Some people bring light into any room they enter, and the truly effervescent Tara Platt adds about 150 watts to every room she enters. Perhaps growing up in a household continually moving from city to city and country to country gave Tara a headstart communicating with people and being able to mix it up in life. Given that she has been constantly performing since age nine and possesses an independent streak that drives her life choices, then you’ll soon realize that I am only touching the very edges of her career in this interview. I may not even get the chance to mention that she studied at Rutgers or the London Academy of Theatre, or appeared at the fringe festival in Edinburgh, or even been a Marmalade Boy. Yet, I know that her charm and her boundless energy will soon have you enchanted and searching for the latest TV guide to check her out what show you can see her in next...
Like many modern day performers, Tara range of talents stretches across nearly every avenue of the entertainment industry and she seems determined to conquer every facet of her trade before she hits thirty. You will have seen Tara on TV shows like Charmed and the Gilmour girls, appearing in comedies like Gettin' Lucky to hit horror games like Obscure. You can learn a lot more by checking out Tara’s website at www.taraplatt.com where you will find the latest goss, photos, and resume. When Tara isn’t doing voice-over work, video games, stage, TV, music videos, film then she is getting into production, directing, writing and maintaining her website. You will also find Tara’s production company Monkey Kingdom and all the great work she and her friends do for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation…
After managing all this, I’m still amazed this great girl (this certified consultant of Feng Shui) found the time to answer all my questions below, but she did, and how!!!! So read on and let Tara put some of her high-watt energy into your day…
Click on Tara to visit her great website
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David: G’day Tara. I note that you began your acting career at the tender age of nine after bypassing a heady career in neurosurgery and I wondered what epiphany brought about this amazing change in career paths?
Tara: (laughing) Yeah, you know to a nine year old, my world was pretty much broken into two options – go the route of being an upstanding member of society in a regaled profession, or working in its seedy underbelly. No, really, sometime around the age of four, I got it into my head that what I wanted to be when I grew up (no ballerinas or Tinkerbells for me thank you) besides a snowman, was a neurosurgeon. I think I had probably seen a movie with a doctor in it or just learned about brains in school. Anyway, shortly after that four year old realization, my dad – who was an aerospace engineer at the time – announced that just in time for his mid-life crisis, he would be going back to med-school to become the doctor he always wanted to be. That led to a childhood similar to an army brat’s as my mom and I moved with my dad from city to city as he did pre-med, med-school, residency, etc. Sometime in there (around nine) I went to see a musical – Annie Get Your Gun, I think, and remember seeing a few kids playing Indians in it. Well, it looked like just about as much fun as my nine year old life could imagine, so I told my mom, “I want to do that.” Luckily for me (and her) she had done theatre while in College and was a great supporter of the arts, she gave me some pointers, but cautioned that it was mainly hard work (rehearsals, learning lines, doing what the director wanted, etc). She then said if I was serious about it, that I should look in the paper for audition announcements in the local community theatre and if I found one that needed kids, she would take me. Little did she know… Soon after, I saw a notice for Wait Until Dark, and the rest is history.
David: When did you sign your very first autograph and how did you feel at the time?
Tara: Oh, gosh. Um. Well, geez, I’m blushing… I still get kinda flabbergasted that people want autographs from me. I’m honoured but still amazed. I think the first one I signed was actually in college. But as far as having fan mail, and going to sign autographs at conventions, that has all come more recently, in the past few years. The one in college is still very fresh for me though. I was doing a somewhat intense show that dealt with the subject of date-rape. My character during the arc of the story is raped and then immediately comes onto stage and has to deal with herself in her bedroom, while her little sister tries to talk to her. It was a very challenging piece and, thankfully never having been in that situation before, I tried to be as realistic and truthful as possible. After the show, a woman came up to me and started bawling and clinging to me. We sat together for a long time and she told me how she had had a similar experience, had never told anyone, and had pushed it out of her mind. My performance had helped her come to terms with it and heal a little bit. She then asked for my autograph, which I gratefully gave her. What bigger compliment/honor can there be for an actor than to enable someone to have a cathartic release like that.
