Port Townsend Film Festival special guests Karen Allen, left, and Andrew Perez, right, discussed their acting careers during a presentation moderated by Seattle film critic Robert Horton at Port Townsend High School on Friday. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend Film Festival special guests Karen Allen, left, and Andrew Perez, right, discussed their acting careers during a presentation moderated by Seattle film critic Robert Horton at Port Townsend High School on Friday. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Allen, Perez tell students about acting’s highs and lows

Both discussed the ups and downs of their acting careers, which are drastically different.

PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend Film Festival guests actress Karen Allen and actor, writer and producer Andrew Perez discussed their acting careers with community members and local students at an open salon at Port Townsend High School.

“It’s really wonderful to see this mixture of students and community members because the goal is really connecting people to the art,” said festival director Janette Force about the Friday afternoon gathering.

Allen and Perez discussed the ups and downs of their acting careers, which are drastically different.

“I had zero interest in acting,” Allen said. “To be honest, in high school, I found the kids in the theater classes too extroverted for me.”

However, in high school, Allen went with a friend to see a play, which was entirely in Polish. Something about it struck a chord with her.

“It was like the top of my head came off,” Allen said. “I just said, ‘I don’t know what that was I just saw, but I want to be a part of it for the rest of my life.’ My whole path in life shifted around that evening.”

Allen started her career in the theater but broke onto the movie scene in a big way with the 1978 comedy “Animal House.” Allen said it was largely a cast of new and young actors who didn’t expect much from the film.

“That never happens usually, but it became a huge hit,” said Allen, who also teaches acting. “The casting room doors just opened, and everyone was eager to meet these young actors.”

Allen said another big moment was after starring in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” when she began to get recognized.

“That kind of fame is a little scary,” Allen said. “It’s always a high point when you do something people are excited about.”

Perez, on the other hand, admitted to being one of those “outgoing drama kids” while he was in high school. He said he auditioned for his first play when he was 12 and had been interested in the theater long before then.

“I think we all start as audience members and are just kind of drawn to something,” Perez said.

Both Perez and Allen started in traditional theater before transitioning to film. They said that transition came with some interesting challenges.

Allen said there is a learning curve as far as learning new techniques and shooting scenes out of order, adding that she wasn’t much interested in film until she was offered the opportunity to be in one.

“I was lucky in that my friends from high school were all filmmakers or wanted to be,” Perez said. “So after seeing these people, I knew in films and on TV that world seemed more accessible.”

Both said much of the low point of being an actor is rejection.

“The struggle of being a young actor is having someone say yes to you,” Allen said.

Perez added that acting is really a labor of love.

“I think me and my friends put our heart and souls into what we create and make a living, but it’s hard sometimes,” Perez said. “It’s a struggle, but I don’t think there’s any way I would’ve stopped or quit acting.”

This is Allen’s second time at the Port Townsend Film Festival, and she said she was glad to be back. Allen came to feature “A Year by the Sea,” in which she stars.

This is Perez’s first time in Port Townsend. He wrote, produced and stars in “Bastards y Diablos,” a partially autobiographical piece.

He brought a free theater experience to Saturday’s night crowd with the play “The Aliens,” which was at the Key City Public Theatre at 11 p.m.

“Bastards y Diablos” will be at the Rose Theatre at 12:15 p.m. today.

Attendees of the “Year by the Sea” at the American Legion Hall at 12:30 p.m. today can meet Allen after the screening. Allen will introduce “Raiders of the Lost Ark” at 7:30 tonight at a free screening at the Taylor Street Outdoor Theater.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

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