Andy Mackenzie & James Duval are co-starring in the film “Sushi Girl”, playing the roles of Max and Francis (respectively). These guys were so passionate about this film during our interview and it is rare to see such devotion to a film. Media Mikes chatted with Andy and James about their roles and what it is like working with such an all-star cast.
Mike Gencarelli: James, tell us about your role of Francis in “Sushi Girl”?
James Duval: Yeah, I play Francis and I am part of the old core group members of this group of professional criminals. I play the shifty one in the group, so to speak [laughs].
MG: Andy, tell us about your role of Max in “Sushi Girl”?
Andy Mackenzie: Max is honestly surrounded by all these badass guys, except Max is probably the most badass. He is the guy that shoots first and doesn’t even have time to ask questions later. He has somewhat of a brain and he actually is somewhat multidimensional with his relationship with Mark Hamill’s character in the film. We push buttons all throughout the film.
MG: What drew you to work on this film?
AM: I read the script the first time and I tried to picture who was going to be the actors playing these characters. First off, I pictured Tony Todd because he is the pimp and it would be perfect. Everyone brought so much to the table in a completely different way than you can ever imagine. It just keep getting better and better every day.
JD: Absolutely it just kept growing. Andy was actually signed on to this film before me, like a year and a half ago. I knew Tony before just from the business and I knew who Andy was but never met him. So I was really excited to sit down and looking forward to the rest of the casting. At that point they hadn’t locked the characters down for Fish (Noah Hathaway) and Crow (Mark Hamill) yet. This was an opportunity to sit down a do a real good character piece with the script that Destin (Pfaff) and Kern (Saxton) has written. It is absolutely dynamic. I learned a lot from working across Tony Todd, who just has this presence. Then when you throw in the color of Mark Hamill and Noah Hathaway, honestly it doesn’t get better than that. When you think of Mark Hamill, you really don’t even know what he looks like anymore besides he does a lot of voice work. All of the sudden he shows up at our last table reading with a character completely out of a comic book [laughing]. It was the funniest, scariest and creepiest thing…all at the same time. It turned everything around that I was doing or thinking. I thought now I have to react to this guy [laughs]. Everyone knows Mark and Noah so well from growing up with them in films, but to see them come and deliver on this film is really what acting and making movies are about. This is a character breaking role for Mark Hamill and you will not look at him the same way again.
MG: You both sound so inspired about working on this film, it is really refreshing.
JD: It is just a dream come true. We are working with really dynamic actors that are really some of the best in the business but we also have a really great dynamic script. It has fleshed out character development and twists and turns. As an actor getting to play that is just a blast, you can not ask for more when you are making a movie.
AM: Exactly what Jimmy said, definitely a dream come true. Imagine growing up, you are watching “The Neverending Story” or “Star Wars” or “Candyman”. All of the sudden you walk into this room and all of these guys are in the same room as you and you have to be a badass [laughs]. That is where the inspiration is but how can you actually be a badass when you are surrounded by all these badasses [laughs].
MG: What would you say was your most challenging aspect working on the film?
JD: Every actor wants to shoot as chronological as possible. This was shot over 18 days and the real challenge was that after 7-8 days, you are left exploring and figuring out who you are. You want to go back in time and known that something prior was going to happen and changed a relationship. We spent a lot of time on set and even off camera talking about who these characters really came from. Once you see the movie we are right there in this middle of this crime. You are left wondering where we all came from. We are constantly exploring and seeing where we could take these characters. The film basically takes place in one night with some flashbacks.
AM: We were trying to do the chronological aspect the best we could but then there was a couple of occasions when we had to jump way forward and catch somethings. That was the big problem during those moments, we really didn’t know who we were at that moment and that is when we needed to go back and try to find out.
JD: Can’t talk about the budget, but we didn’t have a lot of money or time. We had to move fast and in the sense of doing so you are jumping from scene to scene quickly. You have the camera setup jumping from shot to shot without changing, so you have to be really on the ball with what was going on.
AM: What I meant to say with the biggest challenge was sitting around the table right next to a hot naked chick with only sushi covering parts of her body…that was really hard [laughs].
JD: Cortney Palm, great young up-and-coming actress, was really amazing having to sit there 15-18 days in the same position. She is going to blow you guys away. I think there are some parts of this film that we can’t say but it is going to go down in cinematic history. The visual shots and certain scenes are very memorable and it is really exciting to be a part of.
MG: James, What is the deal with “Mondo Holocausto!”?
JD: I know we were planning on doing it a couple of years ago. It is still in pre-production and I just received an email from the director, so it might be moving forward again. It was put on the back burner for a while. It was going to be down in the style and spirit of the 70’s Mondo campy horror films with badly dubbed over purposely. I do not know if it would work but I love the idea and the concept. I saw some test shots with the actors voice dubbed and I couldn’t stop laughing. I thought it was incredible. If we are fortunate enough, I hope he gets the money and we still get to do this film.
MG: Andy, do you still get a chance to work on your music as well as acting?
AM: Yeah, I am still playing drums in a band. Everyone is currently busy with other things so we haven’t been playing live recently. It is such a great outlet for me and I totally need to get back out there.
MG: You both have a few films in the works, so what’s next?
JD: I actually just finished filming my first script that I wrote with a friend of mine. It is a totally different film that “Sushi Girl” and it was great writing it. We really explored the characters in the film. We started editing this week, so we will see how it goes. I am really excited. I also have a film that I produced that premiered at Raindance Film Festival in London, called “The Black Belle”.
AM: I have two films in post right now. One of them is called “Knifepoint” that just premiered at Fantasia in Montreal and next it is moving to Chicago Horror Film Festival. There is another film I did which is also hitting the circuits, called “American Joyride”. I also just did a Civil War TV pilot called “Reconstruction”.