David: I notice that your birth date remains a mystery to most fans and I wondered whether this was a closely guarded secret or merely something that just never comes up in conversation!!!
Tara: Ha! Well, I will say that it doesn’t usually come up in conversation, but I have actually lost jobs when I gave away my ‘real’ age (which is no fun). In this business, I have found it is best for everyone to get to think they know something without really knowing it for sure. I do play younger than my age in film, and theatre, but often older for voice over – so who knows. I will say that I am daddy’s little girl and was born on Father’s Day, which if you do some sleuthing will give it awayJ. And in line with my Gemini duality, I generally flip between awake and sleepy.
David: You have done almost everything from voice-over work for anime, videogames, animations, as well as appearing in music videos, starring on stage, in TV shows and several movie roles: written numerous scripts and worked as a producer; are a multi-talented dancer; and just for a change of pace you are a certified Feng Shui Consultant and (quickly catching my breath) I wondered which of your many hats you enjoy wearing the most and why?
Tara: Whew. It sounds so impressive when you say it. (Giggle) No, really, I am very excited to be able to explore the many things that interest me. I thank my lucky stars I had such supportive parents growing up, so that I was able to try things out and see what I liked. I like to compare working in film, TV, voice over and theatre with the idea of the differences between artists like sculptors and painters. They are each practicing their art, and their art can be about the same subject, but they each get to focus on a different way of telling the story – that’s what it feels like to me when I get to act in different fields, it is kind of like working with a different medium to express the same concept. I get to use different parts of myself, which is thrilling. I would say that of all the things I have done, hands down I enjoy acting (whatever the medium) as my favourite expression. I have enjoyed and still enjoy the work I have done/the training/my studies in painting, dance, production, writing and even Feng Shui, but by far, getting to act is what gets me out of bed each morning.
David: You have trained very hard over the years in areas as diverse as cold readings, stage combat, improv, circus clowning, song and dance and I wondered if you could tell us what was the toughest moment you encountered doing the hard yards?
Tara: Gosh. Well I think that each area presents its own pitfalls and each has something to glean from making mistakes and then jumping back in and trying it again. I guess it really is about tenacity, getting back up when things feel like they are too difficult to get on with it. Sometimes it is the littlest things which can really throw you for a loop. But everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses and they change as we grow. You develop a kind of flexibility. When I was younger, the thought of having to get up and sing in front of people threw me into a panic, but I pressed myself until I was able to do it. You know, I think sometimes as children we can be so malleable that often someone’s offhanded comment can stick us to the bone and ride with us for a very long time. I think when I was little someone told me that I couldn’t sing so that was a painful little weight I carried. You have to take those thorns and work them out.
David: What’s been the craziest or funniest moment you’ve encountered on a film or TV set (thus far) and how did you survive?
Tara: Oh, here I go again, I’m blushing. When I worked on The Gilmore Girls, I was playing opposite Michael York. I was, of course, familiar with Mr. York’s vast repertoire of work, and very excited to get to work with him. In the scene, I was playing the head of his character’s fan club. Well, in the course of the scene, I was supposed to whisper something in his ear before asking him to follow me. I began by whispering something innocuous like “Was he done yet (with the speech) etc?” Well, after a take or two, the director motioned me over and said, “Now what I want is for you to make Michael blush, okay?” I agreed and headed back over to start the scene again. Well, I tried to think of the naughtiest thing I could say to this worldly older man, and I started blushing. I think it took me 3 more takes to finally get through, and in the end, I think I got a small grin out of him, and, you know, I never thought about it before, but I wonder what he was thinking, when I started saying all those things in his ear, since he didn’t know the director had asked me to. (Laughing) He probably thinks I’m really randy now J.
David: Do you collect any autographs or memorabilia, and if so what is your most treasured item?
