Robert Factor
Interviewed By: Gringo

Robert Factor was one of the main stars - as militant George - of Ninja Academy, the low-budget, relatively decent comedy that's been reviewed on this site. I contacted him and asked for an interview, seeing as I'd just watched the movie for the 356,260th time. Amazingly enough, he agreed.

Gringo: Who are you? Introduce yourself, please.

Robert: I'm Robert Factor.

Gringo: Perfect. How did you get the part in Ninja Academy?

Robert: An actor I knew in college (in pantomime class) was very fond of my work. I used to do heavy dramas of guys going to the electric chair and being on death row as my pantomimes and he never forgot them. He was casting Ninja Academy and he called me to come in and audition for it. He was trying to really impress the producer and get the best people he knew in to make himself look good as casting director. He told me that he was playing one of the main characters; either George or the James Bond character.

When I was in the waiting room at the audition there were several guys up for the role of George. I could hear every one of them through the door and they were all yelling as the character. I figured since they were all doing the same thing I had to do something completely different. I took a different approach and did it kind of like Clint Eastwood would. It worked. The producer and director told me on the spot I pretty much had the role. The guy that called me in didn't get either role that he was supposed to get. I heard he was very angry about it.

Gringo: Where was the movie shot?

Robert: Topanga Canyon, California.

Gringo: What was working for Nico Mastorakis like [the writer/producer/director]?

Robert: He was a tyrant type of character. Always yelling and abusive towards everyone on the set. Kept saying he couldn't stand Americans and pretty abusive to the women. Always trying to cop a feel with them. He fired the director after the first day of filming - I believe he did so because he wanted to direct the film. I worked tor the director on another low-budget called Bad Channels. I actually got along with Nico and he told me he would hire me for other films...I never heard from him again.

Gringo: What about the rest of the cast - what were they like?

Robert: All the actors were fun to work with. We all bonded pretty much. I would imitate Nico off the set and we were always telling each other jokes. I especially got close to Kathleen, Lisa, Gerald and Art Camacho. Jack Frieberger had been friends with my wife so I knew him already.

Gringo: How long did the shoot take?

Robert: We spent about 4 weeks on the set I believe.

Gringo: So what was the best thing about making Ninja Academy?

Robert: The best thing about making the film was the food and my co-stars.

Gringo: And the worst?

Robert: Unfortunately there were some bad things about making the film. Nico would change scenes on us without any warning. We would be in our trailers preparing for one scene that we were suppose to be shooting next and when we arrived on the set he would inform us we were doing another. Of course no one had their lines down. He told us if we didn't have our lines down we would be cut from the scene. Fortunately I learned my lines quickly and wasn't cut. I think a couple of the girls weren't so lucky.

We also had a problem getting paid one week and we all refused to go back to work until we did. He threatened, we threatened back. There were some heavy rains and we were stuck for a day. Also, I didn't want to play George like Clint Eastwood and approached it differently but he insisted I do it like Clint Eastwood as far as the voice.

Gringo: What did you think of the movie once it was completed?

Robert: I don't think I really cared for the film the first time I saw it. When I saw it again, I think I enjoyed it better because I thought about the fun we were having and I laughed at several scenes (I think).

Gringo: Was there any word of a sequel? Low-budgets seem to spawn them.

Robert: I can't remember if Nico talked about a sequel. He did tell me he wanted to work with me again. I don't know if I would have or not. I think the conditions would have had to be different.

Gringo: Did you keep in touch with any of your co-stars?

Robert: I did keep in touch with a few of them for a while, but have since lost touch. I see Jack Frieberger every once in a while The last time I talked to Lisa (which was a few years ago) she was married and had a child I think. I don't know whatever happened to Kathleen. Gerald was working in some of the films that Art Camacho was directing. Once in a while I run into James Lew.

Gringo: What other films have you been in?

Robert: I've had small roles in some other films...Bad Channels, House Party (my scene was cut, but they liked me enough to keep me on the cast list so I could receive residuals) and Fear, which is now called Honor Betrayed and it plays cable a lot, but they really chopped it up.

I am most proud of the original version of Fear. I had third billing after Cliff DeYoung and Kay Lenz. Frank Stallone also starred. I played the villain; a crazed Vietnam vet mass murderer. I actually won an award for being a best villain. We shot it fast with no preparation and on a very low budget. I got to play the opposite of myself...I like to think that anyway.

I also did a few TV movies...Family Album, Flight 90: Disaster On The Potomac and A Long Way Home.

Gringo: What are your favourite films?

Robert: In no particular order: On The Waterfront, Taxi Driver, Godfather Parts I and II, Once Upon A Time In America, Raging Bull, Deer Hunter and Waiting For Guffman. Why?...who knows?

Gringo: If you could have played any role in movie history, which one would it be?

Robert: If I was given the role of my choice it would probably involve one of the above films. In my opinion they are great and I would love to work with the actors and directors.

Gringo: What are you up to these days?

Robert: These days I'm pretty busy. I lost my wife of 22 years in June from cancer. I had written two one-act plays and I was in rehearsal but I put everything on hold to care for my wife for about ten months. I had written a play - in which I play Elvis - a few years ago and did it at two different theatres. I adapted it to a screenplay and was moving on it, but had to put it on hold also.

I'm now going to move forward with it and I'm also getting ready to do a documentary on my wife. I'm writing several one-act plays and I wrote a book of poetry for my wife, which I gave to her on Christmas of last year. It's called From Me To You...My Love. It's a collection of poems I had written to her over the years. I write a lot of poetry. A guy I know is writing music to one of my poems and we'll see what happens. I will also put together another book of poetry. I self published the first one and I want to get a distributor and get it out there.

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