From Chicago to the bright lights of New York City, John Sanders’ acting career has blossomed. Not only does he give outstanding performances on Broadway, he’s appeared in several TV series such as Billions and Elementary, and has made appearances as a voice over in video games such as Minecraft and Batman. Sanders is living the dream as a Broadway actor and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. We had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with Sanders about his amazing career.
How do you define Beauty?
I’ve always been moved by the beauty of words, the beauty of music, and the beauty of good design. I guess it’s no surprise then that I’m in the theatre. But to me, beauty is an emotion, a deep connection to something true. Which is why even something messy, coarse, unwrapped or raw can be beautiful
How was the transition from your starting point of performing in Chicago, to performing on the big stages of Broadway?
Performing on a Broadway stage is absolutely thrilling. There’s nothing like it. I count myself so lucky every day. That said, performing in Chicago was wonderful because you got the sense that you were really performing for a local community. There’s also less pressure from the business side of things. But here in New York I get to work with incredible people from all over the world, and be a part of this close-knit Broadway community, and that’s a real treat.
We know you have made some guest appearances on television shows like “Billions” and “Elementary.” Do you have a preference as to which type of acting you prefer: television or
I like new challenges. My life has been spent on stage for the most part, but working with the amazing people on those series and others has taught me so much. I love exploring all kinds of storytelling.
We also know that you do voiceovers for the popular video game Minecraft, and voice many TV and radio commercials. Is there any preparation that goes into that?
The earlier in the day, the raspier and deeper the voice! It took me years and years of constant auditioning before I got any traction in the voiceover world. But it’s work I really love. The video games are so fun, to get to just goof off in the booth, pretending to get punched in the gut or jump out of a plane! But I even love the commercial work, too. It’s such a subtle craft. And you don’t have dress for the role.
When did you discover your passion for performing?
My freshman year of high school. We did a musical called Ten November about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior. It was not what you’d expect from a high school play: love, loss, poetry, non-linear storytelling. It was so emotionally effective and asked all the big questions. I was hooked.
What is one quote/saying you live by?
We have a rallying cry in Groundhog Day on Broadway: “Champions Adjust!” Our director Matthew Warchus gave us that when we were trying to clear some early hurdles in previews of the show, and we’ve taken it on as our motto. I think the full quote is from Billie Jean King: “Champions adjust and pressure is a privilege.”
Do you have a dream role that you would love to play?
The pie-in-the-sky dream is to play the Captain on a Star Trek TV series. You think they’ll be making those for a while? I also have this dream to go to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland when I’m a bit older and play all the great elder Shakespearean characters while living in the Oregon countryside. Sounds like a nice way live for while.
Thinking back over the course of your career, what would you say is your biggest accomplishment as an actor?
I am quite sure I’m not aware of my biggest accomplishment. That’s because the best thing I could imagine is that I might have been a part of telling a story that has played a role in changing someone’s life. Someone comes into the theatre or sits down in front of the television in a state of distress, their life in flux, and the story you tell helps them through it, or gets them to look at life in a different way, or gives them hope. You’ll probably never know. But I’ve been affected like that before, and I hope I’ve passed that along.