indieactivity: How did you get connected to the Regionrat project? Did you have to audition? If you did, would still have got the part?
Connor: I saw the breakdown on actors’ access so I submitted my reel and head shot. Auditioning was by far the toughest part. Javier told me he envisioned the character like dude from The Big Lebowski and John Winger from Stripes. I had no idea what that meant as I’m not a film buff. I had to watch the movies which were great. I did my audition and I blew it. He said, I sounded like Spicolli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He gave me some direction and I auditioned again and it sucked. He wrote me an email and said thank but no thanks but I have a smaller part in mind for you. I wrote him back and said, “No, I’m Ray. I don’t want to be in the movie if I’m not Ray”. I begged him for another audition and apparently I nailed it the third time.
indieactivity: How did the choice to play lead on this project work for you?
Connor: Like I said if I didn’t get Ray I wasn’t going to do it. Well, at least that’s what I said in my email. I have never given that ultimatum to anyone but I really loved the script and I felt like I could relate to the character. I’m so thankful he didn’t tell me off and gave me another chance.
indieactivity: What part of the story challenged you when you read it? What drove you to get on the project?
Connor: The challenge was dialing in Javier’s interpretation of Ray. Once I got that dialled in, I could just practice that character. What drove me to get on the project was I didn’t want to fail. I knew I could become the character he wanted I just had to tweak things. During the audition process, my lease ended and I was going to go back to Idaho and regroup and work and save money so I could stay in LA longer the second time. I just needed money.
indieactivity: What do you enjoy about the work on Regionrat that wants to keep you working?
Connor: I loved every minute of working on this project. Everyone was so cool. Javier is an amazing director. It was just a ton of fun. When you book a part like that it just gives you hope you can continually get cast and work. I’ve been very lucky to keep working in LA. The goal is never to ask for help from my parents. I don’t want them to give me one dime and they haven’t yet.
indieactivity: How did you create your character from ground up?
Connor: Once I was dialed in with the voice inflection and the sarcasm I just practiced those mannerisms. Ray is a little bit like me. I like to be sarcastic in a subtle way.
indieactivity: As lead on Regionrat, describe the feeling of responsibility that you shouldered. Were you scared? Or did it fire you up? What scenes where difficult to shoot?
Connor: The responsibility was being prepared and professional everyday. There were some long days and nights for this shoot. What no one knew or probably didn’t cared was I was sleeping on the floor at my cousins’ house during the entire shoot. I didn’t get the best sleep during that time but I was happy to be working. The first day there are always some nerves. But once I saw how professional everyone was and prepared they were, I knew it wasn’t just about me. Everyone brought their A game.
indieactivity: Explain one creative choice you made on set during production?
Connor: When Ray first comes out of jail and sees his friends, there is a staircase to go down. I thought it would be really funny too pretend to slide down the railing and completely suck at it. At the preview with all the cast and crew it got a lot of laughs.
indieactivity: What did you take away from the Regionrat project?
Connor: I took away many things working on this project. First and foremost, I took away the passion of the making of this film. It took 13 years to finally get it made. I was 5 when they first started. So the timing for me was perfect. The bottom line Javier never quit and he finally made it. That’s incredible. I also learned about being a Regionrat and what that means to people even today in northwest Indiana.
indieactivity: What do you like most about the production team, and collaborating with them?
Connor: Everything! They were all so on point. That’s not always the case. But you can see it in the film. I would work with them everyday if I could.
indieactivity: What is next for you?
Connor: I am a fulltime student at New York Film Academy. They have been great when I have booked parts. I have a movie you can purchase at Walmart right now called the Unmiracle. I’m one of the leads along with Kevin Sorbo and Stephen Baldwin. You can also watch it on Netflix. The very first day I moved to Hollywood from Idaho I booked a movie called Happy Hunting and I have one of the bigger parts. That is playing in select theatres and can also be purchased on iTunes.
A film I produced and acted in, Spoilers, just won best ensemble at a film festival this weekend. I have a small part in both MGM’s remake of Valley Girl and Brie Larson’s directorial debut in the Unicorn Store. I have auditioned for a few TV shows the past week and I’m waiting to see the results of that.
indieactivity: What advice do you give actors regarding what you learnt on the Regionrat project?
Connor: This is a funny question because since I told Javier I didn’t want to be in his film if I wasn’t Ray. I would never tell an actor to go that route. I did learn my movie knowledge is not very good. Javier would mention characters and films and I would be a deer in headlights. But on a project that sounds interesting I like to find out everything about it and email the decision makers and introduce myself. It’s actually an industry no-no but I always take that chance. Most people are cool with it. Some aren’t though.