Sean Patrick Flanery with Point Loma High School students. The actor spoke with students about his career. PHOTO BY DAVE SCHWAB
A Louisiana native who grew up in a small town outside Houston, Sean Patrick Flanery packed his possessions into his car one day and headed to L.A hoping to become a star.
But unlike so many others who failed, he succeeded. Only he went there to become a playwright – and ended up an actor.
Flanery has several TV and movie films to his credit. He is perhaps best known for starring in the movie “Powder,” and co-starring in the cult classic “The Boondock Saints.”
Invited down by Point Loma High School theater instructor Anthony Palmiotto to talk to students about movies and acting, Flanery, who was in town for the San Diego International Film Festival, took a break from a current film shoot in Albuquerque to talk about himself and his career.
“I'm just a working actor,” the 51-year-old Flanery told PLHS students at an impromptu take-off on the “Actor's Studio” TV talk show Sept. 29 in the school's auditorium.
As his story goes, Flanery was attending the University of St. Thomas in Houston, when he saw a beautiful girl leaving a campus building and decided to drop an English class and sign up for "whatever the hell they were teaching in that building.”
The building was the university's theater department, and the class was acting. Through his theater studies, Flanery penned a piece of children's theater that he later took with him in hopes of actually producing the play. He got approached by an agent to do a Kellogg's Corn Pops commercial that led to more commercials and then TV/film roles, including the title role in George Lucas' “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.” The rest is history.
Asked about his profession, Flanery confided, “I haven't had a 'real' job in 27 years.” He noted a “job” is something you wouldn't do unless you were paid.
Flanery's favorite role?
“For creative fulfillment, it's ‘Powder,’” he said of his portrayal of Jeremy “Powder” Reed, a young man catapulted ahead evolutionarily by a tragic accident, allowing him to read others' minds and feelings.
Flanery noted he's not a “method actor who has to stay in character.” He said for him, it's often the quality of the script that leads him to take on the role. With “Powder,” for instance, Flanery pointed out the script was so good that taking on the role was practically a no-brainer.
“There are some roles, for me at least, that allow you to relax and enjoy the moment,” he said, likening even his least-favorite acting roles to “your least- favorite flavor of chocolate.”
Getting back to the PLHS’ Q&A session, when asked about his favorite swear word, Flanery paused noting, “My grandaddy was an old school Louisiana guy who got mad if you used profanity, especially in front of girls.”
Queried about his most, and least, favorite words, Flanery's responses were “passion” and “apathy.”
“I guess what gets me out of bed at night is the challenge of becoming just a little bit better than you were when you woke up,” he said, adding he can't relate whatsoever to people who “don't care.”
Flanery's favorite sound was “kids giggling,” adding “there's something so pure and beautiful about an untainted life.” A father, Flanery told students, “At some point in your lives, that's going to become the most important thing.”
Hard pressed to choose another profession other than his own, Flanery said he might consider pursuing the sport of race car driving.
One sport he has pursued, obviously something he's passionate about when he speaks of it, is martial arts. Off camera, Flanery is a high-ranking martial artist having earned his black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from the Renzo Gracie lineage in 2008. He owns his own BJJ academy called Hollywood Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in West Hollywood, where he trains regularly when his film schedule allows.
Flanery gets animated when a couple of PLHS students, who are studying Jiu Jitsu, ask him about it. Scuffling as if in a fight, he talks about grappling at close range, and by how he describes it, with verbal and body language, you know he knows what's he's talking about.
“Self-defense is a life skill,” concluded the actor.
One student, an aspiring filmmaker, asked Flanery if he had any advice.
“Be good,” counseled Flanery. “Make sure your dream is an achievable one.”
Offering the student some encouragement, Flanery told him, “Continue to stay focused: You'll get there.”