1) Hi Erik, and welcome to Vents Magazine! Before we get started, how have you and yours been during these unprecedented times?
Well, first off, I just want to say thanks for having me! As for the family and I are concerned during these extremely difficult and confusing times, I would have to say we have hung in there pretty well. We really just enjoyed the time together and, at times, had to think outside the box to figure ways of keeping ourselves entertained. I’m definitely not one who likes to be bored for too long, or not having a schedule of some sort or just plain not having work is quite a weird feeling. I thought by week two that I would start going a little bonkers. But it actually wasn’t until week four that I began to get extremely restless and grumpy, not having really anything to do or any gigs, or just plain going out to eat or socializing, which plays a big part in my lifestyle. I have to say that all and all, it was a pretty positive learning experience and a growing experience for our whole family. Not saying I would love to do this regularly or anything, I’m just glad it opened up our eyes to what’s really important, and that’s loving one another and really focusing on the importance of that.
2) You had a busy 2019, and from the looks of it, you have a pretty hectic 2020 on the books, too! First of all, congratulations on the recent release of the super-successful and popular video game, NBA 2K20! What was the genesis behind your involvement in the game?
Thank you! Thank You! Interestingly enough, a good director friend of mine by the name of Sheldon Candis called and said I have an audition for you for a new upcoming video game to play a character in it. Basically, they informed my manager that they would like me to send in a self-tape for two different characters. At that particular time, I was under the impression that it was a new game called “Flight School,” but I later found that it wasn’t being disclosed at the time because of the confidentiality agreement we had to sign. So I sent in the self-tape. About three weeks went by when I finally got a call saying that I booked one of the characters and got my dates for when I would shoot it. At this point, I still thought I was shooting a new game called “Flight School.” It wasn’t until I was on set all geared up and ready to film when I overheard a conversation of who else was involved who was cast in the game. It was about two hours after arriving to set that I finally found out that the game I was cast for just so happens to be one of the most successful video franchises in the world. I overheard a convo, and I said, “wait a second, you guys have Idris Alba and Rosario Dawson and bunch others in this new game?” the production crew look over at me and say.. “huh?” They were like, “wait, you don’t know what game you’re here for?” I said, “um, well yeah, “Flight School,” right? They looked over at my friend Sheldon who is the director and said, “you haven’t told him?” he starts laughing and says, “nope, I wanted him to figure it out himself, and I guess he just did”! So that’s my involvement in the EPIC NBA 2K20 game!
3) You also have a new Popstar! TV Series, Purgatory. For Vents Magazine readers not in the know, can you talk a little bit about what the show is about and who your character is?
The show is about a group of strangers invited to experience a unique New Year’s Eve Party at an exclusive mountain resort. The guests quickly realized that they were all brought there for a very specific reason, which may have deadly consequences. I play the role of Bobby, and he is a bad, bad guy. He did some real time in jail; he is ex-con/rapist with a very dark twisted side but with an alluring and charming side as well. He has a broad arc of this series. He was an extremely fun character for me to play. I usually play the edgier lead roles, but with this one, I really went into it with a blank mind and let it take me where it would. I’m the kind of actor that very much lives in the seconds before action is called. I go in without judging my character at all! I want to feel the realness to the moments instead of anticipating what could or what is supposed to happen to me. I really took that into account with Bobby! I couldn’t be more thrilled and excited for everyone to see our project and the introduction of me as Bobby!
4) You have not one, but two new films waiting in the wings for release: Break Even and STARFCK’R. What can you tell us about Break Even?
“Break Even” is about four friends who find 50 million in cash while exploring a remote island, only to learn the DEA left it for the Cartel in a rogue deal. Now they must race back to civilization and launder the money while staying one step ahead of the two entities who will stop at nothing to get it back. I play the character of Dash (aka Daniel Schrader), who is sort of a down on his luck kind of guy who didn’t come from money and nor has he ever really made much money in his life. He has a hard time in life, making ends meet and keeping steady work. He was a cool character to portray. Dash is an aggressive personality/outgoing and with cockiness and a bit of arrogance, which comes from his insecurities and his lost soul, knowing where he will end up in life. But when his friends find the cash, he is the first to have the biggest smile on his face like his enthusiasm is through the roof. It is the first time he has really had anything go his way, and he is not about to go back to the dark side.
