Retiree becomes Hollywood actor


Marsha Hart, KP News

William Michael Paul, a Key Peninsula resident, receives attention from the makeup artist as he prepares for his role as a street person in the film, "The Whole Truth," and the producer, Larry Estes looks on. The film was shot on the streets of Seattle Oct. 10. Photo by Karina Whitmarsh

Deep inside, something stirred when he heard the audience applaud for a tap dance routine with his sister during a second-grade performance. William Michael Paul, a Key Peninsula resident, said since that day he has been in love with the audience. Though he is recently retired from the aerospace electrical industry, his face may be familiar. He has been featured in print advertisements, and his image was on 32 buses in Seattle for a Washington Dental Association ad. "I've been blessed and honored to photograph well," he said. His grandmother, a full-blooded Lakota-Sioux from South Dakota, raised him. Eventually he moved to Oregon and was raised in the mountains with the influence of his grandmother and sweat lodges, and his stepfather who introduced him to the music of the Grand Ole Opry, he said. He credits his grandmother with planting the seeds of who he has become. Ironically, though he loved the stage, he said he had a speech problem as a child. "When I was a little boy I stammered so bad when I spoke, and I was shy," he said. "My grandmother taught me to tap my foot when I talked, and keep a rhythm. It helped me overcome it. She also taught me how to pray."

Paul has worked with actors like Antonio Banderas and Sylvester Stallone. Though the names are important in the acting business, and no doubt lead him to more work, he is quick to point out that the true reason he is working in the business is not of his own doing, but of the presence of God in his life. "LA can eat you up, and my focus is God and family, and acting is just a piece of the cake if it comes," he said. recently he was working on the streets of Seattle during the filming of a scene for the movie, "The Whole Truth." The movie stars Eric Roberts, and Paul was in a scene with Elizabeth Rohme who was on the television series, "Law and Order." Paul is a Screen Actors Guild actor, and even has an appearance in the new film, "What Just Happened," released in theaters Oct. 18, starring Robert De Niro. "De Niro is one of the most humble and kindest men I've ever met," Paul said.

Paul got noticed about 15 years ago when his oldest son was an extra in a Louis and Clark film. While he was there, he said he was asked to be photographed. Just for fun, he did it, and six months later he got a call.

"I used to want to be a household name," Paul said, "but not anymore. Now the only household I want my name in is the Kingdom of God."

His faith and moral conviction have led him to turn down some work as well, but he said that is his choice. "I truly believe if you stay righteous for the Lord you will get that back," he said.

In other situations, when the script calls for him to use language he would not want to use, he works around it, he said. "I played an Italian wise guy in a film, and I never heard so much bad language," he said. "I just didn't join them. I see the Lord's name all the time, so I just change a word here and there. Some of the small words are not bad, but I don't say the Lord's name, and I don't want to say the F word 500 times. I don't want that in my spirit."

As most people have, Paul said he has had struggles and pain in his life. He recently sent his daughter on a dream trip to Graceland. She has been fighting cancer for seven years. She is the reason he moved back to the Key Peninsula from LA.

Paul will be teaching a class at Tacoma Community College, "On Camera with William Michael Paul." I'm truly hoping to get some students who are 50 plus, because there is a lot of work out there for them," he said.