Ever wondered what it means to be “fame-ish”? Actress Mary Stein answers that question and more as she talks to Influx about being a character actor and her new film Little Boy.

Bethany Rose: How many times a week are you stopped on the street and recognized from something?

Mary Stein: People know they know me…but, more often than not can’t place where from. I mean, my parents didn’t even recognise me in The Grinch with all that make up and padding. So, as Taylor Negron once said about himself….I’m fame-ish…not famous. It’s pretty typical for character actors In the industry. We look very different in many of the roles we play. I’m recognised by my peers though.

BR: You were recently on Glee – now that’s a show that would probably lead to lots of passers by giving you the ‘I know you from somewhere’ look. Have you found that?

MS: Same thing. I had my own face on that one. But, my character was not a main story line….that’s the kind of thing that leads to people recognising you. Also, I look very very different in my day to day life. Think about it…in Babe my face was air brushed & my hair cut was a dark haired French bob and in life my hair is long & auburn. Often I work in period costume or prosthetics. Unlike someone like Julia Roberts or Jennifer Aniston they always look identifiably the same.

BR: Is your role in Little Boy likely to lead to that, too?

MS: I have no idea what will happen or even how much of what we shot will make it into the film. Much changes in the editing process to make the story flow seamlessly. But, I look more like me than in a lot of film & TV I’ve done. I have my own face & there’s no padding. So, that’s a great thing! People have been recognising me in the promotional trailer. But, you never know what will happen with a film & how people will respond. I hope it does that for me…We’ll see.

BR: We haven’t seen the film, so you’ll have to tell us a little about it.

MS: It’s the story of a little boy whose father leaves the family to go to war. In the absence of his father the boy learns to believe in himself and stand up to the town bullies on is own. It’s a very sweet heart-centered movie.

BR: Who directed the film? Had you a prior relationship there?

MS: Alejandro Monteverde directed & co-wrote the film with his friend Pepe. My agent sent me in on the audition. I met Alejandro at the callback with Pepe. I was cast & showed up on set a few months later. The film is set in a Norman Rockwellian World. I found out that one influencing factor in getting cast was that I am the spitting image of a famous Norman Rockwell painting of a school teacher. I happened to wear my hair like her to the audition.

BR: How important is the internet in marketing movies like Little Boy – which don’t have a huge studio marketing budget behind them?

MS: I don’t really know. I’m not directly involved with their marketing. Open Road would be the people involved with that.

BR: Do you prefer studio or independent movies?

MS: I’m happy to work with good people on compelling stories with excellent artists. It’s immaterial to me whether it’s an Indie or Studio Film. Little Boy felt pretty much like a studio film shoot to me. I think it was a 24 million dollar budget. Not including distribution & marketing. They had extraordinary production people, a fantastic first rate cast & costumes. So, it was a pleasure. I love it all.

Little Boy opens in theatres in February.

by Bethany Rose