An exclusive interview with BOY CULTURE's Jonathon Trent
Jonathon Trent -- BOY CULTURE's hottest find!
The following article was my exclusive interview with actor Jonathon Trent sometime last year in July during OUTFEST 2006. I have received numerous inquiries regarding this talented kid since this very insightful interview. Jonathon Trent will be next seen in such films “Love Is The Drug,” “Alone with Her,” “Miracle Dogs, Too” “Making Change,” “Pray for Morning,” and “You Are Here.” His latest film "Fashion Victim" (USA title will be "Target Versace") where he plays Andrew Cunanan, the murderer of designer Gianni Versace, will be released in Spain this year. BOY CULTURE is being released in selected theatres on March 23. Check out theatre listings! Here is the article:
An exclusive interview by Oliver Carnay
(Jonathon Trent Photo by Oliver Carnay)
22-year old Jonathon Trent has tapped the role of a flamboyant roommate of X (played by Derek Magyar) in Q. Allan Brocka’s latest gay drama “Boy Culture,” to a T. Interestingly, at OUTFEST’s Opening Night, he was totally different in person from what I saw in the movie. Clad with a beard and a ruggedly-longer hair, he looked strikingly more of a hot surfer or a matinee-idol rocker. And if you look closer on him – you may consider of setting aside Orlando Bloom or Johnny Depp's pics on your pin-up wall and replace it.
The next thing I know – I was having an exclusive ambush interview with him after the book reading of “Boy Culture” (by author Matthew Rettenmund) held at the A Different Light Bookstore in West Hollywood a few days after. Jonathon was very accommodating and very impressive. Here is an excerpt from my “one on one” interview:
O: How did you start acting and when did you start doing it as a professional career?
J: I started acting when I was in junior high school. I had to fulfill an art requirement and a buddy of mine got me involved in a theatre program in school. At first, I was really hesitant to get involved but eventually, I caved in. The professor and I, Mr. Erins became good friends. He really inspired me and I got the itch.
O: Tell me about your background. Where are you originally from?
J: I was born and raised in Los Angeles. The first ten years was in Woodland Hills, over in the Valley, and when I was ten, my family moved to Malibu. I studied at Malibu High.
O: So you’re rich, then, huh?
J: (Smiles) Uhh -- no, I’m not -- maybe my parents -- but not me! (laughs)
O: What’s your ethnic background?
J: My dad’s full Finn -- so, I’m half Finnish. My mom is Japanese and half- European. I’m 22 now.
O: Q. Allan Brocka, your BOY CULTURE director, mentioned to me earlier that you were waiting for another audition next door while they were conducting the movie’s audition. And the casting director couldn’t help to ask if you’d like to audition as well, for BOY CULTURE. Can you tell me the story about this?
J: The story with that is, yeah, that’s true! I had an audition at Casting House in West L.A. I was getting ready to get in when Robert McGhee, the casting director for BC came up and said to me, “Hey, are you coming in for BOY CULTURE? I said, “No, I’m going in for a different audition.” He said, “Well, you look like you might be really right for a part in this film that I’m casting. Would you like to take a look at the sides, read them over and when you get them down, come on in and read for us? I said, “Yeah, sure! So it took me twenty minutes. Got up for the character and read for Allan (Dir. Q. Allan Brocka) and the producers.
O: You had the cold reading for the role of Joey, the flamboyant character in the movie. Did you know that it is a gay film story? And how did you handle about the fact that you would have to go “nude” in some scenes, and you know that you’ve never done any gay roles before. Did you have any hesitation when it was offered to you?
J: I understood very quickly what the story is about and the demand for what the character is about. I just jumped right into it. Yes, this is the first gay role I’ve done but it was very seamless, very eye opening and very expressive. I thoroughly enjoyed the character -- working on it. I wouldn’t mind getting another role similar to that again.
Being an actor in L.A. you can’t choose -- you don’t have an option. You kind of like do what you’ve been given. I was offered this role and I would take anything. However, the good part and the lucky part is that Boy Culture turns out to be an amazing film, and Joey’s character is very successful transformation for me. So, although, we’re handed out whatever we can get, it goes back at you and you see what you created.
O: I was watching the film and I thought you were really very effective. I even thought if you are really a gay person. How did you prepare for the role, did someone coach you how to speak and talk?
J: I have a couple of friends that are gay, but I have no friends like Joey. I didn’t really study anyone’s prior work for Joey. I watched “Queer Eyes from a Straight Guys and Qeer As Folk, and some others. I just expressed it differently.
O: How did Allan discuss about your character, and how very flamboyant you would be?
J: We had a lot of discussions about that, especially based on the fact that I’m straight. I really wanted to make sure with Allan that what I was preparing was going to come-off over the top but was also believable. I was really, really cautious and quite afraid that what I’m going to do is unbelievable and people wouldn’t buy it. Allan and I worked a lot in making the choices and making the character specific, yet true.
O: This is your first “in the nude” and first onscreen kissing scenes with a guy? Anything that crossed in your mind before you did it?
