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Will Roberts. Behind The Scenes

Will Roberts is an award-winning actor, film and television weapons expert, cowboy, author, reporter, dancer, and holder of two Guinness World Records


Can you tell us about your role in Oppenheimer and what initially drew you to this project?

The role I play in Oppenheimer is General George C. Marshall, who is also the creator of the World War II after-project called the Marshall Plan, which helped save Europe. I originally auditioned for this Christopher Nolan film through my agent, as we actors do. When we got the audition sides — parts of the script that we auditioned with — I read for Marshall through a very well-known casting director, John Papsidera. I knew by seeing his name on the project that it was going to be a big project because John is the casting director for Westworld, 1883, Yellowstone, and many other large projects. I submitted my audition, which we do now most of the time in our own studios through self-taping.

We get the scene, do the acting, and have someone read the opposite lines, and then we submit that.

I imagine there were thousands of people auditioning for these roles, as there usually are. I received an email from my agent saying that I was pinned, which in the industry means that you have made it to a certain point where the casting director and the director, which would have been Christopher Nolan, really liked what you did, and you are in a group of people; it could be a few, it could be hundreds. However, I received the notification that same day that I was cast as General Marshall. At that time, I still did not know what the film was or the role I was playing because they gave us what we call a dummy script, which didn’t exist in the film, and they didn’t tell us the name of the director or the name of the film. That’s what happens a lot with very large-scale studio films. I did a lot of research and found out that it was Christopher Nolan’s film and the character I was playing.
How did you come to own the oldest established magic shop in Monterey, and what inspired you to pursue a career in magic?

The story of how I came to be the new owner of Zucchini’s Tricks and Things, or as we are calling it now, The Magic Wand Shop at Zucchini’s, is interesting. Zucchini’s Tricks and Things is 45 years old and the oldest Magic Shop in California. I worked there at the original shop 44 years ago on historic road in a building called Oscars when I was a teenager and became interested in magic. I’d always loved magic and remembered watching it on TV. I worked there for almost ten years, on and off. My original attraction to magic, of course, was seeing it on TV because we didn’t have YouTube back then. But I wound up hanging out at the shop for a long time until the owner came to me and said, “You’ve bought all the tricks. Why don’t you work here now?” Fast forward to about nine months ago, I took over the Magic Shop from the previous owner, Brian Whitehead. He wanted to retire but didn’t necessarily want to stop the legacy of the shop, so I took it over because at the time, we were on strike with the union, and I wanted something to do. I convinced my wife it wasn’t crazy, and I went there, gutted the place, repainted it, and had so much room. I created a magic theater. We currently run magic shows and are adding on a magic wand show very soon.
What sets your magic shop apart from others, and what do you believe contributes to its longevity and success?

The reason why The Magic Wand Shop at Zucchini’s is so different, and I believe will last a long time, is because we have adapted to the idea that retail is certainly something that is important as a magic and gag shop, but I also realized that I needed to have other revenue sources and other ideas to get people into the shop that were fun, engaging, and interactive. So we created a magic academy that kids and adults can learn magic, whether they’ve never done it or if they’ve done it a bunch. It’s these other interactive ideas, like the academy, the ghost tours, magic wand show, and the Seance Cannery Row show we do, that we believe will keep us as a part of the heart of people who come to that shop. 85% of the people that come to our shop say that they have come there since they were a kid and now they’re bringing their kids. The good thing about magic is that it has a very wide demographic. We have little kids that want to learn magic, adults, parents, and seniors that want to learn it or get magic for their grandkids. Everybody loves magic.

Could you share with us some memorable moments or experiences you’ve had at your magic shop throughout the years?

I think the most memorable experiences at the shop have to be interacting with the people who come in. Having them see the magic, experience it, and then want to learn themselves is really the joy of being there. I will do magic for one person or 50 people when they come into the shop, and I have done that. It is very rewarding. The thing that’s rewarding about magic is that you do the trick, you know the secrets, you don’t tell anybody, and they are just amazed, which really is fun. Being a magician is about creating those moments of wonder and astonishment.

Tell us about your Guinness World Records.

I have two Guinness World Records. One is for spinning guns, the old cowboy six-shooters, into my holster. The world record for the longest time was 30 holstered, and I beat it by 44. The other one I hold is for the most people in a big loop, and when a cowboy spins a big loop such as mine, being 100 feet, I put an amount of people in that loop and gained the record by spinning it for over two minutes long.
What was the inspiration behind your pursuit of Guinness World Records, and how do you believe it resonates with your audience?

Well, the inspiration behind getting these two world records is, number one, they contacted me about this world record and acknowledged that I was one of the best, and they wanted me to try to beat the current record. But after that, I went after the trick roping world record because I felt it was a nice little moniker to have on my cowboy belt.

In what ways do you balance your various roles and projects, such as being a part of Oppenheimer, running the magic shop, and working on your books?

Balancing my roles and projects, including my wife and two kids, is not an easy juggle. However, I've made a decision to keep myself focused. I meditate a lot and prioritize what's really important and what's noise. It’s really super easy to get locked into social media and all the extras. As I've been achieving more in my life, I've taken away a lot of the extra distractions and decided what I needed to have. If there's one thing that has really served me over the years, it's something that I came up with that I call "Take a beat." It works in relationships and it works in decision-making. If you find yourself in a situation in life or in a relationship where you're quite possibly going to jump off the edge and say something that you don’t want to or commit to something you don’t want to, I simply take a beat, leave that time open and silent, and in most cases, I find that the answer comes to me or my response back to someone is not going to be based upon an immediate response based upon what they say. I've found that this has served me well.

How do you approach creativity and innovation in both your performances and your projects?

Well, I’m known as probably the guy that has more skills than Black and Decker. I have a lot of different skills from trick roping, gun spinning, whips, ropes, balloon artistry, magic, and acting. My approach to all of these has been that I simply like to learn things, and I believe the more you have in your toolbox, the better off you are in business and in life.
Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations you are excited about that you can share with us?

I am currently about to go to Greece to shoot a feature film. I have about 12 film and TV projects that are coming out this year, and I believe my career will be taking off. Coming soon to a theater near you.

What do you hope to be remembered for in your career?

I think the thing I want to be remembered most for in my career is that I was an actor who did not act. I think a lot of times, actors spend their time acting, and it's not sincere because they approach it that way. Acting shouldn’t be something that you turn on and turn off. It should be something that you just are. I also want to be remembered for being the actor who was a chameleon because I am sort of a method actor or a character type actor. I like doing projects where, at the end, when people see me, they don’t know that was me.
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