An exclusive chat with Billy Black actor Gil Birmingham

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Gil Birmingham, who plays wheelchair-bound patriarch Billy Black in Twilight and in New Moon. Read on to learn a few things you probably don't know about Gil...

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You may be surprised to learn that Gil's background includes the polar opposites of bodybuilding and - after he earned an administration degree from USC - a stint in petrochemical engineering. "I actually fell into acting during my bodybuilding days," he explains. "I was asked to appear in a Diana Ross music video for her song Muscles. It was my first acting experience in front of a camera, and I was hooked."

To date Twilight is his most memorable film, and a combination of youthful energy, director Catherine Hardwicke's vision, and the sheer scope of the film made Twilight a unique project, he says.

Gil admits to enjoying the diversity of roles that now come his way and looks for those which will challenge him as an actor. An appearance on the comedy 10 Items Or Less gave him the chance to experience a different pace and spontaneity to that of traditional drama.

He's also got a new movie coming out - Love Ranch, in which he plays corrupt sheriff Johnny Cortez, right-hand man to Joe Pesci's character Charlie Bontempe. Based on a true story, the film, which is currently in post production, is about the couple who founded Nevada's first legal brothel, the Mustang Ranch.

"I had the opportunity to work with award-winning actress Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci, who both are extremely talented," says Gil. "I was able to watch them and how they approached their roles; it was an honour to work with them."

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