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Interview with Robert W.C. Kennedy
What was it about the script or director that made you want to do this?
I think most actors are drawn to particular roles, as opposed to scripts or directors. I've accepted numerous roles in scripts that I didn't feel were very strong or worked with directors that I didn't necessarily think I would learn anything from because I was drawn to a role. SLACKTIME, however, offered an interesting script and the opportunity to portray a type of character that didn't come along too often. I've always enjoyed characters that allow me to live out guilty fantasies -- unusual or "bad" people. Not having worked with Ross prior to SLACKTIME I can't say that he made me want to do the project, but when he brought good beer to the first read-thru I knew it would be an enjoyable experience.
What was your approach to the role?
Again, most male actors would like the opportunity to play tough-guy types and I've been fortunate as to be ugly enough to be cast in those roles on more than one occasion. I think there are enough stereotypes of these kinds of characters in film that there is plenty to copy, but I think any good actor avoids temptation to imitate and instead tries to bring some of his own experience to a role. Having a "troubled" past -- coming from a "broken" home, having had continued problems with the law, being involved in drugs and the drug trade, etc. -- I think I had dealt with enough real "tough guy" characters to draw from and bring something new to the character.
What was the experience of the shoot like?
Piece of cake. Really. I had worked in amateur and professional stage productions for a number of years and was used to a month of rehearsals followed by a three-to five week run. Getting together for a few hours on Saturdays was not exactly stressful for me. Of course, I'm not in too much of the movie and I'm sure it was more grueling for the leads. The opportunity to do retakes, which is not an option in live theatre, also takes a lot of stress out of the experience. "Screw up as much as you want, videotape is cheap."
How did you like working with the other actors?
I always learn something from working with new actors. I had worked with John (Van Slyke) on numerous projects over the years and have learned a lot by watching him take on new character types during those years. Some actors have a certain level that they stay at from role to role and it was a pleasure watching John try new things with this performance. He was really cast against type. I also enjoyed watching the risks that actors like Naomi (Leonard) and Jelani (Nation) were willing to take in their performances, having never seen their work before -- especially knowing that Jelani was a relative new-comer to acting.
What was your favorite memory of the production/ What was the most challenging?
My favorite memory was when shooting was cancelled for the day due to law enforcement involvement, but I'm not privy to disclose the details of that incident. My most challenging moment was the rape scene, but it was made very easy by Naomi's patience and willingness to take chances, It actually turned out to be very amusing and she delivered some of her best lines when the camera wasn't rolling.
How do you think it turned out? Will people like it?
Surprisingly good. It's hard to predict the outcome of a project while you're undertaking it, especially if you are not around for the entire project. I think it exceeds expectations despite the budget and technical constraints of doing an independent project, mainly because of the performances and the script. I think people will enjoy it, although there is subject matter that many people tend to avoid and these people may dismiss it as "shock value" based on those prejudices.