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John Amos talks New York Fringe Fest

LINDA ARMSTRONG Special to the AmNews | 8/17/2011, 5:18 p.m.
John Amos talks New York Fringe Fest

AmNews: What are some of the projects that you are involved with?

JA: I'm taping an episode of "The 2-2" for CBS. I recently filmed a low-budget Western called "Shadow Hill" that my son K.C. Amos directed and is written by Lamont Clayton. After Fringe I will perform my show "Halley's Comet" at the Arc in Washington, D.C. The proceeds will go to the wounded warriors who fight in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. I have strong relationships with those who have made tremendous sacrifices in support of the county, being a veteran and the son of veteran.

AmNews: You have played so many memorable roles. Which was your most challenging and why?

JA: It's a toss-up between Admiral Percy Fitzwallace in "The West Wing" and Kunta Kinte in "Roots." For "The West Wing," the script didn't make sense on the page, but when we said it, it made sense-the words, the hesitations. "Roots" was a challenge because I developed the accent when I was living in Libya for three to four months as an adult, so I was researching the character of Kunte Kinte unbeknownst to myself that I would be offered the role.

As I played the role, I had to fight my human instinct. It was hard to be a slave 18 hours a day and then go home and be free. Fiddler-played by Louis Gossett Jr.-mentored my character on how to act in order to survive as a slave. It was quite an experience and one of the most gratifying opportunities. Louis Gossett Jr., a wonderful actor, said when we were waiting for the cameras to be reloaded, "Chew this up and eat this like a big piece of steak. We will never get a role like this again."

The 15th anniversary of the New York International Fringe Festival offers theater patrons 1,200 shows, including dramas, musicals and comedies. "Felony Friday" is written by Scott Decker and directed by Rebecca Yarsin. For ticket information, go to www.felonyfridaytheplay.com.