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Matt Speaks To, about his life and role in Fast and The Furious!

Matt Schulze: HOT SHOT!

Matt Speaks In Stepping Out Magazine!

More Intervies As We Find Them!

Matt Schulze - Fast and Furiously Becoming a Big Star

Rita Cook - 11/1/2001

I wanted to get to know him better, but who has time in 30 minutes, right? So as I skimmed the surface of who this guy is and realized that Matt Schulze may not yet be a household name, Im convinced he will be soon. Hes soft spoken, but his personality comes out in the decisions hes made about his career. For example, Universal fought him all the way about his beard in his film The Fast and the Furious, but he showed up for work with it and it stuck. Now off on the set of Blade 2 shooting in Prague, Schulze is fast becoming a star.

Tell me about yourself.

I am from St. Louis and grew up in a rough area. I moved out at an early age and went to a music conservatory in Atlanta and studied guitar. I came back to St. Louis after that and taught music when I was 17. I had 65 students a week. I did that for a year and then moved to Los Angeles. I pretty much became a studio musician when I got here.

I went to a School of the Arts for theater and all that stuff when I was kid. But when I got here [L.A.] I got a Levis campaign, and it opened up a whole new world for me. I went to Europe and did runway shows and all this modeling stuff and lived there for a while, but always tried to focus on acting. But I never wanted to do any television shows, so it took me a long time to finally get in to where I am at now, as far as getting inside of films without really having any credits. And I have been doing it more and more.

You said you left school and graduated early.

I didnt actually, I ended up getting a GED.

And then you went to the school...

The conservatory...

And then you came back to St. Louis at 17 and started teaching guitar?


Thats amazing. What made you decide to pick up the guitar? What drew you to that?

As a child it, was my only means of expression. It was a way for me to hide out and try to be creative. I tried to resolve a lot of unsettled emotions inside me. I used that as a vehicle because my outward life was pretty much crazy. I was a hellion.

So you were really wild?


Is that why you went to Atlanta?

I had always wanted to go to the conservatory, and it just ended up being the right timing and I was able to do it.

So you calmed down a little bit?

Not really. In the moment of learning I did. You know, [youre] a young boy and youre crazy.

Are you still pretty wild or have you changed?

I think I try to develop all that stuff and transform all that energy into the characters that I do, so that it is positive. Music to modeling to acting.

How did you say you got started in acting?

Well, I started off doing acting, but like I said, I started getting [ad] campaigns and I didnt want to turn that down. It helped finance me to try and continue with the acting and let me grow as a person. Most models never make it, you know. I was never really a model, though. I have always been an actor. I was just fortunate enough that I was able to make a living at [modeling] for a while.

What has been your favorite job to date?

Well, the movie that I just did, The Fast and the Furious, was probably the best job I did so far. We got to learn how to do Indy racing cars and they allowed me to develop a character that really, on the page, wasnt written. I roughed it up. [In the filmI have] dark hair...

And thats not what you really look like?

No, I have white hair. I am doing another movie, Blade 2.

And you were in the first Blade, right?

I had a very small role in that, and now they have given me a lead role in the new one.

Tell me about your character in The Fast and yhe Furious.

My character is Vin Diesel. We are basically robbing trucks to finance underground street racing. I am the intimidator of the whole crew, the badass, sort of. I am also the downfall character, [the guy] everyone kind of shits on.

Did you feel comfortable with that part and what you had to do in that part?

Yeah, I mean I put on like 25 pounds and grew a beard and dyed my hair black. I wanted to make sure that it left an impression.

Was it hard when you had to put on that kind of weight and then take it back off?

Well, it is okay now because [for] this other [role] I am doing I am supposed to be big also, so I am staying this size, but I am changing certain features like my hair. I made [it] white because I [play] a vampire.

You had to grow a beard for the part of Vince. You had never had a beard before, right?

No, I had [one]. Everything you see as the character is my idea. Universal fought me the whole way for the beard. They didnt want [any] of that stuff, so I just showed up ready to work with it.

Good for you.

Paul Walker in the movie, that is kind of what I look like normally. He and I looked like brothers and I had to totally alter my original appearance.

Do you have any interesting stories that happened while you guys were shooting?

