An Interview with Jeremy Sumpter

Photo by Patsy Dunn

Photo by Patsy Dunn

Jeremy Sumpter is best known for his role in the film Peter Pan (2003). He also appeared in a reoccurring role in Friday Night Lights, and in the films Frailty and Soul Surfer. He can currently be seen in the disaster flick Into the Storm.

What was it like growing up in Kentucky? What did you enjoy most about that?

Growing up in Kentucky was great. You couldn’t ask for a better place to be raised. I grew up fishing, hunting, camping and playing with my buddies in the woods and just being a little wild country boy.

When did you first become interested in acting? Did you ever want to do anything else?

When I wasn’t fishing or hunting or catching catfish in the creek with my bare hands, I was inside watching movies. One film I watched all the time was Twister. It just so happens that Bill Paxton gave me my big break, casting me in my first film, Frailty. I’ll be forever grateful as that is what landed me further roles.

What do you love most about acting?

I love acting because you get to be imaginative and become other people. I know a lot of us think at some point “I wish I was someone else.” Well that’s my job, to be someone else and bring them alive.

How old were you when you had to portray the young Adam Mieks in Frailty?

When I played Adam Meiks in Frailty I was eleven.

There was some controversy at the time due to the violent content of the film and the young age of the actors. What are your thoughts on that? What was that whole experience like? Did you enjoy working with Bill Paxton?

I don’t recall there being controversy. I know that there were two young boys being put into an intense situation with a crazy father. That can be a little hard to watch, seeing these two boys dropping chopped up bodies out bags into these graves and burying them for their dad. Like I said earlier, we are playing other characters and bringing them to life so if that is the way you felt, I guess it was a job well done for us.

Demons were a major part of the story in Frailty. What are you feelings on demons and such?

I like paranormal stuff but I don’t really believe in ghosts. I believe in demons. I’m a Christian and I know there are demons out there but I’m not too worried about them.

What was it like to portray Peter Pan? Has your experience there served you well in the roles you have had since?

Like I said earlier about Frailty, Peter Pan got me future roles and brought me a lot of stuff. Because I did Frailty, I got Peter Pan. One of the producers watched Frailty and said, “hey let’s bring that kid in from Peter Pan.” I went in and did my thing and I was the guy. Peter Pan was another big movie which I starred in and it took me to a different level. A lot of things happened for me after that and I am truly grateful.

Do people seem to recognize you most for that role? Does it ever get annoying?

I do get recognized all the time but it never gets annoying. I can have a full beard, a hat and sunglasses and people will look at me and they are kind of confused but I will smile and they will come up and say they couldn’t recognize me at first but then you had that big smile and that’s what made us realize it was you. I will always be that character, it is going to be one of those characters that is going to live on forever and ever and I am happy to be part of that. In this film in particular, it was just such a beautiful movie that it really hit home for a lot of people and so it is great to have that. I will always be grateful that I made the fans happy and I will always be Peter Pan in my heart. I am an actor so I’m on to other roles and that is what I am working on now.

Jeremy Sumpter as Jacob in New Line Cinema's and Village Roadshow Pictures' thriller "INTO THE STORM," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Ron Phillips

Jeremy Sumpter as Jacob in New Line Cinema’s and Village
Roadshow Pictures’ thriller “INTO THE STORM,” a Warner Bros. Pictures
release. Photo by Ron Phillips

Is there any one role that has been your favorite?

I would say Peter Pan is one of my favorites.

Can you tell us a little more about Into the Storm? What can our readers expect from that particular film?

Into the Storm is a tornado movie about this group of storm chasers that come to this town where there happens to be an onslaught of tornados. The tornados devastate the town of Silverton and they are caught in the middle of it. In the meantime, you have the father who has lost his son and is searching for him. It is a found footage film. We shoot with cell phones and street cams so it brings you closer to the film. Into the Storm is billed as Twister on steroids. Frailty was my first film and Twister was my favorite film growing up so it was great to work with Bill Paxton and then a few years later I got to work with Helen Hunt on Soul Surfer and now here I am playing a storm chaser in Into the Storm, so I think that’s awesome how that worked out.

What direction do you hope to see your career take in the years ahead? Do you have a dream role you’d most like to play?

