Gary Douglas Kohn

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Hello Gary, it is so great to talk to you.  I loved your recent performance in Western Religion!  I’d like to ask you a few questions about your background.  

1. Where are you originally from?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles.  Grew up there my whole life.

2. Where did you study and what were the kinds of classes you took in college?

I went to Cal State University Northridge for a few years where I studied Phycology and Drama.

Gary B&W3. Do you have formal training in the performing arts? 

I have studied off and on over the years to keep me on my toes.  I’ve been fortunate to study and work with some of the best.

4. Who do you consider some of your influences to be – actors or other people in show business who you have looked up to? 

I have always gravitated to character actors.  I really like actors that can immerse themselves into a role and become almost unrecognizable.  Actors like Daniel Day Lewis, Gary Oldman, Vincent Di’Nofrio.

5. Do you have any films you consider your favorite – ones you might have been influenced by or used as a source for your own acting style? 

Films don’t really influence my acting style too much but they definitely do and as a writer and producer.  I gravitate to films that speak to matters of the heart and ask big questions.  Film’s like Enternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, In the Name of the Father.  Interstellar is a newer film that I think was great.

6. How do you develop a character?  Do you have any particular methods for building their persona? 

When I read a script I first read it from an audience perspective.  As though I was on the journey that the writer wanted me to be on.  Then I read it again and try to connect with the character.  I do like to bring elements that are outside the box but also make sure I’m there to serve the piece as a whole as well.  I think it’s important to understand the Hero’s Journey and how to play the arc of their story as best I can.

7. Are you involved in choosing costumes for your characters? 

I do collaborate with the wardrobe designer.  I like to first hear what their thoughts are and how they see the character and then I give my 2 cents.

8. It seems like you frequently play a supporting role.  You are used as a foil to another character in the film.  For instance, in Western Religion you play Saint John, a spiritual man who follows a straight and narrow path and avoids the “sins” we observe in the other characters.  Your character of good is played opposite the manifestation of evil in Claude Duhamel’s character Anton Stice. 

Yeah, I have played supporting roles many times but in the case of Western Religion even though it was an ensemble piece I still had to make sure that my character had a proper arc and storyline that people would be interested in following.  James and I had many meetings about this prior to the script being locked.

9. Another example would be the film Wish You Were Here.  Your character Neal is played opposite Dean (Louis Sabatasso).  Neal exits a rehab center and is forced into a situation where he must rely on his type-A brother Dean for assistance. 

Yeah, Wish You Were Here was defiantly a film where I had to really chart the journey for but it also heavily relied on the relationship and dynamic between the 2 brothers.

10. Would you say this is a fair assessment of your roles? 

I would say it’s fair.  One of the things that makes drama work, when it does is the polarity between people and their personal struggles to overcome what it is that drives them.

11. Can you tell us a little about Venice Bound?

Venice Bound was my first real indie film.  I produced it.  James and I had met on another film he cast me in that lost its financing last minute so he and I decided to make this instead and self finance it.  There was a lot of that going on during that time period.  Robert Rodriguez, Doug Liman, Quentin Tarantino, David O’Russell, Richard Linkleter and Bryon Singer were among the filmmakers coming up during that time.

12. What is the movie about?  

It’s about 3 guys who move to Venice on the same day from different parts of the country.  It takes place over one day.  It’s actually a really cool little film and did a really good festival run.

13. Can you describe your character Seb? 

Seb is a street hustler from NY who attempts to rope these 2 other characters into a robbery and then run off with all the money.

14. How about the other characters in the film – what is their relation so Seb and what are the characters impact on each other? 

None of then knew each other before that day and then they all go their separate ways.

15. What was the abandoned house?  It is your character who suggests the house be robbed.  Why do they choose to go through with it? 

I had apparently scouted the house earlier in the day but it’s really unclear about what truth I am actually telling the other guys.  The incentive was money for all of them.

16. Can you talk about the other actors in the film?  Nina Ameri? Eric Kopatz? 

Nina and I were in acting school together and Eric was a friend of James’s

11889442_1628262237443219_4718966371853521152_n17.  You have had numerous roles guest starring on TV series such as “Days of our Lives” and “ER”.  This is in addition to your guest appearances on “Sweet Justice“, “Baywatch“, “Charmed“, “Judging Amy” and “The Shield”.  

18. Can you tell us a little about your time working on these shows? 

Yeah, I really don’t do much television anymore.  Mostly because of my schedule and the traveling I do for the other projects I’m involved in.  It was great to work on those shows and I had a lot of fun.  I would definitely do television again…If I can ever get back to LA for more than a month!