Ah, to be honest with you, the whole experience was a positive thing because of the group element. Michelle Rodriguez, everyone there was great. And as far as finding that kind of teamwork again, it probably will never happen, because everyone who was working was relatively new to the business so there were really no attitudes, you know? And it was a very positive experience. Thats it, really.

What different parts of yourself do you think you bring to each character? Or do you just totally become a different person when you are acting?

I think I always try to remain with some certain part of me. But the element that use to bring to characters, I study a lot of people to try to bring certain things to each. I kind of use an improvisation of jazz, you know, like what a jazz musician does. It is all the music training. I have really applied that to acting, which is kind of a unique approach. I really dont know anybody else that does it like that.

What was your pivotal role as an actor? What do you think was the role that got you going?

This one. I think this is my first real break.

How did you end up getting this part?

It was basically off a general meeting and then there were about seven times I had to go back in and meet the director. No one could make their mind up. But eventually the payoff was that they took a chance with me.

And then apparently you did the right thing in telling them I am going to grow the beard and all that, because it sounds like it gave you an individuality .

Yeah. You know, when you see me I am kind of like this big kind of gladiator. It suits the film.

People are going to remember you, Im sure.

And I did all the stunts. I am on the freeway doing 80 miles an hour on this truck. Its really me, I did all that stuff.

Now, did they try to convince you not to do it or did you just say I am going to do it?

I just said, I am going to do it and then we did it.

And what made you decide that you wanted to do this?

I am more of an extremist. I really dont turn down anything in the face of danger. I dont know why, but it is just my background. And I really enjoyed it.

What is your favorite part of your career right now?

Well, I am leaving in a week for Prague. I think that is going to be, its like God or whomever is giving me these things to go ahead and isolate myself into a new thing, a new phase of life. I am really excited about that. That is probably the best thing, the traveling. I mean, I am able to go there and totally be that character without any judgment, whereas here sometimes I have the beard and all these things. When you are in a relationship with somebody [sometimes] they have a hard time understanding that it is the character, and I try to think the way the character... I try to not change my clothes or anything for the whole time of the shoot.

Change you clothes as in wearing the same outfit every day?

Yeah, well for The Fast and the Furious I wore the same thing. I took it home with me, I slept in it, you know, I became the character.

Are you married?

No, I was in a relationship for four years, but we broke up and it is kind of difficult. Thats what I am saying, the process of being an actor for a regular person who is in societyits hard for them to understand, thats all.

Tell me what you do in your down time. Or do you have any? It sounds like you are very busy.

I am pretty busy. Mostly I play music. I write. There is a group called American Pearl, they are signed with Creeds record label. I teach the guitar player in that group. I give them lessons and help them write songs and I do a lot of music in my down time to offset the acting so that I can change... I try not to repeat any kind of movements in each character and develop something new for each one, which is a hard process. So I try to totally surrender myself to music to clear that pathway for the next movie.

That is cool.

It is kind of difficult, because there are moments when I get frustrated with acting and want to hide in music, and sometimes I get
frustrated with music and want to hide in acting. For me acting is the goal, because traveling on the bus and all that shit with music is just, you know...

It wouldnt be cool.

No. Playing the [same] songs every night, no, thank you.

So, you are going to be playing a vampire in Blade 2. How are you getting prepared for that character?

Well, I helped develop [the] character and the clothing. I made him this kind of Excalibur kind of guy that transcends all time. He is Wesleys, they are in this blood pact. He hired this blood pact for him to go out and overthrow the evil vampires. I am actually a good [vampire]. So I made him this timeless character.

Tell me a little bit more about your background growing up.

I have lived in a relatively nice area before, but I chose to hang out in East St. Louis, which is the ghetto. My friends lived in downtown St. Louis. St. Louis is a really... downtown was a rough area [at the time] and those were the people I chose to hang out with to get the rawness of life, you know what I mean? There were no judgments... I was really one of the only white guys down there.

And they were totally accepting of you?

Yeah. Never once... It just was like we were able to live life to the fullest extent. They had no limits and neither did I, because they had nothing to hold them backthey were coming out of the projects. So if you can imagine a white person in that environment, you know it was pretty crazy.

Well, Im sure you have learned a lot from it.

It made me an extremely strong person to physically get through anything. Now I am trying spiritually to do that, also. That combination will be, well, you cant stop something like that.

