Riley Smith on “New York Minute” and Teen Movies

Date: May 4, 2004

Riley Smith plays a bike messenger who falls head over heels for Ashley Olsen in the teen comedy, “New York Minute.” Catching up with Smith at the movie’s World Premiere, I had a chance to find out what’s on the horizon for this handsome young actor and what it was like to work with Mary-Kate and Ashley on their first feature film.


How was it to deal with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen as producers?

As producers it was great because they were not only like our co-stars but our bosses so if we had a problem or we had an issue – for instance, a clothing issue that I had – or [a problem with] lines, you could go to them and they’d change it. Quickly it was a done deal.

Was it kind of weird that you have a director, and you have the producers on the set, and you’re acting with the producers? Was there ever a balance of power issue?

There’s a lot of heads involved. The beauty of it was that it was a team effort. Everybody listened to everybody’s ideas. Everybody really worked together and tried to come together in creating this.

How much freedom did you have in creating your character?

Not a whole lot. This wasn’t fulfilling for me as an artist, really. There’s only so much you can do. By the way, I was filming “24” at the same time so my hair was stuck and physically I could not change at all. Every other week I was filming “24.” This movie took place in 24 hours, that show takes place in 24 hours, I wore the same two sets of clothes for three months straight.

What type of projects are you looking at now?

I have a stack [of scripts] lined up at home. I have a couple lined up and I’m also trying to write and produce a couple of TV ideas to pitch to the networks. I’ve got two things right now that I’m going to go out with in a couple of weeks and try to pitch.

Progressing out of teen movies, what would be your ideal project?

Well, you know something different from this one or the last one. I like playing guys who have some kind of disability, something against them. Not necessarily a physical disability or mental disability, but something that’s against all odds. The underdog is something that’s hard for me to play because I guess I kind of have a look that may not be an underdog look.

You have that All-American popular jock look.

Yeah, right. I’m from Iowa and I kind of look like that ‘Iowa guy.” But I’m working on that. It’s all about how you carry yourself and your mindframe, because that’s really what I want to play.

You’d have to do like a Charlize Theron-style makeover.

That’s the thing – I want to. The next film I do, I want to make sure I change my look up. Like in “Radio,” I had really long hair for the role. I had hair extensions that were a pain in the ass, but I wanted to do it for the role. And then in this one, I have my hair. Maybe in the next one I’ll have a shaved head. I don‘t know – whatever. A chipped tooth, just something.

I know you jumped into the acting business really quickly and now you have a management team. Is it kind of surreal having a ‘team’ helping you, and does it make you feel like you’re a business?

Yeah, well, for me, I didn’t have a lot of financial assistance and I didn’t have a lot of guidance with that stuff. So yeah, I learned. I got rich, I got broke. I got rich, I got broke. I went through it all because it all came so quick. I was a kid and I had a lot of money. I bought three cars at one point, so I was always overextending myself. So just learning how to run it like a business. it’s like I’m a corporation and you have to learn to run it. It’s a business. I still haven’t really grasped it yet, but I’m still learning how to run my company. I have a business manager but you don’t ever want to turn everything over to them. You’ve got to be able to know what’s going on. I’m really just trying to learn the fundamentals of running a business.