For me I want to widen my range of what I do in the entertainment industry. I want to be a producer which I just did. I co-produced a film called The Squeeze. It was great to be able to produce my first film and also star in it. I would like to direct. I would like to be the guy that makes everything that we see happen. It would be cool to do that and I think I would be good at it but I love acting and that is my job.I hope I do it for the rest of my life.

I don’t think about dream roles. I take roles that I like so it’s not like I’m looking for a particular role. I’m open to all types of roles so I can’t really say that I have dream role, because if I had a dream role and played it, what would I do then.

What do you see yourself doing should you ever give up acting?

I will never give up acting. If I wasn’t acting, I would try and go on the PGA tour. When I’m not acting, I play golf every day. I’m a scratch golfer. So if I had the time to really dig into that and spend all my time like I spend on acting and do it toward golf, I think I might be able to get my tour card and maybe win a couple of tournaments. But I am an actor and that is what I do.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

Right now, I am taking some time off to play golf. I just finished a couple of movies. One is called Take Down with Max Deacon who also worked with me on Into the Storm.  So it was cool to work with him again on that. It is going to be a great movie and I think you are all going to love it. It was directed by Jim Gillespie and I star in it with Phoebe Tonkin. So look forward to that. I’ve got The Squeeze that comes out next year with Christopher McDonald, directed by Terry Jastrow.

Is there anything you’d like to say before you go?

I love my fans and there is nothing more important to be than making them happy and I will do my best to make sure I keep doing that. I am happy with the way my career is going now and am truly appreciative of fans.

An interview with Clay Tidwell

clayt1

Clay Tidwell is the local schoolmaster and sometimes lawyer of Great Bend. When not shaping the young minds of the town he can likely be found at the local saloon. A connoisseur of alcohol since quite a young age he has a deep love of drink. One of the town’s most colorful citizens he can also be found from time to time filling in during shifts at the local saloon.

What is it like being a schoolmaster in a town like Great Bend?

Being the schoolmaster in Great Bend is thankless. People don’t care about education, so my efforts are mostly wasted. It’s lonely (most potential students are dead) and it’s a daily struggle to not give up on humanity. Other than that, I love it.

Was it refreshing to take a break from your teaching to work as a lawyer?

I wouldn’t say it was refreshing to take a break, because it wasn’t really a break. A break suggests that it was MY idea. I was forced into service. I was forced into prosecuting a very dangerous man who holds grudges. So no, it wasn’t refreshing. A lawyer is what people use when they wanna say mean things to a bad man, but are too scared to do it themselves. That’s why lawyers get paid so much. Oh wait, I had to do it for free as a “service” to the town. fun. refreshing.

Was it a particular scary moment when you had to hide all of those copies of Honey’s tell all book after Cole escaped those proceedings?

If by scary you mean that I pooped in my pants multiple times, then yes.

Did you ever forgive Hoyle for that whole ordeal?

I have not forgiven Hoyle for that debacle. I have a list of 49 transgressions that I have not forgiven Hoyle for. I call him the unforgiven. Hey, that’s a good title for a western movie.

What it is like to live in a town so closed minded to your particular lifestyle?

I know what you’re getting at with this “lifestyle” question. You’re not saying I’m gay, but you want me to out myself. Well…I just did. Yeah, I’m gay. And I don’t care what anyone’s attitude is about it. What I care about is that there aren’t enough men who share my “lifestyle.” Men that I could connect with. Although there are some, they just keep it quiet.

clayt

Is it true you starting drinking when you were seven years old with your best friend Sam? Are those moments you remember fondly?

Sam was a dear dear friend. If I could remember specifics about our drunken times together I’m sure I’d remember them fondly. All I really remember is us taking long walks, then opening a bottle. After that there was usually a weird smell and a pool of vomit that I was lying in. But the walks and the opening of the bottle…I do think of those fondly.

Did it feel somewhat therapeutic to be able to open up and talk about your early experiences in the town meeting on alcoholism?

No, it did not feel good to open up at the meeting. People were small minded and insensitive. It’d be nice if there could be a meeting for alcoholics that involved zero judgement and a safe environment. Every time Shank does that weird throaty inhale it’s just a tiny little stomp on my integrity.

Did you enjoy filling in for Pearl for those couple of days? Did doing so give you a newfound respect for how hard the ladies all work over at the saloon?