I had a great experience shooting this project and working with Shane Stanley, an absolutely wonderful actor/director and an extremely hard-working producer. And the determined and highly intelligent writer CJ Walley. He was wonderful to work with and to discuss and visualize together as a full team, and we trust one another to make the best film we possibly could! I really think we achieved, if not exceeded, our expectations. The movie is filled with lots of intense and on-the-go action and drama. In addition to me, the other stars include the three other leads; actress Tasya Teles (CW’s The 100), actor Brent Bailey, and actress Alisa Reyes, alongside amazing supporting cast Joanna Pacula, Ivan Sergei, James Callis, and Steve Guttenburg, with many others. The movie is in the vein of “Fast and Furious” meets “Into the Blue” with a twist of “Gone in 60 Secs.” It’s definitely an action-packed, fast-paced heist, on the run kind of film that never once makes you feel like your time is being wasted while watching it. We’re super excited about how it turned out and for everyone to see what we created, and we all worked equally as hard to make it all possible. I’m very grateful for this opportunity and the friends I made on this production.
6) What about STARFCK’R? What’s the story, and who do you play?
STARFCK’R is about a narcissistic psychopath with ADD, BPD, and a sex addiction who tries to sleep his way to the top of Hollywood, only to find his world crash down around him. I play the lead character Jimmy Starr; he is the quintessential actor in Hollywood that will do whatever it takes to make it. It’s a dark comedy story that is loosely based on the underbelly of Hollywood. It takes the audience on a journey and shows you what really goes down in the City of Angels, like the drugs, bribery, sex, power, money, and women. The film is a very dark and comedic understanding that teaches you that wanting to be famous for all the wrong reasons can lead you to your demise. Jimmy finds himself in a tough and compromising position and has to decide which path to take in the end. This role has to be one of the riskiest ones I have taken to date.
The film covers sexism, #metoo movement, racism, addiction, loss, love, empathy, and possible death. The sheer understanding of a true narcissist is one psychological mind fuck. Having to portray such a character is something that feels not real, but like it is almost out of a book or a movie. Then to live in the mindset and times felt like it was taking a little piece of my soul. I had to know the fine line between performance and real life! I learned a lot from playing the role of Jimmy Starr. I learned a lot about myself, and it helped me eliminate some of my demons and other issues that I couldn’t get free of! I have to say now after experiencing such a dark, and abusive mindset in my character, it puts in perspective the people in Hollywood and life in general who have these severe mental conditions and are really just crying out for someone to love and care for them and let them know that it’s going ok.
The film has been three years in the making, and it was not an easy project to do from the moment we said action. But we did! We fulfilled what we started out to do, and now it’s our turn to give it to you! I hope that not only do people cry, laugh, act confused, maybe even get angry but what I really want them to see and take a little of what Jimmy went through and how he felt and what a large amount of power we lose when we truly don’t love ourselves; the lesson might be different for each viewer but there many of to be learned in this film. So get ready for a crazy ride, yeehaw!
7) How has the worldwide pandemic altered release plans on these two highly anticipated films?
My film “Break Even” was supposed to be released in May 2020. We are now on standby waiting for a release date—the same for my film STARF*CKER, which will be getting an end-of-year or first-quarter release in 2021. So please stand by, but coming soon.
8) Speaking of upcoming projects, you have a veritable ton either filming (Essence of Love), in pre-production (Ant Farm, Blood, The Thirst of Christ) or announced (The Gift Horse). Can you give us a brief rundown on what each of these projects is about?
My vampire/love story film “Essence of Love” is in post-production, awaiting its release. Again due to the pandemic, it has set that back as well. The projects “Ant Farm,” and “The Thirst of Christ,” seem to be part of a few of the films that were greenlit before the pandemic but have now been put on hold for the time being. For my next project out of these that was greenlit, and the soonest to get started will be the film “BLOOD,” which I’m super excited to start. It is an original screenplay and a great concept with great character arcs.
9) We’ve touched inevitably on the Coronavirus. Going forward, how will Hollywood change because of this pandemic?
I think there is so much confusion, anger, sadness, hurt, and depression that this Coronavirus has created for us and the entire world. I really don’t know what or how to think or feel about more than just day by day! It’s for sure going to be a tough time for Hollywood for at least a year or so.
10) Your first work in the film industry is listed as the 2003 TV Commercial, Chevy Malibu: Maxx. Any special memories of this freshman outing?
