Richard Maximus Fleming-Vlamingen is best known among his acting colleagues for his scene portrayals as President Andrew Shepherd in the American President and as the Joker from the Dark Knight. Although, a great Actor over the past decades he obtained several degrees including a Doctorate in Particle Physics, Medical Degree (Nuclear Cardiologist) and Law Degree; sprinkled with a few bachelor degrees and masters studies.
How does one go from acting to physics? “By being stupid enough to have an aptitude at a time the U.S. Government was looking for little mutants. The strangest thing about the selection process was’t just the I.Q. testing that was going on, it was the other questions; questions about you find yourself in this situation. Here’s who’s with you, their age, sex, talent, etc; here’s what you have for supplies; here’s where you need to get to so you can survive and this is how many people you are going to be able to take with you. Who lives and who dies. That’s how you go from acting to physics. Demonstrate the aptitude to be able to accelerate your Physics training to the Doctorate level while doing everything else and demonstrate no reservation on how you would select people to live and die.”
Fleming grew up in Waterloo, Iowa. He was the youngest, with an older sister and brother. His grandparents were farmers and the family owned a cafeteria food chain. He worked there as a teenager. His fondest memories were of growing up at the baseball diamond. The entire family worked there and one of his prized possessions was his baseball glove which he got from Al Montreal. Fleming was a pitcher on his city teams. He had always wanted to be an actor. I remember doing skits with my brother and sister way back in elementary school. My sister liked to write and direct the scenes. Being a typical actor, I took certain liberties with the scenes. Follow your instincts, they will not let you down. We were doing this one scene (our parents were a captive audience) and I don’t remember what it was supposed to be, but I was supposed to be the puppy. So I remember going over to my brother and lifting my leg. Well may parents just rolled of the davenport laughing. My brother not so much. You just know when something is right. My parents also used to have me entertain people singing and dancing (usually the twist). If you’re an actor, you don’t have to think about it; you know it.
3. When was your first break?
After so many years of working with Heart Disease; if you’ve heard of “Inflammation and Heart Disease” you’ve heard of part of my work; I developing the first test which can accurately measure heart disease and breast cancer (FMTVDM; B.E.S.T. Imaging) I realized that I had kept my promise made back with the JFK Administration. So about 4-years ago I entered an acting class. I was selected as a singing finalist and I came to LA to perform. I came off stage with such a personal high. I remember telling someone that’s better than sex. I knew I needed to fulfill what I was put here to be, albeit a few years later than expected, so I moved to LA. About 6-months later I started getting cast in non-union roles for TV. I’ve been blessed to work on a number of roles both on set and in acting class. Each role building on the last. I think most people answer this question with a specific role, to which singing and being a finalist in the Hollywood Showcase would clearly meet that; but I think my big break was finding the right acting coach; Murisa Harba Durrant at “About the Work.” I see a lot of actors not working on this gift we’ve been given. You simply can’t be the best at anything without trial and error and practice. I guess I should add, I was just cast as the “gray-haired” man in Adversity, a TV Comedy series. The whole time we were shooting the Director, Adrienne Levy, kept saying he sounds just like Chandler. It didn’t matter how we did it, that kept coming out of her mouth. No offense everyone but I had to go watch “Friends” on you tube; I really hadn’t seen it. She was right, I sounded like Chandler in the scene.
4. How does one go from acting to physics?
By being stupid enough to have an aptitude at a time the U.S. Government was looking for little mutants. The strangest thing about the selection process was’t just the I.Q. testing that was going on, it was the other questions; questions about you find yourself in this situation. Here’s who’s with you, their age, sex, talent, etc; here’s what you have for supplies; here’s where you need to get to so you can survive and this is how many people you are going to be able to take with you. Who lives and who dies. That’s how you go from acting to physics. Demonstrate the aptitude to be able to accelerate your Physics training to the Doctorate level while doing everything else and demonstrate no reservation on how you would select people to live and die.
5. What roles interest you?
That’s a real dichotomy. I love the hero and I’d like to think I am in what I’ve done in Medicine (Medicine’s Dark Knight) but I also love the opposite roles. Murisa loves to cast me in professional roles like attorneys or one of my favorites President Andrew Shepherd in “The American President” but she also loves to cast me in Hannibal Lecter and Joker (Keith Leger) roles. The only role I seem to have difficulty with is the person who does something without a good reason and by that I mean when I’m in the role and I’m thinking there’s no way in the world this would be the response that’s real; which is different from let’s just do something over the top – which is fun. Hopefully that made sense.