I gotta say, I really DID enjoy filling in for Pearl. I had more sex than…well than I had since I took that trip to Dodge City when I turned 18. Granted, I had to dress and act like a woman. Believe it or not, that’s not every gay man’s dream. I’m a man. However, I was happy to make this sacrifice…for Pearl. Do I appreciate the hard work they put in now? No. It wasn’t hard. I had sex with men…and got paid. That’s a prize, not work. Although some of those men…have you seen them? Yikes.

Were you surprised to hear the accusations that some of the customers didn’t know you were in fact male? Do you find that insulting?

I don’t find it insulting at all. That means I did a good job. I didn’t want to get caught! Some men may not react kindly when they find out the woman they’re schtooping is actually a man. I will say though, that a few of the men allowed me to penetrate them, so I feel like they knew something was up.

Did you catch any grief for walking out after getting shot during the shoot out during the raid on Cole Younger?

I DID catch grief for walking out early, and here’s why that’s stupid: I’m not a trained professional law enforcement official and I’m not a criminal. I shouldn’t have a gun in the first place. I did a great job though, while I was involved. Then I got shot. I could’ve stayed in the fight and gotten blood all over everybody and distracted everyone from the fight. I was the bigger man and walked away. You’re welcome everyone.

clayt2

Was it nice to wear frilly dresses and get more in touch with you feminine side?

Like I said, I prefer dressing as a man and am very good at it. I have a panache that people appreciate. I will say though, that I looked the best of all the men. Did you see Shank? I actually felt sorry for how ugly he looked.

What was it about the Jehovah’s Witnesses that drew you into their flock at the time?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses caught me at a time of fear and vulnerability. It looked like the world was gonna end and I needed a ticket out. To be clear, i also signed up for Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and 2nd Presbyterianism. Wanted to cover all my bases. Gotta hedge your bets.

Have you always been a deeply religious man? What are your feelings on life after death and the like?

I’ve never been religious. My religion is survival. And it’s worked out so far. Part of me believes that when you die you arrive at a place where men wear skimpy outfits and fast music plays and we all parade through the streets of big giant cities. We all have so much pride and there are rainbows everywhere. I know that’s ridiculous though, so I’m pretty sure we become worm meat.

What are you about life in Great Bend are you most looking forward to next?

Life in Great Bend is comfortable enough. I’d like more respect to be honest. I’m obviously the smartest person in town, but I don’t get treated that way…because everyone else is so stupid and doesn’t realize how smart I am. Kind of a catch-22…whatever that means. I would like for a caravan of gay men, or at least flamboyant, cultured men to arrive in time. That’s my hope for the future.

Anything else you’d care to say?

What would I like to add? I’m open to a new sheriff, if anyone is thinking about taking over, I’d support you. Also, I worry about dying alone. That’s not supposed to be funny. I truly fear it and think about it every day. Now go enjoy your day everyone. Go enjoy your day.

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A poem by Jennifer Firestone from “Ten”

A hump of washed clothes can

never look artistic. I know there

is life, see the leaves wiggle. And

then small particles floating but

they had wings. Seemingly unsure

of how she sets the stage. “Family is

love and help. Huh? I’m helping you,

see.” Absurdly the bird looks as if

invading. I could very well be

the enemy.

 

Jennifer Firestone is the author of Flashes (Shearsman Books), Holiday(Shearsman Books), Waves (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs), from Flashes and snapshot(Sona Books), and Fanimaly (Dusie Kollektiv). She is the co-editor of Letters To Poets: Conversations about Poetics, Politics and Community (Saturnalia Books), and an Assistant Professor of Literary Studies at Eugene Lang College (The New School). She lives with her family in Brooklyn.

An Interview with Sean Gunn

sean gunn

Sean Gunn is likely best remembered for his role as Kraglin Obfonteri in Guardians of the Galaxy. Sean was also the onset actor for the characters Rocket Raccoon and Thanos. He also appeared on Gilmore Girls and in the film Super.

What was it like growing up in St. Louis? What are some of your most fond memories from that time?

I love St. Louis. I am a very typical suburban product of the 80’s. My fondest memories come from my family, and sharing new discoveries with my siblings, whether it was music, a movie, TV shows, whatever.

Do you consider yourself lucky to have came from a rather large family?

I guess so. Of course, I have nothing to compare it to. More than the size, I consider myself lucky that my siblings are all close, and that we aren’t competitive with one another.

When did you first discover your love of acting?

Very young. I honestly have no idea. Acting discovered me before I discovered it.

Did you ever want to be anything else?

Nope.

