Michael Worth is co-starring in the SyFy Original, “Jabberwock” directed by Steven R. Monroe. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Michael about working on the film and also what he has planned next.
Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your role of Alec in “Jabberwock”?
Michael Worth: Alec is the brother of Francis, two very different siblings in many ways. They are both fighters and strong willed individuals, but Alec did not develop the domestic chip in the same way as Francis had and as a result Alec, in some ways unable to face up to uncomfortable responsibilities at home, takes off and becomes a fighter. After several years in battle he returns home to find his father ill and must face under intense circumstances some of these issues with his family. I liked the challenge of playing the troubled child that exists in this combat hardened body of Alec. I think the relationships in this film with the many characters are pretty interesting as each one in some way finds themselves having to adapt to the strength of another at some point. I was also ready to jump into another physically crafted character as it had been awhile in doing one like that.
MG: This is the second time you have worked with Steven R. Monroe after “Complacent”, how did it come about?
MW: Monroe and I have done quite a few films together. In fact, I was in his very first feature “The Contract” with Jeff Fahey. I have written a couple of films he directed as well. He and I have had many discussions over the years on the kind of films we want to make and we found we both shared a lot of similar interests and creative directions. One of our first opportunities to do that was with a western called “Dual”. We shot it for no money with a tiny cast and crew but is one of my most personally satisfying films. “Complacent” was another opportunity for Monroe to take that more personal approach and lucky enough an actor he had committed to a part dropped out before the shoot started and I stepped in. With “Jabberwock” he actually was shooting on Monday and called me late Thursday night to ask me to play the part. I didn’t even read the script until I was in a plane somewhere far over the ocean. But, I had such a trust in Steven with his work over the years I never felt too nervous about it so was okay with that rush. He had been wanting me to play it for about a week or so before he called but you sometimes have to go through the chain of command.
MG: How was it working with Kacey Barnfield and Tahmoh Penikett?
MW: They both had huge egos! Of course, I’m joking as they were both two of the nicest people I have met in this business. Tahmoh and I were in the same hotel and both of us train in martial arts so we got to connect that way, training a bit in their gym. He has a real good sense about his craft and his “placement” in a scene. By that I mean his experience has really taught him where to be in his work and what the effect of that choice on film will be. Now Kacey I was really bummed about because I was hoping she would have played my girlfriend in the film! Just a beautiful and genuine person. Loved the accent of hers. And a great laugh. She has a great demeanor on film and is as much a woman as one can be but hangs out with the best of the boys. Great actress. And she throws a pretty good punch too!
MG: What can you tell us about the production?
MW: I had shot a film in Bulgaria years before called “US Seals 2” and had always wanted to go back. It had changed in some ways but much of the “old” part remained exactly the same. The people there, the crew, are just great. They are such work horses and always have some kind of a smile plastered on their faces. The weather there was pretty intense as we would have raging heat a couple days, a bunch of snow the next few and some crazy Bill Paxton style winds on others. In fact one bad day of winds destroyed several of the sets around us, actually ones used on the new Conan film. You can also look up on Funny or Die something called “Flim”, which is a short we all did together while on set. Rafaello Degratola from the movie was the mastermind behind it.
MG: You directed the film “Fort McCoy”, tell us about that experience?
MW: I was asked to direct Fort McCoy back in 2008 but had known about if for a number of years. The first thing I realized was the task of getting that story onto the screen was going to be A LOT of work and wanted my friend and cinematographer Neil Lisk with me. Neil passed away back in 2010 after shooting “I Spit On Your Grave” with Monroe so I am really happy I fought for him to be there as it would be our last time as a director-cinematographer together (I worked with him as an actor on Complacent with Monroe afterwards though). It was really nice to have those several weeks of just him and I running around Wisconsin and figuring out my shots, the geography and the lighting changes throughout the day. I have been a photographer most of my life but learned a lot of interesting things from Neil while prepping that film. For that reason most of all that film will stand out for me. And of course working with Eric Stoltz and Lydsey Fonseca was great too. Mask and Some Kind of Wonderful, I mean come on! Margot Farley Stuart who starred in “God’s Ears” with me I also brought in to play one of the parts and she is always such a beautiful actress. And let’s not forget Seymore Cassell. I’m a giant Cassavetes fan so that was great to have an opportunity to direct him. I made a great friend in actor Rene Heger once we wrapped as well.
MG: You are attached to direct and produce “Come Back to Sorrento” with script by David Mamet; what can you tell us about this?
MW: This project was written by David and Rebecca Pidgeon as a vehicle for Rebecca. It was based on a novel by Dawn Powell in the 1930s and is a very complex and vibrant piece. After Dave saw a screening of my film “God’s Ears” he offered me the script to direct if I could pull the money together. The business side of getting projects like that done can be pretty daunting sometimes, even with the experience and background of the two of them. But, it is all still on the table and I’m working on getting it done even at the moment. The two of them are just great people and I am anxious and excited with the prospect of working with them.
MG: What do you enjoy more acting, writing, producing or directing?
MW: It’s hard to really give an exact answer to that but all I know is about 8 years ago I realized the acting in itself was not going to give me the creative fulfillment I was seeking in this business. When I moved to LA at 17, I was interested in all three facets but had no real idea which, if any, would take hold. Initially the acting work came and I eventually made somewhat of a living at it but soon realized the path was going to branch out at some point. I feel in some ways the acting stimulates the more visceral connection I have to film and the directing and writing the more intellectual, if that makes sense. As I found myself relating more with people like Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen, John Cassavetes and Buster Keaton, I knew that I was seeking a similar balance in my own life with film. I don’t find myself wanting to do it all at once all the time, as I did with “God’s Ears”, but they are all clearly similar pieces in this body of work I am trying to put together.
MG: Do you have any other projects that you want to chat about?
MW: Well, after I shot “Jabberwock”, I came back to LA and threw myself into a project I had been wanting to do for several years exploring the low budget film world and those people that move through it. Ultimately it became one of the greatest learning experiences I have ever had. It’s called “Bring Me the Head of Lance Henriksen” and deals with actor Tim Thomerson as he examines his relevance in the movie industry and seeks out to challenge his perception of ageism as well as figure out if actor Lance Henriksen is really grabbing up all the over 60 roles. It is not entirely a documentary and not entirely a feature film but a cross section of the two. The people involved were rarely aware of what the day of shooting entailed as we “staged” everything within real events that they were actually participating in. For example, I would “coax” a direction I wanted the “actors” to go in while we were at a real comic book convention signing and suddenly these crazy scenarios came to life and none of us were entirely sure where it would go. Kind of like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on steroids. Adrienne Barbeau, Martin Kove, John Saxon, Cerina Vincent, John Witherspoon, Natasha Alam, Robert Patrick, George Cheung and many others all came in and made appearances. Probably the biggest all start cast to ever grace a low budget movie! It was barely a skeleton crew I pulled together with the help of actor Alex Ballar but made it easier for us to not intrude on the reality we were attempting to capture. It has been not only an amazing eye opening “film school” moment for me, but one of the funniest things I have ever been involved in. I am also currently working on getting my road trip drama “Apple Seed” off the ground with James Garner’s production company, Cherokee Productions and my Grizzly Peak Films and hopefully shooting before years end. I’m trying to keep up with the whole social networking thing like Twitter so people can stay updated on there. http://twitter.com/#!/michaelworth