A bit role in a pair of Hollywood slasher flicks spells happiness for a Texarkana native who caught the acting bug in local theater.
Ramsey Anderson has parlayed his talents into a recurring small role as college mascot suit-wearing Keith Lumbly in the 2017 release "Happy Death Day" and its sequel, "Happy Death Day 2U," which came out in mid-February this year.
A Blumhouse Productions movie, "Happy Death Day" follows a young college student's attempts to find her murderer after she's killed and caught in a time loop where she continually relives that same day, which is also her birthday.
Each time Tree Gelbman (played by Jessica Rothe) wakes in a friend's dorm room, she then goes through the day making adjustments as she goes along, hoping to avoid her murder. But the killer keeps getting her, ending her life in various ways.
When Anderson first auditioned for "Happy Death Day," it had a different title, "Half to Death." "I got the part of Keith Lumbly. It's a very simple part, it's a very small part," he explained. The character is like a gag that reoccurs when the main character realizes the world is resetting every time she dies.
"You walk by me and I'm saying, 'Get your school spirit on. Ten percent off with your school ID.' Depressed, disheveled college student in a mascot outfit. Like I'm not wearing the head, but I'm wearing the bottom part of it," Anderson said. While filming on the Loyola University campus in New Orleans, he simply had to walk around wearing it.
"That was a lot of fun because people would sort of stare and me and wonder what is this because it looks like a baby onesie," Anderson said.
In the second movie, his role is a bit smaller. It's the same concept of repeating a day, though, for "Happy Death Day 2U." "They needed me there to complete the picture. They even made sure I didn't shave, where my beard was the same," he recalled.
The director, Christopher Landon, also directed several of the "Paranormal Activity" movies. Anderson said he, Rothe and other talent were great to work with.
"The first one is where you're more likely to see me and hear me," Anderson said. "They actually had me record ad libs of what I'm saying off screen while the scene is going on," he said. That was fun. "Even though it was a very small part and it was a brief part, it was a part where that felt more memorable to the movie," Anderson said, noting the saying that there are no small parts, just small actors.
He aimed to give the character a nervous, neurotic energy, but be "the type of guy that tried so hard but can never quite get it right around people but still he keeps trying."
Now the "school spirit" line is permanently lodged in his head. Anderson sort of slurred it in the movie, as if Lumbly was only barely awake, he explains. There's irony in the scene with this character promoting school spirit.
Among other credits, Anderson was in a pilot called "Red Blooded," in which he got to work briefly with Reba McEntire. "It was going to be like a Southern gothic cop show," he said. It was about a first female sheriff in a small town. His role would have been a reoccurring one as a criminal, but the series didn't make it.
"Currently one of the highlights of my career so far is being beat up by Reba. The sad thing is no one's going to be able to see it," said Anderson, who also studies at The Groundlings Theatre & School in Los Angeles, where he lives, represented by Landrum Arts LA Talent Agency.
"I had to audition to get in. It's really intense," Anderson said about Groundlings classes. He's done some Second City in Chicago, too. At Groundlings, he says, it's character-based improv.
"It requires you to enter the scene with a point of view, with a strong emotion," he said. Also, they build scenes where every character becomes important. "It's fun to see people just do it, too," he said.
As for getting involved with acting, he started taking it seriously while he was doing Texas High School theater, in particular a role in "Arsenic and Old Lace." He also learned through performances with the Downtown Youth Theater, Fine Line Players and Texarkana Repertory Company ("12 Angry Jurors").
Experiences like these made him realize he could possibly make a living as an actor. Auditioning is omnipresent, of course. It can be intimidating.
"The best auditions that I think I've done were ones where I just didn't let myself get in my head at all. I just kind of went in there and did it and let myself be in the moment," Anderson said.
He has a bit of advice for those who'd like to get involved in acting. One, be open to what's silly. "There's no shame in being in movies you might think are silly or just sort of funny," he said.
Also, allow the acting experience to educate you, and stay positive about yourself. Know yourself, let yourself grow, don't get taken for a ride, he says.
"Know what you're worth and let yourself learn things," Anderson said.
(On the Net: www.imdb.com/name/nm7353465/.)