Interview with SKEET ULRICH | Always Persist, Always Believe

Born and raised in Lynchburg, VA, Skeet Ulrich, a former marine biology student turned actor had a life-changing experience after having been accepted into David Mamet’s (American playwright, screenwriter, director, and author) program at NYU. He was drawn to NYU’s acting school because it did not require applicants to audition. However, the application process was a long one and required deep thinking. Without prior formal training, he found a way to successfully rise to the occasion, proving that where there’s a will there’s a way if you are determined to succeed. In Skeet’s case, this is even more remarkable considering that as a child he had gone through open-heart surgery that left him with a body image that could have easily made him self-conscious as well as lose hope and the will to excel in life. Instead, he embarked on and embraced an acting career. He was not an overnight success, but neither were other members of the performing arts, including top A-List actors, whose stars shine brightly today.


Brown Linen Tuxedo Jacket | White Tank Top & Pleated Trouser TODD SNYDER | Shoes COS | Belt ANDERSON’S

When we put our effort in focusing on what we want, we naturally tap into our inner power that never lets us give up and tells us “If you don’t succeed at first, try, try again! When you love what you do, you will!” Skeet Ulrich knew that. Looking at his acting career track record, he turned life challenges into opportunities and you might wonder what gave him the strength to master it all. Well, there is a compelling saying that comes to my mind when looking at Skeet’s early life and subsequent success years later:

‘A Phoenix has to burn first before it can rise from its ashes! ’

And so, he did. His inner strength and resolve got him to a place of professional happiness. He has been successfully employed in the entertainment business for over 30 years now as a result of hard work, mental strength, and never giving up. That was the secret of his success as a highly popular actor in the 90’s. And then down the road comes his willingness to renounce his stardom and prominent roles in order to stay close to home and raise his kids as a single dad. Again, the Universe does its thing by rewarding him with a career resurgence years later when he is cast in the internationally highly popular TV series “Riverdale.” Initially, cast for just seven episodes, his character became a fan favorite resulting in Skeet becoming a series regular in Season 2.

Flashback to 1996, you might remember him from the Wes Craven-directed horror/mystery film “Scream,” a huge box office hit then, in which he played his first villain character. When we asked him this question about his break out role: “How has your role as Billy Loomis in ‘Scream’ influenced you and the roles you like to play?” Skeet tells us: “That was my 6th film and the first villain I had played. It definitely allowed me to let some demons out and also gave me a glimpse into the duality of man that can be woven into any role. I never wanted to play the same type of role twice and I have been somewhat successful at maintaining that.” He received the Best Supporting Actor Saturn Award nomination for his ‘crazed killer’ role in “Scream” from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA.

Black Suit Jacket SANDRO | Cotton Turtleneck TODD SNYDER | Jeans J. BRAND | Belt ANDERSON’S

In 2017, he played a villain of another kind in the true-life story Lifetime TV film “I am Elizabeth Smart” where he starred as the religious fanatic, who abducted 14-year old Elizabeth Smart from her home. A challenging role for him and the young actress playing Elizabeth, who was drugged, raped and subjected to bizarre religious rituals. The film went on to be nominated Best Movie Made for TV by the Critic’s Choice Award. Continuing along the line of “not your nice guy next door” characters, he can now be seen in the internationally highly rated TV series “Riverdale.” We asked him to elaborate on his role in the popular CW series and what attracted him to it, and this is what he had to say:

“I play Jughead’s dad who is the alcoholic leader of a biker gang called ‘The Serpents.’ His alcoholism has caused most of his family to abandon him and he is left to take care of his son on his own. He is a complex man and often misunderstood, qualities that really drew me to the part.”

From his impressive filmography listed on IMDb, it is apparent that Skeet mostly appears in drama/thriller/crime films and TV series, but he has also been in a few comedies, such as the 1997 box office hit “As Good As It Gets,” for instance, although a large number of scenes he was in were cut out of the final version of the film since it would have been way too long. While actors have to be prepared for that, it might seem a disappointment when it happens, especially because it usually has nothing to do with the actor’s performance. Sometimes a certain plot has to be cut for the greater good of the film and keeping the running time down.

In 2001, he played in the comedy “Nobody’s Baby,” starring multi-award-winning actor Gary Oldman. Yes, the same who just won an Academy Award for his role as Churchill in “The Darkest Hour.” How did that come about and what was your experience working with that kind of caliber actor?

Navy Polo Sweater DAVID HART | White Jeans AG | Sunglasses RAY-BAN

“Gary called and asked me to make the film with him and once I got up off the floor from shock I went to meet him on the set of ‘The Contender.’ There he was as Shelly Runyon. Two months later, he showed up on set for our film and I didn’t even recognize the man I had met previously. He was seamless and fun and effortlessly dynamic. We had an incredible time together!!!”

With that, it should be no surprise to learn that one of Skeet’s big influences, when he started out in the film industry, was none other than Gary Oldman, but there were more actors and directors who had an impact on him, he made known as he continues to answer that question.

“Gary Oldman has and continues to be inspiring. His ability to bring behavior and emotion to such a wide range of characters is astounding. I also had a clear and definite Viggo Mortensen phase. As an actor, he is always unpredictable and edgy yet full of grace and humanity. I had the good fortune of working with both! Directors like Mike Leigh, Werner Herzog, Lasse Hallstrom, and Lars Von Trier were my favorites early on, and still are but the longest lasting and clearest inspiration to me has and always will be John Cassavetes,” says Ulrich.

