I recently got the chance to talk to Noah Harpster about his role in ‘Grassroots’. Here, Noah talks about how he got involved in the industry in the first place and walking into a hotel still in costume…
Hey Noah. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Grassroots’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
After losing his job, a journalist reluctantly agrees to help his oddball friend with his bid to earn a seat on the Seattle City Council. I took that right from IMDB, yo.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play Marvin the loose-cannon metal DJ. But I think of Marvin as a music lover in a utilikilt and eye makeup.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I auditioned. The movie was already filming in Seattle, so I filmed my audition on my iPhone and emailed it off. I believe I screamed “Fuck the Pixies!” about 30 times and worked myself into a sweaty mess. That was hard, because I love the Pixies.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
I would say that the city itself is a large part of the film. I really loved Seattle, the music, the people, the food. There’s a tone to this film that is in line with what it feels like to be in Seattle. That was Stephen Gyllenhall’s intention and I think he succeeded. It’s also unique because Cobie Smulders had a small part. I don’t think she will ever have one of those again.
The film stars Cobie Smulders, Jason Biggs, Joel David Moore, Lauren Ambrose, Christopher McDonald, Cedric The Entertainer and Tom Arnold – with Stephen Gyllenhaal onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
A lot of Jason and Joel pranking each other, a few drunken karaoke trips. The usual. I had a great time hanging with DC Pierson, Joe Mandragona, Michael Nardelli and Emily Bergl, too. One night after shooting, I wandered to my hotel still in costume. The locals thought I was legit. The hair, the makeup, the kilt, the leather jacket – I could have kept it up and just started living a double life.
Let’s talk a bit about you Noah. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
Well, as a kid, I played baseball, I was a catcher and I was pretty good. In high school, the coach’s son was also a catcher. You see where this is going? I didn’t make the team. Suddenly having nothing to do after school, my buddy convinced me to run the light board for Odd Couple. The kid playing the character of Speed got expelled for pulling a knife or something and the director told me that I was going on. Against every instinct, I did. I’d memorized the lines while listening at the light board for all those hours. It went well enough. So well, in fact, that a girl talked to me afterwards for like five seconds. Weirder careers than acting have been launched as a result of five seconds of female attention.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
Write. Find the people who you can laugh with and start making stuff. Be willing to learn and keep getting better. Be smart with your money or marry rich or both. Be a good friend, because down the line those people are the ones who will hire your ass.
You’ve been in a number of different films and TV series – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with and why? Any good stories?
Talking to Tom Selleck about his avocado farm was pretty awesome. Actually, to be honest, I don’t know what we talked about because the theme song to ‘Magnum PI’ was blasting in my head and I was involuntarily staring into the thicket of his moustache.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
Otis Redding, Kendrick Lamar, The Tallest Man on Earth, Fresh Beat Band. Don’t judge, I have kids but even if I didn’t…
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
- Rudy Ray Moore. I can recite Dolemite in it’s entirety. But he’s better at it. I would want him to do that weird, super long speech about the Titanic at my dinner party. Plus, he would probably bring some of the hot karate girls and that would be a plus.
- My writing partner Micah Fitzerman-Blue. I want him to meet Rudy Ray Moore and learn to appreciate Dolemite.
- Mario Batali. Fool can cook and I won’t have to.
If you could choose a literary character to will into existence, who would you choose and why?
Winnie the Pooh so he could talk to my kids about sugar addiction, and the reality of diabetes.
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
Well, at this very moment, the first film I ever wrote (with Micah Fitzerman-Blue) called ‘The Motel Life’ has recently premiered at the Rome Film Festival and won two awards. I get to play a great character named Al Casey who gets out of the looney bin then gets beat up for his VHS copy of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’. Emile Hirsch, Dakota Fanning, Stephen Dorff and Kris Kristofferson are in it.
Also, just finished acting in a film called ‘Afternoon Delight’. It’s written and directed by Jill Soloway who is one of my favourite people in the world. I got to snort fake cocaine in a movie (which was a life goal) but actually really shitty if you’re lactose intolerant because it’s lactose.
Thanks for the interview!