Although Mark Deklin has an extensive acting resume, he’s yet to land a role that has brought him onto the TV screens often enough.
When Mark landed the role on the Fox series Lonestar, a former member of the Alumni Council of The Penn Stater Magazine recognized the actor and said, “We’ve got another Penn Stater on TV.”
Mark began his academic path with a degree in Journalism but switched over to major in English. In an interview with Pittsburgh Gazette, he says, “I had this journalism exercise where we had to take the facts of a story and present them in several different ways without changing the facts, and I was actually really good at it and that scared me a little.” He went on to say, “I thought, if I’m going to work in a so-called medium of truth, I shouldn’t be writing fiction. So maybe I should just own up to the fact that I like writing fiction and become a fiction writer…and acting is just an extension of that.”
The Path to Acting
When he thinks of acting, he thinks of theatre. Mark Deklin did not start out as a professional actor. “I did not think of it (acting) as real job, I even thought of it as trivial,” Deklin said. “That is the world I knew.”
While working as a teacher’s assistant and also working on a thesis towards his PHD, he began doing theatre on the side. At that point in his life, he was young and he was able to drop everything or do anything he wanted to do. Deklin recalls, “As much as I love the academic world or the English Lit world, there is something about acting that juices me up and I am going to do something that turns me on.”
“Theatre is what I did. When I thought of myself acting, I thought of theatre…and that’s the world I knew,” Mark said. “Little by little television and film found me. I enjoy the camera work and I enjoy the photographic medium.”
Mark dropped out of graduate school and moved to Seattle, where he joined its then-burgeoning theater community. He earned his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Washington’s highly esteemed Professional Actor Training Program (PATP), as well as his union cards and a certification with the Society of American Fight Directors.
Deklin worked primarily in Seattle and in San Francisco after graduation, where he worked as an actor, a fight director and a sound stage designer until the Big Apple beckoned, where he established himself for nearly a decade.
From the Stage to the Screen
“I don’t think it is easy,” referring to his transition from the stage to television and film, “but it’s a natural, like you have a nine year old and before you know it you have a teenager…there is a natural progression in the sense acting is acting. I have acting craft, I have acting talent, I was able to apply those specific sets of skills in terms of acting for the camera that are different from acting on stage.”
Fight Director, you say?
“I am not a stunt director, I am a fight director.” He distinguishes one from the other, “When you look in the world of stunt, there are stunt men who do a lot of crazy things and under the rubric of stunt men there are specific specialties. Some guys are precision drivers and obviously driving is their specialty. There are pyrotechnical guys and fire is their specialty and then there are guys specialized in high fall.”
“The art of stage combat is a specialized technique in theatre designed to create the illusion of physical combat without causing harm to the performers,” Mark expertly explained, “As a stage fight director, the job is to choreograph the violence between two people who are getting into a fight scene or who beat up each other in a sword fight and make them look good – it’s like choreographing a dance and making the moves look more natural and more realistic. Being an actor, I have the advantage at making an actor look good and comfortable in performing this act of violence. It is making a fight scene look artistic.”
“It is an interesting line that you have to be careful that you don’t cross. It is sort of a paradox and you want it to look as realistic as possible and within the framework and style that has been established. But if you cross that line and make it a hair too realistic and you cause the audience to say, ‘Oh is that actor okay? It looks like that actor is hurt?’ Now you have blown the illusion and the audience is not looking at the character any more but are instead looking at the actor.”
The Rake With a Heart of Gold
“I love to play what my friend describes as a ‘rake’ with a heart of gold,” Deklin said when asked about his preferred character he would love to play.
According to romance blogger, Laura K. Curtis, a “rake” is what every woman loves…a bad boy, a pirate…men who play by their own rules and living untamed lives.”
“It’s the Rhett Butler or the Hans Solo, the guy you love to hate, who have a bad boy side, who seemed to be selfish and self-serving but when push comes to shove, they are the ones you can rely on.” He added, “To me these characters are more interesting than playing a straight up hero or a straight up villain.”
