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South Florida's Best and Brightest
Originally published: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 (12:02:17 a.m. ET)

Steven Bauer
Actor and Miami Coral Park Senior High School graduate Steven Bauer. (Photo courtesy of ABM).
Steven Bauer
A neophyte actor at the time, he earned the role of Manny Ribera in the 1983 big-screen epic "Scarface" when he was just 24 years old. Appearing opposite the incomparable Al Pacino (and a considerable cast that included Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert Loggia, and F. Murray Abraham) throughout the nearly three-hour saga, Steven Bauer not only nailed the part, he delivered in unforgettable fashion a bevy of lines that you can bet are still mimicked every minute of every day somewhere in the world. Bauer, who was born in Havana, migrated with his family to the United States as a toddler, and graduated from Coral Park High before continuing his studies at both Miami-Dade Community College and then the University of Miami. He literally has appeared in dozens of films and television series since his explosive arrival nearly three decades ago, including "Primal Fear," "Raising Cain," and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." Bauer is currently at work in New Mexico on the AMC show, "Breaking Bad."

Q: What advice would you give youngsters who want to embark on a career in your industry?
A: My advice usually is to really, really feel out drama itself. And get into theater. Whether it be school theater or community theater, to see if it really is for you. You have to have passion for telling stories. For me, it's not as much about performance. It's about interpretation and storytelling, as an actor and as a producer. (And my career as a producer is just beginning). I want to tell stories that affect people, stories that have something to say. Something positive or beautiful or something that can teach lessons about what it is to be human. Read plays. Read drama literature. Shakespeare and the great American plays. It's a very hard road and a very unpredictable one. I try to tell young actors not to set specific goals. I tell them to get into the process instead of the results. The results can be varied but still be acceptable and satisfying. It just depends on how you look at it. If you get the chance to play interesting characters who are challenging, who you learn from, and who enrich you as a person, then you're being successful. But we put a lot of emphasis on the result, the financial success. And if you do that, you'll always be disappointed. Everyone's path is different. There's no formula.

Q: Of what professional accomplishment are you most proud?
A: I don't know if I can name just one. My getting cast in "Scarface" was an accomplishment. Actually being in the movie was great. Doing it, and doing it well, with Al Pacino, was a great achievement. The fact that I was so young and that it was my first role. I had never done a feature film. I'd done two TV movies but never a film. My role, opposite and surrounded by all of those actors, and with a great director, it was like being in the big leagues right away. I did some movies when I was much younger, right after "Scarface," that were really great endeavors, great achievements. Like the two movies I did in Israel, "Sword of Gideon" and "The Beast of War." I've had some recently that are fantastic that are not even out yet. It's gotten better and better.

Q: What's the most challenging part about your work?
A: The most challenging part is to stay sane. To balance life and work. Life and family with work. And to maintain a healthy attitude toward it, what I achieve and what I don't achieve, because there's still rejection. An actor's career is full of letdowns and disappointments. When you think about yourself in a role and someone else gets it, that's disappointing. The daily challenge is to keep a healthy perspective on where you are and what you're doing and where you are in the universe. If you just go by the daily hits and misses, you can really lose faith. Quickly. It's happened to me, and it's happened to every actor. Your mind can play tricks on you; the key is to keep your mind very healthy.

Q: What did you envision doing for a living when you were growing up?
A: When I was a kid, I wanted to be a pro football quarterback. I wanted to be the QB for the Dallas Cowboys. When I was growing up and I saw movies for the first time, I wanted to be those historical characters. That's where my fascination with history came from. And I developed a fascination with movies. Movies and history went side-by-side for me.

Q: In ten years' time, I will be _________________.
A: Making movies and playing music. One of the things I also wanted to be when I was a kid was a member of The Beatles. I'm from a musical family. The Beatles' music really impacted me as a child. I want to be playing, recording, and writing music.

Q: Who are/were your professional role models and why?
A: Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, John Lennon. And the Rolling Stones, [Mick] Jagger and [Keith] Richards. I love [Robert] DeNiro and [Al] Pacino, especially their early work, and Montgomery Clift. They were role models for me when I first started acting. And Jimmy Stewart. I learned so much from Al during "Scarface." We were always together. There was a constant dialogue between us.

Q: If you could do anything else in the world for a living, what would it be?
A: Play music. I wish I had played more throughout my 20s and 30s. I was too busy. Relationships took up most of my time. I thrive on playing. Now, I play and sing every day. There was a time when I had to put it aside. That's what I would love to find more time to do and I am starting to do it.

Q: What's the best part about your job?
A: The best part is getting to do something that is second nature to me. To interpret characters and human behavior. I love to do it. It's always a challenge. I get to study human behavior, which I have a fascination with. I love having the opportunity to do what I'm doing. I just traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I'm going to be out there all day tomorrow playing this wild role, this crazy role [in AMC's "Bad Break"]. You'll be surprised; I haven't played anything like it. It's very different for me.

Q: What's the worst part about your job?
A: The disappointment. The unpredictability. The lack of self-determination. You always like to be captain of your own ship, and you are with your life, but [professionally] I still don't get to absolutely choose what I want. Sometimes you get roles and sometimes you don't. That's the worst part. You have to be able to be okay with letting things go that are not meant for you.

Q: What's the one most important thing that experience has taught you?
A: The need to be very, very involved. To never go on cruise control. If something is easy for me, I'll breeze through it, I'll ease through it. What happens then is that your passion drops. To do this, and do it to the fullest, it's important to bring passion to every moment, every time out. You have to always bring your game.

Q: What's the best career advice anyone has imparted on you?
A: One of the first things that happened to me was landing a role on "The Rockford Files." It was a very big show in the '70s and '80s. I got this role opposite Jim Garner, who was a big star. He really took a liking to me on my first day on the set. He saw that I was very determined and hard-working, and he gave me great advice. He told me to be really serious, but to have fun with it, find the fun. But he told me to give everything I have and to remember that it's work and that you're working with other people. You need to be there, be on time, show up, and show up ready. The other thing he told me was to stay positive about yourself and not to take rejection badly.

Q: What one thing would you do different/better if you could start it all over again?
A: This is going to be kind of personal and people might read it and think I'm being a little cynical. But if you're a young person and you're faced with both career and relationship choices, put the career choices first. Don't let relationships be a priority because they can take up all of your time and your career can slip past you. You can't do both, unless the relationship is the perfect one, and the person is supportive of your career.

Q: What's your favorite South Florida charity?
A: I haven't been back enough recently. But I'm planning to get involved more because I will have more opportunity. I want to get involved with autism causes. I'm actually going to be playing a concert on May 21 in Delray Beach to benefit the CJ Foundation. Anything that has to do with making better the lives of children with an affliction or those children who are coming out of abusive situations. Those are the most important things that I want to get into in the next couple of years.
Archive: 20 Good Questions
Best & Brightest: June 2011