FilmInt on the Underground: Ten Minutes with Johnny Simmons (on The Phenom)
FilmInt on the Underground is a blog dedicated to emerging filmmakers and other talent.
By Roy Koriakin.
Here goes a ten-minute interview with Johnny Simmons, the lead of a new baseball movie, The Phenom. Ten minutes is a very short amount of time for an interview. He was working on a movie set, so that’s all the publicist would give me. So, forgive me if the interview is brief and a bit mediocre. I was just starting to get warmed up as he was ripped away from my interviewing grasp. I usually do these talks over about an hour, get way too much and am able to pick and choose. And during that hour the person cries and tells me some juicy off-the-record things….
Not so much on this one. The publicist’s assistant was on the line with Johnny the entire time and she had me on the clock. Also, the connection kind of sucked, and I think Johnny was raiding the craft service table because he kept moving around and interacting with other people. At one point he actually went missing for around thirty seconds after I asked a question, in which the quiet monitoring publicist said, “Johnny? Johnny, you still there…?” So, enough excuses… here it goes….
Johnny, if you could star in any movie of all time, what would it be, and why?
A Kubrick film, I’ve always been obsessed with Stanley Kubrick. I’ve read all the books and seen all the movies about him. Even if I was to be on set with him for just one day. Just to see him work would have been incredible. It would have been unfortunate, because I would have had to of realized that he was just a human. Because I’ve always seen him as a god. He’s just so good. To be in one of those films would have been incredible.
Yeah, I’m a big Kubrick fan as well. Any Kubrick movie in particular you would have wanted to have been in?” (I was hoping to get a specific role in a great film to get some deep insight of what kind of actor he was, and what kind of actor he was striving to be.)
Eyes Wide Shut. He considered it his masterpiece. I know a lot of people didn’t like it. But, I loved it. It would have been cool to have been in what he considered his masterpiece. Or 2001 Space Odyssey; that movie was so ahead of its time. Even watching it now, it’s almost flawless with technology they were introducing. The only scene that’s questionable was the scene where he talks to his daughter on the phone screen. But, besides that, the special effects were so good and way before its time. I still don’t know how they did a lot of them. Yup, either of those would have been incredible.
(I realized he had a major man crush on Kubrick and I was not going to get a specific role, and some deep conjecture on why that role was so pivotal to modern film and so on. I decided to move on.)
So, on a movie with Ethan Hawke and Paul Giamatti, do you have any good on set stories?
Not so much a story. But, just something that happened on set. See, there is this scene in the movie where my character, and my dad (played by) Ethan Hawke, are sitting on the couch, and he doesn’t like my attitude and something that I said, and he throws a full beer can at me and hits me across the brow and splits my head open. When that scene happened, it felt like he really hit me with that can, because he was so intense. Ethan’s acting was just so intense that every time he pretended to throw the can at my head I felt like it was real. I didn’t have to act. It was crazy how real that scene felt. If you watch the scene, it feels a lot more subtle then I remember, but Ethan just brings that kind of intensity to the set every day.
Can you pitch me the movie?
Yeah, so I didn’t play that much baseball growing up so I had to work on my pitching. I was a good athlete though, I was a good wrestler. So, I took a few weeks to practice pitching. By the end, I could throw a 75 mph fastball right down the middle of the plate pretty consistently. They had to give me some cortisone for my shoulder. It still didn’t feel that good when I was throwing. But, I didn’t tell them that.
(I knew he didn’t hear me properly on this one. But, I decided to let him go. Time was quickly passing by and maybe I would get a gem. Not so much.)
The question that I actually was asking was, pitch me the movie. Like I’m an audience member and you’re trying to get me to watch the movie. Sorry, I was gonna stop you, but I figured might get something interesting out of it.
Aw, man. It’s a little hard to hear you. Sorry…. Well, it’s a coming-of-age movie. Some sports movies are a bit repetitive, basically the same movie with a few things interchanged. This movie is not just another sports movie. It’s different. It’s a movie about relationships, and about a father and son, and about the struggle that a father and son may have with what each other wants for their son’s future. I think everybody can relate to that.
(Well…that was it. Very short and kind of uneventful, kind of like life after thirty. I hope you enjoyed it, or not. Feel free to send hate mail or praise mail, or just say hi, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Roy Koriakin is film producer at KPhat Productions and formerly a contributor at Film Threat. His feature credits include Mancation, Living Will, and Miss December (all 2011).