ST. GEORGE — Veteran film and television actor, director and producer Colin Alexander Cunningham once spent six weeks learning how to recite the Lord’s Prayer in Portuguese, only to never get to film it.
“I had a part in a movie called ‘Captains Courageous’ and I played Manuel the Portuguese fisherman,” Cunningham said, adding that the original 1937 film starred Spencer Tracy as Manuel.
They’re doing a funeral on the ship and Manuel, it says in the script, is reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Portuguese. So I took the next six weeks, hired a Portuguese instructor and I learned the entire thing phonetically. And it took me all six weeks to learn.
Cunningham said on the day they went to shoot the scene he went up to the director and told him he had learned the whole thing in Portuguese. The director in turn told him to say it under his breath.
“So I spent six weeks learning to say the Lord’s Prayer in Portuguese and we never saw it on film. He (the director) says ‘yeah, yeah, just say it to yourself,'” Cunningham said. “It’s stuff like that where you work your butt off for something and it didn’t happen. It didn’t happen.”
And that is just one small anecdote in the life and career of someone with memorable roles in AMC’s “Preacher,” TNT’s “Falling Skies” and SyFy’s “Blood Drive,” “Stargate SG-1.”
Over the course of his career, Cunningham has been chased by Arnold Schwarzenegger, co-starred as Major Paul Davis in “Stargate SG-1,” had a small part in the beloved indie film “Best in Show,” and starred as John Pope alongside Noah Wyle and Will Patton in the Steven Spielberg/Dreamworks produced television series “Falling Skies.”
Today, the St. George resident said he is grateful for the experiences he has had over the past 30 years and considers himself blessed to have navigated Hollywood for as long as he has.
“I’ve been really blessed as an actor and a director and a producer and I’ve been doing it for 30 years,” Cunningham said, jokingly adding that he has been an unemployed waiter for three decades.
“I look at it sometimes and I’m like, ‘wow’,” he said.
“Falling Skies,” which originally aired on TNT and ran from 2011-2015, is now streaming on HBO Max.
With such a long career in the business, Cunningham said he has a lot of stories to tell and insight to offer.
To that end, Cunningham, in partnership with Encore, a performing arts group for children ages 8-18, is hosting “An Evening with Colin Cunningham: Navigating the Hollywood Minefield, One Actor’s Journey Through the Craft of Make Believe” March 23 at the Electric Theater in St. George.
The intimate evening will feature stories, anecdotes, advice and insight into working in the television and film business.
“There’s a lot more going on than just gets projected up there,” Cunningham said of the behind-the-scenes details that don’t come across when a show reaches the screen.
The event, Cunningham said, will be a celebration of film and television and the craft of acting. It is designed for anyone interested in getting into the film business, parents with children who want to act or just anyone who wants to come and be entertained.
“Hopefully it will be educational and entertaining for anyone who shows up,” he said.
Cunningham said the evening will also act as a sort of introduction of himself to the community he has to chosen to base himself out of.
Born in California in 1966, Cunningham is the son of St. George resident Bill Cunningham. A star in his own right, Bill Cunningham is a former champion bodybuilder who was crowned Mr. Universe three times and was featured on the cover of “Muscle Beach Party” with Annette Funicello and Peter Lupus.
Bill Cunningham was also the oldest contestant ever to have graced the stage in Dixie State University’s talent competition and scholarship fundraiser “Dixie’s Got Talent,” in 2020.
Cunningham’s eyes light up when he talks about his dad and listening to him sing.
“He loves to perform,” Cunningham said of his dad.
The younger Cunningham acted as a judge in this year’s talent competition and has also had parts in some local stage productions and film events. He is also an accomplished professional saxophone player.
He is excited to work with Encore, he said, and share his experience with others.
Tickets for the event are $10 and can be purchased online or at the door.
“We’ll have a blast. We’ll have a lot of fun doing it,” Cunningham said.
- What: “An Evening with Colin Cunningham: Navigating the Hollywood Minefield, One Actor’s Journey Through the Craft of Make Believe.”
- When: Tuesday, March 23, 7 p.m.
- Where: The Electric Theater, 68 E. Tabernacle, St. George.
- Cost: $10.
- Purchase tickets: Online or at the event.
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