Tell me something about you that nobody else knows.

I am actually very sensitive. I think people always tend to think of me as brassy and kind of a bully, but that is not the way I am inside.

Actually, on the phone you sound sensitive. I dont know what you are like in person, but...

MS: People, well since I am so big, people get intimidated.

Green Room Magazine Interview
By: Jason M Burns

Suddenly there is a new star on the horizon and not the kind that fades away and falls to the earth. This one is poised to be the next big thingboth in his career and in the way he keeps packing on the pounds. Matt Schulze is Vin; the greasy road racer that opposes pretty boy Paul Walker in the surprise summer hit "The Fast and the Furious." If you remember him more than you probably should, there is a reason for that. His screen presence is commanding and if there is a scene that he is involved with, you better believe you're focused on everything he is doing.

Matt is paving himself a career highway complete with smart decisions and the proof is in the pudding by looking at his next role. He will land in another "Hollywood" film, opposite Wesley Snipes in the feature sequel Blade 2. He not only donned a mohawk but also hit the gym to bulk up even more than he did when racing cars in a 100 million-dollar moneymaker.

I caught up with Matt early in the morning while he was back at home in Los Angeles.

MS: How are you?
JB: Good, and yourself?
MS: I'm alive.

JB: That's always a good sign. Hold on one second. I'm going to try and turn the volume up on my phone. I'm having a hard time hearing you.
MS: I speak lightly.

He certainly does. It definitely is not the kind of voice you would expect from the rowdy, in your face Vince. I told you this guy could act.

JB: There we go. First off let me congratulate you on being involved with a film that has made over 100 million dollarsThe Fast & Furious.
MS: Thank you.

JB: That's got to be a good feeling?
MS: Yeah. You always set out to try and be in something that's going to be successful and when something like this happens it's kind of overwhelming.

JB: Does it make you feel that your stock has risen in the eyes of casting directors?
MS: In certain ways, yes and no. I've always tried to set out and be the best at what I do but now I get recognized on a larger scale. So yes, I guess it does have an affect.

JB: Have you already started to reap the benefits of that as far as getting auditions that you may not have before?
MS: Yeah. I mean I don't generally go on auditions anymore just meetings and things like that, which is a nice thing. So, I've raised to that level. But with acting you're always raising and now I'm reaching for the next direction. This movie is something that is not necessarily the type of films that I want to be representing at all times. I want to do more artistic style films and hopefully I'll be able to do that now.

JB: The Fast & the Furious was obviously geared towards young males. Was it a surprise for you when it opened at number 1 and made 40 million in its first weekend?
MS: (Laughter) What has been a surprise for me is that a lot of adults love the film. They walk away from the movie feeling very happy and excited. That was the only surprise I really had. I knew the film was going to be a success I just didn't know on what level. But, when it opened at number 1 and did 40 million out of the box - it was pretty unbelievable. Also, people are really supportive of the whole cast for some reason. Maybe it's like a spiritual connection, I don't know. (Laughter)

JB: So you've seen yourself being recognized more since the film has been released?
MS: Yeah, people go crazy, especially kids. They love it. It's been nice.
Being noticed is something that Matt needs to get used to. If things continue the way they seem to be headed, he will be in contention for the often talked about and absurdly ridiculous Hollywood, "It" list. (I say "it" is ridiculous because I am not on it.)

JB: What about taking a role and physically changing yourself into each part that you play?
MS: This role I did. Before I got the role I was 160lbs. When I started working I was 203 and then with the last movie I did I got up to 225lbs. (Blade 2) I'm always changing. It's funny that I'm getting these more physical roles where I'm an action hero because it's not what I set out to be. I do enjoy it; it is just that I don't want to forget about the other side.
I want to have a balance with doing this and doing films with people like David Lynch - people on the opposite spectrum.

JB: Something that I thought was funny in your bio was that it mentions you grew a full beard for the role as if it was a life-changing event. Is growing a beard that significant?
MS: The funny thing is, I didn't have to do anything. It was originally geared as a teen movie and I showed up with a beard and all of these things that I don't think they necessarily wanted. I was to be more clean cut and they fought me the whole way because I refused to fit into that system. I think in turn it made my character stand out more. In any type of teen movie you don't really see somebody that is covered in grease with a beard. (Laughter) So we kind of went against the norm in what moviegoers were used to. To you or me growing a beard and putting on all of this weight may not be a big deal but in the system of Hollywood it is something that you have to fight for.

