Randy Kovitz Interview - Dawn of the Dead 1978
Randy Kovitz was born on September 28, 1955 in Arlington, Virginia, USA. He is known for his work on Zombie - Dawn of the Dead (1978) and many Series and Movies
- Thank you being our guest today Randy.
Thanks fo having me.I appreciate the opportunity.
- Randy, tell us about how you became the Officer at Police Dock in “Dawn of the Dead”
In the spring of 1977, I had just graduated from the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama in Pittsburgh. I was looking for acting work and heard about auditions for a movie shooting in town called “Dawn of the Dead.” I got an appointment. I don’t remember how I heard about it or how I got in to read for the film. It might have been through Tom Savini or Taso Stravakis, who were in school with me at the time. I went downtown to the production company on Fort Pitt Boulevard and read for George Romero. He was big, casual, friendly and very nice guy. I’m pretty sure Chris Romero was there, too, though they weren’t married at the time.
- After 42 years ,How does it feel to be a part of one of the most in film history?
It feels great! DOTD is now a classic film. I’m proud I was a part of it. Is a record of me at a very particular time in my life, preserved for posterity in a work of art by a master. I couldn’t be happier about it.
- How does it feels with just one role you have such a worldwide horror fanbase?
Actually, I play two roles in DOTD. I was also a biker in the Mall scenes. I had grown a beard for a play I was doing and just showed up one night.George didn’t recognize me at first.When he did, he said “Hey, Randy, wanna work tonight?” Of course I did! I broke a bottle over a Zombies head, got shot at with wax bullet and shot a crossbow into a Zombie’s face (that was cut, but it’s on an 8 mm film of behind-the-scenes footage that can be seen on YouTubeI (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td_CT5Vuth4 — I’m in around 11:38 and the crossbow scene is around 13:26.) I worked on the make-up crew as well. But it’s an amazing thing that the work we did so long ago has captured the imaginations of so many people world-wide. I love meeting the fans and hearing about their lives and how they discovered and relate to DOTD.
- After “Dawn of the Dead” you are still acting. What have you done all the years?
I am still acting. In fact, I worked n a commercial just yesterday. I work in film and TV, most recently on the TV series The Blacklist and in movies like The Fault in Our Stars and Concussion, with Will Smith. I also make films and work as a fight choreographer and stunt coordinator. If you are interested in following my career, you can join my professional Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Actor.etc/ or go to my web site at www.randykovitz.com. I ask that fans like the Facebook page listed here rather than my personal page as it's easier for me to manage.
- You worked for Series like "Fringe" , "The Blacklist" and so mayn more. Whats you personal favorite so far?
I love working on in front of the camera, but working on stage is the thing that gives me the greatest satisfaction. That direct exchange of energy between performer and audience is something that doesn’t exist on a film set. My most fulfilling recent stage roles have been The Librarian in the solo show Underneath The Lintel and playing Otto Frank in The Diary of Ann Frank. But as a filmmaker, ironically, post-production — the piecing together of all those captured moments that we grab with a camera — is my favorite part of the process.
- You played many times an Doctor. Do you know why?
I think it’s my glasses. They make people think I’m smarter than I am. Plus the fact that I am a trained classical actor and can wrap my mouth around the medical jargon necessary to play those roles.
- Some weeks ago an great actor passed away. Jerry Stiller. You had the pleasure to meet him at "King of Queens" . What can you say about Jerry?
Jerry Stiller was a beautiful person. Kind, funny and with an innocence in his demeanor that made him easy to talk to. I had met him and his wife, Anne Meara several times in NY. I was overjoyed to find out I was playing his doctor. On the set he was terrific. My wife came to visit one day and he flirted shamelessly with her around the craft service (food) table. She was delighted.
- On IMDb we see you last project was "Manhunt" What will we see next?
I was cast as a medical examiner in a new Showtime series called Rust with Jeff Daniels. It was postponed due to the Corona Virus, but word is that it will start up again in August. I’m also working on a low budget thriller called Basic Psych. I’ll be acting and stunt coordinating fo that project. It was also postponed but the word is that it will start up in late July.
Aside from that, I’m developing a project about my great Uncle who was a revolutionary in Czarist Russia and I’m working on my drumming. I’ve been playing all my life, but the lockdown has given me a chance to get back to it and concentrate on some new skills.
- You are not only an actor, you make stunts, Producer, Director and many more. Is there a good story from the past that you will always remember?
There are so many, but one of the best is from my very first film job on Dawn of the Dead. It’s a lesson I learned that I still use today when I act and when I teach my students.
I was 22 and wide-eyed, as you can see in my scenes. In addition to the excitement of being on my first film set, with a helicopter and a whole police dock and boathouse as our scenery, there were coffee and donuts — a great bonus for a young “starving” actor. I availed myself freely as I waited for my scene to shoot.
Finally, we rehearsed and the crew got to work lighting the scene. I was trained in theater. This was my first film shoot. I wasn’t used to the waiting around. More coffee. Another donut.
By the time we were called to the set, I was pumped up on a potent mix of adrenaline, caffeine and sugar.
We got into position. As I was waiting for action, I was doing my young, inexperienced-actor preparation — revving myself up for my scene. Sound and camera rolled and the slate was snapped to start the scene. I was so ready.
And then it started to snow.
George yelled cut and everything stopped for about a half an hour. They needed clear weather so both sides of the scene would match. Otherwise you risked having snow in my shots and none in the reverse shots.
More coffee. More fried dough, glazed with more sugar.
We got set again. More young-actor revving. I was ready again.
Sound and camera roll…
I took solace in a hot caffeinated beverage and some lightning-fast carbohydrates.
Finally, at about 3 a.m., the snow stopped, this time, they said, for a little while. We got set again. By that time, exhausted from putting out so much energy on the previous, aborted takes, I had learned another lesson that I carry with me to this day.
I waited until the camera was rolling and I said “Ok, give me a minute.” Then, I got myself ready, George said “action” and we started shooting.
- At the last you can say some words to your fans?
For many years I resisted invitations to do shows and meet fans. I mistakenly thought it would be strange and that the fans would be obsessive people with nothing better to do. I know now that view is offensive and biased. I finally did a show and was delighted to discover that the people were so sweet and sincere and truly happy to meet me.And that George’s films were important and meant so much to them. I was moved by that. The fans gave me a new appreciation of what we’d done all those years ago. They educated me on the importance of these films on an artistic and even political level. DOTD and Knightriders, in which I also appeared, were George’s views on the world and society. They dealt with consumerism, honor, and the commercialization of society, among other things, while thrilling their audience with great effects, stunts and compelling stories. The fans made me reconsider the films and discover new aspects of them that I’d not known.
In my very first show, a man came all the way from Bristol England to Pittsburgh because he heard I would be there and wanted my autograph. We talked for a long time. I learned about his life (he is a gardener) and enjoyed our conversation immensely.
I guess what I want to say to George’s fans is that I appreciate you and love meeting you.
- Thank you Randy Kovitz for your time and i hope to see you soon in germany at an Convention.
I would love to come to Germany. In the mean time, please like my Facebook page and I’ll do my best to keep you and all the the other fans informed.
Thank you for the opportunity to communicate with you all.