Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Interview Series - Night Before the Wedding - Actor John Keating

Actor John Keating on the set of Night Before the Wedding

Tell us one thing about yourself that no one really knows?

I am a pretty open guy with those people I know and care about. But when it comes to something that no one knows about I draw a blank. I am pretty much a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kinda guy.

How did you get your start in film?

My very first film role was the home movies that I shot with my Mom and Dad and my two brothers and three sisters. I was probably nine or ten and the films were shot on an old 8 mm silent film camera. They were pretty cheesy but my family indulged me and we had a lot of fun. Looking back on it they were corny, but cute 'cause we were all little kids.

I did two films while in college for the Kansas Dept. of Transportation. In the first film I played a drunk driver whose friend convinces him to let him (the friend) drive home. In the second film I played the supporting role of a mutual friend who is killed in an automobile accident. We filmed the aftermath of the accident in the automobile that we wrecked for the movie. It was very creepy being in a wrecked car playing dead when the accident was all for show. There was just kind of a weird “vibe” to being in that car. Hard to explain.

Have you worked with any name actors or directors?

I worked on an episode of Mind of Mencia for Comedy Central in 2006. The celebrity was Carlos Mencia. Although I did not spend much time with him, I had a blast doing the show and he was kind enough to introduce himself to the guest cast during rehearsal. Actually, the most time that I spent with him was during the shooting of the episode in front of the camera. But that was a fun day because I was "livin' the dream."

How did you get involved in “Night Before the Wedding”?

I work with the writer/director and several of the actors in the film and David wrote the film for us. I really felt honored when he asked me to be a part of the project.

What is your role in this project?

I play William Shay, reluctant honoree of a wild bachelor party. He unwittingly becomes entangled in a situation that he did not plan on and never imagined could ever happen.

What were your thoughts when you first read the script?

I knew that this role would be the most challenging of my career thus far and I was not mistaken. Playing this character took me to places that I do not visit within myself too often and challenged me to bring parts of myself to the role that I have never brought to any other character that I have played in theatre or film. I had to dig deep and really connect in a way that I had never done before.

Actor John Keating discusses an upcoming scene with Actor Gregor Collns. Director David Branin looks on.

What attracted you to working on this film?

I loved the idea of working with people that I know, love and respect. Also knowing that I would have input and an impact on the script was very attractive as well. This film truly was a collaborative effort.

What was the most challenging thing you had to face with this project?

As I mentioned in the earlier question, I had to bring a vulnerability and depth to this character that I was unaccustomed to bringing to other characters that I played. I really worked hard to try and bring to the project the vision that David Branin had and I really wanted to prove to him that he had made the right choice in casting me in this project. I hope that I succeeded.

What did you love most about being involved with this production?

The other cast and crew members. The challenge of the role was bitter and sweet. The sweetness comes from the range of emotion that I was challenged to convey. If I discuss the bitter too much I might tip my hand as to the contents of the film. And we wouldn’t want that.

I loved the fact that, like my episode of Mind of Mencia, I was "livin' the dream" each and every day of the project. I would get to the set early and excited to go and even though the days were long and the character challenging, I was doing what I loved with the people I loved.

Is this a film for women to see?

As long as they are over 18. I think that they will enjoy a peak into a side of life that they may not possibly ever experience. Besides, there are some handsome guys in this flick (and I do not include myself in the above category). And there are some terrific actors and actresses working their tails off.

Will you share this film with your Mom?

Most likely. My mom has always been supportive of my decisions and always seems to appreciate the projects that I have been involved in.

What does this film have that you will not find in a big Studio release?

This film has true camaraderie amongst the cast. The heart that is placed into this film is not easy to find in a big studio release. The way the film is tailored for each cast member shows an attention to detail on the part of the writer/director that is not found in larger films. A lotta love and effort at true story telling. No punches pulled, no holds barred.

What makes this a ‘must see’ movie?

The moral questions raised by the film challenge the audience to reflect on their own values and decisions that they make in everyday life and how they affect those around them. This movie will make an impact on you and in film, especially independent film, that is hard to come by.

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