Coastal Alumnus Lands on the Moon - Coastal Carolina University
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Coastal Alumnus Lands on the Moon

Michael Kelly poses for a photo on campus.

ABOVE: In 2000, Michael Kelly had just reached "self-supporting" status in his acting career

Coastal Alumnus Lands on Moon

The road that has taken Michael Kelly '92 from Coastal's Wheelwright stage to New York City's film industry has been long and arduous, but after years of living the life of the quintessential starving actor, he aimed for the moon. . . and got it.

Michael recently starred as Andy Kaufman's brother in the Milos Forman film Man on the Moon, released in December 1999. Acting in a major Hollywood film with comedy star Jim Carrey is a heady experience, but Michael is quick to give credit where credit is due. "[Coastal theater professors] Chuck Whetzel and Sandi Shackelford had such a tremendous impact on my life," he said. "I can't thank them enough for having the intuition to know how to connect with me."

Entering Coastal in the late 1980's, Michael first was a political science major. One day he signed up for an acting class as an elective and a fire inside of him was kindled. "At the time, the theater department was small but growing," he says. "My classes were so small it was like having a private coach. It gave me a solid foundation for a career in acting."

One of Michael's most memorable events at Coastal was meeting fellow Coastal student Jem Ernst '93. When they met, Jem was living in a hotel and Michael was scheduled to move into the newly-completed residence halls on campus. One of Michael's roommates never showed up, and the rest, as Michael says, is history.  Jem and Michael are still roommates, having been friends for more than 12 years.

After getting greasepaint in his blood, Michael went on to star in the Coastal productions of The Imaginary Invalid, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and The Glass Menagerie. Upon graduation he moved to New York and – after countless unsuccessful auditions and casting calls – began landing occasional stage roles with companies such as Studio A, the O'Neill Group, and the Actors Studio Free Theatre, where he is a lifetime member.

Along the way, Michael earned a number of film and television parts as well. Among his many credits are roles in the film River Red, a 1998 Sundance Competition winner, and the Houston Film Festival Gold Award winning production of Origin of the Species. His television debut was a featured part in the ABC show The City.

His role in Man on the Moon is the highlight of Michael's career thus far, but he hopes even better parts will follow. "My goal when I left Coastal was to make a comfortable living from acting," he proclaims. "These last two years I have been self-supporting in my career and my future goal is to continue along that path."


 Michael Kelly article

This is how the article appeared in the Spring 2000 issue of Coastal Magazine