VOD Spotlight: Clark Gregg (TRUST ME)May 02, 2014
TRUST ME tells the sharp, comic story of Howard Holloway (Clark Gregg), a down-on-his luck agent for child actors and truly one the last good guys left in Hollywood. After discovering a 13-year-old acting prodigy (Sharbino), he is poised to close the deal of a lifetime which would catapult his tween client and, at long last, himself, into the big time. With the support of his gorgeous new neighbor (Peet), he must wrangle the actress' volatile, overprotective father, dodge a scheming producer (Felicity Huffman), and outwit his uber-slick nemesis (Sam Rockwell). As he arrives on the brink of the Hollywood dream that's eluded him for a lifetime, he begins to sense that his innocent young starlet may not be quite what she seems.
This is the second feature film written and directed by Gregg, who made his directing debut with CHOKE, an adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel that starred Sam Rockwell. TRUST ME premeires on demand May 6th.
On Demand Weekly (ODW): Hi Clark. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions about your new pre-theatrical release on demand, TRUST ME. Fans of the Marvel movies, and the TV series “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “The New Adventures Of Old Christine” you’re in are sure to want to learn about the new film you wrote, directed and starred in.
Clark Gregg (CG): Thanks. I'm excited for people to see the film.
ODW: What prompted you to write a movie about the child actor / agent dynamic in today’s film industry?
CG: I worked with a number of child actors and there was something hilarious and heartbreaking about some of their agents - aging hustlers who struggle at the bottom of the Hollywood food chain, fetching lattes for entitled "momagers," while constantly searching for the 8 year-old prodigy who'll take them to the big time.
ODW: Did TRUST ME originally begin as a noir?
CG: I began writing a wacky comedy about "showbiz," but when I started reading the dark stories about some child stars and dropping into the skin of the main character - former child star and now struggling agent for young actors, Howard Holloway - the piece became an edgier comedy with a classic noir anti-hero at its heart. I have to say that Shane Black's wonderful KISS, KISS. BANG, BANG singlehandedly convinced me that a comedic neo-noir could be made.
ODW: Any inspirations for the agent or stories about one you could share?
CG: As I said, I was inspired by various characters I saw when I worked with child actors, but the piece and Howard's struggle to survive quickly felt representative of the struggles all artists go through and a perfect setting for a comedy of desperation driven by our national obsession with stardom.
Clark Gregg, Paul Sparks, Saxon Sharbino, Allison Janney and Felicity Huffman (TRUST ME)
ODW: TRUST ME has such a terrific cast: Felicity Huffman, Amanda Peet, Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell who starred in your directorial debut CHOKE. Did you write any of the parts with the actors in mind, or did you cast once the script was completed?
CG: I knew that directing myself in the main role of my own script was a monumentally daunting aspiration, one that I could only hope to achieve if surrounded by great actors with whom I already shared a creative rapport. So I wrote specific characters in the distinct voices of some of my favorite actors, many of whom I am fortunate enough to call friends. It was the generosity of those friends and the brilliance of my partner, producer and casting director, Mary Vernieu, along with the support of producer Keith Kjarval that gave the film this remarkable cast.
ODW: The film revolves around the discovery of a prodigy child actress when the real-life actress playing her (Saxon Sharbino) is quite the find. How did you find Saxon?
CG: We read dozens of fine young actors, but Lydia is a natural, a prodigiously talented young girl who oozes a raw star power that is, more or less, the engine of the film. That quality proved very difficult to find. We also dreamed of finding someone new, someone the audience would be seeing for the fist time as Howard is seeing her...
Just when things were starting to get a little desperate,
Mary Vernieu called me in to read with a new, young actress she had found...
...From the moment the 13-year-old Dallas native, Saxon Sharbino, started reading the audition scene, the role was hers. I'm very excited for audiences to see her truly remarkable performance.
Clark Gregg, Saxon Sharbino (TRUST ME)
ODW: Your TV series “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” recently coordinated a story line with the current theatrical release Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There must have been incredible planning to coordinate the movies & TV series plots to work so well together. When did you first find out about the plot twist?
CG: I still have connections in the Marvel Cinematic world, so I had an inkling that SHIELD might be infiltrated, but I deliberately keep my knowledge of what's coming more or less in sync with what Agent Coulson knows. So when I was called to the office of showrunners, Jeff Bell, Jed and Maurissa Whedon and Jeph Loeb, and told that the Hydra infestation in "Captain America:The Winter Soldier" would hit so close to home, as a comics fan I was very excited.
I will never forget the table read where the cast was surprised at the last moment with top secret red pages that revealed the twist and the true nature of some key characters.
In that spooky moment, I think we all started to realize
we had dropped down a Marvel/SHIELD rabbit hole where art truly imitates life.
ODW: Is it true Sam Rockwell’s character in TRUST ME (the aptly named Aldo Shocklee) is actually an agent of Hydra?
CG: I can only say that he's (CLASSIFIED). I will say, however, that Sam's character from IM2, Justin Hammer, sure seems like Hydra material to me.
Sam Rockwell, Saxon Sharbino, Allison Janney and Felicity Huffman (TRUST ME)
ODW: If your TRUST ME character (Howard Holloway) were recruited evenly by S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra, who would he join and would being able to keep his earring have an impact on the decision?
CG: It would be the only factor in that decision.
ODW: What’s more likely, you making an appearance on “Veep” or your Julia Louis Dreyfuss appearing on “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.”?
CG: Wow. "Veep" may be the funniest show on television right now and Coulson could make a plausible appearance at the White House, but the collision of worlds might be deadly, so I think I'd prefer to see Julia as some kind hilarious Asgardian super duchess.
ODW: TRUST ME is being released on demand and iTunes on May 6th, followed by a theatrical run (10 markets nationwide) on June 6th. What are your thoughts on the prospect of making your film available on demand before in theaters?
CG: It's a brave, new and undeniably exciting world in independent film these days. I hope on demand viewings will help spread the word about "Trust Me" in a way that makes it popular both at home and in theaters.
ODW: What do you watch on demand?
CG: My schedule requires a lot of after the fact viewing, so we watch movies and series on iTunes and on demand, including Agents of SHIELD, Bob's Burgers, True Detective, and Homeland.
Britt is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-founder of On Demand Weekly. He is currently at OnCue. Previously, Britt worked for Miramax Films and Sundance Channel.
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