Will Ropp ’12: A Bolles Student’s Journey to Hollywood

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On set with mentor, Ben Affleck.

Will Ropp began his acting career after completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Michigan.

Ropp with Jason Clarke on the
set of their movie Silk Road.

Ropp with ‘team’ boarding Affleck’s jet to Vegas.

Will Ropp’s dad raised him to persevere, to stick up for his dreams, and to live life to be a good person.

Ropp ‘12 remembers what his father taught him when he is faced with adversity.

In Ropp’s business, he is faced with adversity more times than not.

He goes out for nerve-wracking auditions in bleak white rooms in front of a row of intimidating blank stares.

He keeps a level head because of his ability to trust in his training and the craft of acting.

He said, “I think, for me, performing is just a good way of expressing yourself and it’s just, like, where I feel most comfortable is on stage or in front of a camera. And I’m obsessed now with it and I really wasn’t at the time when I was in Bolles.” He added, “But once I got to college I kind of learned more about the process of filmmaking and how things are made and directing. And so now I’m just a film nut. I’m obsessed with film and television, I watch everything.”

The Connecticut native began his Bolles experience as a boarder his junior year. Ropp’s experience “was so great because you really become like family and brothers with your fellow boarders. Some of my people I boarded with I’m still friends with today. They visit me out in LA. I am connected with a lot of Bolles people actually out here.”

Ropp was a part of the junior varsity baseball team, however acting eventually became his true passion. Ropp played Beethoven in Still Life with Iris along with Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and Cornelius in Hello Dolly.

“My goal as an actor is to, I don’t know, make the audience or viewer think–just to change the audience or viewer in a way that they didn’t feel before they entered the theater, or TV screen or whatever they’re watching it on. Just to like, cause change and effect and inspire or shed light on certain topics discussed often.”
Head of the Arts department, Mrs. Laura Rippel, influenced Ropp’s acting. She even coached Ropp on his monologue to audition for college.

He said, “She was kinda the one that first told me that she thought I could do this professionally. She really took me under her wing.”

Rippel even helped Ropp a few months ago when he was in Jacksonville when he needed a reader for an audition tape. They recorded it here at Bolles in Lynch.

Following his 2012 graduation from Bolles, Ropp pursued his passion for acting with a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Michigan. He began acting professionally right when he got out of college.

After one of Ropp’s plays at Michigan, an acting agent approached him and asked if she could sign him. She said that he could finish school, but once he graduated she could be his agent.

This led to Ropp taking his second semester junior year ‘abroad’ in Hollywood, learning and gaining experience on how to get started as an actor.

Most of the projects Ropp has ever worked on recently wrapped which has left him in an excited state of mind.

One of the projects he wrapped is a Warner Brothers movie called The Way Back about an alcoholic widowed basketball coach played by Academy and Golden Globe Award winner Ben Affleck, who returns to his former high school to coach the basketball team.

Ropp spent ten weeks on set with Affleck and said the experience “was great. He is just a really amazing guy and an amazing actor. He took us under his wing and taught us so much about filmmaking and directing and acting. He didn’t treat us any less than the other actors that he works with. It doesn’t matter that we’re not Matt Damon, he treats us with the same respect.”

Ropp said Affleck “was our coach so it was just like if you’re on a basketball team, you’re with your coach everyday. He really became our coach in a sense. Not only literally in the movie, but like a life and career coach along the way.”

On the last day of the shoot, Affleck gave his ‘basketball team’ framed jerseys signed with personalized messages on them. For Ropp, the jersey serves as “a reminder to myself of the hard work and the effort that it has taken to get to where I am.”

The team is going to have a screening of the movie at Affleck’s house. He also flew the team out on his private jet to Vegas to celebrate wrapping the film. Ropp added that Affleck is a good blackjack player.

Last summer Ropp did a movie called Silk Road which is a thriller based on a true story about a 20-year old cyber drug dealer. Ropp plays a DEA officer, and Jason Clarke’s boss.

Ropp said that “Jason is amazing. Jason is like a really, really good actor. Just like all about the work, all about the script. He’s very good at improving and taking the character in unexpected, spontaneous directions. He’s Australian, which I never knew and he plays an American so amazingly.”

Anticipating the feedback of a movie by critics and the public is stressful. In Ropp’s profession extreme competition is the norm. Ropp said actors often don’t even hear back from auditions.

To cope with the reality of rejection Ropp said, “You have to trust your training and trust the work and keep pushing.”

 

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