Clark Gregg is known the world over for acting as bad ass Agent Phil Coulson in the Marvel cinematic universe, however five years ago the actor added directing to his resumé with his wonderful first feature, Choke, based on the Chuck Palahniuk novel. This week he returns to directing as well as writing and starring in Trust Me. Described as a Hollywood Neo-noir, the movie follows Gregg as Howard Holloway, a onetime-child-actor-turned-Hollywood-agent, who allies himself with a talented rising star, Lydia (played by Saxon Sharbino). Sharbino and Gregg are joined in the cast by Felicity Huffman as a fierce producer and Paul Sparks as Lydia’s drunken father. They premiered the film at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday night to an audience that included Michael J Fox and Gregg’s wife, actress Jennifer Grey.
Director Gregg finished the film extremely close to the start of the festival. “Nobody’s seen the film,” he said of the impending screening, “Nobody’s seen the film and you kind of, you hope it works! And this is a lot of people in a very public way to see it. You know it’s like you’re going to the edge of the high dive, you’re kind of praying some water’s down there.” As for taking on multiple roles in the film making process, Gregg doesn’t have a preference. “No, it’s funny I love them as a whole, I don’t see them really as different. I see them parts of different jobs on the same ship. And to me there’s something about making a film that’s my voice, that I wrote using actors that I love and am comfortable with–there’s just nothing better.” Comparing acting in last summer’s mega-blockbuster Avengers to helming Trust Me, he added “You have a lot less responsibility. It feels like a lot more channeled and focused. I knew what I had to do on The Avengers and I was very glad I wasn’t Joss! And in this case, this was something that, I don’t know, I just had a deep personal connection to the script that I wrote.”
For actors Paul Sparks and Felicity Huffman, that script was a major factor in attracting them to their parts.
Paul Sparks: “I really like the script. I’m like a script person. I was fascinated by the tone of the movie because it’s very funny. It’s funny and then it kind of really turns at one point and I think that’s really brave.”
Felicity Huffman: “What attracts me is good writing and good storytelling what you want to be saying, at least what I want to be saying when you read the script is ‘oh my god, what happens next?’ And that’s indeed what I was saying while I was reading this and so I loved this story. It was compelling and unique. I don’t think this story has been told.”
Relative newcomer Saxon Sharbino wasn’t familiar first with Clark Gregg as a writer-director. “I watched him in The Avengers but I didn’t really like know him really…it was really cool meeting him” she told us. As for working with all of these veteran actors–the cast also includes Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell and William H Macy–Sharbino said she learned “just to stay grounded and know who you are.”
Of course, audiences can next expect to see Gregg back at it as Agent Coulson on ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” despite his death last summer at the hands of Avengers villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston). At a recent Tribeca press day, he referred to the God of Mischief as the “Asgardian bastard” who ran him through. When I brought this up on the red carpet, Gregg was quick to reply “I don’t think I’m stepping out on a limb when I say that. I feel like a billion people saw it!” So how would a resurrected Coulson react to being reunited with his murderer? “Oh…if Coulson actually turns out to be alive in this new show, I think he and Loki have some business to settle.” And apparently not with Coulson’s trademark dry humor, “I think we’ve gone beyond snarky comments–the impaling thing kind of takes it to a new level of rancor.”
By Popular demand, Trust Me has added additional screenings at Tribeca. For further info, you can check out the TFF Film Guide’s page. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is expected to debut on ABC this fall.