I recently got the chance to talk to Zeeko Zaki about his role in ‘Stuck In Love’. Here, Zeeko talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and how he got into acting in the first place…
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
This story follows a famous author played by Greg Kinnear as he tries not to mess up raising his kids, while trying to hold his life together as best as possible. He hasn’t written a word since his wife left him and his daughter, played by Lily Collins, has a wall up that any teenage girl would have after seeing what love can do to a father and a family. There are many relatable trials and tribulations in this movie that make it able to be seen and enjoyed by anyone.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play Gus who is the epitome of a good-hearted, reckless and irresponsible college student who in the moment only thinks about himself, but at the end of the day he has a good heart and is truly remorseful for his actions. He tends to make a lot of mistakes as any young person may but, Gus wouldn’t hurt a fly.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
This was my first audition with casting director Tracy Kilpatrick. She cast the recent film ‘Contraband’ and has worked on countless projects from ‘Forrest Gump’ to ‘Pitch Perfect’. I was shocked when she told me I got the call back on the spot, for it was my first audition for a movie with a truly star-studded cast. I then had the call back in front of director Josh Boone and producer Judy Cairo, and they must have liked what they saw because a few days later I got the call. But the person who helped me get involved in the very first place was my wonderful agent Susan Walters.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
What makes this movie different and unique to me is the all-star cast. They are some of the best in Hollywood and it really shows in their manifestations of the characters. There is a comedic seriousness to the film which makes you laugh at and appreciate the spontaneity of life.
The film stars Lily Collins, Kristen Bell, Logan Lerman, Jennifer Connelly, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Stephen King, Greg Kinnear, Nat Wolff and Liana Liberato – with Josh Boone onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
I got to work with Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins, Nat Wolff and Liana Liberato. Working with them was a huge pleasure and I got to hear cool stories about ‘Snow White’ from Lily and Greg and I hit it off exchanging stories while we had some down time. And the crew is still one of the best I have ever had the pleasure of working with. But it was funny when I first met Greg on set; his eyes grew as I was introducing myself because he stands at a solid 5 foot 10 inches while I am 6 foot 5 inches. So he said aloud “Josh has a lot of faith in this swift nose brake, because you my friend are huge!” we all had a laugh as the fight choreographer assured us it would look perfect.
Let’s talk a bit about you Zeeko. What made you want to get into the acting industry in the first place?
During my Freshman year, my high school put on a musical called ‘Seussical’. They did an amazing job and when they came out, gave their final bows and the entire audience stood on their feet, I could see how amazing it made them feel and I wanted that feeling too. The next year I went for ‘Beauty And The Beast’ and continued doing musicals all throughout high school. Then when college came around I took some time off acting to attend Temple University in Philadelphia to study business. It wasn’t until I transferred to a school in Wilmington, North Carolina that I auditioned for my first play that was not musical. In the audience of that play was casting director Jackie Burch, whom has cast over 60 movies including classics like ‘The Breakfast Club’, ‘Sixteen Candles’ and ‘Die Hard’. She recommended me to Susan Walters and after an audition with her I was a signed actor.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
I would tell them three things:
- One – just because it doesn’t happen where you are doesn’t mean it won’t happen somewhere else.
- Two – this industry needs people who look any way, shape or form, so do not think that appearance has everything to do with it.
- Three – it takes one person to change your life in this industry so if you’re going to do it, go for it 100%, because if you don’t try everything and get out to as many people as possible, you may never know what you might have been able to accomplish.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
There is a little bit of everything on my I-Pod, from country to rap and from opera to techno. I credit my amazing grandmother for my extensive oldies collection and my family in Egypt for all of my homeland’s hits. I am a huge fan of DJs like Tiesto and Avicii, but there is never a time I can’t put on some Bob Marley.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
I would have a night filled with wine, cheese, and meatballs with Denzel Washington, Jon Stewart and Luciano Pavarotti. Denzel Washington for obvious reasons, he is one of the most established and, I think, over all best actors of all time. There is not a movie that he is in that I haven’t seen. Jon Stewart because, when I think about it, he has taught me more about what is going on in the world with his show, ‘The Daily Show’, then anyone else has, and when it comes down to it I think he is one of the funniest people out there. Then the third, Luciano Pavarotti, for the simple reason that he is one of the most inspirational singers of all time and his music touches people, from all around the world, in ways a lot of things can’t. And I wouldn’t say no to a little live music at dinner.
Which film was your favourite of 2012 and why?
‘Life Of Pi’ was my favourite movie and not just because of the amazing cinematography. The story at the heart of the movie, no matter how anyone wants to interpret it, is simply life changing. It was a movie that made me completely forget about what was going on around me and when that happens I know I just added another film to my all-time favourites list.
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
It should be a great year – I booked a possible recurring on Steven Spielberg’s new show ‘Under The Dome’ and I’m getting bigger and better auditions as time passes. My fingers are crossed and I hope to move from Wilmington NC to LA by the end of the year and see what the city can offer.
Thanks for the interview!