I recently got the chance to talk to Jesse Archer about his role in ‘Going Down In LA-LA Land’. Here, Jesse talks about how he got involved with the project, what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and about Lime Parfait paint…
Hey Jesse. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film ‘Going Down In LA-LA Land‘.
The pleasure is mine!
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film? I understand it’s based on a novel?
Yes! It’s based on a novel by my friend Andy Zeffer, which is, in turn, loosely based on his life. The story follows Adam who comes to LA to make it big. He moves in with his overly ambitious actress/friend Candy (the hilarious, scene-stealing Allison Lane who just won Best Actress at the Iris Prize in Wales for her role), gets loads of parking tickets, lands a dull job with me as his terrible boss, and then falls headlong into porn! Though you think you may have heard this story before (sexy boy with big dreams goes to Hollywood, falls for a drug dealer, does porn), it’s got a new, positive spin that makes you realize what’s important in life. Casper Andreas adapted the script brilliantly and gave it a happy ending (and not the kind you find in a Chinese massage parlor)!
Had you read the novel before you signed onto the project?
Oh yes, years prior. Andy published his book the same year I did, for the same publishing house, so we were sharing our experiences and helping each other out. In fact, I wanted to name my South American travel memoir ‘Going Down’; but he was like, “You can’t – that’s going to be the title of my book!” So I ended up calling mine ‘You Can Run’.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play Adam’s boss, Matthew, a mean-spirited bitchy queen – which was a real stretch for me! Ha! It wasn’t hard to channel the bitter queens I met in my youth while living in Los Angeles. You know the older men who are not happy for the younger generation, but do everything to tear them down – out of some hideous mix of self-loathing and envy? To give my character some layers, I asked if I could play Matthew as if he were secretly in love with Adam – Casper said, “Let’s try it”, so that’s how I played him. I hope you can read the sadness behind the bitch – (which is what it really boils down to, most of the time).
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
Casper was really excited to make this film before our last one, ‘Violet Tendencies’, but the script wasn’t quite ready. I really wanted to be a part of it and he wanted to direct ‘Violet Tendencies’, which I had written, so we both sort of got in bed together – so to speak.
How would you say this film is different and unique to other comedies? Would you say there’s an inherent truth with what the film tries to say?
There’s truth in everything – even Hollywood, though it may be concealed beneath a lot of makeup! ‘Going Down In LA LA Land’ is populated with some larger-than-life personalities – all clawing their way to the top (or bottom) and I think anyone can identify with people who have dreams and go after them full throttle. Those that get sidelined or end up in the gutter aren’t entirely pitiable because they may have lost, but at least they went for it. And then there’s that aspect of what will you do for success? Will you sacrifice who you are to get it – and is that result then still your dream? It raises all sorts of important questions and the film (and the place) shows that you can let it either wear you down or polish you up.
The film stars Matthew Ludwinski, your good self, Michael Medico and John Schile – with Casper Andreas onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
Casper also plays Nick, and he is scary-good as a creepy drug addict! As with all low-budget productions, it was fast, frantic and furious. The awesome thing is that everyone pitches in to help make it happen because they believe in the project. Matthew and Michael are both gorgeous inside and out – and crazy talented. The audience really pulls for them to win, and that’s a tough feat for any actor when you have roles as a porn star and a closeted star, respectively. It’s really a testament to their skills that their characters are so likeable.
Let’s talk a bit about you Jesse. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
Originally I took theatre at USC so I wouldn’t have to do math! I’m very resistant to formulas and I honestly don’t know why I followed that well-worn one to University. What I really wanted to do was travel the world, so I’ve been doing that ever since. I think getting exposed to new people and experiences and foreign cultures keeps you young – absorbing new info all the time. You’re also able to take (ok, steal) pieces of what you learn and put them into characters for the screen or stage – the performance, the writing, both. You can’t do that with something like math where there is only one right answer.
You’ve been in a number of different film and TV projects – who has been your favourite actor/actress to work with so far and which project has been your favourite to be a part of?
I must say I’ve quite enjoyed all the hot boys I get to kiss!! I also adore Casper Andreas because he launched my career and has been there throughout. He’s talented, tenacious and trustworthy – a true triple threat! As far as favourite projects, it’s always the most recent. So I would say ‘Going Down In LA LA Land’, or my upcoming film ‘Into The Lion’s Den’ with Ronnie Kroell. I also especially enjoyed making ‘Violet Tendencies’ because I wrote the screenplay and was able to see it come to life with a fantastic cast including the inimitable Mindy Cohn.
If you could have a dinner with three guests (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
Wow, this answer would always be changing with me, but for dinner tonight let’s run with:
- Bertrand Russell – one of the most brilliant minds of last century, un-afraid to use it even when he had unpopular opinions. If only we could inherit brains like we inherit homes, I’d be first in line for his.
- Cyd Charisse – she lived on Calle Vista in Beverly Hills and I used to stalk her when I lived in LA. I never did get to meet her before she died, even though I have it on good authority she was pretty dull in person. They say never meet your idols, right? But those legs! How many times have I seen those stunning clips of her in ‘Singin’ In the Rain’, ‘The Bandwagon’ and the Frankie and Johnny number at the end of ‘Meet Me in Las Vegas’. A knockout, was she.
- Oscar Wilde – I’d like to tell him “It Gets Better”. Not for him, but… you know.
If I gave you a room to decorate, what colour would you paint it and why?
Oof, I just bought some paint for a wall in my home based solely on the name: Lime Parfait. Let me tell you that Lime Parfait looks much better on paper! So definitely not Lime Parfait, but something else vibrant and colourful that sounds edible and was clearly named by a gay man. Luscious Lips hot pink, perhaps?
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
The one I haven’t been to yet. I am dying to experience Cuba, India, Halifax, Istanbul. Maybe a return trip to Little Corn Island off Nicaragua? But there is so much of the world left to see, and I have time management issues!
What’s coming up for you in 2011/12?
It’s been an exciting year for me. I’m very fortunate and honoured to have four projects come out this year: ‘Going Down In LA LA Land’, ‘Eating Out 4’, the upcoming thriller ‘Into The Lion’s Den’ and a comedy pilot set on Fire Island called ‘Half-Share’. I’m living in Sydney, Australia, seeking new projects, writing screenplays and continuing to blog at jesseonthebrink.com.
Thanks for the interview!