SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Allan Trautman: I’m a puppeteer, actor, director and educator. Here’s some info from my website:
Allan Trautman is an Emmy-nominated puppeteer, actor, improviser, and director. He is a lead puppeteer and puppetry technique instructor for The Jim Henson Company.
Films include Jon Favreau’s live-action remake of The Jungle Book; Babe, Dr. Dolittle, The Country Bears, Cats & Dogs, Muppets from Space, and other projects. He also worked on the two Men in Black movies, Monkeybone, and Jack Frost. He was a series regular on Dinosaurs and Unhappily Ever After, and his work appears in Adam Ruins Everything, Muppets Tonight, A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, and The Muppets Wizard of Oz. Recent Internet appearances include lead characters on Neil’s Puppet Dreams, starring Neil Patrick Harris, on the Nerdist Channel on YouTube. He has also performed leads on SUDS and Alt Reality. Commercial work includes hand shadows for Nationwide Insurance and an animatronic bear for Pepsi.
He is currently preparing for Season 2 of Splash and Bubbles, a new PBS Kids series that debuted in 2016.
Mr. Trautman starred off-Broadway in Stuffed and Unstrung, an improvisational puppet production from The Jim Henson Company. The show, now called Puppet Up!, recently returned from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland and successes at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in Australia and tours throughout the States. He has performed with The Jim Henson Company since 1990 as a lead puppeteer and has directed episodes of Splash and Bubbles and Sid the Science Kid for PBS.
His professional work began while an undergrad at Washington University in St. Louis. He received his MFA in acting from CalArts. As an actor, he has appeared in the Coen brothers movie Intolerable Cruelty and the 1984 cult classic Return of the Living Dead, in which he performed the infamous Tarman. Recent stage work includes leading roles in Equus, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing and Brighton Beach Memoirs.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become an actor?
Allan Trautman: The first desire I had to be on stage was after seeing Ben Vereen in the original Broadway production of Pippin. He seemed to be having so much fun, and I wanted to be a part of that. And I suppose at some level I said to myself, “I could do that!” But I didn’t decide to pursue acting professionally until halfway through my undergraduate career at Washington University in St. Louis. I was a physics major, and decided I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a lab, as much as I loved the subject. So I added a Drama major and was off to the races.
SKSM: How did you become involved in Grey Matter Dollar Baby film?
Allan Trautman: I responded to a casting call, much like the other actors. I was looking for some work that would fill out my acting reel, and I thought this was a good role to do that, since I didn’t have much that was serious, or, for that matter, recent.
SKSM: What do you think it is in the story that attracts people so much?
Allan Trautman: I don’t know about other people, but for me it’s the father–son relationship. This is often a complicated relationship, and this story does a good job of subjectifying it through the eyes of the son.
SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?
Allan Trautman: I auditioned.
SKSM: You worked with James B. Cox on this film, how was that?
Allan Trautman: James was awesome. He was working under some crazy conditions, trying to get a huge amount of footage each day on the small budget he had. But he knew exactly what he wanted and was able to roll with the punches to get it. I found him to be smart and talented.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Allan Trautman: I don’t recall any. I remember it being a relaxed, friendly set. That kind of atmosphere is set from the top down, so kudos to Brian.
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Allan Trautman: Rob and Brian and I are friends on Facebook; I like to follow their adventures.
SKSM: What are you working nowadays?
Allan Trautman: I performed multiple puppet characters on The Happytime Murders, directed by Brian Henson and starring Melissa McCarthy. It’s due in theatres in August of 2018. I was also a Muppet performer in The Muppets Take the Bowl, live at the Hollywood Bowl over the summer—and will repeat the show this coming summer at London’s O2. I continue to perform in Puppet Up! —Uncensored, Henson Alternative’s live puppet improv show.
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Allan Trautman: Yes, although I haven’t read many of his works. But I have enjoyed the ones I did read. He just put out so much material—who has the time!?
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Allan Trautman: I imagine anything would be surprising, since I’m not well known anyway! Picking one at random, I would let you know that I’m really an introvert. I love spending time on my own at home, with family, or working on projects.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?