6. Is there any synergy between physics and acting?
Absolutely. They published a study many years ago and it turned out that the best Scientists turn out to be people who in second grade were most artisticallly creative and able to think outside of the box. That’s exactly what you need for both. The “Inflammation” and “Angina” Theories and the patented test for Breast Cancer and Heart Disease ALL required thinking outside the box; like really outside the box. Acting is exactly the same way. I have been so blessed to be able to be a scientist and contribute to people and now allow HugsAmerica.org handle the licensing of the patent so I can return to Acting and Singing. I have genuinely been blessed to bring this rich life with me to my acting.
7. What is it about acting that intrigues you?
That’s an interesting term. I don’t think acting intrigues me; it is me. One of my favorite questions to ask people is “Why do you want to be an actor?” You can see it in their eyes. When people have to stop and search for words and you know what they’re trying not to tell you and they’re trying to find something that you will be happy with. They’re not actors. To me, acting is about the ability to develop a reality that you draw people into, even if for a brief period of time. A reality where they are there with you and they are thinking about the scenario you are in and trying to come to grips with it with you. It’s the ability to cause people to think about what they’ve just seen and to talk. It’s not a matter of telling them who was right and who was wrong; it’s frequently not that simple. But they talk or if it’s a comedy, and the best one’s will also cause them to think, it can also be about providing a brief period of time for people to watch you and just recharge themselves. That’s the gift of acting and what intrigues me is why would you want to act if that’s not where you’re coming from and how could an actor possible not act. I know it sounds silly but it is the air we breath.
8. Please tell us about these roles: fallen angel, a Police Commissioner and Adolf Hitler’s astrologist. What movies did you play these roles? Director? A-listers? Brief synopsis of the film. What did you like most about each of these characters?
You’re speaking about my three upcoming roles. The first one where I am the fallen angel Purah. I am both a holy and demonic angel. I am the angel of oblivion, who can help you forget bad things that have happened to you or bring hopelessness to you and invoke necromantic rituals. The film and series is written by C. Christian Anderson and Michelle Tipton and Directed by Billy Holden. You will have to watch to see whether my angelic or demonic self wins out.
As Police Commissioner Parker, I am in charge of a series of task forces called Vice Squad. My responsibility is to direct each of the various units as they uncover child trafficking and deal with other real life criminal cases. Vice Squad is written and Directed by Kevin C. Kellum and Produced by Stephanie Kellum with the assistance of numerous individuals as they take Vice Squad to LA, NYC, Dallas and Las Vegas.
As Karl Ernst Krafft, I am the astrologer Adolph Hitler turns to during the Third Reich. This outstanding story was written and will be directed by David Bryant Perkins who has written the character from history to accurately not only portray those involved with the Third Reich, but the life of Karl Ernst Krafft.
9. Tell us about your patent.
The patents full name is “The Fleming Method for Tissue and Vascular Differentiation and Metabolism (FMTVDM) using same state single or sequential Quantification Comparisons.” Now you know why I use the accronym FMTVDM. The patent is the FIRST diagnostic imaging test which can actually “measure” what’s happening at the cellular leve of your body by measuring changes in blood flow and metabolism. As such it “measures” Heart Disease, just like a ruler can measure length AND Cancer; including Breast Cancer. The specific component of the patent which can find and measure Breast Cancer and changes leading up to and before Breast Cancer is called Breast Enhanced Scintigraphy Test (B.E.S.T.) Imaging, and now you know why that part of the test, which finds Breast Cancer is called B.E.S.T. Because it is actually measuring what’s happening it also means it is the FIRST time we can do a test (B.E.S.T.), give you a treatment (diet, drugs, immune therapy, hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery) and then repeat B.E.S.T. and tell you whether your treatment worked or failed; saving you time, money and quite possibly your life.
10. Have you played any doctor roles?
Well aside from playing myself on The Today Show, MSNBC, 20/20 and a documentary “Reverse Aging Now” which won the 2007 Telly Award as well as being filmed in action on the streets and doing a heck of a lot of TV interviews, I’ve actually “played” doctors in two different episodes of “Investigation Discovery” and most recently as Doctor Silberman in “The Choice.“ A thought provoking film about a woman with terminal Ovarian Cancer who elects to forgo treatment. The film was written by Flavia Costa, Robert Florio, Matthew Mancuso and Bruce S. Silberman. Robert and Bruce produced the film and it was Directed by Darce and Robert Florio.
