I recently got the chance to talk to Nick Ashy Holden about his role in ‘Red, White & Blue’ – in cinemas right now. Here, Nick talks about his character, what it was like working with Noah Taylor and Amanda Fuller and what is coming up for him in 2011….
Hey Nick. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. ‘Red, White & Blue’ is in cinemas right now, and I’ve had the chance to go and see it. What a mind-fuck! Such a violent and mind-blowing film….for anyone who hasn’t seen the film, how would you sum up the plotline?
The plotline basically concerns three guys who sleep with a girl and through that one of them gets infected with HIV. They kidnap her to find out if she did it on purpose. I don’t want to give up the ending, but let’s just say Noah Taylor’s character is not happy when she gets kidnapped. I really like how Simon Rumley described the story to me – as a film that starts in the slacker genre and then turns into a horror film.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the film….
My character has reached a crossroads in his life where he has to figure out if he should continue with his music career and the lifestyle that goes with it, or take his life in a new direction. I think he’s beginning to learn how to grow up.
The film deals with the subject of HIV in an informative and sensitive way as well. Do you think more films should focus on these sorts of issues?
Yes, as long as a film doesn’t force those kind of subjects into its story. I thought Simon did a great job of not forcing that issue. I think this film makes you uncomfortable and I’m glad he was so adamant in making it. Seeing uncomfortable films makes you think and ask questions and I think cinema can be a platform for that as well as for entertainment.
The film stars Noah Taylor, Amanda Fuller and Marc Senter – what was it like working on-set with them?
What an experience. Wow! The whole thing was a lot of fun with a great assembly of cast and crew. We really had a sense of community, which is very important when it’s a small crew and cast and you’re around each other as much as we were. Noah was digging the project and his optimism really helped set the mood. He made me feel very comfortable in our few scenes together. Amanda was amazing! There was one scene where she had to cry over and over again. I kept watching her thinking, ‘How the hell is she doing that? That does not look fun or easy.’ Of the three actors you mentioned I was around Marc the most. He’s very passionate about acting and has amazing focus. His energy and attitude were very motivating to be around. He also has a solid knowledge base when it comes to acting which was great to talk about. I had a great time hanging out with Marc and I feel lucky I got to act with him.
Let’s talk about you Nick. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
I started acting when I was very young, around 5 or 6. I did skits for a local TV show in Lafayette, Louisiana, that my Mom acted in and helped produce. I had forgotten about doing that till my Mom reminded me the other day. I didn’t act again until I moved to Austin for college in the fall of 2002. I didn’t have a lot going on and my brother, who was also moving to Austin in the spring, told me he wanted to check out some acting classes, so I went to see what it was all about. I went to Marco Perella’s acting class; he was a friend of my surrogate aunt and uncle, Mary and Stephen Bruton. I wasn’t very good at acting but it was so much fun I couldn’t stop going. It just kept getting better. Before I knew it I had an agent, and then I was getting parts. This took years, but really didn’t seem like a long time because I was doing school and music too. I was playing bass with Black Joe Lewis who has since gone on to be quite successful with his band “Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears”. He now tours full-time across the U.S. and Europe. So I’d go to acting class on Thursdays, play a show with Joe during the week and maybe the weekend, and then go to college during the week and study philosophy and literature. It was all great!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in acting?
First try to be around as many inspiring, creative, and positive people as you can. I’ve been really lucky with that and they’ve given me all kinds of great advice and kept me inspired. Also be patient. My acting career has moved slowly but upward and I’m thrilled with that. I’m really proud of the projects I’ve been in and the people I’ve met. It’s also important for me to remember that simply being around acting, literature, and any form of art makes me a much happier person. Knowing that helps me when I start wondering if I’m wasting my time acting and watching so many films.
What has been your favourite moment of your acting career thus far?
Hard to say… I had some really great moments and it just seems to keep getting better. I had a lot fun working on ‘Cal Express’ with my brother Josh and the director Sergio Carvajal. We really worked hard on that. And having the opportunity to take that film to the Tribeca Film Festival was an awesome experience. Working with Jeff Nichols and all the actors involved for a Bud Shrake reading was also a hell of a highlight.
What does a Nick Ashy Holden day usually consist of?
Lately I’ve been in a good rhythm, where I’ve been getting up early, around 8am, writing a bit and then coming in to work. My brother and I own a film production company, Mishnoon, in Austin, TX. We stay busy with a variety of projects, some for ourselves, and some to pay the bills. We’re usually either writing, shooting, editing, or having meetings. After work it’s always best if I can play some basketball, or get some kind of exercise like weights, yoga, walking the dog, or running. After that I like to go see a movie with my girlfriend or grab some dinner. I try to read a little each night. Importantly I always try and eat the best food I can, and by best I mean good tasting food. I was raised in Louisiana, and good food is really important to me and also makes me a much nicer person.
You’ve done quite a number of shorts – how important do you think the indie industry is?
Short films have been so valuable to my career because they have allowed me to experiment, learn and make mistakes. I think it’s a good way to practice your craft without having the pressures that come with making an entire feature. If you’re going to mess up, it’s better to mess up a short than ruin a whole feature. I’ve learned a lot from the indie industry. It’s where I’ve done the majority of my work, and I am really proud of all the projects I’ve been a part of. I feel like I’ve been able to work with some really intelligent, creative people. These films are usually anchored by a very strong vision and are more often than not breaking away from what a film traditionally means.
What’s coming up for you in 2011?
I have a few passion projects lined up. I’ll continue studying with Marco Perella and Dana Wheeler. I started studying with Dana a few years back and her knowledge and style of acting really hit home with me. As far as acting goes I’ve been talking with Bob Byington about being in his new film “Somebody Up There Loves Me.” It always a blast on his set and I’ve worked on his last two features. He’s one of those indie guys who is really doing something new with film. It starts shooting in June.
Thanks for the interview!