Michael Quinlan on the Value of Trust & Human Connection

Michael Quinlan recently played in The Upside and played on Hulu’s Looming Tower. Both projects were opposites of each other but share a lot of insight on how we move through this world. A lack of trust could impact a nation. Whereas, taking a chance on a person can start a lifetime friendship.

ATM: If you did not walk upright, then how would this change your perspective of life?

MQ: If we walked on our hands and did handstands all over the place?

ATM: Yes.

MQ: I could not really look up per se because I would be down. My view of life would be from the ground. As we see in some movies, this is the viewpoint from a cat or dog. Their viewpoint is from their height. You get a sense of what life is like from their eyes. It would be limited. We could not really take in the scope of things. It would be limiting.

ATM: When two people come together from different forms of life, how can this broaden their horizon?

MQ: It was unintended for Philip to hire Del. He did it to piss everyone off in the beginning. He wanted to rattle the cards a little bit. Del was not prepared for this job nor did he want to do all the work. As the story unfolded, they really did see other sides of life through the other eyes that they never would have this opportunity come along. It is a true story and these guys are still friends. If he did not take this crazy chance, they would have never developed this relationship and known one another. Obviously, they saw completely different sides of life through each other’s eyes. This was a positive thing in the end for both.

ATM: How was trust seen in the series Looming Tower?

MQ: This was interesting. Again, this story was based on real characters. Jeff Daniels plays a real guy in the 80s and 90s who was in the FBI. He was ringing the bell and calling attention to this group called Al-Qaeda. No one kind of gave him the time of day. It turns out he was correct. Before 9/11, these guys, the agencies did not trust each other at all, which were the FBI, CIA, and NSA. They kept priority information to themselves and they did not share it. This was really the problem with 9/11. The left hand never knew what the right hand was doing.

They lost a lot of valuable time and information that could have been put to good use. This guy O’Brien, the character Jeff Daniels play was instrumental in bringing it to light. He ironically was killed in 9/11. It was his first day to work as head of security for the World Trade Center. It turned out he was right. After 9/11, the agencies really did come around to see they had to share information to move the security of the country forward.

ATM: What was the mentality of the people in this profession during the 80s and 90s?

MQ: They were just after their own slice of life. They did not want to share information about the information they had gotten. It was like “I did the work to get the information. It is mine. I am not sharing it.” They all had the same mentality. In the end, they realize it was detrimental to all of them combined. They learned to react and move forward in a different way after we saw what happened when they did not share information.

ATM: I would assume when you look at the script you visualize how it will get visually portrayed.

MQ: Yes, when you look at the script you visualize what you think is important. Sometimes when you get to the set it goes along these lines or it changes completely. You have to talk to the director and see what is and how things are set up physically. You really do not know until you get there. As an actor, all you can do is be prepared with your lines and prepared to be swift on the fly if you have to. The only thing you can do is to show up prepared, know your lines, and not get in anyone’s way.

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