Although he has acted in dozens of films and has traveled worldwide, TV/film veteran actor Randall Oliver feels most at home with his wife on his ranch in Topsey, TX, and the surrounding area.
Oliver grew up in Central Texas, attending third and fourth grades in Copperas Cove before moving to Germany. The family moved back to Lampasas during his freshman year of high school and stayed through his graduation.
Tell us how your interest in acting began.
I was quite athletic in my younger days, having received several offers of baseball scholarships while attending Huston-Tillotson University in Austin after being recruited by the university’s baseball coach. But when I was in my late 20s, I was working out in the gym when a friend said I should consider getting into modeling as a career. From there, I transitioned into acting, starting with commercials and getting small roles in various television series. However, my first interest was while I was in high school. I was a member of the Thespians club, and I got hooked by playing the Innkeeper in Man Of La Mancha.
You’ve been acting for over 40 years. Name some TV shows and movies you’ve been in and what character you played.
My first film was Robocop as a swat team member. Then I was Michael Pare’s stand-in on the 80’s series Houston Knights. My first series in LA was a Down Home episode called “I’m Cooking As Fast As I Can.” A few small gigs on Out Of This World and Designing Women then on to my first starring role on a series in Wild West Showdown with Samuel Goldwyn.
What character did you like most playing? Which character did you like least to play?
My favorite character was Bob Stafford in Cream of the Crop Starring Ben Davies and Brittany Goodwin by director Doug Maddox at DBM films. No need for research for Bob at all. His back story and character was so much like myself it was a very natural transition. My least favorite was Willy Spitz in No Loss//No Gain. Cooped up in a bank for six weeks, everyone was sick and then waited three years for the post to be done and released. It was the first film I did that not one person has kept in touch. Felt like I was in the twilight zone. Like it never really happened. I guess it was bound to happen eventually. Lots of tension on that set. You could cut it with a knife. The political times had fully arrived. That made me sad for the arts.
What was the most unique experience you’ve had as an actor?
Early in my career there was the Industrial film that helped you build a reel and buy some groceries while acting in Texas. I landed a good role as a roustabout on an oil rig co-starring with Blue Deckert and Marco Perrelli. Great actors who went on to very successful careers. Got my first helicopter ride 40 feet over the water in the gulf to a rig 120 miles out for seven days. Man do those guys eat good. And all the ice cream you can eat.
What do you do in your spare time? Was there ever another life-choice you wanted to pursue besides acting?
I have a lawn care business and enjoy helping the elderly with upkeep on their place. I love to fish and hunt. Ride my Harley and Hummer with my wife on country roads to a Sunday brunch. I took about a 12-year hiatus to work as a union Ironworker in the Nuclear industry. I love being high off the ground and building amazing lift systems for reactor head changes and steam generator changes. I have also had a love for welding and carpentry. Last year I built a few barnardos.
You’ve done some stunt acting as well. What’s it like being a stunt actor?
Well, age is catching up with me now but I still love a good punch or fall. Anything off a horse. I started on stunt shows in England with Monty Montana Jr. Wild west show then on to Universal in Hollywood on the Wild West Stunt show and The Miami Vice Action Spectacular. I loved the camaraderie with stunt players. Always got each other’s back. As often as I can do my own stunts I will.
What would you say to someone who has a gift to act?
What advice would you give to them to encourage or inspire them? Your body is your instrument. Stay healthy and continue to challenge yourself. Learn the basics then move on to being on a set in any way you can as often as possible. Do a stage play every now and then. Not for the money but to keep your instrument finally tuned. Have a stable income to provide for the tools you will need. Be persistent and never accept anyone telling you you can’t do it.Times will get tough as in all walks of life. Those who stay the course will find the road gets less bumpy. Know your brand and work it. Networking is hard to do but a necessary evil. Learn the Business aspect of this career. That’s very important.
Cover Photo Courtesy Federico Respini on Unsplash
Bob Valleau is a freelance writer living in McKinney, Texas.