19. Do you have some memorable moments?  Actors you were especially impressed to work with?

Ya know, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of really great people and what usually impresses me isn’t their acting but how they are as people and for the most part they have all been great.

20.  Co-produced with Melissa Behr, Sherrie Rose etc, Me and Will tackles the subject of drug addition, alcoholism and life in the US.  Can you talk to us about producing Me and Will

Yeah, it was a tough shoot, mainly because I was originally brought in to consult on the film but had to step in as the main set producer about 3 weeks before shooting so I was almost always just pulling things off by a hair.

21. How did the story develop?  To go in search of the Easy Rider chopper – a fantastic idea! 

It wasn’t really my film nor did I do any development on it.  I was just brought in because I knew Sherry Rose

22. There are numerous cameos in the film, Seymour Cassel, Grace Zabriskie, Traci Lords, M. Emmet Walsh and Keanu Reaves as part of his band Dogstar!  How was this amazing cast lined up?

Lining up the cast was a combination of relationships, mostly with the directors.  And once we had a few of them on board it became easier to get everyone else.

23. The film is shot on location throughout the American West.  How did you choose locations?  How long did filming take? 

The shoot was 5 weeks I think and the locations were pretty much all based on locations that we knew we had access to.

24. With 51 awards and over 100 nominations Almost Famous was one of those films that slipped under the radar only to end up being recognized internationally for its success.  

Can you tell us about your experience working on the film? 

It was a great experience.  Cameron was such a great and kind man.  Such a pleasure to work with.  We all became a little family and spent the majority of our time together during the entire shoot.  We really brought the nature of what it’s like to be on the road to every element of the making of it as well.

SaintJohn925. Can you describe your role and how the character fit into the film? 

Well, if you’ve seem the film my role actually became very small and I kinda knew this would happen after I read the script.  Being a writer I had a pretty good idea what was gonna stay and what was gonna go.  Most of my scenes actually didn’t really move the story forward so a lot of it ended up on the editing room floor.  I was ok with that.  I was happy to be working and had a great time.

26. How were you cast for the role? 

Well, I was originally sent it through my manager at the time through the normal casting process but then Cameron and I realized we had a lot of mutual friends and we developed a good rapport right away.  I went in twice to meet with him and then didn’t hear anything for months.  And then I heard I was cast.  I thought maybe they had just cast someone else but it turned out they had to recast the original main actors in the film.

27. What were your thoughts about the film the first time you read it? 

The script was really long but I thought it was a great story.  And knowing a lot about Cameron I could really see how personal it was to him.

28. You’ve had the opportunity to work with a veritable laundry list of celebrity talent from Steven Spielberg to George Clooney to Philip Seymore Hoffman.  Can you tell us some of the things you have learned by being exposed to this level of talent?  Do you have some memorable experiences from your time working with them? 

I have learned the pressure and stress it means to be a public figure, not for myself but from many of my friends who are famous.  I think it’s something so many struggling actors dream of but they really have no idea what it really means and the sacrifice you have to make on so many levels.  Really, all my experiences with them are memorable.

29. Reservation Road is a tragic but important story.  Telling the story of a hit and run we view the aftermath of a tragic event and the attempts to evade accountability.  Can you talk to us a little about the story?  What was your role in the film?

Yeah, it was a difficult story to tell and I knew it would be very heavy and hard to really reach the audience it deserved.  I played Mira Sorvino’s new husband, who deals with the stress of being a step father and the ups and downs that one has to deal with when an ex is in the picture.

30. The film has a star-studded cast with Mira Sorvino, Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo and Elle Fanning.  Can you describe working with these talented actors? 

Jennifer Connolly was also in this film and she was really great.  I was impressed with her work ethic and ability to go right where she needed emotionally in an instant.  The rest of the cast was great too.  Joaquin was a long time friend of mine but it was the first time we had worked together and I was a bit shocked how he was able to snap in and out of character so easily on such a hard role.  It’s hard sometimes when you are having to work from deeply emotional places to keep the acting in between action and cut and not let it bleed into everything else.  He was able to do it seamlessly.  And Mark Ruffalo was such a nice guy.  I like him very much.

31. How did you land a role in such a well-cast film? 

I had met the director prior to the film and he really wanted me for the role.  I never went through any casting process for the film.  Actually, 90 percent of my work has been this way.

32. Lets talk about the independent film Wish You Were Here made with your friends James O’Brien and Louis Sabatasso.  I understand you had met James while working on Venice Bound?  Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with James?  What are some of the projects you have worked on together?

James and I have known each other for many years and I have been involved in all his films from the beginning.  James and I have written a few scripts together and I also hired him a few times when I was running development for a company to write a few scripts as well.  We have a pretty good working relationship.

12063420_10156199392325002_2309908734734548338_n33. The film is a look at alcoholism and family.  Written by James O’Brien, the film follows brothers Neal and Dean on their trip across the country accompanied by Phoenix, played by Arroyn Ambrose. 

We’ve heard from James and Louis about the film and i am curious to know your perspective.  How did you get involved with the project? 

I had been asked to produce a film for a friend of mine and James was living with me at the time and I also knew Louie needed a job so I hired the 2 of them to come with me and help.  Wish You Were Here came out of that time we spent up in the mountains shooting this film.  I had actually just started producing again and thought it would be fun to make a small film that travels across the country so James and Louie came up with an idea and James wrote it.

34. The entire film was shot on a real road trip with very little budget and no permits. What was it like, on the road, filming a movie as you go and not sure where you were going to be filming next? 

It was a lot of fun and very exciting.  One of the things I love about independent filmmaking is the family and community aspect of it.  So to do a film like this where you become a family is a really special feeling.  James and I both as Director and Producer know how to do things on the fly, so this way of filmmaking comes naturally to both of us.

35. Can you describe the character Neal?  I understand Neal is based on some of your own real life experiences? 

Yeah, the funny thing is I can be a bit like Neal when I am producing so I think James really based it from the experience we had just had producing that previous film together.  I am usually a very easy going person but sometimes when I produce I can be all business.  There are a lot of moving parts and usually not enough people to do everything so my mind is really working overtime to make sure nothing gets overlooked.

1656130_1384746491794796_1805316823_n36. What was the inspiration for making the film?  Do you have experience dealing with the effects of drugs and alcohol yourself? 

I do understand the subject matter very well.  From both sides.  Being the person who’s in trouble and having to deal with the person that’s in trouble.

37. Can you tell us about your most recent projects?  

Oh goodness, there seem to be so many projects on my plate at the moment my head is spinning.  I am currently as we speak shooting my second film in NY in the last 6 months. And have about  7 or 8 meetings right when I finish for more films that people want me to be a part of.  That will all depend on a project of my own that I’m developing that would keep me busy for about a year.  So there is much up in the air at the moment.  But one thing is for sure.  I am going to be pretty busy for the foreseeable future.  I will for sure keep you guys up to date as I pick which projects I will be doing.

3at tent8.  Gary ,,,,, Last one:

What kind of image do you have about Japan? Are you interested to visit Japan and if so where do you want to go – Tokyo?

That’s all I would like to know.

I’ve never been to Japan and its interests me greatly to go actually. I’d like to see all of Japan. I’m sure Tokyo would be amazing as a city but I’d really also like to see the rest of the country and its beauty

39. It was so cool that you rode your motorcycle from New York to Las Vegas.  W
hat kind of bike you like?

I love riding motorcycles and in the spring I am planning to take another trip around the us.  I have a Ducati touring bike so traveling long distances is great.

Cool!!!! An Italian bike!  The same as Keanu Reaves.

40. When you are not working, what do you do to make you happy?

I love to travel when I’m not working, seeing new places and meeting new people. As interesting as my business is I find it more interesting meeting simple people from other cultures

41. When you drive your Ducati, do you wear Italian style clothing?  Or wear the American casual style?

I wear the clothes I normally wear – American clothes I guess.

10175066_10152035077555064_2690309255468570006_n42. Thank you so much Gary, You are great and and I really respect your job it is so cool!

Thank you and my apologies again for it taking so long. I am usually a lot more accessible

No,no, it’s fine.  Everybody is busy – especially someone like you!

And who knows, I might want to take a trip to Japan sooner rather than later.

Please let me know! Let’s hang out, I will take you to the best place in Tokyo!!!

Sounds great!!! That would be fun

Your vid is cool with your crew.

Yes!!! Best regards to you.

I can take you to anywhere you want in Tokyo.  lol


43. Do you have a message for all the fans at Ninjagirl? 

Yeah, thanks for reading and I’m grateful that you think I’m interesting enough to want to interview me.  I don’t really do many interviews and I’m sorry it took so long to get to me but thanks for the opportunity to chat


Edited by Anthony Heller

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