30 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY March 14-20, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com FACE TO FACE Will Roberts has decades of experience acting in various TV shows, movies and commercials, as well as a successful career as a magician. Roberts, the owner of The Magic Wand at Zucchini’s Magic Shop on Cannery Row in Monterey, had a bit of a dry spell of auditions during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. But one day, he received a call from a big-name casting director that felt very different. Information was hard to come by, and something was nagging at him in the back of his mind about the scene he was given. He was quickly cast for the role, where he learned it was General George C. Marshall. After doing some digging, Roberts found out the name of the film, and its director. It was only Christopher Nolan, and a little project he was working on: Oppenheimer. No big deal, right? Wrong. We now know that Oppenheimer was one of the biggest movies of 2023, grossing $954 million worldwide and winning seven awards at the Oscars on March 10, including Best Picture. “A huge thank you to Christopher Nolan,” Roberts says. “I’ve been doing this for 45 years. It’s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears. When you are picked out of the crowd by Christopher Nolan and put into a room with such high-caliber talent, it’s such a testament.” Roberts spoke to the Weekly from his Temecula studio, having just returned from Virginia for an event at the George C. Marshall Foundation, where he took part in a Q&A following a screening of Oppenheimer. Weekly: How did you land the role? Roberts: I get this audition from John Papsidera. He is like the casting god. Apparently, John likes me and my work. I get this audition and I’m like, “Oh, it’s from John. It’s a big deal.” It’s called “Gadget.” I get the scene, and I’ve got this feeling in my mind that it’s not a real scene. When it’s something big, they don’t say who the director is, they don’t say what the film is. Almost immediately I got a phone call back saying, “They already decided they want you to play the role.” I get the breakdown saying what it actually is, but it still says “Gadget.” It says you’re playing George C. Marshall. I do the research and I find out it’s Oppenheimer. Would you say this is your largest role to date? Largest in respect to the magnitude of the film, yes. In regards to the magnitude of it, I can honestly tell you that every single person in that film, even Robert Downey Jr. and Cillian Murphy, would say, “yeah.” What was going through your mind as you were on set? I spent three months in contact with the General George C. Marshall Foundation in Lexington, Virginia. I wanted to know every single thing I could about George Marshall—how he thought, what he would do. I studied for three months every video, every book, every whatever I could to make sure that when I got into that room, I was on the same level as all the other characters in that film. I was very confident when I walked in there that when we did the scene, everybody was going to be doing their job. It’s a Christopher Nolan film. He assumes that you’re going to have your homework done. The experience was amazing. Now that some time has passed, how do you feel you portrayed the role? Melissa Davis from the Marshall Foundation got ahold of me and said, “You were exactly Marshall. You were spot-on, every motion, every vocal tone, everything was Marshall.” I would say the minute I saw myself in the trailer saying the line, “World War II would be over, our boys would come home,” I went, “Well, if Christopher liked it and put it in the trailer, I’m assuming I did a great job.” I feel good about it. I’ve been getting a tremendous amount of response. Did magic come first before acting for you, or was it the other way around? A gentleman when I was at the shop said, “You’re a good magician, but if you want to be an amazing magician, learn how to act.” I went to Monterey High, I did You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, playing Schroeder. I continuously did theater. I had probably done 100 shows in Monterey. That became something I was doing almost more than the magic, but the magic was certainly paying more. Since I was born, my mom said I was always dancing on the floor, doing stuff at social gatherings with the family. I knew I wanted to be an actor and performer pretty much all the time. In Command Monterey magic shop owner reflects on his time acting in one of the biggest Hollywood flicks of 2023. By Erik Chalhoub Will Roberts stands face-to-face with a bust of George C. Marshall at the World War II general’s foundation in Virginia. Roberts, who owns a magic shop on Cannery Row in Monterey, portrayed Marshall in the blockbuster film, Oppenheimer. COURTESY OF WILL ROBERTS Use this QR code to sign up for a free introductory meeting Life Tools For Men If you are feeling "stuck" or just want more out of life, Breakthrough has the tools to help you create something new now. The Fulfilling Life You’ve Always Wanted... Is Inside You! We’ll Help You Discover It.