William Shockley is the rarest of birds… not only did he play maybe the most shocking character in the controversial movie Showgirls, but he ALSO won the Nobel Prize in physics for inventing the transistor and his later disturbing advocacy of eugenics. Hard to beat THAT resume. What? The Nobel Prize and the Eugenics stuff is a DIFFERENT William Shockley, you say? Let me google it…. OK, Whoops. My mistake. The actor known as William Shockley is actually a DIFFERENT guy than the Nobel Prize-winning guy who changed our world by inventing the transistor, Silicon Valley, and supporting Eugenics. A primary differentiator, looking at the photos, is the hair. That thick luxurious hair that I bet the Nobel Prize-winning Shockley would have traded his Nobel prize for. And the adoration of the ladies. That is probably another differentiator. We had a chance to ask 10 Questions to William, best known for playing ‘Hank Lawson’ on the long-running TV series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Question 1: William, you are known around the planet for your role in Dr. Quinn. Have you always had long flowing locks? Were you teased as a child?
No … I grew up in Texas in a conservative family. I was an athlete… with a covert appetite for the arts. The coaches in my high school didn’t allow long hair, in fact, the baseball coach made all of the players buzz their hair over the ear and off the collar. Not a very cool look for a kid in the late 1970’s who had a Peter Fonda “Easy Rider” poster on his wall and the Beatles blaring. So no, I wasn’t teased as a kid. But I always knew that I would change course once I got out on my own. So after I graduated college I took off for europe… lived in Paris and Milano until I literally had no money left… and started doing everything I always dreamt about, including not getting a haircut.
Question 2: How often in real life are you mistaken for racist Nobel Prize winners? I imagine it must be quite often…
Yeah, evidently there was some noble prize-winning dude who has my name… had to do with a transistor radio design or something like that. Well, I love music and I listen to the radio, so I think I might win a Nobel prize too… or maybe a Grammy… without the lame Theories of Eugenics.
Question 3: Seriously, though, you are a Texan, went to Texas Tech, and broke into a theater in Dallas. Do you visit Texas very often? Still, have friends here?
Yes, I went to U.T. In Austin and then graduated from Texas Tech. Doing theatre in Dallas was life-changing. I took acting classes, did heater, honed my craft, and as fate would have it, befriended the producer of a play that I was doing. She also happened to be a talent agent and he signed me. My very first audition was for Robocop. I booked that film, moved to L.A. dead broke with 3 boxes and a suitcase … and the second night living in L.A. I walked the red carpet at the Robocop premiere in Westwood. The rest is history. All of my family lives in Houston, so I visit as often as possible. I love Austin… that’s my city! I have good friends that live there. I’ve actually been trying to get back to Austin ever since I left. I have a new business opportunity brewing that would bring me to Austin all of the time… now that would be a full circle crescendo!
Question 4: You play Tex in Death In Texas. He is a dark character, and you completely owned the character. Several of the cast and crew were actually quite relieved you chose NOT to method act him. How did you inhabit that character?
I wanted ‘Tex’ to be a super creepy guy. On the page, he worked at a strip club and sold drugs. So I found this deep deep voice that I used for him… one too many snorts of heroin trashed his vocal cords. The makeup artist and I decided on heavy black eyeliner and black eye shadow with braided hair. That felt just right. And voila, the ruthless, arrogant punk was born
Question 5: In real life, you are one of the real good guys. Yet you play dark characters often. The rape scene in Showgirls is one of the most disturbing in cinema. What was it like to shoot that scene?
I do often play dark characters, and that’s truly part of the joy of acting… no blueprint and no lines on the road. ‘Andrew Carver’, my character in Showgirls, was a narcissistic rock star demon. Paul Verhoeven hired me on Robocop, and he hired me again for Showgirls. Paul is a brilliant, extremely passionate director, and I knew that he wanted the rape scene to be intense. As you said… one of the most disturbing scenes in cinema. Gina Ravera was the actress that I worked with in that scene. She was beyond fearless. We knew that performing the scene was going to difficult and emotional. Gina And I talked prior to filming. We trusted each other. I have the utmost respect for gina and her fierce devotion to her craft.
Question 6: You are also a producer. What sorts of films do you focus on? Any particular theme we should be looking for in Shockley films?
Yes, I’ve produced 11 films. I initially started producing films that had already been greenlit, so the genre was predetermined. Over time I’ve done several westerns, a stoner zombie flick, a Santa Claus Christmas film, dark dramas, family dramas, and romcoms. So no there historically has not been a specific theme. Today, however, I know exactly the type of movie I want to make. It’s simple… first in class scripts and exemplary filmmaking.
Question 7: Who is on your bucket list to act with that you haven’t yet acted with?
Jeff Bridges. He is the consummate actor. It would be pretty awesome if we played brothers. And Nicole Kidman. She is profoundly talented and so very daring. And director David Fincher. He’s simply brilliant.
Question 8: Does it get tiring not only being but looking like a movie star? People staring when you walk into a place?
If people stare at me I wonder if I have something stuck in my teeth.
Question 9: What is your dream role? The one that makes everyone sit up and take notice?
I enjoy British period piece films set in the 18th and 19th centuries. I’d love to play a British maestro … a zealous conductor of classical music tumbling into a tortuous love affair. On the other side of the spectrum, it would be great fun to play a Viking in the middle ages … a Scandinavian warrior sailing to Europe to found a kingdom, fighting to the death to protect his woman and countrymen.
Question 10: Do you pay attention to the IMDB Star Meter? Do many in Hollywood?
I’m well aware of the IMDb star meter. I suppose it has its own value. If you’re hot at the moment… Or if you die… your number gets better. But what’s more important to me is the talent of the individual and the value they bring to a film. I’m sure people pay attention to the star meter in Hollywood… like checking out oncoming cars while running across a street jaywalking.
Death In Texas will be released June 4th, 2021, in selected theaters and VoD. Death In Texas is produced by AHuevo Films and Brandtone Films in partnership with Vertical Entertainment. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.