Chatting With Marci Michelle from “TOUCH”

8 02 2013

MarciMichelle1Not only does Marci Michelle Peters-Keirn help other actors learn their lines and sometimes perform their scenes during takes, she also can be found as several different characters in the “24” world, and also in the premiere episode, “Event Horizon” on TOUCH which premieres Friday, February 8, 2013 at 8/7 central on FOX. Look for her in the news staff scenes.

From her website, “Marci Michelle grew up surrounded by the stage and screen. Her grandmother, Charlotte Peters, starred in a variety show from 1947 to 1969 and was dubbed the First Woman of St. Louis Television. Her father, Mike Peters, is a Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist and creator of the comic strip, Mother Goose & Grimm. Sunday afternoons were regularly devoted to black and white movies and she claims “The Women” as one of her favorite films.

After graduating from Ringling School of Art & Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Marci found her way to CA by way of a family friend and immediately fell back in love with being on set and all of the processes of filmmaking. Starting out as a background actor and stand-in, she quickly became a member of the SAG Union and fittingly her first SAG job was as on the movie “Looney Toons: Back In Action” which was endearing to her as the late cartoonist Chuck Jones had been her father’s mentor.”

How did you become a dialogue coach?

I don’t really coach, it’s more of a ‘dialogue consultant’ job and it started back on “24”. That show had copious amounts of scenes where actors were delivering most their dialogue on the phone, on comm, into a walkie, speaker, etc. so instead of figuring out complicated scheduling for actors to come in and deliver their off-camera lines to the actor on camera, it just became easier for me to deliver the lines to them. Especially for Kiefer [Sutherland}. Kiefer had such a heavy load of technical dialogue to get through in every scene that it worked well for us to run the lines thus getting the fast-paced rhythm down. And then, on rare occasion, when he was unavailable, I could deliver his rapid-fire lines to the other actors when they performed on camera.

What are the attributes that make a dialogue consultant outstanding in their field?

From what I have been told by the actors I have worked with, to deliver lines to actors with enough of a “heart-beat” without verbally dictating where the scene should go emotionally seems to be my forte. If, on occasion, an actor asks for the scene to be read with more life I can do that, but most of the time, reading the dialogue with just enough inflection to enable them to make their own artistic choices works best.

What is one memorable moment (a positive memory or a valuable lesson) that you can share with us?

Memorable moment: Kiefer’s uncanny ability to read the nerve level of young actors and instantly and subtly figure out a way of taking their mind off their nerves thus allowing them to give excellent performances. This virtue of his has helped numerous times he has worked in scenes with children especially. He’ll break out coloring books and get down on their level, running the scene with them while keeping them occupied with crayons.

What surprises have you encountered being a dialogue consultant that you did not expect when you entered the industry?

What surprises me and what I adore about my job is seeing the way different actors prepare for their scenes. I’m dyslexic–no joke–so it fascinates me to see the way people memorize anything! Kiefer is an auditory learner. He just needs to hear the words out loud and it locks into that sponge of a brain of his. Some need to run the lines continuously, others need to run them fast just a couple times before a take, and some need lots of props within a scene to play with. Just fascinating.

Besides your parents, who have been great influencers in your life?

Probably my husband of 22 years for being such an incredibly hard worker all the time and my paternal grandmother for being such an outspoken strong woman.

Are there any set differences between working on “24” and working on “TOUCH?”  For example, the pace, the tone, the location, your interaction with the actors or extras in your capacity on set?

The biggest difference between the two series, especially in the first season of “TOUCH” was the pace of the show. Season 2, you will find, picks up pace in a GRAND way. The dialogue is, of course, different as well, not as much technical military vocabulary happening. And the emotional range of where Kiefer’s character, Martin Bohm, has had to go is much broader than that of Jack Bauer I think.


Marci Michelle & Kiefer Sutherland in TOUCH, Season 1, “Safety In Numbers”

The premise of “TOUCH” expands the Chinese legend of the red string of fate of soul mates into a larger theme of tying the destiny of people together. Do you believe in destiny?

I believe in the connectivity of life. I believe that we are connected on a vibrational level and that when you tap into that idea you can see glimmers of those connections.

Do you have your own “TOUCH” story?

You have no idea. SO MANY! Here’s one: When I first moved to Los Angeles I worked as a Massage Therapist. My car had recently gotten broken into, and while finishing up paperwork at the spa I worked in, I was telling the receptionist this crazy story of how when I went to the car dealer to have my CD changer replaced. He told me to head to the parts department. I went over to the parts department and told the man that I needed a new CD changer. He went into the back and said they were out. He said “Write your name down with your number and I’ll call you when it comes in.” I write my maiden name down, Marci Peters. He looks at me and asks “Are you related to Mike and Marian Peters?” I dumbfoundedly replied, “YES?! How would you know that?” He said “I was stationed with your dad in Okinawa. You look like your parents.” I said “So you’ve kept in contact with them?” He replied “Nope. Haven’t talked to them in 30 years!” WHAT!! Now while I’m telling this story to the receptionist, there is a man that I had worked on [therapy], sitting in the lobby of the spa hearing all this, waiting for his wife. He interrupted and said “Your dad is Mike Peters, the cartoonist?” I said, “Yes”, to which he replied, “My sister used to babysit you and your sisters back in Ohio!” I KID YOU NOT!!

