Check out Clifton Collins, Jr. as Nathan in A CROOKED SOMEBODY. Watch it now, exclusively on DIRECTV CINEMA and in theaters.
Film Courage: So we know that being on set is not just acting, it’s navigating personalities and politics and hierarchies. How do you earn the respect of a fellow actor?
Clifton Collins, Jr., Actor: Do the work, do the work, do the work. And it’s funny because you’ll do certain projects with an Ed Harris and then on this film [A CROOKED SOMEBODY] but I already won Ed’s respect with this film and on WESTWORLD. And so I called a few friends that had worked with him to find out a little background on him. And I studied really hard to learn my lines, I studied really hard to learn his lines just in case he says What’s my line? And I could be like I think you say….maybe? You never know how someone is going to take it. You have to navigate. So I navigate and he goes Oh? Thanks partner. So I did that and then I slammed the scene where my wife gets killed and then he came running over to me pointing at me and he was like Yes! Yes! Yes! Pointing and frothing and he frickin’ kicks me in my shin real hard and he goes That’s how you do it!
And then when he walked away I go I hope that’s going to leave a mark. Look what Ed Harris did to me because I did a good job! It’s pretty rad. It’s pretty awesome. So that’s how I got his respect.
Film Courage: But I’m sure…like you said you have to navigate.
Clifton: You’ve got to navigate. Sam Jackson, I was dying to get his respect. He’s definitely a great mentor only second to my grandfather. But this man knows everybody’s lines. He knows when the camera moved and on what line and where he did what. He knows everything. It’s really amazing.
So in rehearsals…he was teaching me a lessons, we’ve had this conversation before, he’s got these monologues at the end of the film that are actually much bigger than what ended up in the film. And in rehearsals Kevin Reynolds is like Hey, you guys ready to do this scene? And Sam looks up and says Yeah, man, let’s do it? And he throws the scenes on the floor. Sam threw them out and he doesn’t need them (he’s got the big speeches anyway). So then I’m holding my gun and he looks up at me with tears (he can get tears from this eye and this eye, by the way. He can make this cry right now, he can hold them, I can’t do that. But he can so when I saw him holding the tears, he literally put the pedal to the medal. And I thought Oh, my God. I don’t know if I can ever be that good? So I just remember racing home and delving as deeply as I could just to get any respect from him. He’s a tough love kind of guy, so you’ve got to really, really earn it.
Film Courage: Some times those kind of people are easier to trust. In an industry where…you want to be professional but tough love people are easier to trust because you know where they’re coming from.
Clifton: I talk to him quite often…I honestly really didn’t know, I think this came…I lost my father to a suicide two days…I was at my father’s funeral two days before the climax of the movie. We shot the movie in sequence so I was really emotional…It was a rather suicidal-type of scenario. We’d done the rehearsal and they asked me if I minded doing my coverage first instead of Samuel because I was obviously dealing with some heavy life issues. They all supported me tremendously and I think it was then that I had the courage to ask Well, what’s Sam think about the work I’m doing anyway? Sure they can do coverage on me first, I’m fine with that. Is Sam cool with that? Is that what Sam wants? Because I’ll do whatever Sam wants. And they were like Yeah, he’s totally fine with it. Because that’s when I asked them because Samuel himself didn’t tell me, he was holding it close to the chest. He’s really dope, I mean I love him so.
Film Courage: It’s interesting because sometimes you’re at a point where certain things are going on and if everything falls apart, it’s okay, but as long as you’re staying true to yourself and some amazing things can happen because you’re at this point where you’re not about pleasing somebody, you’re all about doing what’s right in the moment and sometimes some really amazing things can happen.
Clifton: That’s a good way to live. Because as true as we think we’re being with ourselves we can always be a little truer, seeking a depth of authenticity if you will. I’ve just been on this crazy journey lately of my work and the demands of trying to do better work has pushed me to lose sleep and study harder and faster and just go longer and so it’s interesting because if you pay attention to the signs in those moments and do what’s right and what speaks to your integrity, I can always rest well with whatever happens. I’m not feeling bad, I’m feeling good about the decisions that I make and that’s a good feeling.
About A CROOKED SOMEBODY:
The plot Michael Vaughn’s (Rich Sommer) minister father always told him: Better to be an honest nobody than a crooked somebody. But Michael doesn’t see the harm in giving people the closure they need with the dead and travels town to town professing his abilities as a spirit medium. One night, Michael is kidnapped. With a knife to his throat, Michael suddenly sees the opportunity of a lifetime in his psychologically unstable captor’s desperation to make contact with the other side.
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