J: I never view kissing scene as something to be afraid of. However, the nudity part, that is kind of scary because you never know how it is going to be shot and your only hope is that it’s going to be shot with class, beauty and style. And it’s not going to be raunchy and just sexy for sex. There is a small amount of concern about that when I read the script. However, through proper communication with Allan and the producers, we made really clear boundaries of how it’s going to entail and how it’s going to be shot.
We shot in Seattle for about 18 days. I did not work everyday, maybe 12 out of 18 days, and I was there for the entire shooting days, which is really nice to explore Seattle a little bit.
O: How was the working relationship in the set of BOY CULTURE?
J: The working atmosphere was phenomenal! Everyone was having a great time. We ran into some problems about the weather. It got pretty cold and rainy (because we are always in skimpy clothes) but everyone’s really caring. It’s kind of cool being an actor ‘coz you’re like the baby. Everyone takes care of you and cuddle you.
O: Tell me about the learning experience in doing this film and doing a gay role?
J: I have gay friends, and the gay issue with me has never been a problem. People in high school thought I was gay. That’s fine. They are entitled to their own opinions, and maybe because I wear my heart on my shoulder. But actually going up and jumping into the gay scene in Seattle was something different. It was something that I’ve never experienced before. And so, doing that was just really interesting because I saw many different walks of life, things I saw what are appealing and extremely disturbing to me. But overall, I found such a warmth reception in a lot of the people, in the set, and in Seattle, gay and straight alike. Everyone is wonderful!
O: There are three main characters in the movie that you could have also portrayed. Given a choice, would you still consider Joey’s role among the three? Did it come across your mind to play another role in BOY CULTURE?
J: Absolutely! Always, when you’re reading a script, you would imagine yourself – I certainly imagined playing X (the lead role) at numerous times. I would have liked that opportunity, ‘coz it would have been a different challenge. But I’m happy playing Joey, being Joey, and wth Joey inside of me.
O: The movie has played in different festivals. I assumed you’ve attended several of them. How were the receptions?
J: Yes, it’s been amazing! It’s gone out to different festivals. I was at Tribeca in New York. I didn’t go to Toronto, and London, but I went to San Francisco (in Castro), though. That was amazing because it was a 1,400 seat theatre and it’s filled. The audience there was really engaged with the story. It was well received. For those who haven’t seen it, I hope they’ll like it as much as I do.
O: You’ve read the book before you accepted the role?
J: I read the book after I took the role before I shot the film.
O: As an actor, what is your goal? Are you afraid of being like a big celebrity and you wouldn’t have a privacy of your own?
J: My goal is to make movies. I understand that when you’re a big celebrity like Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise -- you’re going to get attention wherever you go and never get away with that attention. And as scary as that is, I don’t want to deny that if it were to come, and I’m not saying that it will come -- my goal is to make the correct career choices that will give me the opportunity to pick and choose what I want to do. And yeah, I don’t want to be famous, that’s not why I’m doing this -- but I want to make big films.
O: Would you consider doing a soap opera, or any regular television series?
J: Sure, my heart and soul is in film, but I don’t think, right now, I have the name, or the clout to judge any form of art.
(Photo: Jonathon Trent at latest cover of IN Magazine, published in Southern California)
O: What’s the best compliment you’ve received since Boy Culture has been showing in different festivals?
J: The best compliment that I received was in New York, and a woman came up to me and said, “You reminded me exactly, you were identical to one of my daughter’s best friends. She explained that her daughter’s best friend was like a splitting image of Joey. So, to hear that the character that I’ve portrayed does in fact, exist in this world. That validated for me the choices I made. It reminded them of someone that they knew which makes the whole thing really human. And that’s also a reason to act, to reach people in the human level. The fact that I’ve touched them in some ways, as Joey, is really amazing to me.
O: Q. Allan Brocka’s film “Eating Out” made it in a festival in the Philippines. By the way, have you seen that movie? Would you consider of going there and attend if it gets shown there?
J: Of course, if they have the money to pay for my fare I will do that. I would love to go anywhere and support this movie, but I don’t have the money right now to pay for that trip. I would love to go to the Philippines and support it, of course. Yes, I’ve seen the Eating Out, but not the sequel to it.
O: What’s the hardest part in doing this film?
J: I think the hardest part of doing this for me -- is about Joey. Joey is a very insecure character, and because of that, during the time I was doing this film I was very insecure. It’s this weird life that your character and your life kind of come together. His thought and your thought crossed, so I tapped into that and thought it’s really tough.
O: How is Allan Brocka as a director?
J: Allan is great! He knows what he wants and that’s really beneficial for an actor working on a set because he can tell you and that’s not only what’s good on Allan.
O: Do you think he is a better writer than a director?
J: In this film, I think it’s so well written and so smart, but no matter how smart a film is on page, and to put that on the film and to pull it off -- it’s harder! So, because of the challenge of being a director and how successful it was -- I think Allan is a better director and a writer!