Tara: I have to say I am not really much of a collector, I don’t know if I even have an autograph. I love old black and white photos of The Rat Pack, and even old Hollywood glam. Things were so different then, with the studio system, that I think I probably romanticise it and idealize it in my mind. I’m actually a bit more of a film (rather than specific person) freak. I collect old original prints of film posters – I have an original beautiful 1950’s Juvenile Jungle poster, that I love for it’s flash and timeliness. I love the campy style of that period. Oh, and I’m a big fan of Asian art, Buddhist sculptures and little deities and such. I have a big red Buddha statue in my house that I’m particularly proud of
David: If any person in history could autograph their photo for you, who would you ask and what would you have them say in their dedication? (I ask all my victims, er, I mean interviewees this question)
Tara: Arg. That is such a hard question. You just like to see us squirm, huh! I think it would be The Divine Sarah Bernhardt – she was the original theatre dame who moved into moving pictures, and had such a theatricality, a mystery and a grace in everything I have learned about her, that I think it would be an honor to meet her. Ohhh. The dedication. Something fun and French like “A mon petit chou Tara.” (That’s “To my little cabbage Tara” – which I’ve always loved as a term of endearment.)
David: In those very rare quieter moments, when you’re not working on a dozen different projects at once, what else brings joy to your life?
Tara: I am an avid reader. I love books. I love a good book, a soft couch and a few hours to live in the book-world. It is very peaceful for me. It is different for me, of course, from doing my yoga practice or taking a long walk, but rejuvenating to my soul all the same.
David: Which actors, directors or performers would you love the opportunity to work with in the future?
Tara: You want my LIST huh? (Grin) Well, there are many, many, many, so I will just select a few for you. Actors who really make material their own such as William H. Macy (and his wife Felicity Huffman for that matter), Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, but also actors who seem to just enjoy everything they are doing so much, such as Sandra Bullock and Anne Hathaway. Of course Oliver Platt, for many reasons, the least of which being that we share the same name (my full name is Tara Oliver Platt). Directors who have such strong visions: Terry Gilliam, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and Peter Jackson. I guess I just respect people who don’t kowtow to what they think people want to see, and feel comfortable with themselves enough to say, “This is who I am, take it or leave it.”
David: Where would you like to see Tara Platt in say five years time?
Tara: I would hope that the next five years bring me continued success in film and television, theatre and voice over. By then, I would like to be recognized for my work by having more opportunities to pick and choose the projects I work on and the people I am fortunate enough to work with. Oh, and I wanna own my own houseJ
David: What funny or unusual story from your life would best sum you up as a person?
Tara: Too many – Well, there is the story of me backpacking around Europe by myself in college and not speaking the language when I was in Budapest, and finding myself standing naked in the hall with the sauna guy trying to help me get to the ‘girls side’ of the hot baths…or the one with me … you know, anything that has me in a somewhat awkward position and able to laugh about it later. Because to me that is what life’s about - being able to take a fall, dust yourself off, get back up again and then laugh about it. Oh, and never taking yourself too seriously.
David: If you were marooned on a desert island (without Yuri!!!) which song, movie, and book would you miss the most? And who would you most (other than Yuri!!!) like to marooned with and why? And who would you least like to be marooned with (this last question is purely optional on the grounds that it may incriminate you!!!)
Tara: Oh, you’re trying to get me in trouble I see – treading on dangerous ground. If I were marooned on a desert island, I would miss Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letter’s to A Young Poet for its peaceful reminders, any song by Tenacious D, ‘cause they always make me happy and The Princess Bride, which is so timeless and romantic – oh, wait, I think it might have to battle The Impostors – ‘cause every moment in that movie always makes me so happy. I think I would like to be marooned with Albert Einstein, ‘cause if anyone could teach me a thing or two it would be him. And I wouldn’t want to be there with anyone who couldn’t laugh, and enjoy the time we have.
David: Thank you for sharing a little part of yourself with our readers and I wondered if there were any final thoughts which you would care to share with your fans across the globe?
Tara: My thanks to you. Honestly actors wouldn’t be doing what we do without people to watch, listen and react. I thank each of my fans for honouring me with their attention, because otherwise I would be the tree in the forest that no one heard.
This article copyright David Priol 2005
Photos copyright Tara Platt & used with her permission.