience as a passionate actor. I always urge every professional actor to go to the biggest Fringe Festival in the world at some point in their life to experience what it is like when performers from all over the world gather to show their passion. I got to see so many incredible theatre pieces, I still carry it fondly in my memories. The best part about the whole experience was that I got to discover new points of view and make a heap of intimate new friends.
Q: What would you say would be the biggest goal that you wish to achieve in your career?
A: Winning a Tony Award for acting in a new, intriguing (and successful) play. It is likely that I will keep performing in some films, TV-series and musicals, but all in all I love acting in plays the most. All types of storytelling are important to me though! I’d love to win an Emmy and Academy Award too of course, I won’t say “no” to that, but I think winning a Tony for a new play or a revival of one, will be the top of it all. That’s when I know I’ve gotten the ultimate recognition as an actor.