How does it feel to be able to step outside of your self and into character?

When I’m comfortable in the character’s skin it is the greatest feeling in the world.

Is there one character you have enjoyed bringing to life more than others?

Tough question. When the character comes easily it’s usually going to be more fun to do, but at the end of the day it’s kind of like being asked to name your favorite child. I love them equally, but in different ways.

How does your work in film differ most from your work on television? Do you enjoy one more than the other or do you love them equally?

The thing I love most about television is the opportunity to play a character with an open-ended history. Guardians of the Galaxy is the first franchise-type movie I’ve done (“Humanzee II” notwithstanding), so it’s the first time I’ve done a movie that I didn’t necessarily have to say goodbye to my character when it was over. But I do love the grind of the TV season, when a character grows a little and changes a little over time, and my performance helps shape the way the writers see him. I prefer that.

Are there any little known things about yourself that your fans might be surprised to learn?

I’m a Hip Hop music scholar. I’m a Clippers fanatic. I love to cook. I have several cats and am involved in cat rescue. I read a lot, but only non-fiction. Shall I go on?

james-gunn-and-sean-gunn

Do you have a dream role you’d most like to bring into being?

The short list: Stanley in Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party, Iago in Othello, Harold Hill in The Music Man. Oh, and I think I’d make a really good Bond villain.

What was it like being the onset actor for Rocket Raccoon and Thanos? What is the most challenging issue you faced in doing that? Did you enjoy it?

Well, Thanos was easy because all I had to do was stand on a big forklift and speak in a deep voice. Playing Rocket on set was challenging in all the ways any role can be challenging—it’s emotional, it took physical stamina. The difference was that at the end of the day, I was only doing one piece of the role. The SFX team and Bradley Cooper would still come in and make the character complete. But I loved playing Rocket. I hope to be able to do it again.

Were you surprised that Guardians of the Galaxy has done so well? Why do you think the audience responded to it in such fervor?

If I can say I’m not that surprised without sounding like a jackass, then I’m not that surprised. I had a good feeling we were making something special, and something of quality, throughout shooting. I never could have predicted quite the level of success, of course, but I knew that if post went smoothly that people would like it. I think the audience has responded with such fervor, at the risk of sounding cheesy, because it was made with love and hard work, and because it’s about something important and universal. Starting with my brother, and right down to the last crew member, those who worked on the film really believed in it.

Is it nice to be able to work with family in your line of work? Does it make the work go a little smoother?

It’s great. My brother and I have a shorthand for communicating with one another which always helps. If he weren’t as good at what he does it would be tougher, I’m sure.

Do you have any interesting stories from the set that you might be at liberty to share with our readers?

There are so many. Going to work every day with my brother and Chris and Zoe and Dave was a gift. They are such good people. I do remember one day that Dave Bautista asked me what kind of workout regimen I went through to keep my physique. That’s not a typo: BAUTISTA asked ME that question. I think he was suddenly drawn to the idea of being abnormally skinny. It still makes me laugh.

What direction would you most like to see your career take in the future?

Really all I’ve ever wanted in my career is to have options—to have good options and to work as much as I choose. That will always be what’s most important to me.

What projects are you looking forward to working on next?

Guardians 2! And the great unknown…I’m hoping to stay very busy in the coming year.

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

Just a sincere thanks to all my fans and fans of the movie. And a reminder that giving a shit matters. Apathy is so last century.

Sg

“My Strange Ways” by Paul Tristram

My Strange Ways

My strange ways have led me

in and out of trouble,

ridiculousness and nonsense.

Drunkenness and violence,

insanity and confusion,

homelessness and stark

truth and realization.

I’ve mentally scaled the walls

of prison cells and psychiatric wards

both anorexic and demented.

Yet, I have also climbed mountains

both physical and emotional.

Surfed those rapids of true feelings

and smiled so wide

I almost caused an earthquake

right down in my soul.

I have experienced heartache,

loss and cruelty, betrayal and trickery.

but I have also felt the comfort

of a strangers hand full with mercy,

help, kindness and charity

repeatedly along the crooked way.

I will never take or accept

that safe, middle road,

my Soul’s too big to just plod along.

I’ve tasted the sweetness and bitterness

of both sides of life’s coin

and am a better person for it,

in my strange ways I do belong

and them inside of me…Amen.

© Paul Tristram 2014

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight, this too may pass, yet.