been a busy few months for Western Carolina University theater arts faculty member
Stephen Michael Ayers, who suddenly finds himself in front of the camera almost
as much as he is in front of the classroom.
associate professor of theater arts at Western, has signed a four-episode deal
to be a guest star on NBCs new science-fiction thriller Surface.
job comes on the heels of his roles in three motion pictures since the summer,
including an upcoming basketball film starring Haley Joel Osment of The
Ayers, a member of
the Western theater arts faculty since 1985, portrays a high school basketball
coach in Home of the Giants, a coming-of-age story written and directed
by Rusty Gorman and being filmed in Greensboro this fall.
also spent about six weeks over the summer working on two films The
Work and the Glory: American Zion and The Work and the Glory: A House
Divided directed by Sterling Vanwagenen, co-founder of the Sundance
It has been sort
of crazy all of a sudden, says Ayers, an accomplished television and movie
actor whose credits include recurring roles on TV shows Matlock and
Ill Fly Away and parts in several motion pictures, including
Days of Thunder and That Darn Kat. After working on the
two The Work and the Glory films over the summer, I was really ready
for golf and my yard. Then I got a call about a new feature being done with Haley
Joel Osment, who is now 17 years old. They sent me the script, and I loved it.
I went to read for the director, and that was that.
had just finished his work on The Home of the Giants when he received
another call, this time from the casting director for the NBC series The
Surface, being filmed in Wilmington. He landed the part of Dr. Paul Blum,
a marine biologist and aquarium director investigating a mysterious sea creature,
for a minimum of four episodes, which began airing Nov. 21.
neat thing was that I go down to the set and find out that one of my students,
R. Keith Harris, who graduated in 1992, is in the episode with me, he said.
How cool is that professor and former student working side by side
in the industry?
Ayers is trying
to persuade producers of Surface to allow his current theater students
onto the set to watch as the program is being made.
would love for students in my acting class to be able to go down and observe what
really happens on the set and to see how long it can take to get that one shot
lasting only 20 seconds on the screen, he says. And theres a
chance that some of them might even be able to be extras in the show.
addition to his past work on Matlock and Ill Fly Away,
Ayers also has appeared on In the Heat of the Night, Dawsons
Creek, Savannah, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
and 15 made-for-TV movies. His motion picture roles include work on Cherry
Falls, Nashville, The Bermuda Triangle, Andersonville,
West of Hester Street and A Burning Passion.
his acting career, he has appeared alongside Karen Black, Carroll OConnor,
George C. Scott, Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Elizabeth Montgomery, Peter Boyle,
Andy Griffith, Sam Waterston, Randy Quaid, Cary Elwes, Nicole Kidman, Shannon
Daugherty, Christina Ricci and Katie Homes.
who is head of the professional acting and directing program at Western, is a
1975 graduate of Maryville College. He earned his masters degree from the
University of Houston at Clear Lake and his doctorate from the University of Colorado
For more information about the
theater arts program at Western, call 828- 227-7491, or visit http://www.wcu.edu/as/ctd/.