Actor Spotlight

DFW actor John S. Davies reveals penchant for cheap wine and guitars

DFW actor John S. Davies reveals penchant for cheap wine and guitars

John S. Davies in Stella & Lou
John S. Davies stars at Lou in Circle Theatre's Stella & Lou, opening August 21. Photo by Leah Layman
Actor John S. Davies
Actor John S. Davies is also a director. Photo by James Bland
John S. Davies in WaterTower Theatre's "Black Tie"
Davies in Black Tie at WaterTower Theatre. Photo by Mark Oristano
Theatre Three presents Other Desert Cities
Davies with Lydia Mackay and Connie Coit in Other Desert Cities at Theatre Three. Photo by Jeffrey Schmidt
John S. Davies as Prospero in Shakespeare Dallas' "The Tempest"
Davies as Prospero in The Tempest at Shakespeare Dallas. Photo by Linda Blase
John S. Davies in "Sylvia" at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas
Davies with Catherine DuBord in Contemporary Theatre of Dallas' Sylvia. Photo by George Wada
John S. Davies in "A Skull in Connemara" at Second Thought Theatre
Davies and Drew Wall in Second Thought Theatre's A Skull in Connemara. Photo by Kari Engelbrecht
John S. Davies in Stella & Lou
Actor John S. Davies
John S. Davies in WaterTower Theatre's "Black Tie"
Theatre Three presents Other Desert Cities
John S. Davies as Prospero in Shakespeare Dallas' "The Tempest"
John S. Davies in "Sylvia" at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas
John S. Davies in "A Skull in Connemara" at Second Thought Theatre

In Bruce Graham’s exploration of late-life loneliness, Stella & Lou, it takes a zesty woman to shake up one man’s staid existence. That man is portrayed by John S. Davies in Circle Theatre’s production, which runs at the Fort Worth theater from August 21 through September 20.

If Davies looks familiar, it’s because he’s no stranger to Dallas-Fort Worth stages — or film and TV screens, for that matter. Recent seasons have found him onstage at Theatre Three (Other Desert Cities), WaterTower Theatre (Black Tie) and One Thirty Productions (Finishing School). But he can also be spotted on screen in Robo-cop, Magnolia, JFK and The Alamo.

As a director, he’s led productions for Shakespeare Dallas, Circle Theatre and the winners of the prestigious screenwriting competition, Ballroom Marfa, in Marfa, Texas. 

Before tending bar as Lou at Circle, Davies took the time to fill out our survey of serious, fun and sometimes ridiculous questions.

Name: John S. Davies. Yes, I use the middle initial.

Role in Stella & Lou: Lou

Previous work in the DFW area: I’ve worked at most of the professional theaters in the DFW area and some that are, sadly, no longer with us. Somewhere north of 60 professional productions.

Hometown: I was born in Regensburg FRG (Federal Republic of Germany) and grew up around the world. When we lived in the U.S., it was in various suburbs of Washington, D.C. So, basically, I don’t have a hometown.

Where you currently reside: Carrollton

First theater role: In R.U.R. by Karel Capek at Westminster School, Simsbury, Connecticut. I don’t remember which one of the scientists I played.

First stage show you ever saw: It may well have been the first one I was in, which probably doesn’t count.

Moment you decided to pursue a career in theater: Probably the first time I worked with professional actors as the Musician in Twelfth Night at the California Actors Theater in Los Gatos, California.

Most challenging role you’ve played: Maybe Willy Brandt in Democracy

Special skills: Guitar, dialects, charm

Something you’re REALLY bad at: Working in an office

Current pop culture obsession: Allison Tolman in Fargo

Last book you read: The Moving Target by Ross MacDonald

Favorite movie(s): I’m not a big movie fan.

Favorite musician(s): Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Robert Johnson, my son Rees

Favorite song: "Crossroads"

Dream role: Lear

Favorite play(s): August Wilson’s, but I don’t really have favorites.

Favorite musical(s): A Chorus Line

Favorite actors/actresses: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Allison Tolman, Cliff Stephens

Favorite food: Key lime pie

Must-see TV show(s): The Wire, Breaking Bad

Something most people don’t know about you: I didn’t live in the U.S. until I was 6 years old.

Place in the world you’d most like to visit: Wales

Pre-show warm-up: Coffee and a cigarette

Favorite part about your current role: It’s funny and it’s in Philly.

Most challenging part about your current role: It’s funny and it’s in Philly.

Most embarrassing onstage mishap: I did a terrible play called Ancestors many years ago. The whole experience was embarrassing, but at one point we had an onstage sword fight with cheap ceremonial sabers. My opponent’s blade broke off at the hilt and I had to chase him offstage.

Career you’d have if you weren’t a performer: Drinking cheap wine in a gutter.

Favorite post-show spot: Whatever’s close to the theater.

Favorite thing about Dallas-Fort Worth: My grandchildren 

Most memorable theater moment: So many, but when I was in grad school as an apprentice at the Dallas Theater Center under Paul Baker, we did a three-hour adaptation of War and Peace. I understudied the role of Prince Andrei, the lead, and played a small role as his servant.

I attended all the rehearsals and learned the lines but never actually rehearsed the entire role. Then one Wednesday, I was working in the scene shop before a matinee when the call came in that the actor playing the Prince had thrown his back out and couldn’t get out of bed.

I was hustled up to the dressing room and hastily tried on all his costumes — including tight riding breeches and fitted military jackets — while lines were fired at me by the ASM. I went on, was led around the stage by the other actors, dropped a line here and there, but ended up in a bed center stage (the Prince dies at the end) thinking, “I did it. I don’t know how but I did it.”

The other actor never recovered, and I ended up playing the last three-and-a-half weeks of the run.