Troy Kotsur Interiew -
My brothers took me to see the first Star Wars movie in a theatre and my mind just blew away
Troy Kotsur was born as Troy Michael Kotsur. He is known for his work on CODA, Number 23 (2007) and Flash Before the Bang.Troy also played an Tusken Raider Scout in The Mandalorian.
- Thank you Troy Kotsur for your time for the Star Wars Fans.
- The dream of every fan is to be in Star Wars. How did you get cast for The Mandalorian?
One of The Manadolorian’s production team, who happened to know sign language, encouraged the producers to hire a Deaf person who has experience in doing sign language consultant work on movies, theatre and shows. My wife's name was brought up by a source who could not do it at the time and then my wife suggested my name. My wife, Deanne Bray, (starred in “Sue Thomas: FBEYE” and had a recurring role as Emma in NBC’s 4th seasons “Heroes”) is an actor and did some ASL Master work with DeafWest Theatre for 20 years. She is now a teacher teaching ASL to high school students. She knew I was a Star Wars fan and thought the opportunity was perfect and encouraged me to take the job. How fun to be a part of the Mandalorian team!
- Were you a Star Wars fan before you got cast as Tusken Raider in The Mandalorian?
Yes! At the time there weren't any closed captions on television and movie theatres during the 1970's. My brothers took me to see the first Star Wars movie in a theatre and my mind just blew away with all the new visual special effects that was new to the eyes of a little Deaf boy. It was a day I’ve never forgotten and still remember that blown-away feeling as if it was yesterday.
Just the other day, my brothers and I went golfing for his birthday and my oldest niece mentioned something about Mandolarian not knowing that her uncle was one of the characters and was behind the development of the Tusken Sign Language. My brothers were so happy. I never share with this with anyone, but now I can since the episodes have been aired.
- Could you share some funny, remarkable, weird stories regarding the filming of your scenes?
- The challenges of wearing the outfit and mask. I had tunnel vision when I wore the mask. As a Deaf person, I have good peripheral vision and I think many Deaf sighted people use more of their peripheral vision as a way we live our lives. Wearing the mask was challenging. One time I did not want to take off the mask to make it easy on the wardrobe and makeup crew so I connected several straws to be able to drink whenever I was thirsty during break time on the set and it worked without messing up the mask.
I had to keep my eyes on the interpreter while having limited vision from the mask. The hearing actors who were Tuskens can hear the director but for me, I had to make sure not to look away from the interpreter while working and being in place.
- Please finish the following sentence: “Looking back at working on Star Wars: The Mandalorian …”
...was a dream come true in being able to contribute some of the creative process and in being a part of the history in making of Star Wars: The Mandalorian. What a blessing! This is the Way!
- 2007 you worked as Barnaby with Jim Carrey in "Number 23" , what can you tell us about this experience?
Jim Carrey was a real down-earth-kind of guy. Even with his busy schedule, he took the time to talk to the cast. He was genuinely interested when he asked where I was from, and I told him that I was born and raised in Arizona. He told me a story from his experience in Arizona. His vortex experiences up in the red mountains.
Never a dull moment on set with him mingling with us.
One thing that made me nervous was when the director, Joel Schumacher, gave me a direction to flip Jim Carrey off when the camera was on Jim. So, I did the task and saw Jim's reaction of being off guard and he was definitely feeling something. His energy was strong. Perhaps that was what the director wanted or he probably was just having some fun with Jim. I was about to have a heart attack. But in the end, it was all good!
- You not only played in Star Wars, you also in "Criminal Minds" , "Scrubs" , "CIS New York" and some more. What
was your favorite role so far?
Two things: First was Criminal Minds, it was fun for me to play a villian. It was a new experience for me as an actor and to broaden my horizon to touch that area of a real troubled character. Not often do we see cops chasing a Deaf villian in stories like that.
Second one was a feature film, CODA, that I did last fall. The story is something that hits home for many people in the Deaf community including myself. I have a CODA (it means Child of Deaf Adults) which means my wife and I have a daughter who hears but has a bilingual/bicultural upbringing from us (Deaf Adults).
It is a story through a CODA's perspective and her struggles in how different her life is from other hearing peers.
It is a story that is deep and true for many. The movie does speak for all CODAs but for many. It was also an honor to work with an Academy winning Deaf actress, Marlee Matlin. The actor who played the CODA, Emilia Jones and the music teacher in the film was performed by Eugenia Derbez. The screenplay and the director was insightful and amazing, Sian Heder. She even knows some ASL which was really cool but we still had interpreters on set for the Deaf actors.
Wonderful team and cast. The crew was great fun and supportive.
- A Dream project for the future Troy?
A film I hope that will be picked up, Flash Before the Bang with a combination of Deaf and hearing cast and crew. The producers and writers are both Deaf and hearing. Nice to have two cultures work together. The film is inspired by a true story based on a track team in Oregon. I will play the track coach. Looking forward to seeing the film happen.
- Thank you for your time Troy Kotsur!