By Ryan McPherson
Being an icon is something many of us can only dream about. Portraying an icon provides a different challenge entirely.
For the upcoming film “Hands of Stone”, actor Robb Skyler steps into the shoes of legendary broadcaster Howard Cosell. He had the opportunity to work alongside costars Edgar Ramirez and acting icon, Robert De Niro. In the lead up to the film, we had the opportunity to discuss the role with Skyler. He also gave us some insight as to how he found acting as a career, some of his other passions, and what it was like working with the cast and crew on “Hands of Stone”.
Your new film “Hands of Stone” has you portraying legendary broadcaster, Howard Cosell. What can you tell us about the preparation for taking on the role of an icon?
Howard Cosell is the most iconic sports broadcaster in the history of audio/visual media. So I had to be very careful, as not to craft a caricature or do an impression of him. I was very familiar with Howard, having grown up watching and hearing him broadcast sporting events. I already had his voice down, so I turned to fine tuning his “inner voice”. The inner voice, is what truly defines the person. Once I had that, I was home free.
What can you tell us about the film, which is also based on a true story?
The film is a bio pic about Roberto Duran, wonderfully played by Edgar Ramirez. It starts in Panama, which is where he grew up in extreme poverty, all the way through his incredible boxing journey. His mentor/father figure, is trainer Ray Arcel, portrayed by the incomparable Robert De Niro. Ray Arcel sees in Roberto, the raw talent and potential, and literally takes the “bull by the horns”, and Roberto goes on to become widely regarded as one of the top 5 boxers of all time. The film gives insight into Roberto’s heart and soul, and is truly a depiction of the human spirit. Ray and Roberto, forge a relationship, that transcends boxing, and reflects the oneness of the world, rather than focusing on the differences. It’s more than just a boxing movie. It’s a movie that will have wide and universal appeal.
The cast for “Hands of Stone” has a lot of talent and a lot of big names. What was it like working on the film?
Yes, the cast is loaded with big names and talent. But I must add, that talent alone does not get it done. The entire cast and crew, worked tireless night hours, in the heat & humidity of Panama. They say everything starts at the top. HOS, is directed by the brilliant Jonathan Jakubowicz. He is truly an actor’s director. But his quiet and firm leadership, set the tone or the entire production. Working with Jonathan, Edgar and Robert, was the most rewarding experience of my career. Of all the visual arts, it is my opinion, that film work, is the most collaborative effort and process. I love the “teamwork” that goes into that. And to be able to work with such a talented, passionate, and hard-working group of people, was a dream come true.
We were told you were a psychology major in college, an entrepreneur, and worked previously as a comic. What was it about acting that caused it to ultimately become your career? What did these previous experiences bring to your career as an actor?
I had the desire at 3 years old, to be in the entertainment field. I was watching T.V., and saw someone performing on stage, and blurted out to the universe; “I want to do that”. But acting in movies, gradually became my passion. I remember as a child, going to the movies, waiting for a movie to start, thinking that it was going to be better than any ride at any amusement park. Great film making, totally envelope’s the senses. it transports you to another world. That has always been my passion. My psychology studies, is just a “symptom”, of my yearning to know as much as I can, about human behavior. The human condition, is what has always driven me as an actor. Most artists, only focus or develop the right side of their brain. As much as the right side is my passion, my left side has served me well in not only show business, but the ability to in an entrepreneur spirited way, created other businesses. I have created businesses and owned them successfully. I started in show business as a stand up comic. I toured for 10 years as a stand up, working in clubs, colleges, and corporate events. All of these experiences, have helped shaped me as an actor. I believe, we are all products of the entirety of our life’s past experiences. The more and actor can experience in life, the more the actor can draw upon. All of my endeavors, have created moments of interaction, that I apply to the character and stories that I am grateful to be part of.
We’d like to thank Robb Skyler for his time and the photos he provided. We’d also like to encourage you to follow him on Twitter.