Robert Ray Shafer Jr. - An amazing history of acting talent and a character that no T.V. show can be without.
Country Music Vibe
Interview: Robert Ray Shafer Jr. – Actor
Movies most know for: They Want Dick Dickster, Psycho Cop, Pee Wee’s Big Holiday, The Office
Date of interview: 2/15/2018
Robert Ray Shafer
"A few characters from T.V. shows that you can't be without. Robert Shafer is one of them".
I have to start out by mentioning that Robert Ray Shafer Jr. is best known for the movies listed above. However, he has stared or appeared in over 30 or more movies, including T.V. shows. This was just within the years 1984 – 2015.
However, when you think of Bobby Ray Shafer, it might not register until you say “you know, Bob Vance Refrigeration”. Then it becomes clear that he was on many episodes of the T.V. Series “The Office”. Suddenly he becomes this huge icon, someone that is larger than life itself. There is no one else like Bob Vance, from Bob Vance Refrigeration. There are few characters in “The Office” that you couldn’t be without. His character Bob Vance is one of them. I felt like I knew the character’s role so well. I guess, it was because my father had worked in air conditioning and refrigeration most of his life. In a way, it was a role that I pictured my father playing. Though, Robert Ray Shafer Jr. was the perfect selection for the part. After all, Robert Shafer had the experience as a successful actor, and could easily make us a believe that he was Bob Vance of Bob Vance Refrigeration. I would also be remiss if I didn’t add that he also had a huge cult following for his role as Officer Joe Vickers, in the 1989 movie called Psycho Cop and Psycho Cop 2.
Before he became an actor, Robert Ray Shafer Jr. was born in Charleston, West Virginia, in April, 1958. His father was a heavy equipment operator and his mother a housewife. As a child he also lived in Bowie, Maryland, and graduated from high school in Romeo, Michigan, in 1976. After attending Broward College in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Shafer moved to Los Angeles in 1980. He studied acting with Peggy Feury at The Loft Studios and works in feature films, television, commercials, voice overs and the theater.
He is single and has a 10 handicap, which is not bad. Is he ready to take on the world’s elite golfers? Maybe not just yet. However, with a 10 handicap he will give you some serious competition. By now, you are wondering how in the world did Bobby Ray Shafer Jr. and Country Music Vibe cross paths. Well, Bobby Ray Shafer is also a country music fan. Which immediately piqued our interest. At this point, I’m thinking who else would be better to interview? Bobby Ray Shafer Jr. is a distinguished actor, and he is a country music aficionado. At this point, I was ready to start begging for an interview. However, no such thing was needed. Bob Vance, I mean Robert Shafer Jr. was more than happy to be interviewed by Country Music Vibe. We were more than earnest to accommodate his interview. Needless to say, we dropped everything and took action to put together an interview that would be suitable for an actor of his caliber.
CMV: Hi Mr. Shafer. I have to start out by saying it is a privilege to interview you. It isn’t every day that you get an opportunity to interview a talented actor with a resume that includes more than 30 movies and T.V. shows. Let alone, an actor who played Officer Joe Vickers and Bob Vance.
Mr. Shafer: Thanks for asking.
CMV: We mentioned a little bit in our introduction about your first contact with The Loft Studios in 1980. What made you decide to move to Las Angeles in 1980 to join the world of acting? Especially with so much competition during that time period. Did you ever stop to hesitate and ask yourself “What am I doing”?
Mr. Shafer: I came to L.A. and began modeling and an actress friend convinced me to take acting classes and I went to the Loft Studios and I fell in love with the craft. The competition is just part of the game, and once I made the leap, I just refused to quit.
CMV: If you were to ask any movie fan out there, they probably wouldn’t have any trouble saying who their favorite or most influential actor or actress. Many common responses would be Robert Ray Shafer Jr. Well, you and Robert De Niro. Who would you say, would be your most influential actor or actress, living or not? What aspects of that individual has impacted your life as a professional actor/actress?
Mr. Shafer: I think most actors would tell you that Marlon Brando is the greatest American actor because he really changed acting in films. I also love Cooper, Eastwood, Wayne, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Sam Shepard and Robert Duvall. I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Brando and talk to him and it was a great thrill.
CMV: Just following your social media profile for a time period, I could tell that you are a fan of The Office. How did you come about getting the role as the character Bob Vance from Bob Vance Refrigeration?
Mr. Shafer: I auditioned on a Halloween eve for casting director Alison Jones. As I left the office, some girls costumed as angels, blessed me with their magic wands, and two weeks later, I had a callback with the director, and the next morning, Bob Vance, Vance Refrigeration was on the set.
CMV: Instead of focusing on the last season of The Office (season 9). I would like to talk to you about the rumors that The Office is coming back. Are you in a position to shed some light on those rumors? If yes, have you heard if you would be included on the NEW episodes with your role as Bob Vance from Bob Vance Refrigeration?
Mr. Shafer: I’ve read the comments from NBC and it seems to be looking more likely. I’d be thrilled to be a part of it.
CMV: It was once quoted “As an actor, you don’t want to be typecast, because Hollywood is so quick to put you in things that you’ve succeeded in before”. Looking over the history of movies you have done, most of them seem to be horror or comedy movies. Are you concerned that you have been typecast for a particular role or character?
Mr. Shafer: No, I’ve played a wide-range of roles from coaches and dads to killers and creeps; and it’s really up to the actor to run with what you got.
CMV: My personal opinion, is that as long as you are good at acting, that you can pull off other roles or characters without being typecast. I can read off a list of actors and actresses that have been able to accomplish this successfully. One of the actors to be included in the mix is Robert Ray Shafer Jr. I believe you have been able to convince your audience that you are not the type of actor that can be typecast. You can perform any character in a movie or T.V. show and do it without thinking of you in your role as Officer Ted Warnicky or Bob Vance. To me, these are just characters that you played, and were very convincing in. That is a sign of a talented actor.
Mr. Shafer: I appreciate that. Those classes paid off.
CMV: If it is ok with you, I like to ask you a couple of questions about country music?
Mr. Shafer: What took you so long?
CMV: If you are a country music fan, it seems that you have to take sides regarding traditional or modern country music. There are fan pages, that are named “true country, rebel country, keeping it real country” and the list goes on and on. There is a fear that traditional country is being replaced with modern country. Which is a combination of country and pop music. As you have seen through decades of country music, there has always been a different spin on country music. The critics once said, that Allan Jackson and Toby Keith were the new sound of country music. Now, they are the ones that are being considered the traditionalists. Do you have any advice for those that believe that the traditional sound of country music is going away? Is there room enough for people to enjoy both types of country?
Mr. Shafer: The legends will always be played. The distinctive voices that make up the pantheon aren’t going anywhere. The pop side of country music is fun too, and there’s always room in the country for good music that makes you feel something.
CMV: There you go. Right from the expert himself. While we still have your attention, I would like to find out who your favorite country artists are? Also, is there any independent country bands that you enjoy listening too?
Mr. Shafer: Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Marty Stuart, Dwight Yoakam, The Mavericks and so many more. I like the Davvison Brothers Band, from my home state of West Virginia. Great guys, really hard workers that bring it to every show. It’s been fun watching them build their travel and following. They sound like home.
CMV: I have many more questions, to ask you. However, I respect your time immensely. Would you consider a follow up to this interview?
Mr. Shafer: If you have questions, I have answers, and if not, at least I can “act” like I do.
CMV: Excellent. We can schedule some time in advance. So that our follow up interview doesn’t conflict with any projects you will be working on. Which is probably something we want to cover next time we have a chance to talk. Thank you very much for the time you spent with me today.