That’s quite a list of amazing filmmakers that inspired him and having worked with award-winning directors like Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Richard Linklater, just to mention a few, in his extensive career since the 90’s, surely we all now would like to know which director he hasn’t worked with yet would he like to work with in the future. With hesitation at first but, eventually, Skeet reveals his top wish list to us:

“It’s hard to pick just one… Darren Aronofsky’s films have always inspired me and continue to. “Mother” was one of the most amazing films I have ever seen. But I have been close friends with Scott Cooper for 30 years and he is one the most nuanced and intelligent storytellers. Working with him will be a dream come true for both of us.”

White Jean Jacket SANDRO |Mesh T-shirt SANDRO | White Jeans AG | Belt ANDERSON’S | Sunglasses SHWOOD | Sneakers ADIDIAS STAN SMITH

Speaking of dreams, we wonder if there is any kind of role he hasn’t played yet but always wanted to.

“I struggle to answer questions like this because I never see characters as types. I try to find the person inside and work from there. Thus, I don’t know what I am interested in until I read it and it takes over my every waking moment and often times my dreams!”

Such an inspiring answer made sense clearly showing how serious this actor takes his roles and, more importantly, how he identifies with these characters that casting directors believe he is the ideal actor for making them come alive on the screen.

Venturing into the subject of what happened in the entertainment industry in the recent past, we couldn’t wait to see what his response to our next question. So, what does an entertainment professional, having been around since the late 80’s, think about today’s fast-paced era that has brought tremendous changes to the entertainment industry and how have these changes affected your career?

“I think there are pros and cons to the changes. It has brought a lot of avenues for content that wouldn’t have seen the light of day otherwise and it’s given voice to incredible talents that may have fallen silent without the multiple platforms now available. I wish, however, that there was still a thriving independent film market where beautifully brave filmmakers could have their work appreciated.”

Followed by this thoughtful answer, we switch gears and invited Skeet to talk a bit about himself. Enquiring minds want to know: What do you like to do in your free time, when not filming? “I love to build! Furniture, houses, renovations, and just about anything and everything!”

White Jean Jacket SANDRO | Mesh T-shirt SANDRO |White Jeans AG | Belt ANDERSON’S | Sunglasses SHWOOD | Sneakers ADIDIAS STAN SMITH

It makes so much sense and is consistent with the fact that he bought a farm in Virginia at one time. Also noteworthy, and so unmistakably Skeet is the fact that when he couldn’t afford to take the Alexander Technique Body Work class in college, he offered to do build- ing and renovation work on the instructor’s apartment to pay for the class.

With our next question, we get a bit more personal. If there was a book or movie about you, what would the title be and why?

“ ‘You Can’ because if I can make it as an actor, anyone can! I worked my ass off and fortunately found the most incredible teachers along the way. Pure diligence should never be undervalued.”

Absolutely, we say! Consistency and investing in yourself always pays off. And what advice would you give aspiring actors, Skeet?

“Train! Don’t even consider that this is a business… just train,” recommends the father of 17-year old twins, Naiia Rose and Jakob, who has also stepped into the acting scene. He actually directed them in a short film about a bullied girl entitled “The Girl on the Roof,” for which he won the Best Break Out Director Award at the Williamsburg Independent Film Festival. Speaking of awards, he can put the following 2006 wins on his resume, too: The Camie Award for Character and Morality in Entertainment and the Bronze Wrangler Award for the TV film “Into the West.”

Skeet’s all-time favorite movie (he has seen, not played in) is the Werner Herzog film “Fitzcarraldo.” “Hands down!” he says. “It’s about a man’s dream to bring opera to the indigenous tribes of the Amazon. The journey he goes on to achieve that dream and the obstacles he overcomes always remind me to never quit, never waver, and never stop believing that ANY dream can become reality,” reveals the actor.

That sounds like an awe-inspiring film and Skeet’s response seamlessly brings us to The Hedonist’s mantra, which is the inspirational quote by Abraham Hicks: “You can be, do and have anything you want.” What’s your take on such a statement, Skeet?

Indigo Leather Moto Jacket & Henley MICHAEL KORS | Pants COS | Sneakers HEIRLOOM

“I live by those words!!! And I think everyone should live their dream at all costs. It will rarely be easy and it will take incredible resolve and you will have to constantly leave your comfort zone but it will all be worth it. Set your sights clearly, and with laser focus all things are possible!!”

We aim to unite the inspirational, spiritual and physical world in harmony with the Universe. We want you to be uplifted by Skeet’s words and honor who you are and your desire to always be the best version you consider yourself to be.

And finally, looking into the future, we asked Skeet this question: “Where do you see yourself in five years from now and what is on your bucket list?”

“I absolutely love where my life is right now. My family is in a great place; I have inspiring and beautiful friendships, work is great, my free time is full of fun and interesting adventures… The only thing I hope for is a deep love that will stand the test of time!”

We endlessly appreciate such an inspiring individual and we are grateful for this interview with thought-provoking answers. We celebrate Skeet’s accomplishments and wish that kind of love for him in addition to a continued successful and satisfying career.


Skeet Ulrich 
words // Karynne Summars | photography // Riker Brothers | Derek and Drew Riker | stylist // Neil Cohen | grooming // Lellis Ribeiro Exclusive Artists For Oribe and Tom Ford Beauty | location // The Hanover House | LA