The Happy Sad - LeRoy McClain Interview

Friday, August 16, 2013

So here's yet another coincidence,  I saw the film The Happy Sad during QFEST (Philly's LGBT film festival) and went to the after party, where I talked to one of the stars of the movie LeRoy McClain.  I remember thinking, I should be interviewing him, but it's too loud in here and I'm sure he just wants to chill right now.  I started to give him my card and ask him to contact me later for an interview, but I let the moment pass.  Skip to a month later, my sister Lauren who's a Media & Cultural Trend Analyst (see website), happens to socially meet Timothy Yates who runs public relations firm PR Studio USA, which just so happens to represent the very same actor.  My sister mentioned Tinsel & Tine to Yates, and viola - interview with LeRoy McClain:

The Happy Sad is based on a play by Ken Urban (screenwriter), and directed by Rodney Evans. The film explores the gay, heterosexual and bi-sexual relationships between 5 main characters. The tone of the film is often farcical in nature, yet never over the top. The characters find themselves questioning what and who they want in a relationship; and by the end, it's still unclear who should be together.

T&T:  The Happy Sad is about relationships going through transitions - your character Marcus accepts his partner, Aaron's suggestion of an open relationship rather easily. In finding your way with this character, why do you think Marcus, who appears to be content with Aaron, agrees to this transition in the relationship?

LM: One of the elements of Ken Urban's script that I found so compelling is the complexity of Marcus' emotional journey.  For me, the reason why Marcus is so easily persuaded to accept Aaron's proposition of an open relationship at the beginning of the film is that Marcus is coming to terms with his own concept of permanence.  He an Aaron have been together for six years in a loving and durable relationship and part of that fact scares him.  What does it mean to be with someone forever?  To love someone as much as you love yourself?  What happens when you start to lose your sense of identity in the collective nature of the relationship?  What does it mean to turn 30?  Marcus is grappling with all of these questions and opening up the relationship allows him to release some of the pressure and anxiety he is feeling. Ironically, it is the fact that he loves Aaron so completely that drives him towards the idea of an open relationship.  The seemingly contradictory nature of Marcus' feelings towards Aaron and their relationship and the way he navigates his way through those conflicting emotions pulled me in right away.

T&T: You are a straight actor playing a gay character in the film.  Did you talk to gay friends about their relationships in preparing for this role?

LM: Rodney Evans is truly an "actor's director".  There is no question too mundane or small to be discussed and explored.  One of the best things about the entire process of filming "The Happy Sad" was the rehearsal period before we started shooting.  Rodney, Charlie (who plays Aaron) and I talked at length about every facet of Marcus and Aaron's back story as a couple:  how they met, what drew them to one another, the voids they fill in each other's lives, the music they listen too.....everything.  So, in that respect, we kept the process very insular.  So no, I didn't seek out the life experience of friends in preparing for the film.  The characters are very human and we dissected every facet of their humanity together.  What was interesting, was that during the process of filming, I had a few random conversations with friends about other things that drifted towards the topic of "The Happy Sad" and in those conversations realized that I had friends that were actually dealing with some of the same ideas that Marcus and Aaron do in the film, which was eye-opening and enlightening.  But that was after we had already began filming and exploring their relationship.

T&T: Do you have other passions in this industry besides acting? (writing, directing, cinematography, music etc..)

LM: I have written things in the past and enjoyed the process of doing that quite a bit.  I am a very harsh critic of my own work though, and am still in that phase of thinking that nothing is quite good enough to see the light of day.  It's something I am working on.  Directing is also something I have thought about and I have a great respect for those who do it.  I've never really put those thoughts into action though.  Some day, perhaps.

T&T: You were in Philadelphia for QFEST this past July in support of The Happy Sad.  Is this your first time doing the Film Festival circuit? Did you have time to see any of the other films screened?

Leroy McClain, Rodney Evans,Michael Nathanson, Ken Urban, Dita Gruze

LM: Yes, promoting The Happy Sad is my first time on the Film Festival circuit.  My background has largely been in the theatre, so this was sort of a new experience for me.  I am a bit of a documentary film fanatic, so I seek those out.  I got the chance to see Yoruba Richen's The New Black which is, without a doubt, one of the best I've seen.  Absolutely loved it.  I also had the chance to see Valentine Road at Frameline in San Francisco earlier in the summer which knocked me for a loop.  I experienced an entire range of emotions watching that film.  I saw it on the same day that there were huge celebrations going on right outside of The Castro movie theater in San Francisco over the recent Prop. 8 and DOMA Supreme Court rulings which was a mind-screw, given the subject matter of the film.

T&T:  The "Tine" in Tinsel & Tine represents the tines of a fork, cause we cover foodie stuff too - I know you also do a lot of theater, so 1) Will you be in any plays this fall?
2) Where should people really go to eat after seeing a play in New York City?

LM: Over the two years since we finished filming The Happy Sad, I have been literally going non-stop from project to project, so I have been taking time this summer to actually enjoy a little rest and relaxation.  There are a couple of projects in the works in New York City in the fall, but those haven't been announced publicly yet.

LM cont: I am admittedly a creature of habit, so when it comes to food I have been trying to expand my horizons.  I mean, you can't really live in New York City and ignore all of the amazing opportunities for food on virtually every block.  There are a couple of restaurants I frequent that are off the beaten path.  I love Nine-D which is a great little Thai restaurant in Carroll Gardens.  There's also Nanatori in Brooklyn Heights that I go to quite a bit.  And you also can't go wrong with Peaches in BedStuy.  So yeah, I guess you could say I am a little Brooklyn-centric when it comes to food.  It's where I live and spend a lot of my time.  So see a play, and hop on the train to Brooklyn for some great food!

See Q & A video I took at QFEST with the cast and crew of "The Happy Sad"

The Happy Sad Opens in NY & LA August 16th

Nine D Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon Nanatori Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon Peaches on Urbanspoon

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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