It was a really great experience filming that national TV spot. We had a great cast and what was really amazing was we were being directed from a big studio filming director by the name of Jan de Bont, very well-known and respected director of the 1994 blockbuster movie “Speed,” starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, so that was a heck of treat to be directed by such class and talent.
11) I’m always curious about inspiration and things and people that motivate and push us forward. With that being said, has there been a particular actor that has influenced your own work?
To be honest, I can’t say there is only one. I would say there are three in particular that I have spent years studying and learning and taking bits and pieces of their talents and charisma on and off sets. Their ability to hold their own for many many years in Hollywood and always seem to either make strong choices when you least expect, which gains them respect each time that they deserve. That’s the reason they are so looked up to for decades now and will always be held in a class of their own. These three I’m speaking so highly of are very different actors from one another, but they are what is known as a true leading man movie star in Hollywood. They are the last of the real movie stars and of their kind! They are 1) Tom Cruise 2) Brad Pitt and 3) Leo DiCaprio; these are what I consider to have the IT factor; they paved the way in their generation for what a movie star truly is in my eyes.
12) You’re primarily known in the industry now as an actor, but you’ve also produced a couple of times. Do you harbor any desires in the future to write and/or direct? Or would you prefer to stick to acting?
I have learned in this biz never say never..so in saying that you never know what situation or opportunity will arise in the future …but at the moment, I’m really enjoying the work as an actor and the roles I have been achieving as of late, I have been able to dig into the deeper parts of who am and what I’m able to create. It has been a freeing experience and surreal at times to be able to have these opportunities that seemed light-years away even a few years ago.
13) Setting the Way Back Machine to Secret Origin mode, what led you into the world of acting?
It’s sort of random. My girlfriend at the time was babysitting a six-year boy for a friend. When the mother of the boy came to pick her son up, she came inside for a few minutes. I was getting ready to head home when the boy’s mother stopped me as I was leaving. She asked if I had ever thought about modeling and acting. She mentioned that she has her son in acting and youth modeling for big companies such as Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren, to name a few. She asked me if I wanted to maybe give it a try because she thought I had a great look and an outgoing personality. I initially was like, “Oh, um, well, to be honest, I hated drama class in high school and quit, and all I really cared about was basketball. So as far as modeling goes, my friends would have teased me, haha. She said, ” Well, let’s hear them tease you when you’re making a great living as a model with that face and maybe one day become a tv/ movie star! ” I laughed and was like, “Oh yeah, like that would ever even be a possibility.” She said, “Well, I’m going to introduce you to a modeling agency in Georgetown, DC, as a possible back up plan for you, and hey, you never know where it could lead! So I ended up signing a contract and began working as a model doing ads and catalog in the local area. This wasn’t my first dream, and I wasn’t sure if it was something that I was entirely interested in, but it was something to pay the bills, and I was making some extra cash while trying to figure out my life. I eventually started to gain more of an interest in it, and I relocated to New York City and said what the heck, I seem to have a knack for this industry, so let’s give this modeling and acting thing a shot.
14) You worked with some astonishing talent in the indie darling American Cowslip: Peter Falk, Cloris Leachman, Rip Torn, Val Kilmer, Bruce Dern, and Diane Ladd. What was that experience like for you?
I will make it an easy answer, Surreal! I mean, I was given a chance to work in scenes with some of Hollywood’s oldest and most respected stars of all time. When I found out that I was going be playing opposite Val Kilmer, I was like, “Dude; I’m doing a movie with ICE MAN ..like what”!? At that time, that was the most surreal thing I had felt from this business and an accomplishment standpoint. I mean, I’m just a guy from Beltsville, MD, that doesn’t happen to a guy from Beltsville, MD. But guess what, it did! To sum it up, I had to grow a pair really fast and tell myself this is just the beginning, and I started to understand that I have the ability to stand next to academy award nominees and winners and hold own. That definitely helped boost my confidence, and that very moment I was able to release some of those doubts that I couldn’t achieve real success, but that proved to me that I could. So I would say that one is for the books!
1) Final (Silly) Question: You’re stranded on a deserted island. Which one film do you have to while away the time while awaiting rescue?
That’s easy, it has been my favorite flick since it came in 1986 and I was six years old and the name of this film….. drumroll, please………………… STAND BY ME !!