Your new movie Hate
Crime - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us
about your character in it?
Crime is a story about one of the worst things we can
imagine, being attacked in our home. The
attackers come in with a ideology of racial/religious hate.
I play the character One, who tries to drive the events of the
attack based on this ideology, but soon finds it all crumble around him.
Crime isn't exactly a film that depicts the most ordinary of
events - so what did you base your performance on, what did you draw upon
to bring your character to life?
I spent time researching
and trying to get a better understanding of groups with this sort of hate
ideology. There are many
online communities that share in these ideas.
And through that I tried to develop an understanding of my
I also worked closely with
James Cullen Bressack [James Cullen
Bressack interview - click here] and Jarret Cohen in developing One. Their vision made these characters
something more than just vicious intruders.
I think it makes an audience uncomfortable to see depth in
characters so brutal. But
itís truthful, and thatís most important. That depth and attention to
the details of my character was developed through my work with them.
But my character was brought to life in the room
with my other actors. The
intensity you see on screen was very real on set during shooting.
And feeding off my other actors made it easier to play in a scary
You spend the majority
of Hate Crime hidden
behind a mask - was that at all bothersome?
funny, I initially started bugging James about not wanting to wear the
mask. As an actor, you want
your face and eyes shown clearly. Itís
how you can best express your character. James was having none of it and
he was right. My character needed the mask.
And as an actor, it probably helped me bring out his cruelty.
you to the project to begin with?
Cullen Bressack. I worked with
James on Unmimely Demise. I had not met him before Unmimely, but from the
first day on set it was clear James had a specific vision and a
confidence and ease in carrying it out. He talked with me about the Hate
Crime-script for a few weeks before I could finally get him to send it to
me. And I knew he had me in mind when developing the character of One.
When you read a script with that kind of brutality, you know it can go in
many directions, and most not good. But
I had also seen My Pure Joy and knew it was more than a horror film, but
also a character study and psychological thriller. And from that I knew Hate
Crime would get the same attention to character development.
All that gave me the confidence that this would be something
Crime consists mainly of one long continuous single shot. What
kind of a strain did that put on you as an actor - and how much rehearsing
went into this, actually? And could you ever be tempted into doing another
single shot movie?
The shoot was grueling. It
was also lots of fun at times. Given the highly emotional scenes during
shooting, the set was kept fun and light during off-times.
Often displayed by the various ways James and Jarret would fuck
with their cast, all coming from a place of love of course.
We spent 2 weeks in Big Bear, California. The
cast and crew living together in the house where we shot. We spent the
first week in rehearsal getting the blocking and camera work down while
exploring our characters. The shoot was extremely challenging as an actor.
But when you are around a group of people pouring their heart into
something, you can think of nothing but doing the same.
A few words about your director James
Cullen Bressack [James Cullen
Bressack interview - click here], and what was your collaboration
lucky to have found James at this point in his career. He is not yet fully
aware of how fucking talented he is. So he still does crazy things like
listen and collaborate with his actors. I often think directors
underestimate how important it is for actors to trust them. Itís a
privilege I had on the set of Hate
Crime (b/c of working with James
previously) other actors didnít. But through working on character
development, setting up shots, and his overall detailed attention to
making the best film possible, everyoneís trust was quickly gained.
What can you tell us about the on-set atmosphere
there was when we were shooting and when we werenít. As the intruders, I
think we wanted to keep some distance from the actors playing the family.
But given the closeness of the surroundings that was difficult to do. I
think the love and trust that developed between the actors living together
allowed a more uninhibited performance when shooting. I donít think we
could have made the movie we did had we not developed the closeness by
sharing that space.
Crime is an at times quite violent film - how could you relate to
that aspect of the movie?
Itís not easy to relate
to wanting to inflict violence on someone simply because of some arbitrary
label. As an actor I had to find ways to relate to those feelings. This
kind of violence is rarely depicted, particularly is such a realistic way.
But this stuff exists. And we are no better off if we turn away
The portrayal of violence in the film is also
born out that trust and love developed on set.
As an actor, as scary as it is, itís kind of a beautiful thing.
The actors playing the family members had to put their trust in myself and
Ian [Ian Roberts interview -
click here] and Tim. And we had to
give them all we had, feeding off each otherís performances.
Let's go back to the
beginnings of your career: What got you into acting to begin with, and did
you receive any formal training on the subject?
came to acting later than most. I worked as a civil rights attorney in
Austin, Texas, before packing up all my stuff and moving to LA.
That was three years ago. Since
I have played a variety of characters in over 20 short and independent
films. I am currently studying
at Chekhov Studios International and continue to work at developing
still remember your first time in front of a movie camera, and what was
that experience like?
was in Austin. A University of Texas student film. One of my first scenes
playing a suicidal man playing out his death wish in a mirror. I got the
part then thought ďHow the hell am I going to do this?Ē
I realized later thatís a thought I would have almost every time
I was cast.
What can you tell us about your
filmwork prior to Hate Crime?
of my work has been with student films and independents.
Mostly short films that have been shown at various film festivals
throughout the country. I have
been lucky enough to play a wide variety of characters and worked with
some very talented people. You
can find my demo reels and some films at my website
and my IMDb page
future projects you'd like to share?
just finished a theater run of a play called Missing Dick, written and
directed by Emmy award winning writer Gordon Bressack.
I also have a couple short films in the festival circuit. And I
look forward to my next film project, whatever that may be.
How would you
describe yourself as an actor?
a difficult question to answer. I want to be an actor who can play in a
variety of genres with wide ranging characters.
And most importantly bring truthfulness to the character. But in
the end, I think itís up to others to decide what kind of actor I am.
Actors (or indeed
actresses) who inspire you?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
who are willing to take risks with their character choices.
Sean Penn, Philip Hoffman, Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep, Joaquin Phoenix. Also my acting coach
Your favourite movies?
that make you think and feel. Requiem
for a Dream, Reservoir Dogs, Oldboy,
Shawshank, Jacobís Ladder, etc.
And of course for comedy Blazing Saddles.
and of course, films you really deplore?
that make you neither think nor feel.
Recycled bullshit. Give
me an original idea and see it through.
Iíll watch a poorly made and acted independent film with vision
over a recycled Hollywood storyline anytime.
I want passion in my art, doesnít everyone?
Facebook, whatever else?