probably remember Wil Wheaton from his staring
roles on Star Trek: The Next Generation and as
an aspiring writer in the movie Stand By Me, but
you’ll soon find out there is a lot more
to Wil than Wesley Crusher and Gordie Lachance.
He’s had two books published, Dancing Barefoot,
with its autobiographical short stories, and the
recently published, Just A Geek, a funny yet poignant
look at Wil’s life as an actor, writer,
father and self-admitted Geek. He is the creative
force behind WilWheaton.net, one of the most popular
Blogs (Web Logs) on the internet that has an extremely
loyal following, mainly due to Wil’s unflinching
candor. On top of all that he’s a serious
poker player and student of the game.
Check Out All The Lizard
Note: EXPLICIT INTERVIEW - uncut, unrated,
and totally uncensored.
PokerLizard: How did you first get interested in
poker? Has it been a lifetime thing?
Wil: I sat and played dealer’s choice games
my whole life you know the stupid games like all
spades are wild and that type of crap when I was
in elementary school, and then started playing VERY
seriously in high school.
I was a fierce advocate of just straight seven
card stud, I really dislike wild card games and
always have because I always seem to get beat in
them. I started playing Texas Hold’em in 10th
or 11th grade and really loved it, for one thing
there is a lot less to remember than seven card
The thing I really enjoy a lot about poker is that
it is a game of incomplete information and doing
the best that you can without knowing all the variables,
unlike, say, the game of chess.
Hold’em is great because there is so much
less to remember and think about. I love that the
game is so ridiculously popular now, because back
then it was pretty hard to find a game.
PokerLizard: On the back cover of your new book,
Just A Geek, you have a copy of Super System on
your desk. Which poker books have you found the
Wil: My favorite poker book that I like to read
and that I’ve reread many times is Positively
Fifth Street by Jim McManus. I have to credit McManus
for my desire to be a poker writer because I loved
that book so much, not only did he capture sitting
and playing tournament style, but he captured the
World Series and captured Vegas, and captured it
in all in a brilliant way. The way that Marty Scorsese
captured the gangster lifestyle in Goodfellas -
it’s not always glamorous - which is the same
way McManus captured the poker lifestyle. I read
that before I ever read The Biggest Game in Town
and before I read Big Deal which are both BIG BIG
favorites of mine. I think it’s interesting
to see how Poker was in the “old” days
and wonder how the older players feel when they
see the new players getting $5 million for one tournament
when a big payday back then was $100k. It’s
also interesting to see how some guys self destruct
after having success and where they are now.
As far as books that have made me a better player...obviously
Super System is a great book, I think that if you’re
going to play any kind of competitive level at all
you sorta have to read that book because anyone
who is serious already has; whether or not it is
as useful as it once was I think is debatable.
The two books that have given me the greatest profit
in my game are Lou Krieger’s Hold’em
Excellence and Lee Jones’ Winning Low Limit
Hold’em, absolutely, unquestionably the best
book ever and I really hope, I sent a couple emails
to lee and he seems like a great guy, I hope that
book goes out of print right away because if people
start reading it they’re going to stop losing
and playing so poorly. Also Mike Caro’s Pro
Poker Tells has been super useful to me. I’m
really surprised that people haven’t tightened
up and played better after watching Poker on television
every night but the opposite has happened.
Here is a great example, this guy had 5-3 off and
cracked my cowboys (two kings in the hole)...I was
pissed, but over the long term these guys are the
ones that pay you off.
PokerLizard: How bad were you steaming (inability
to play your best because you are angry) after that
Wil: I had to get up and leave, I was so mad, I
got up and wanted to yell, “What the Fuck
are you doing playing 5-3 after I raised before
the flop you dumb shit”. Here’s what
happened I had kings and the flop came 33x, I thought,
“sweet I have two pair” and bet out
the whole way and this dummy calls and raises me
on the turn, I think there is no way this guy has
a 3…but sure enough he ends up beating me.
PokerLizard: You mention Jim McManus as inspiring
you to become a poker writer, do you have anything
poker related in the works?
Wil: On my blog (WilWheaton.net) I have a short
story called “Lying in Odessa” about
my first poker tournament and I’ve used that
story as a stepping off point for a book I’m
writing called "Fish On" about my experiences
PokerLizard: What do you think about pro players
having a hard time against all of the amateurs in
this year’s World Series of Poker, some even
stating that the amateurs were “unbluffable”?
Wil: I’m not a pro by any means, I consider
my self a pretty strong mid-limit player and a REALLY
strong low limit player, I am not real crazy about
the no limit games for all that I’ve played,
I’m still not quite there yet.
I’ve found that you almost have to play the
NL game the same as the lower limits where it always
goes to the showdown, people are calling you with
nothing because they think if “Moneymaker”
can do it so can I, and I think you have to play
really tight and even more aggressively than you
In the very few games that I’ve played with
celebrity people, a lot of books that I’ve
read say you don’t want to play against actors,
which is true, but not because they can act you
out of a hand, it’s because they are really
bad players and they call with stuff they should
have never called with and they end up knocking
you out and it just shows that HORRIBLE word variance.
PokerLizard: You recently filmed an episode of
Hollywood Home Game. I know you can’t reveal
any specifics, but can you let us know what is was
Wil: When I played on WPT’s
(World Poker Tour) Hollywood Home Game I just caught
NOTHING for the first few levels, I maybe played
a couple hands and I started to get pissed because
I’m a better player than the cards I’m
getting ...I don’t have anything to open with
and it’s a one table tournament, and in a
one table all it takes is someone to catch QQ or
two big overcards a couple times and the good players
PokerLizard: What was the structure like? When
is the episode set to air and what charity did you
Wil: I think our blinds went up every 25 minutes.
The show is airing in October I think, but the WPT
website doesn’t have the information on there
yet. I played for Electronic Frontier Foundation.
PokerLizard: What does the Electronic Frontier
Wil: The Electronic Frontier Foundation lobbies
for Privacy Rights and Civil Liberties on the internet.
They are very involved in dealing with things like
the Patriot Act and Electronic Voting, you know
bad Orwellian things that are hurting our freedoms.
Basically, they are a voice for my side in the debate
versus 97 Senators and the majority in the House.
PokerLizard: Are you doing any future shows with
Wil: I got a seat in their invitational in February.
I can’t talk about specifics (outcome or how
I played) of the episode, but I had a really good
time. The people who put on the show are really
cool, an insanely class act top to bottom. They
invited me back for two other shows in the future
so I am definitely doing that! I’m still trying
to get on Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Showdown
but when we approached them about it last year they
were sort of dismissive and were like “you
aren’t a big enough celeb for the show”.
PokerLizard: Not a big enough celebrity? They have
guys like Fred Willard on the show…
Wil: Fred Willard is Hollywood Royalty, he really
is, maybe to our generation most don’t know
his work but as an improv and sketch comedian he
is one of those people that created the world I
(It seems like younger people give the respect
they should to the old guard), I was watching Doyle
Brunson on the WSOP last night just pushing people
around with NOTHING and it’s awesome because
if people new to the game just recently started
watching they’ve never really seen him play,
they’ve seen him a little and getting knocked
out but haven’t gotten to see him control
the game and I wonder if he was just setting somebody
up the whole time, like some new guy thinks he can
actually beat Doyle after watching him get knocked
out the last few years.
PokerLizard: Do you have any plans to play in the
Series of Poker (WSOP) in the future?
Wil: I was just reading Howard Lederer’s
website for his 2003 WSOP reports and something
really struck me at the very beginning, he said,
NOW This is Howard Lederer were talking about, he
said, “I’ve been playing all year long
in No-Limit tournament games to get ready for the
World Series because I never felt I was ready enough
to play in that game.”
If HOWARD LEDERER feels that he has to spend a
year on top of all his other experience to play
in the No-Limit tournaments, I probably have a LOOONG
way to go before I can compete and play competitively
at that level. However, I definitely will play some
satellites, the conventional wisdom of getting in
on a super satellite is not very good compared to
the investment and that it’s better to go
on a straight satellite so we’ll see what
happens. There are so many new championships cropping
up all over the place. There are limit tournaments
as well and I’m fairly confident in my limit
Hold’em abilities, so it doesn’t just
have to be the main event.
PokerLizard: Which pros would you like to play
Wil: It would have to be Howard Lederer, I really
respect the way he plays, he’s very cerebral...he’s
really earned the nickname “The Professor.”
In contrast, I was watching Gus Hansen play hands
that I would never play, and it didn’t seem
like he had a read on people, he played enough hands
so often that he started to scare people because
he was so aggressive...you know, if the only thing
that’s going to beat you is if somebody’s
playing 7-4 or something like that you have to wonder
if maybe Gus has it.
PokerLizard: What is your style at the tables?
Wil: I play a real solid pretty conservative game,
and it’s great to watch Lederer because he
does that as well, he really uses betting to gain
information and I would love to sit, not to play
against him, but sit and talk with him. His sister
(Annie Duke) is already teaching Ben Affleck and
she’s obviously doing well with him.
PokerLizard: Do you play poker online?
Wil: I play at
Pokerroom.com all the time because I run Mac
and Linux. I know the poker sites really know what
they’re doing and know how to make their money,
but I wish they would open the game up to people
with other computers (other than PC’s) and
platforms. I understand that Pokerstars.com runs
in the latest version of WINE for Linux but I don’t
have the latest version. I may have to break down
and get a PC, a good friend of mine paid for his
whole new system through his winnings on Partypoker.
PokerLizard: What’s your user name on Pokerroom?
Wil: I’d rather not say, I don’t want
people critiquing my play on the net.
PokerLizard: Earlier you mentioned a short story
about the first real poker tournament you ever played
in at an illegal club called “The Odessa”
finishing in 3rd place, which also mentions a 7-4
hand, Have you ever been back to “The Odessa”?
and does that hand still haunt you?
Wil: I’ll never forget that hand.
After that tournament at my theatre, the ACME comedy
theatre, we do poker tournaments every so often,
and the director had a tournament the week after
I placed third at the Odessa, so a bunch of us go
down there and it happened to be one of those 3
nights a year that it pours in LA, and I went down
and I won, there were only 9 people but I knocked
out all my buddies and it was great, I was on a
rush from the moment I walked in, it was really
cool, then I went on to play a couple of months
of really really really bad cards, I got super aggressive
for a while and started playing way too loose, and
it absolutely decimated my bankroll.
Since then I have really backed off and spent a
lot of time practicing my fundamentals online and
playing some low limit games down at Commerce (a
poker room in Los Angeles) and sort of putting my
head back on straight and bring my game back around,
and honestly it’s only been over the past
couple weeks that I feel I’m back on top of
PokerLizard: Are the games out in Los Angeles as
crazy as people say?
Wil: In my experience, the games ARE as loose as
people say, you have to showdown every single time,
even if your playing in the 1-2, 4-8 or even in
the 10-20 you HAVE to showdown every time. Every
now and then you can sit down with enough regulars
you might be able to push somebody out with a well-timed
raise, but in most of the games I’ve played
in it’s difficult to even effectively use
check-raising just because people aren’t paying
attention enough to other than their own hand.
In Larry Phillips book The Tao of Poker he talks
about how people think that, “If I play too
tight that when I enter a pot, everyone is going
to get out” and he really dispels that myth
in that your opponents are only thinking about themselves
and that when you get out of the pot they think
“cool” because it’s just one less
person they have to fight against.
You know I really believe in the theory of implicit
collusion (in a nutshell the theory of implicit
collusion means that when there are a lot of players
in the pot it is more likely that someone with a
bad hand will beat you) and when someone gets out
of a pot I’m really happy about it.
I was just telling my stepson that if you just
play and learn Sklansky’s (David Sklansky
is the author of Hold’em Poker) starting hand
requirements and you just play that and know to
get out of the hand if the flop misses you you’re
going to win more than you lose. If you can add
to your game that you’re watching your opponents
and figure out that this guy plays a lot of hands
or that guy only plays when he’s got the nuts
then you can completely dominate a game.
Let me mention one thing, I have a lot of respect
for the poker bloggers and I think that they are
going to be having a really big impact, on the online
poker community eventually, you know that mainstream
of anything tends to look down on bloggers or they
ignore us altogether and I think they do that to
I learn so much reading their websites and I also
enjoy it a lot, it keeps my enthusiasm for the game
up and I feel like I’m not the only guy who
just got killed because some guy spiked his 3 out
draw or whatever and those guys are awesome and
I just wanted to take a second and recognize those
guys... and say some things and pretend I’m
all hip-hop like, “I gotta recognize.”
PokerLizard: The number of poker blogs out there
is mind boggling.
Wil: Yeah and you know with anything, when the
number of something increases the quality tends
to decrease over all but with the poker blogs I
haven’t seen that at all it’s still
really really good because everybody brings their
own thing to the table, their own experiences, their
own prejudices, their own life, and it effects the
way that they play and it effects the way that they
interpret the game.
For a long time I used baseball as a metaphor for
everything that goes on in my life and poker is
just as good and just as solid. It’s really
terrific to read other people because there is so
much to learn from them...that’s why I started
reading the Tao of Poker because there is so much
that we can learn as poker players and apply to
our lives. For example, I was in a negotiation recently
and I was really sort of getting dicked around by
the person I was negotiating with and I remember
turning to my wife and saying, “You know what,
I’m going all in, I’m coming over the
top of him and I’m going all in…this
is the way it is or I’m walking away, and
they ended up folding and I was really happy about
that, If I didn’t play poker maybe I wouldn’t
have thought that way”
I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a
huge dick when that’s in print.
PokerLizard: Poker does seem to be permeating our
lives these days.
Wil: Poker is our generation’s bridge.
PokerLizard: Yeah, Bridge I could never figure
Wil: Me neither and it bummed me out. I’d
open up the newspaper, and I’d look at the
crossword, fill out the 4 things that I knew how
to do, get frustrated, give up, but there’s
bridge right next to it…it’s like Bridge
and Ziggy are the only things left. The thing in
the paper is like, “you’re holding and
seats one, two and three do this, and the board
says this” and your supposed to figure out
what to do next...
PokerLizard: I always went back to "what’s
the difference between the two pictures"...then
I’d hit the Jumble.
Wil: Man, I love the Jumble! For awhile when I
was in High School and working on Star Trek, I got
to do the Jumble every day because my tutor figured
that it was sort of educational and encouraged critical
thinking and pattern recognition, that type of stuff,
and would let me do the Jumble every day, and I
got really good at the Jumble I’m not so good
at it now, but when I was a kid I owned the Jumble.
PokerLizard: Obligatory PokerLizard Question -
If you were Matt Damon in Rounders how long would
it have taken you to kick your “prudish”
girlfriend to the curb and get with Famke Janssen?
Wil: Boy, that’s a good question, I think
maybe his prudish girlfriend swallows. Also I don’t
know if I’d want to be with someone who is
a better player than me.
PokerLizard: Yes, but he flopped the nuts…and
then he folded!
Wil: So True…
----- Wil Talks Hollywood from this point
on with a smattering of poker-----
PokerLizard: This past weekend, you were at the
James Doohan "Mr. Scotty" Farewell Dinner.
How is he doing and what was your experience there?
Wil: I just put it up on my website yesterday,
but I can give you my overall impression. I was
really impressed and not surprised at the number
of people who came out to attend this event. Anybody
who has ever met him will say what I'm about to
say. He makes you feel like you're part of his family.
Jimmy really appreciates Star Trek fans and is really
so open and patient with them and kind and loving
and wonderful to them. I've tried to model myself
after him in terms of the way that I interact with
the fans and the way that I behave at conventions
and stuff. I have noticed that the actors who are
the most standoffish, the actors who give the fans
the least command the highest speaking fees, show
up for the least amount of time, and are the most
coveted convention guests out there. The actors
who work really, really hard to make it special
for the fans, like Jimmy, the actors who stick around
for hours to answer everybody’s question,
like Jimmy, the actors who go there and will sign
autographs until their arm falls off, like Jimmy,
they're not respected by the promoters, and for
the amount they put out, they never get back what
they deserve. Where they do get it back is from
the Star Trek fans and how much the fans love them.
For me, I just want to have a positive impact on
people's lives one way or another. What I really
learned from being around him and from being around
George, and people like Jonathan Frakes from my
cast is that it's really wonderful to have this
opportunity to just be cool to people and to make
them so unbelievably happy. It's like the pot odds
on making somebody happy. You know, you're getting
like 80-to-1 just for showing up and it's great
- like why would anybody from Star Trek not take
that opportunity - you know what I mean?
So I went to this thing for him. I found out about
it at the last minute - I cancelled a whole bunch
of things - I moved my schedule around like crazy
because I thought it was really important to go
and be there. He is such an incredibly kind and
loving and sweet man and it's good that he is honored
the way he is. Because if you ask any engineer who
inspired them - if they're in their mid 30's or
older -they're going to tell you it was Scotty.
That's what Neil Armstrong said.
PokerLizard: Was he happy with the way his career
turned out? Mainly being that he was only in Star
Trek? Did he wish he could have done other roles?
Wil: I'm not sure - we never talked about that.
I know for me and if you've read my book, you know
that it really pushed me around a lot. I am not
happy if Star Trek is the only thing that I do with
my life - but I really can't speak for anybody else.
I don't know how they feel about it. As far as I
can tell, Jimmy just seemed really happy to make
other people happy. He gave it as good as he got
it. He gave out love to people and they gave it
right back to him.
PokerLizard: Almost like the Arnold Palmer of the
Wil: Yeah, you're right! That's a really good analogy.
PokerLizard: It seems like most of the other actors
on Star Trek
- it seems like they love it and they are still
milking it - they're happy with that being their
identity - they're rolling with it..
Wil: Well, you know what's interesting, I was thinking
about this recently. If an actor plays the same
role their entire career, there's this tendency
to kind of look down on them and kind of dismiss
that. But if somebody spends their entire career
working for Lockheed - well, that's a great career.
If someone spends their entire career working in
the accounting department at some big firm or whatever,
then we say "Yeah, he had a great career".
But if somebody spends their entire life playing
the same character, and they become so identified
with that character that nobody else can even come
close to touching that character, there's this thing
in Hollywood where Hollywood goes "Ooh - yeah
- you're only whatever." And you have great
versatile actors who do lots of varied characters
like Robert DeNiro, like Ed Norton, like Matt Damon
- these guys do all sorts of incredibly different
You have actors who I think are not very good who
basically play the same character all the time but
trick people into thinking it's some kind of different
character - like - I better not say the big actors
because then I'll never work again. Well, I think
Tom Cruise is a really lousy actor and a really
overrated actor. Yeah..well..you know...it's not
like I have a career anyway.
PokerLizard: My brother says the same thing. All
his movies - it's like Top Gun, Top Bartender, Top
Spy, it's the same guy over and over...
Wil: It drives me crazy and I haven't seen Collateral
yet and I'm really on the fence about it because
I love Jamie Foxx and I fucking LOVE Michael Mann.
And I love that they made a movie in Los Angeles
about Los Angeles. I think that's great. And I'm
really on the fence about it because I'm pretty
sure that at some point in that movie, Tom Cruise
is going to be sitting down and then he's going
to jump up and start screaming for no reason. You
know - it's just gonna come out somewhere. He does
it in every single movie. It's like I've got to
have that moment where I do my yelling thing.
PokerLizard: Is it the yelling that gets more parts?
Wil: He's a movie star. There's a big, big, big
difference between actors and movie stars. Occasionally,
an actor will become a movie star. I've been really
frustrated with the lack of media that has acknowledged
the existence of my book. Like, it's really been
minimal. Hardly anybody has paid attention to it.
It's really frustrating to me. If Paris "Fucking"
Hilton announces she's going to write a book - yeah,
cause she's going to sit down and spend her time
writing -and it's everywhere! It's on a fucking
PokerLizard: You've got to give into the junk rags
at the grocery store..
Wil: You know, it's too bad that I don't have a
video of myself having disinterested sex with someone.
It's the difference between "artist" and
sort of "personality". There are people
who are sort of famous for being famous, you know?
And we go and see them because of spectacle or whatever.
PokerLizard: Looking at the brutal audition process
that you have to go through and waiting for callbacks,
do you think your book should be required reading
for all prospective actors?
Wil: I've heard from a lot of actors who have read
it and have applauded my courage in telling it like
it is. Cause apparently nobody will do that you
know, they're all afraid, and I used to be afraid
too, but I eventually realized that being afraid
wasn't getting me anywhere. It's not like keeping
quiet was paying off in any way.
PokerLizard: Do you think that the book and your
weblog has raised flags in the acting community
for the hiring producers?
Wil: I wish it was that important. (laughs) I don't
think so. My website has definitely created a few
work opportunities for me - I don't know if it has
cost me any work opportunities. I always tell people
who want to be actors that you really have to, and
I think I write it in my book, that you have to
love the two times a year you get to work more than
you hate the hundreds of hours you spend being frustrated
and being treated like crap and not going anywhere.
It's got to be so worth it to you. Because the odds
are so overwhelmingly against you getting anywhere.
To use a poker analogy, the odds against you getting
a playable are extraordinarily low, and then, once
you get a playable hand, the odds of it being the
best hand that carries you up to the next level
are even greater.
PokerLizard: Do you think that's why actors love
poker so much, because of that once in a lifetime
big hit - score?
Wil: Could be. More moments of boredom puncuated
by short moments of extreme terror.
PokerLizard: You were in drama school for several
years and you had to turn down a lot of movie offers
at the time. Looking back on it, are you glad you
went to drama school?
Wil: Yeah - absolutely, because at that time, I
felt like I had really gotten by all my life on
my instincts only - and that I really didn't have
any real technique. So I felt like without technique,
I was always sort of held back. I use the analogy
of Luke Skywalker and Dagobah a lot. I can make
the lightsaber jump into my hand but I don't know
if I will be able to lift the spaceship out of the
swamp without some training, you know? If I hadn't
gone to drama school, I would have spent my entire
life wondering - could I have done more - could
I have gotten farther if I had some training - would
I have gotten that part. At the time, I felt like
I was only getting - if I auditioned for something
- I didn't get it. And the only work that I was
offered was offered to me because of Star Trek or
because of my previous work and none of it was really
PokerLizard: I thought one of your more interesting
roles was in Mr. Stitch. What was it like making
this movie and working with Roger Avary?
Wil: I really enjoyed working with Roger Avary.
He was extraordinarily creative and really focused.
Roger didn't care if nobody "got" what
he was doing. He had a vision. He had a thing that
he wanted to make. He had a story that he wanted
to tell. He had the whole thing already put together
in his head and he wasn't going to let anybody dissuade
him from what he wanted to do. I really enjoyed
working with him. I felt like he was a very solid
director and a very good writer and he gave very
good, very clear direction and he didn't overdirect
and he communicated very well with me. Mr. Stitch
really disappoints me because Rutger Hauer was a
fucking asshole! He was unprofessional, he was unprepared,
he never knew his lines, he was arrogant, he was
changing the dialogue, my dialogue, and his dialogue
all the time - and the movie suffers because of
PokerLizard: Was he not listening to Roger?
Wil: No, he was a producer on the project so he
could do whatever he wanted to do. What he started
doing was he wanted a cane with a sword in it, which
he had done in some other movie. Then he wanted
like a raven, which he had done in some other movie.
I remember thinking "Come on you dummy, this
movie could do for you what Pulp Fiction did for
John Travolta! You know, it could break you out
- it could legitimize you. Or, you could be the
Hitcher for the rest of your life". And he
was so arrogant and so unprofessional and so lousy
that I think the movie really suffers because of
it. I watched on Sci-Fi a couple of nights ago -
I just saw it by accident - it's funny - I stay
up late at night in the hopes that I'll catch poker
on TV that I haven't seen yet. It's a weird, interesting
kind of thing. But it's not as good, and solid,
and great as it could be. And it's because Roger
had to make huge changes in the editing room and
then we had to make huge changes on the set because
Rutger just refused to do what he was hired to do.
And I remember very clearly at one point I said
to Roger "I'm really concerned because I signed
on to make one particular movie and Rutger's making
so many changes to the material that we're making
a totally different movie." And Roger said
"You know what, you're right. Let's go sit
down and talk to him about it." So we went
and sat on the stage and asked everybody to leave
the stage -which was a very expensive thing to do
- which is something we don't do very often - and
I said "Listen, I'm real concerned. I'm worried
about this movie. I'm worried about the way it's
going. And I think that" and Rutger cuts me
off and says "I don't give a fuck what you
think." And I stood up - I remember clearly
- I was sitting on the edge of that weird little
black bed thing that Mr. Stitch comes climbing up
out of - and I said "Well, Rutger, I'm an actor
in this movie also and I'm really sorry that you
don't care what I think, but if you're going to
continue to behave like this, I have no interest
in finishing this movie." And I walked out
of the stage. And about 25 minutes later, he came
over and apologized and said he was sorry that he
was rude and sort of behaved himself the rest of
that day. But the very next day he was right back
to the way that he was.
There was a lot about that movie that I loved.
I got to live in Nice. I had an apartment that was
two blocks from the Mediterranean. And I was able
to really commit to that character. I wasn't dating
anyone at the time. I didn't have any distractions
in my life. I was far away from my friends and my
family so I could just be part of this movie. I
loved getting that makeup put on every single day.
Because I was in makeup all the time and because
I wore a wig, I was able to shave my head for the
first time in my life. That was really exciting
for me. I had always wanted to do that I had never
been able to before. It was neat to live in a different
culture and speak a different language and experience
a completely different lifestyle than what I'm used
to. I would very much like to go back to the south
of France and live there when I retire.
PokerLizard: When you were 12 years old, you wrote
a horror story called Land of the Zombies, inspired
by George Romero's Dead movies. Now that George
Romero is getting ready to make Land of the Dead,
would you be interested in being in that movie?
Wil: Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I really, really
would. You know, it's really hard not to be cynical,
not to feel just defeated, but I've worked so hard
to let Hollywood know and let the industry know
that I'm 32 years old and there are people who are
interested in seeing me in movies and I want to
be in movies but they keep slamming doors in my
PokerLizard: As an actor, can you contact a director?
Wil: No. Maybe some people can. There are definitely
some people who can do that. I am absolutely not
one of them.
PokerLizard: Would doing that blacklist you?
Wil: In this industry, there's just not a lot of
time for things. There is so much money involved,
and nowadays, creative people do not run the entertainment
industry; accountants run it. The studios are owned
by corporations who are not in the business of making
movies. A great example is Universal is owned by
Seagrams - Seagrams makes booze - Sony makes consumer
electronics - Disney runs theme parks and makes
toys. For a lot of the studios, the primary focus
is not creating great art, and it's not on creating
great entertainment, that's just something that
they "also" do. So, when they sit down
to cast a movie, very rarely does a studio say "Alright,
who are the best actors for this?" They say,
“Who are the big stars they can put in this
picture?" From a business perspective, that
makes a whole bunch of sense. If you put Jennifer
Lopez in your movie, and you are guaranteed that
the distributor for France or the distributor for
China is gonna give you "X" number of
millions of dollars, then you're silly not to take
that. If the choice is between me and some actor
that is really really famous because right now they
are on a very hot TV show, they're going to go with
the other actor of course because that other actor
has a built in audience. That's just the cold reality
PokerLizard: What would you say to Jimmy Kimmel’s
cousin Sal if you ever ran into him? (In Wil's book,
he relays the brutal story about how the producers
of "Win Ben Stein's Money" were looking
for a replacement for Kimmel, and Wil nailed the
audition. They loved him, called him to tell him
so, etc....and in the 11th hour, Jimmy's cousin
Sal swooped in and got the job.)
Wil: “Nice hand.” It was like I was
sitting there with a straight and a flush draw is
on the board and he gets the flush on the river
to beat my straight.
PokerLizard: What do you think of the new Starfleet
Academy project? Do you think this concept could
work since it would be so different from all of
the recent Star Trek projects?
Wil: “I’m more of a fan of the older
style, when it was about characters and secular
humanism it works well. Once it becomes about girls
in tight space suits running around…the whole
thing just starts to suffer. If you have a strong
cast of characters and the story revolves around
them, all of the rest just doesn’t matter.”
PokerLizard: Are you an 'iPod player', like Annie
Duke and Phil Hellmuth?
Wil: “I have brought the iPod to some games,
and my favorite album to listen to is “Ferment”
by The Catherine Wheel, which just makes me really
happy. I can still watch the other players’
actions and have some conversation. Overall I’m
not a full-time iPod listener, but I do like it
occasionally.” I read an interesting quote
from Amarillo Slim that he has a hard time playing
against headphone wearers since they can’t
be psyched out by his chatter. Generally, I just
like to play it by ear I don’t wear sunglasses
or a baseball cap when I play, I try to sit there
with my hand on my chin because I have a tell…when
I get interested in a hand I tend to sit up in my
chair, so by keeping my hand on my chin I can prevent
giving away too much.
Thank you Mr. Wheaton for the great interview!
Wil is also working on his first poker book, inspired
by his short story, “Lying in Odessa.”
This “mostly fiction” work will be based
on his playing experiences and will aim to “capture
the moment” of sitting at a poker table, much
like Positively Fifth Street. Scheduled for a Spring
2005 release, the upcoming book is a work in progress
on Wil’s web site/blog wilwheaton.net,
under the title of “Fish On.”
Update: Wil is now a poker ambassador for PokerStars.com
this and other interviews in the Lizard Lounge
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