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Interview with Robert W.C. Kennedy
How did you get involved with the film, and describe the character you play?
Honestly, I was a fill-in. A friend of mine was originally cast in the role of Jimmie, but took ill shortly before filming on those scenes was to begin. I think I was supposed to have a small walk-on at some point, but I was not slated to play Jimmie. I had worked with Ross on a couple of features in years prior and had performed in a number of shorts he directed more recently, so we were in fairly regular contact. He called me on a Friday and asked if I was free to go to a strip club on Sunday morning. And the rest, as they say…
The character of Jimmie is the crime-world equivalent of the corporate middle manager. He does not run the entire enterprise, but he is responsible for a large business unit, with numerous employees reporting to him. He has accountability to the top. The operations for which he is responsible, while not benefiting solely him, effect the overall bottom line, which ultimately effects both his earnings and his standing within the organization. At his core, he is a businessman. But, of course, he has an unprofessional weakness for hot blondes with accents. And this is his potential downfall.
What was your approach to the role?
My approach changes from day to day and from scene to scene. Ultimately Jimmie has to serve the story. This isn’t a documentary after all. It’s a narrative film, and it’s entertainment. (Hopefully.) I don’t like to pass too much moral judgment on the characters I play (or on real people for that matter), so there’s not much I can say about Jimmie without sabotaging my portrayal of him. On the page, he could be perceived as a stock character, but there was certainly room in him for nuance. He’s clearly an individual who has manipulated others to his advantage, which makes him fairly formidable as an opponent -- that is largely the role he plays in relation to the other characters -- but he needs to exhibit flashes of vulnerability to be the least bit believable, watchable. I knew that “likable” would be a stretch. I just studied the spirit of the dialogue, looked for some of the less obvious choices I could make at any moment, and hoped no one yelled “cut” every time I opened my mouth.
What was your overall experience with cast and crew, any differences from previous productions?
The big difference between this production and others I have worked on, either on film or on the stage was that I didn’t know anyone, outside of Ross. At least on the first day of shooting. I’m used to having more familiarity with the people with which I am expecting to engage in the creative process. In this, I was thrown together with actors I had never met before and expected to establish both an on-screen and working relationship with, more-or-less instantly. Fortunately, everyone with whom I had scenes were very giving and patient individuals. And the crew, likewise; could not have hoped for a nicer group of people. If I had any regrets in this process, it would be that I didn’t get to know all of them right away on the morning of the first day. Everyone seemed so busy, I just wanted to let them work. By the end of the day I’m thinking, “I haven’t even properly introduced myself to these people, and these guys are awesome.” In hindsight, I might have been the biggest asshole on this entire production. And I’m actually a pretty nice guy, relative to some more dedicated assholes with which I’ve worked.
You come from theater, how do you feel about becoming a featured element in the promotion of the film?
It is so odd. In theatre, if you get any attention at all for a performance, you don’t have much time to wallow in it, because you likely have just survived opening weekend and have another three weeks worth of performances to endure. By the time this film opens -- if anyone acknowledges my performance as anything -- I’ll be receiving credit for something I did about six months prior. It is an odd thing to promote a project in which you haven’t actually put any effort into for almost half of a year. There is a somewhat guilty feeling about it for me.
Any closing thoughts about the overall experience, looking forward to the sequel?
I’m looking forward to a sequel primarily to reconnect with some of the crew that worked on this one. Of course, I’ll miss so many of the actors who were killed off in this first storyline, so that is a shame. But there were other actors with whom I did not have a chance to work -- some of whom I still have not even met -- so I’m hoping I can share scenes with some new people too. The pressure will be on me for the sequel though. I won’t be a last-minute replacement on that project, so I won’t be given any of the passes I had on this one. experience.