Becoming Charles Darwin: A Q &A with the star of the Darwin Synthetic Interview, Randy Kovitz
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The Darwin Synthetic Interview couldn’t exist without someone to bring Darwin to life. Actor Randy Kovitz undertook this task. He has done theater, television and film in New York, Los Angeles and, most recently, Pittsburgh during his 30 year career. It’s safe to say he’s one of the few actors to ever portray Charles Darwin – and certainly the first to portray him in a Synthetic Interview.
Read what he has to say about the project and becoming the man that discovered evolution:
Q: What originally made you want to do the role?
RK: I auditioned for Ralph Vittucio, instructor at the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University, who explained the character and told me about the project. After I was cast, I began to research the role. The more work I did on Darwin, the more I realized how much I didn’t know about him. As I worked on the Synthetic Interview, one aspect of Darwin’s message stood out to me: that science is based on fact not faith.
Q: How did you get into the character of Darwin?
RK: I read everything I could about Darwin, and I studied the script. The amount of information written by and about Darwin is what really struck me. In his journal entries, the general tone of his writing reveal how excited Darwin was about life. The enthusiasm that Darwin had for his work and his family was enormous. I tried to play his passion for his work so that people interacting could experience his enthusiasm. I wanted kids to see an adult who is, maybe, a little odd looking — but he’s really excited about science.
I also believed it was important to accurately portray Darwin’s dialect. At first the producers wanted to do a hybridized accent, since Darwin was from Shrewsbury, a county in the West Midlands region of England. But I learned that Darwin went to school at Cambridge, where they’re very strict about the way they speak. I worked with a coach and we decided to portray Darwin with a more standard British dialect called “received pronunciation.”
Q: How long did it take to film?
RK: We shot for three days over three weeks, for about eight hours each day.
Q: What did you enjoy most about this role?
RK: The fact that I was helping to get Darwin’s message out. Science is based on fact. Evolution is provable. Also, Darwin’s personal story is not well-known. He is demonized by some, lionized by others. Most people don’t know the human being with the fascinating life. I was proud to be a part of telling that story.