From the Blackboard to the Stage to the Wide Screen
“My path was my path; it is all part of who I am now.” The former English Literature professor believes that his life’s journey makes him a better actor and that he has more to bring to the table as an actor with his life’s experiences. “And it feels good, it feels grounded.” Mark says, “I come into every role with a grounded confidence and it is largely because of all the various experiences from when I was younger.”
Mark Deklin-Schwotzer a.k.a. Christopher Robin
Mark openly talks about being adopted at birth. During a period of his “existential crisis” a phase that probably every child who is aware of being adopted goes thru, sought the assistance of a psychic who said that his first name was not the name he was born with and that he was named after a children’s book character.
True enough, when he asked his adopted father, he learned that his birth mother named him Chris. He later found his birth certificate which showed that he was indeed named Christopher Robin, after the character in the Winnie the Pooh books.
He was in his twenties when he found his birth mother, but he never found his biological father, an Irishman who was in America and playing in a band.
“I just have to say I didn’t go looking for any dissatisfaction with my family,” Mark said in an interview with the Pittsburg Gazette. “I was raised by a loving, amazing family whom I’m still very close to and adore. It was just my own personal quest I had to do.”
On Hawaii Five-0’s Scott Caan and the making of Step-Stan
Mark recalls the first day on the set of Hawaii Five-0. “Scott made a point of coming up to me on my first day by introducing himself and welcoming me onto the set. “I’m always appreciative of that kind of graciousness, because you don’t necessarily get that on every show. And I remember that he had this sort of mischievous grin on his face, almost as if we were old friends sharing an inside joke (even though we’d never met before), and I found myself liking him immediately.”
“Fortunately, that first impression wasn’t just a facade.” In talking about working with Scott Caan, “I’ve worked with some actors who seem very charming on day one…but can’t maintain the mask over time… but Scott remained gracious and down-to-earth through the whole shoot. And he’s a joy to be acting alongside with; a singularly present scene partner who brings intelligence and humor to every take. You can’t ask for more than that from another actor.”
Mark who appeared on two episodes of Hawaii Five-0: Season 1.16 “E Malama” and Season 2.15 ”Mai Ka Wa Kahiko” accepted “Step Stan” because it has that the element of a “rake” character that he seeks for in a role.
“I had just been working on Lonestar, when 5-0 came along, and we have just been cancelled and my understanding was, that they liked my work on Lonestar. On Lonestar I was playing a guy who was very unlikeable at first, he came across as the antagonist, as the bad guy, as the jerk.” Mark played Tramelle on Lone Star, “but as the show unfolded, you found out Tramelle has more integrity even though he was very unlikeable.” He added, “He was like Simon Cowell, who was rude but you stuck with him because he speaks the truth.”
“And I believe that was the quality they wanted me to bring with Stan, not they wanted me to duplicate the character. They just liked that quality. Here is a guy you love to hate and in spite of ourselves, we kind of like him.”
Mark is incredibly gratefully that even with just two episodes on H50 the fans latched on to him. “It is so fascinating to see how in touch the fans are with one another,” speaking candidly of the fans on twitter, “and fascinating to see the cross-pollination between GCB and H50 which is the connection is me.”
“I am grateful that I am now a part of that fandom and I certainly will be glad to keep you posted with other stuff that I am doing,” is his message to the H50 fans.
Mea hana keaka e pili loko mau loa – An actor with a lot of character.
What do we expect from the Pittsburgh native… an appearance on SyFy’s Warehouse 13 and like any actor he awaits for the next big thing, whether that will be coming back as Stan on 5-0 or something else.
At the moment he is enjoying being dad to daughter Kylie and son Julian Ryder, he says “I am saying we have a third child which is the relationship and the jealousy between my daughter and the new baby, which is its own creature by itself. We are busy with that.”
Mark Deklin is one of those actors who give out a very engaging interview whether it be a five minute interview or a thirty minute interview. He is very articulate, informed and very detailed; maybe it’s the academia in him? Who knows, but there is just something in the sound of his voice that by the time you have hung up the phone, you have been totally awed by the actor and you know you have learned something new…like you have just attended one of Professor Deklin’s classes and you just wanted the class to go on forever.
Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkDeklin