SLACKERS - Q&A with Devon Sawa
What about being in nude scenes? There were two scenes
I had a couple of nude scenes. I was completely nude for a whole day .
Was that completely unnerving as you walked around in front of the others?
They actually had a very closed set. It was all men because we were doing the shower scene and it was the cast, director, cameraman the director of photography and a couple of grips and that was all.
Seriously, that's a little unnerving.
It is a little nerve wracking but we just did it.
What was it that drew you to the role?
It wasn't a fluffy teen comedy. It actually had a lot of edge and pushed the envelope a lot. I heard Schwartzman was interested and I loved RUSHMORE I thought it was brilliant and funny as heck and so we all got together - assembled a great cast and made the movie.
What about working with James?
James is a sweetheart. Lots of hugs for that girl. She was very professional to work with especially during the love scene. No funny jokes or sexist comments - she was very professional and nice to work with.
What makes you determine that a film isn't fluffy?
Because we have a dancing penis in the movie and you can't get less fluffy than that.
Singing too isn't it?
It's a singing, dancing penis. Penis - can I say that ? penis?
Do you feel better now?
Yes. Whew. I got that out.
Did you have to choose which one of you guys would do it?
The penis thing
Yes. We chose Michael. Because he was the biggest. No I think it was a prosthetic puppet or something like that.
Were there any days that you were filming that were just hard not to crack up laughing?
It was so hard to work with Jason Schwartzman. He's so funny and talented. Dewey gave us a lot of leeway. Jason would be doing crazy stuff and Dewey would yell 'Damn it - stop laughing. You are ruining the scene.' I would be saying 'I can't help it - its Jason, Jason is making me laugh." There was a lot of cracking up involved.
Did you know when you read the script that it would be stylistically unusual?
Yes. When I read it and got to the montage sequence where I become Peter Pan I thought 'wow this is really different from anything out there.' It's a surreal world in college, it's got a lot of color and symbolism...three wise men or dancing penises. There's that word again - Penis! And then there was the lesbian make out scene - it was just so different and I knew it would be a lot edgier. And Dewey, when I met him, he's a famous photographer and his photos are beautiful and every shot in the movie looks like one of his stylistic pictures. I just knew he could bring this all together with a cool look.
Were you on the set when Mamie Van Doren revealed her breasts?
No. I actually demanded the day off.
That's a frightening scene.
That was all improvisation by Schwartzman. He made all that up.
Do you know if it was supposed to be a teen movie at first and because of the improv on the set it became an r rated film?
No. It was always pretty crazy. There was definitely stuff that didn't make the movie that was too crazy. Dewey probably felt that it wasn't important to have those scenes
When you make a movie like this do you ever stop to think 'whats my mom going to say?
What did she say?
I don't know. This is the first movie where I am 'doing it.' I've kissed before. This is the first time my mom's going to see me doing it - Ouch.
Don't make him think about it
How did you explain this to her to prepare her for this? Did she read the script beforehand?
I don't know if she read the script. But she'll see it and I don't think she'll say anything. She's very supportive.
'That's my boy...'
Is your family still in Vancouver?
Yes. They're out there and I visit them as much as I can.
When were you last back?
That's where you grew up?
How old are you now?
How long have you been living here?
I've been living here for five years now, but I have been commuting back and forth since I was fifteen.
Did you ever run into a situation where you found yourself falling in love with a friend's girlfriend?
No. I've always had long relationships and when I've met someone they haven't been attached.
What does your current girlfriend think about this film?
She isn't an actress so I sat her down and explained the whole 'this is a job thing,'. But she is very supportive and understands completely. I'm sure next time I have to do something like that she'll be a little iffy about it - its human nature. But she'll be fine. She's very mature about it.
Lets talk about your approach to girls. Are you shy and quiet?
No I am very direct. I don't come in like a lion but if I see a girl I think is attractive I'm not shy. I'll go and approach her.
Is that how you met your girlfriend?
Yes. We were at a club and I had just gotten there and I saw her from a distance. I tried to make my way over there and eventually did. We started talking . Then we just started hanging out.
Did she know who you were?
No she actually called me Darren at first. I guess the music was so loud she didn't hear my name right "what did you say Darren?" "Devon!" "What?" "My name is DEVON!" Finally I said "Darren, whatever. Fine with me. You want me to be Darren - I'll be Darren."
How did you break into the business?
I believe I was lucky. They did an open call for CASPER and over 2000 kids sent tapes in from everywhere and I guess my tape just landed at the right table in front of the right person at the time. From CASPER, Steven Spielberg gave me LITTLE GIANTS and I just started getting jobs.
About your role in CASPER. You got the Teen magazine cover and you became a teenage celebrity. Then about 3 and a half years ago...
Yes. I actually took a break from acting for about a year and a half. I didn't want to be known as just the Teenbeat cover boy. Not that it was a bad thing it was great for what it was but I was getting older and sometimes the longevity of your career doesn't seem to last when you are heading that way. I wanted to make sure I could break into the adult market. So I took a break and when I came back I decided to do things that were a little edgier, like SLC PUNK and IDLE HANDS. They weren't the CASPERs or the LITTLE GIANTs which I loved doing, but I felt it was time to break out into the adult market.
How is it now?
Its good. I'm' enjoying my roles now. I think if I had stayed doing those type of jobs and milking it, I wouldn't have the opportunity to be doing SLACKERS now. I'd be doing something a little bit more fluffier.
But in a way you have to admit that a movie that has dancing penis' is for the younger set. IT'S not for young teenagers but IT'S definitely for young people?
It's not for the Teenbeat crowd. TeenBeat is more like the 12 - 13 year old girls. In "Slackers" I think our audience will be 15 and up.
And more boys right?
Yes. With a lot more guys.
What was the work environment like on SLACKERS like compared to the other movies you've done?
Compared to my two previous movies? IDLE HANDS was very painful. I had a stunt man every now and then but they could never do the hand properly so I ended up throwing myself downstairs and into walls and got lots of cuts and bruises. "Final Destination" was hanging in a lot of harnesses and blood squirting everywhere and long days. This was more laid back and the cast was so cool and Jason Schwartzman kept us laughing all day . It was fun and enjoyable. Not that the others weren't enjoyable - just a lot more work.
What are you working on now?
I have a movie called "The Extremists" coming out in a few months which is an action film about 5 individuals that do things like skydiving, kayaking and things like that and they get involved with terrorists.
What extreme things do you do?
Well I've been ocean kayaking and I've been rafting, skiing. On the set of THE EXTREMISTS I guess the laws are different so they had us doing a lot of our own stuff.
Where were you shooting?
Germany. For the movie they hung me off a cliff once and once they had me under the wheels of a train and the train was going full speed and I was just hanging there with a harness....my agent went nuts.
Your mom probably went nuts.
Yes.' Mom guess what I did today..."
What kind of part do you play in the film?
Basically, the story is that we are over there and we are trying to shoot a commercial for our cam corder and we're over there shooting different extreme things and get involved with terrorists.
Who else is in it?
Joe Absolom who is very big in Britain. Rufus Sewell who is also a British actor and Bridgette Wilson and a couple of German actors.
When you took a break did you question if you wanted to act again?
I definitely wanted to act again. I just needed to slow down. At the time I was still living at home and wasn't paying rent and didn't have to worry about anything financially because I was still at home so I decided to take a break and be a teenager for a little bit.
Did you worry about taking a break when you were such a hot young star?
Yes. I definitely worried that I would have to start at the bottom again. But it was fortunately easy to come back.
What type of roles would you like to do?
I like the movie I AM SAM that Sean Penn did. I would like to play a role like that someday. I would like to shoot a gun in a movie once or twice. Haven't done that yet.
In a movie right.
In a movie yes.
I haven't seen it yet but I've heard good things about THE GUILTY...
Yes. That was interesting. It was shot in Vancouver with Bill Pullman. It was for HBO. I wanted to go back to Vancouver to be with my family and that script came along and I really dug Bill Pullman so I went off and did it. It was terrific working with Bill again who I had worked with in 'Casper.'
Have you ever fallen prey to the SLACKER mentality?
Yes. The year and half I took off. (laugh) No I got this Tivo thing that records all TV shows and it will record all the other shows it thinks you will like so by the end of the day you have 18 different shows and you're going "oh get Tivo."
What shows? Well actually my girlfriend wears the pants in the relationship so we have shows like FRIENDS and SEX AND THE CITY...
Are you a fan of FRIENDS?
Its going to probably go off the air did you know that?
Yes that's kind of sad.
What are you going to miss about that show?
I don't know. It's always such a laugh. The acting is so great I can't pick my favorite friend.
Ok. I have a movie-related question for you. STAR WARS II and SPIDERMAN are coming out at the same time are you looking forward to either one of them or one over the other?
I want to see both of them to rule.
Did you go out for both of those?
Yes. Don't write that down. I didn't go out for either one of them. No. I am a big STAR WARS fan and a big Spiderman fan and I'll go see both of them. Are they coming out at the same time?
Within two weeks of each other.
Then I'll go see both of them
Which one do you think will rule over the other.
I'd say there are a lot more STAR WARS fans.
Are you a sports fan?
Wrestling, that's a sport right? The Rock! No I like sports. I like hockey. I definitely try and see hockey games when I go up to Canada. I'm not really into the Kings.
How did you like playing a romantic lead in SLACKERS?
It was nice. It was fun. Definitely an interesting character with lot of twists and turns. James King was awesome to work with. Very easy.
You said you wanted to shoot a gun in a movie. Have you ever shot a real gun?
I used to work on a farm believe it or not shoveling a lot of horse dung. So yes, I've shot a twelve gauge at a pop can. Then I robbed a convenience store (laugh)
Why were you shoveling ...
I wanted to be a cowboy when I was young so I went to horse camp. Afterwards, the owner asked me if I wanted to stay on and work for room and board Basically I got to stay there and all I had to do was shovel and take tourists on horse rides.
This was in Canada?
When did you move down here
5 years ago.
What got you started in acting?
When I was eleven my teacher told my mother that I needed something to channel my energy into so she put me into theatre school.
What were you doing that made them send you
I had a lot of energy as a kid.
Were you in trouble?
Yes. But in an innocent way. I was the kid that didn't want to sit there in reading - I'd rather go out for recess.
Where did you go to school in Vancouver?
I went to Alpha and then Bernaby high?
Did you ever play a trick on one of your teachers?
Oh yes. I remember dissecting cows eyes in one class and I remember throwing the eyeball and it stuck to the roof right above his desk. I'm sure it had to have dropped at some point. I would have loved seeing his face. Actually, I failed drama in grade 11. Do you want to write that down along with my teacher's name and a quote from me saying "ha ha"?
You failed drama in high school? How did you do that?
I kind of missed class a lot. I didn't go and the drama teacher wanted to study Greek theater and I wanted to do sports.
Have you spoken to this teacher since?
Not yet. I'm waiting for an Oscar to do that. Do you want to write that down?
What was your teachers name?
I can't remember.
I want to talk about being young and famous and having some money and living in Hollywood. What are your indulgences? What do you like to do to play? What are the toys that you like to buy?
The toys I like to buy? Well until Tivo came along I was a big DVD collector and have about 800 DVDs. And I like arcade games.
Do you buy arcade games?
I have two.
A pinball machine?
I have a pinball machine and I have the original Street fighter II
Those are cool. What about cars?
I don't drive
You don't drive ?!
But don't write that down because I'd still drive in the movies.
Do you have a driver take you everywhere?
No. What happened is that in Vancouver I lived in Yaletown where everything is within walking distance. Across the street there's a shopping market there are restaurants everywhere the clubs are within two blocks. When I was 15 I bought a car waiting until I was 16. At 16 I started going on the road making movies and I had my learners permit but it expired after 6 months. So my learners permit expired twice because I had to keep going away and eventually I just said the heck with it.
But you live in LA now and need a car.
Yes. I've got my girlfriend.
What does she do if she's not an actress.
She's going to school to become a make-up artist.
Our time is up. Thank you.
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