Life taking Williams from D-line to A-list

Courtesy of Graham Rushton

Fort Lewis College graduate Garrett Williams will star in the upcoming feature film “Nor the Moon by Night.”

By Ted Holteen Herald staff writer

Nothing has worked out the way Garrett Williams had hoped, and he couldn’t be happier about it.

“I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing,” Williams said Friday at the Lost Dog Bar & Lounge where he was catching up with old friends and family during a holiday break from the Southern California sunshine.

What Williams is doing is preparing for his first starring role in a Hollywood feature film, something that was not even a pipe dream when he graduated from Fort Lewis College in 2007 with a degree in business and marketing. He’ll start shooting “Nor the Moon by Night” in November in Hawaii, but it has been a strange journey for the Colorado Springs native.

Plan A went like this: Attend college on a scholarship (Williams played for two seasons at New Mexico State before transferring to FLC for another three as a 240-pound defensive end); get a job (he landed a lucrative position with Magellan, an offshoot of Mercury after graduation) and get the girl (he had a “serious” girlfriend at the time whom he believed would be his wife). So far, so good.

Enter life and Plan B, which is really never the plan, and it was no different for Williams. Four months after graduation and into his new job, a bitter breakup forced a life change for him. He packed up his Jeep and headed West, settling into a small loft above a Hollywood gym. Working the graveyard shift at a nearby pharmacy, he met many working actors and actresses and started asking questions about show business. He also dropped about 70 pounds; he now weighs in at 170.

“What I learned is, put yourself out there – send pictures, get representation, do commercials,” Williams said.

And it worked for him, despite having never acted a day in his life before arriving in California. He got a few jobs as an extra in a few commercials and then met one of the “right people” during shooting for a Hooters advertisement.

“He said, ‘you’d be perfect for The Young and the Restless,’ and he knew someone there, so that’s what I did for the next two years,” Williams said.

The soap-opera role led to Williams’ first starring role in a movie, 2011’s “Red Ice.” A motion picture with a $2 million budget might have made for blockbuster material in the 1950s, but it’s not much to work with in today’s Hollywood.

“It’s just a terrible film – I haven’t even shown my family yet,” Williams said.

He’s not the first actor to advance his career through less-than-memorable projects. In fact, it’s how a performer handles him/herself in such a situation that often catches a producer’s eye.

Williams caught more than one. This new year is shaping up to be another life-changing one. Before “Nor the Moon by Night” shooting begins, Williams will go to Canada to shoot “November Ice,” a hockey movie intended to shine a negative light on the role of enforcers, or “goons” in the NHL.

A second project, which is still in the confidential stages, will send Williams to Paris where he’ll co-star with a major Hollywood actor (no, we can’t say who it is just yet).

But what will undoubtedly be Williams’ biggest role will be as a Marine charged with defending a remote South Pacific relay station from the Japanese during World War II.

“Nor the Moon by Night,” written by accomplished screenwriter and producer Graham Rushton, is a huge step forward for Williams. The film has a budget close to $20 million, so Rushton and Williams hope to draw a big-name director for the job. As for Williams, he knows how fortunate he is to have made it this far in the process.

“You struggle for so long, and it’s feast or famine in this business. I met with Graham in Palm Springs in October, and I thought the odds of procuring that job were miniscule.

“Then he offered, I was stunned, and all of a sudden, I was the lead in a $20 million film. It’s a snowball effect; once you get known and working, you keep getting work. This will be a life-changing year for me.”

While he may be on the verge of “hitting it big,” Williams doesn’t sound at all like someone who believes his own hype. He spent his summers on his family ranch near Pagosa Springs and considers this area home after spending his college years here as well.

“When I was really struggling early, my mom would say, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to come back to Durango? Those were the happiest years of your life,’” he said. “But I left here to go there, and it’s coming full circle. I left with a dream, and I’m accomplishing it. I don’t believe in luck – you make your own luck. But I made myself a promise; despite any success or failure, I’m not changing.

Not once did Williams allude to the material benefits of Hollywood stardom. If money is a motivating factor for him, it’s so he can share it, not hoard it.

“I’m a simple guy, and I see this as providing a platform to help others,” he said. “This is one of those weird jobs that affords that. You don’t have to take the a-hole route as an actor – no one’s any better than the guy cashing us out at the store, and I hate the people who are arrogant because they have a fan or two.

“There are millions of people who just want something to eat right now. If it’s for yourself, what’s the point – a house on every continent? You can’t take it with you but if you can change someone’s world, that’s my life’s purpose.”

ted@durangoherald.com

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