11. What was your favorite role and why?
I have to admit, there truly isn’t a favorite role. That’s like asking me which of my children is my favorite; they all are. Every role has something unique, someone that’s a part of me that I bring to the role. Whether it’s a wizard, or the joker, or President Shepherd, or the gray-haired man, or a Police Commissioner or Fallen Angel, or a Doctor. The favorite role is the one I’m concentrating on at the time and the one you’re watching and becoming part of because you can’t imagine anyone else playing that role; I am that person.
12. Does a diverse background make for a good Actor?
Absolutely! I was standing at Ralphs a day ago and listenting to some guy trying to tell a girl about a role he was auditioning for. He really wanted the role so he was asking this girl, who it sounded like he already knew, what he should do to get the role. Seriously, How would she know what you should do I thought? Well, I’m originally from Iowa, so I’m happy to help if I can, so I looked at him and asked him, what did he think he should do for the audition and he said lie; give them what they want. WOW. Awkward. That wasn’t at all what I was expecting to hear or hoping for. Foolish me. No, I said, give them you! That’s what they want to see and if you are not what they are looking for, don’t try to be something that is going to be fake just to get the role. They are looking for something in you that isn’t acting, but bringing that part of you that connects with the character, that’s what they are looking for. Does having a diverse background help make a good Actor? Absolutely. All my life experiences, the good, the bad, the ugly and just occasionally some really outstanding ones, gives me more depth to tap into as I’m thinking about who I am going to make the Doctor, lawyer, Physicist or other scientist, Police Commissioner, fallen (or not) Angel, wizard, father, you name it, into, in the role I will bring to you. I never want you comparing me to someone else, I am bringing the FIRST Richard Maximus Fleming Vlamingen to the role and in the end all I want you to say is I can’t imagine it being done any other way.
13. Please share with us your recent projects/film.
The most recent one was the role of “gray-haired” man in the TV Comedy Series “Adversity.” I think people look at me and say serious theatrical type and I love those roles, but I’m also they guy who lifted his leg on his brother and caused his parents to fall off the davenport laughing. How great is that? Adversity will really cause you to think and even though I kept getting compared to Chandler, that wasn’t because I was trying to be Chandler, it just turned out we’re the same, or at least the Director thought so. I also enjoyed my role in this episode because my youngest son got a part while we were on set. That was fun!
14. What would people be surprised to know about you?
How easily I hurt for others. I’ve spent a lifetime building an exterior necessary to survive all the personally and professionally attacks that come to someone in the fields of Physics and Medicine and for that reason, on outward appearance you will see one face but to those who actually know me as an individual, they know that when someone hurts, I fell that. When they’re hungry, I feel that. When they are abused because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else just because it makes someone else feel good to attack those differences; I feel it. Not only do I feel it, but I do something about it. I have stood between people and I have taken guns away from people pointing them in my face. I hurt and I will defend.
15. Where do you see your acting career in the next few years?
Buidling, constantly building. When I was younger, if you would have asked me what I thought my likelihood of building a successful acting career would be if I waited as long as I did, I probably would not have been as optimistic. Today is different. I bring all this life experience with me along with my “being” my “essence” as an actor. In a society where people are living longer, and remember I’m only in “late youth”, the roles for Actors in “late youth” are increasing as we tell stories of humanity, struggles, good vs. evil, fun and life. Where will I be in the next few years? Building. Carpe Diem Quam Minimum Credula Postero!
16. What is the Fleming Method?
The Fleming Method is something I put together myself as I thought about what acting means to me. It evolved out of my own experiences and in response to the same types of questions I hear repeatedly. Fears over forgetting lines, where to look, making “strong” choices, etc. When I lifted my leg on my brother and my parents fell off the davenport, I didn’t think, will this be funny, how do I do it, or anything else. I did what seemed funny at the time and had fun. Problems forgetting lines? You need to make them part of you. Problems with nerves? How can you be nervous when this is the greatest job in the world and it’s not about you; it’s about the other person(s). Hopefully the few thoughts I’ve put together will help you enjoy being an Actor. If nothing more, it will give you a better picture of me. If you’re an Actor and you know it; don’t give up, don’t compare yourself to others and remember it’s never about you. I hope that helps.