I recently got the chance to talk to J. Michael Trautmann about his role in ‘Here Comes The Boom’. Here, J talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and how he got into the industry in the first place…
Hey J. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Here Comes The Boom’.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
Dude, of course! ‘Here Comes The Boom’ is a hilarious look at Scott Voss (Kevin James) and how he overcomes his apathy to inspire the people in his life. He is a highschool biology teacher who has lost his gusto for teaching and finds a glimpse of it in the way (Henry Winkler) teaches the band students with such passion and zeal. The school’s budget is cut and they cancel the extra curriculum programs, including music. Mr. Voss sets out to help pay the class cost by MMA fighting. It really is a great story about perseverance and being the change you would like to see in the world. The story is hilarious and heartfelt and the cast delivers throughout. =)
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play Derrick, the ‘Bart Simpson’ of the classroom. I am one of Mr. Voss’ biology students. I offer a comedic springboard for the teacher. As Mr. Voss engages further into his love to teach, Derrick is inspired and taken to learn. It was awesome to play myself. I was always the class clown and enjoyed being a road bump for any type of authority by being a smart ass.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I actually did an Anti-Bullying campaign with Cartoon Network and Bas Rutten back in 2010. Yes, I was the bully. Casting was great and it was an amazing experience and film to be apart of. I’m extremely proud of it.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
I took to the message to fight life’s apathy. So many times, we get so drowned and consumed by the routine of our lives, that it plays out as monotonous. Even the things we started so passionately can wash over if we’re not stimulating our love of doing it on a regular basis. I believe strongly in the power of will, as well. Tenacity is a beautiful quality and we’re meant to live this life to the fullest. The push of this film is very inspiring and shows that we’re all stronger than we think we are. It’s about how much of yourself will you apply?
The film stars Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler, Greg Germann, Joe Rogan, Gary Valentine, Charice, Bas Rutten, Reggie Lee and Mark DellaGrotte – with Frank Coraci onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
Everyone was so great! I made a lot of friends within the cast and crew. The Boston locals who made up most of the biology class were so fun and such a great gang to play around with on camera. Frank was absolutely amazing and so hilarious! I’ve never had a director as casual and as in control as Frank. He set the mood on set and I usually do that. It was nice to have a sidekick. =) Kevin James was a pleasure to work with. He was charming and very professional. He was doing MMA workouts and practice between scenes and he was always in the zone. I was impressed. He sent me a really nice card at wrap and it holds a sentimental value that I really appreciate. Henry Winkler was a class act. The first day, we were all at the school and just doing fittings for costume and getting the tour; I turn around to see the Fonz personally shaking all the extras hands that were in his scene. I was floored. He thanked them all. Every last one. Then he came up to meet us and I knew immediately he was a genuine man. He took my hand, looked me dead in the eye and said “Thank you so much for being here. We’re so welcome to have you aboard”. I will never forget that. Greg was so funny. I rode in the van with him every morning to set and he has this way with one liners. Even dropped a ‘That’s what she said’ and killed it! Haha. Charice was so cool. She was fun to joke around with behind the scenes on set. Salma was so fun to meet. I actually met her at a cast mixer in Boston before we started filming and she dared me to get up on stage and rap after Charice was done singing a few songs and blowing everyone away. I got up on stage and started rhyming and everyone was like “Who’s this white boy who took Charice’s microphone?” Bas was in the back laughing his face off and I just kept going. From that moment on they all called me Derrick Bieber, the older brother of Justin Bieber who was left behind by the Bieber family when Justin became famous. A funny running gag that produced #teamderrick. Got a couple smiles from Salma and she told me I was funny. Also, she gave me the best hug of my life as I was picture wrapped and leaving set for the last time. They were all so great to work with!
Let’s talk a bit about you J. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
I’ve been acting since I was young, with a theatre background, but film became the medium I was geared toward. I have a youthful look and there’s a lot of opportunity. I enjoy being surrounded by innovative and creative people and film crews offer ample supply of these people. I did my first film in 2004 and I was enthralled by the entire platform. I’m so thankful for the opportunities I’ve gotten and am proud to be able to have my acting reach an audience. Plus, film allows me to cross off a lot on my bucket list. I’ve never held such a variety of fire arms. =)
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
Trust yourself and be courageous. Bravery is essential. You have to have a tough skin. I’m rejected constantly, but I remember that art is subjective. As soon as you are comfortable with the person you’d like to put forth, then build a trusting team who believe in your talent to help you branch out and continue to enhance your skills.
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?
‘Shameless’ has been amazing! The whole crew makes it like a second home with an awesome family. William H. Macy told me something I’ll never forget. “At the end of the day, the fact that we’re doing this at all proves we’re able. And that makes me feel alive”. Devon Sawa was a great cat to meet and work with. He’s a goofball. Lucy Liu was a sweetheart on ‘Southland’. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for her talent and she was so down to earth and easy going. She saved me a slice of chocolate cake at lunch. Brittany Snow and Evan Ross were amazing to meet and work so close with. I developed a good bond as an actor with them both. Michael Clarke Duncan was a man I was privileged to have met. He was a sweet giant. Humble and incredibly gracious. May his memory be cherished as it is within me.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
Props again to the UK! I can’t stop listening to Ellie Goulding’s new album, Halcyon. My favorite track is Ritual. She comprised and composed a beautiful album altogether. She is a beautiful singer and she’s able to use her voice in some really spectacular ways. I am in a state of wonderment when her music is in my ears.
I also listen to new tracks to rap over. Check me out as JMac da Kid. I rap and have a great affinity for hip-hop music.
Jay-Z is never far off my playlists either. Best rapper alive.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
- 1. Jesus Christ. Water to wine and if anyone’s gonna have any answers, it’s Him.
- 2. Katie Cassidy. I have an enormous crush on her right now. She stars in ‘Arrow’ on the CW and has my absolute attention. Drop dead gorgeous.
- 3. Kobe Bryant. I love the LA Lakers and he is my hero. Not to mention, the coolest person on the planet. I’d try to get a sneaker deal with him. I’d also like to get involved with his Homeless Shelters and charity work.
The waiter would be Henry David Thoreau and he would drop insight every time he refilled the water while JC added the grapes and alcohol. =)
If you could choose a literary character to will into existence, who would you choose and why?
This is a tough one as there are many literary characters I would gladly will into existence. The comic book nerd in me wants to say Peter Parker, and for obvious spider powers and how awesome my life would become to know Spider-Man, but if I only get one, I choose Howard Roark.
He is the epitome of objectivism, aside from Ayn Rand. His sense of self freedom is something that always encapsulated me and I try to exude it as often as possible.
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
So much! ‘Shameless’ season 3 starts in January on Showtime. ‘The Sibling’ a film I did with Michael Clarke Duncan, Devon Sawa and Mischa Barton releases in February. And that will be fun to promote.
I’m hoping to have my first EP album finished by mid March. “Vice and Virtue: An Introduction to JMac da Kid” – have two more tracks to finish.
‘Victor’ my latest film, will release in the summertime and I’m really looking forward to the new year. I feel like I have some great momentum and I’m coming into my own. No better place to be, except with the ones you love, huh? My best wishes to you for 2013 as well, brother.
Thanks for the interview!