JB: So it was your choice to put on the weight as well?
MS: Yeah. Everything was my choice. I tried to be the exact opposite of what Paul Walker was so I dirtied myself to oblivion to counteract him. Normally I looked sort of what Paul would look like. We looked like brothers so I was like; "I have to completely change my look so that there is no confusion.

I don't see how the two would have ever looked the same. It's time to dig up old Matt films to test my theory.

JB: You've also been shooting Blade 2 but you were in the first as well?
MS: Yeah, I was basically an extra in it. I was up for one of the lead roles and I wasn't ready or whatever - I was young. I was 23.

JB: Now what are you playing in the sequel?
MS: I have more of a lead character. I play this guy named Chupa and it's sort of like this Vietnam crew is assembled and I'm one of the leaders. We go into Prague trying to fight these reapers that have taken over the city. It's cool. It's futuristic but yet there is really no timeline on it. There is more of a story than the first movie and visually the director added more colors.

JB: Do you think this one will match the first in terms of popularity and fan response?
MS: Yeah, I think it's better. It's a different style. I think people are going to love it - I really do.
Fans of Goth lifestyle and fantasy films did turn out for the first installment in droves. Judging by all of the Internet talk going on about the sequel, there should be no problem making a line form outside of the theater. Time for the puns: They'll "sink their teeth" in it. No one will think it "sucks." They'll go "batty." There, that's enough.

JB: You started in music. How did acting become a part of your life?
MS: I think with music, I was overly sensitive, so therefore I had a harder time expressing myself in public with it. I originally came to Hollywood to be a studio musician and when I was 17 I taught music - I had 65 students a week. When I was here I was overwhelmed that you could actually make a living being yourself, but also playing characters. I had never been open to that before and I was swarmed as soon as I got here.

JB: You're living in Los Angeles. It seems that people like that city when things are going good and dislike it when things aren't. Does that sound familiar?
MS: I think that this is a very creative place to be. In one way it is sort of like Dante's Inferno because it sucks you in and dealing with the magnitude of everyone is based on the outside image. It eats away at you whether you are doing well or you're not successful. It doesn't matter. You still feel that surge in your stomach that it is tearing away at you. It's a love/hate relationship I have. (Laughter) I can't ever say that I'm fully happy here. I have to try and get out to see reality.

JB: LA often feels like you're in a bubble.
MS: You are. It feels like almost the rest of the world doesn't exist. It's a very misleading thing. It's an illusion here. It makes life seem as though it is a dream.

JB: It seems that one of the perks to being an actor is having the ability to costar with some of the most beautiful women in the world. Is that just a perk in my eyes - the eye of the moviegoer?
MS: It is a perk. It doesn't hurt. It's funny because a lot of these girls come from a background of a more pure type. (Laughter) And I came from all this debauchery, the street - all this crap. It's funny to have these two elements mix inside of a scene. That's what I enjoy about acting. You get a cluster of people that are really entirely different and you see what you can bring to the table as an individual.

JB: Who would be the ultimate perk?
MS: I enjoy working with all of them. (Laughter) If I single out any of them I'll get in trouble.

JB: You mentioned that you had a pretty ruff background growing up. Do you find that your type of roots is a scarcity in Hollywood?
MS: Yeah. I think it's really rare that you actually find people that have character anymore. I want to bring back that American icon stuff. If that will work within this system, I don't know. It may have an easier time working amongst the independent area.

JB: Let's say you woke up tomorrow morning and you were the biggest star on the planet. What would keep you grounded?
MS: The fact that spiritually I'm nowhere near where I should be. I'm trying to obtain a certain level of enlightenment through all the pain I went through to find happiness. I think that's what would keep me grounded.

JB: So is the next project you pick going to be less Hollywood and more indie?
MS: I say that but I know what's going to happen. (Laughter) I'm gonna end up doing another huge film but I have to continue to follow this path. Like I said, hopefully by doing this it will open the doors to meet the people I want to work with.

JB: As mentioned you had to bulk up for the role but with all of the empty carbs would you actually choose a bulky role when making a sandwich?
MS: (Silence) Yes. Of course! I love French rolls.