Do you believe in karma? Do you have examples from your own life of a positive or negative karmic experience?

Definitely. I’m a pay-it-forward-type person and definitely live my life with much respect to KARMA. My life is proof of positive energy begetting positive energy.


I really wish I to sing better, play the guitar, and speak fluent French.

I’d love to spend a lazy Sunday... with my family watching old black and white movies.

My secret talent is… I’m a book binder, yogi, and massage therapist.

Best spontaneous decision was… moving to LA.

The best advice someone gave you was… to do what I love and the money will follow (my father).

I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Marci for stopping by today to give us some insight into how things work behind the scenes. Tune in to TOUCH on Friday nights, starting Friday, February 8, 2013 at 8/7 central on FOX.

You can follow Marci on Twitter:   @MarciMichelle

Life Without Regrets

30 11 2010

Ever since I was 17 when I walked out of an abusive foster home after my foster mother attempted to choke me, I made a pact with myself that I would never look back. I was now finally the captain of my fate and could decide my own destiny. Whatever the consequences, good or bad, they would be experiences from which to learn and grow.

As I was driving today, I realized that next year would be the 30th anniversary of that life-altering decision. Have I honored that commitment?

Everything that has happened along the way, all the way back to the time I was born, has made me the person I am today. I would not be human if I didn’t admit that it would have been nice to have gone through life without some of the horrendous situations, like the abuse I experienced as a child. But even those situations had positive side effects. Let me give you an example. If I had not been eventually abandoned by my mother, I would not have been placed in a foster home. Had I not been placed in the foster home, I would have never met my friend, Patty. If I never met my friend, Patty, I would have never met my future husband now of 18 years. Although you cannot imagine it at the time it is happening to you, good can come from evil. You can overcome tragic circumstances and have a happy and fulfilling life if you are willing to put in the hard work to change behaviors, stop the cycle of abuse, and commit to finding out what is “normal” when you’ve lived such a dysfunctional life. It truly is a matter of choice.

Having said that, there are a few things that still make my regret list:
1. Having come from a place in my heart of good intentions, my actions hurt a friend. Although she has forgiven me, I have not been able to forgive myself.
2. Helping someone I barely knew get home, a decision that had consequences I still deal with today even after therapy.
3. Hitting a few off-key notes at my vocal recital at Hamman Hall at Rice University. I know, it sounds like a silly one, but I never sang in public again.
4. Watching “Man of the Year” starring Robin Williams. I will never get that time back.

With the exception of that movie, the good news is that I still have time to fix the others.

The second part of living a life without regret is not having a long bucket list. While I have a variety of things I consider just “wishes”, there is only one item currently on my bucket list: I would like to go swimming with dolphins in the wild. After watching “The Cove” I could not in good conscience swim with dolphins in captivity, so I must venture to the open sea to fulfill this wish. I’ll have to remember to bring plenty of Dramamine.

None of us knows when our lives will be over. Live your life in the moment without regrets for the past. You cannot overly worry about the future either. If you find yourself saying, “if only” or “what if” too often every day, you cannot focus on the pleasures and sorrows of the here and now. Although I thought I knew this lesson well, having my son with severe autism (and other disabilities) only deepened my understanding of what that truly meant. In order to build a bridge to reach him, I had to be present with him. I would sometimes spend hours with him in our playroom we built just for him to make some sort of connection. There were times he appeared catatonic and would only briefly look up and around. I had to make myself his favorite toy in the room. I noticed that if I was looking up at the clock or worrying in my head about all the things I had to get done in the house, he would be less responsive to me. Somehow, he knew. There was no faking out this child. It took a long time, but we built that bridge. I repeated to him verbally quite often that if he felt that his world was safer for him that I was going to be totally 100% okay with that. I was not trying to fix him; I was sending him an invitation. He eventually RSVP’d a “yes” response.

Yes, he has challenges. Yes, life will not be easy for him as he ages. Yes, there have been many sacrifices that this diagnosis came with, including my health. He has been my greatest blessing and my life teacher. How many parents can say they still find magic in their kids making eye contact with them 15 years after they were born? How many parents pull their hair out during the teenage years when their children start rebelling, yet I would give my life just to have 24 hours to have a real conversation with him. I learned to never take anything for granted. To live my life as free as possible of regret one minute at a time.