I recently got the chance to talk to Jason Furlani about his role in Sam Worthington’s new film, ‘Man On A Ledge’. Here, Jason talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and what his favourite word is…
Hey Jason. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Man On A Ledge’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
‘Man On A Ledge’ (MOAL) follows an ex-cop, who’s been convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, as he escapes from jail and threatens to throw himself off the ledge of the Roosevelt Hotel, holding the city captive in the midst of a diamond heist he hopes will clear his name.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play a cop who has been assigned to escort the head of the diamond’s security, Nestor, (played by Felix Solis) at first to assure that the diamond is safe, and then – once the vault’s been breached – to make sure it gets secured. I’m pretty psyched that, in a film that’s absolutely riddled with cops, I am credited simply as “Cop”.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I auditioned for a different role – two different roles, actually – and then I was in Philadelphia shooting ‘Limitless’, and my agent called to say that we had an offer for yet another role that I hadn’t even auditioned for. After many years in the biz I’ve learned that you don’t ask too many questions when that call comes. You simply say, “Yes”, and “Thank you”.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
I think the film is pretty awesome. One of the great things about shooting in New York, is that – more often than not – “New York” becomes a character in the film. When it comes to MOAL, Asger Leth (the director) and the producers really, REALLY, went out of their way to ensure that was the case. To lock down Madison Avenue just north of Grand Central Station and pack it full of extras to play a blood-thirsty crowd awaiting a jumper’s final move – not once, but weekend after weekend until they got it right – was, frankly, both incredibly insane and unbelievably brave. Films don’t get made like that anymore. I had the good fortune to run into producer Mark Vahradian at last year’s Austin Film Festival, and thanked him again for his efforts. If you see him – please do the same.
The film stars Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell, Anthony Mackie, Genesis Rodriguez and Patrick Collins – with Asger Leth onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
Asger was really great to work with. I got to work a little with Ed Harris (who I’m a big fan of) and I worked/met Felix Solis (Nestor), whom I formed a friendship with over the course of the shoot. As for the crew, they were top-notch. It was a crazy carnival like atmosphere whenever we were up at the Roosevelt, and they did everything they could to maintain order between the hundreds of extras, trying to lock down a very busy section of Manhattan, AND, shooting in/on the Roosevelt Hotel which was still open for business. For us, it was just another day on the job. For the tourists that had taken up residence in the Roosevelt, though, navigating the scrum was both a wonder and a hassle. One day, I was speaking with a stuntwoman I had recently worked with on ‘Limitless’, when a tourist family walked up, tapped me on the shoulder, and very matter-of-factly stated, “We need to get to the west side, what’s the best way for us to proceed?” Without blinking, I quickly nodded and replied, “Yes ma’am: back out through those doors and down 46th Street”. She thanked with a polite, “Officer” and then – without question – ventured out as I had instructed. My friend, the stuntwoman, turned to me and said, “There’s like a thousand people out here dressed like cops and she comes up to you?” What can I say, “I give good ‘cop’.'”
Let’s talk a bit about you Jason. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
I suck at math. Seriously, though, I was an English major in college and one of my creative writing professor’s suggested that I check out playwriting. What the hell did I know about playwriting?! Hanging around the theatre department awaiting inspiration to write, though, I decided to give acting a try. Turns out I didn’t suck at it! I started in soaps back in the mid-nineties, when I first moved to New York, and then branched into network episodic stuff and film. And – just incase my creative writing professor is reading this – I DID eventually find my voice as a playwright. Not only have I seen numerous productions of my work produced on numerous stages in NYC, but I am also a playwright-in-residence with Barefoot Theatre Company.
You’ve been in a number of different film and TV projects – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with so far and why? Any good stories?
I’ve been really fortunate to work with many gifted and gracious actors along the way. By far – without doubt – Jerry Orbach was the nicest of them all. As for stories, oh sure, I’ve got stories. One of my favourites was when I was shooting ‘Freedomland’: a scene between Samuel L. Jackson and me. It started out as a little, tiny, nothing of a scene, where he returns from asking me to, “Stay with” Julianne Moore - only to find that she’s gone. When I tell him, “She had to go to the bathroom” – the way that the script indicated - he simply shakes his head and walks off. During a lighting walk through, though, Mr. Jackson (jokester that he is) starts dressing me down with, “What part of stay with her didn’t you understand?” That wound up not only staying in the movie, but, being the only moment of levity in a VERY heavy piece. It was cool. It actually got a huge laugh in the screening I saw.
What is your favourite word?
I’m on a personal crusade to work, “swell” back into the nation’s vernacular. As in, ” How ya been, Matt?” “I’m ‘swell’, Jason”. I like “fuck”, too.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
- Sam Shepard: because he’s the first playwright that inspired me as both an actor and a writer.
- Harrison Ford: because his Han Solo is what made a seven year-old me say, “I wanna be THAT guy”.
- Bruce Springsteen: because his work has inspired both my art and my life.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three personal things could you not live without?
My guitar, (music will get you through even the toughest of times,) a pot, (I like to eat and cooking can be a bitch without one) and some 70 SPF sunscreen, (for an Italian guy, I don’t do well in the sun.)
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
Big things…it’s gonna be swell.
Thanks for the interview!