Any Questions For Josh?
Likeable actor Josh Lawson gives us his take on the move to LA and also fills us in with the host of exciting work he’s picked up.
"I wish I could say that I've got the hang of it and that it's a breeze now, but I don't and it's not," actor Josh Lawson tells FilmInk about navigating the tough-to-crack city of LA. "It's a tough gig, tougher than I ever thought it would be, admittedly. The audition process is particularly tough in this current economic climate. Producers are tightening their belts and less and less people are taking chances on unknown actors. The lifestyle over here really grew on me. I didn't like LA much for the first few years, but now I feel comfortable over here. I miss Australia so much, but with so many Australians over here in LA now, it kind of feels like home now anyway."
A familiar face on the Australian comedy scene (largely thanks to a recurring role on the TV series Thank God You're Here), the actor was also recently seen on the big screen playing a young man suffering from a quarter-life crisis in the Working Dog comedy, Any Questions For Ben?, and will again be seen on screen playing a young man unable to pull his life together with the soon-to-be-released The Wedding Party. But in real life, Lawson - who tells us that these films "have actually helped me grow up a little bit" - definitely seems to have his life together with the actor making the decision to pack up and base himself in LA for the present time. And while he admits it's been a tough slog, it's a move that is gradually but surely paying dividends.
When we catch up with Lawson, the actor is currently enjoying the buzz and rave reviews surrounding his film, Crave, following its recent screening at Montreal's Fantasia International Film Festival, an event renowned for its genre films. The debut feature of Charles De Lauzirika (an experienced documentarian and DVD/Blu-ray producer), Crave is an alternately darkly comedic and deadly serious thriller centred around thirty-something Aiden (Lawson) who seems to be losing his grip on reality. It certainly marked vastly different territory for the actor. "I was attracted to it because it was a very different film for me," Lawson says. "I love doing comedy and I hope I get to do it forever, but I hope it's not the only thing I do. I loved Crave's dark subject matter and its bold genre blending, but it was the complicated character of Aiden that attracted me the most. It seemed like a great challenge as an actor."
With the film playing out inside and out of the protagonist's mind, the line between reality and the violent fantasies in Aiden's mind grow increasingly unsettling, and the actor says the greatest challenge was to ensure his character remained sympathetic. "He does such dark deeds in the film and exposes some pretty grim fantasies so it would be easy to dislike him," Lawson admits. "I had to figure out a way of turning Aiden into a person you could potentially like, or at the very least feel sorry for, because by the end of the film you almost have to be rooting for him in spite of the awful things he's done. The fantasies were a lot of fun to play, because it allowed me to play in the extreme realms of sex and violence...and that rarely happens for an actor! Because we were operating outside the studio system, Charlie was able to make the film as bold and original as he wanted, which meant that the fantasy sequences could be cranked up to ten!"
Not exactly providing the moral compass of the film is Ron Perlman as a veteran homicide detective who doesn't have any qualms with Aiden's increasingly depraved fantasies. "Like so many people, I am a huge fan of his, so there were some nerves when I first met him," Lawson says of working with the veteran actor. "But almost immediately he made everyone on set feel like we had been working together for years. He's a gentleman and a professional, and our scenes together are some of my favourite in the film."
Along with Perlman, Lawson will soon be seen on the big screen alongside some other hefty names having scored a role on Jay Roach's soon-to-be-released comedy, The Campaign, headlined by Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. "It was really our similarities more than our differences that struck me," Lawson says of working with the comedic heavy-hitters. "My first day on set was with Zach and straight out of the gate we were just trying to figure out the best way to make the scene funny. But a huge part of that collaboration was Jay Roach and Chris Henchy, the writer. It really felt like a comedy writers' room each and every day. Will is possibly the nicest actor I've ever met - he really does what he can to make everyone on set feel safe and welcome. But the days I got to shoot with Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox and John Lithgow, I embarrassingly spent most of the day asking them questions about their careers. But again, they couldn't have been more generous with their time and advice."
So, what's up next? "I'm about to start shooting the second season of House of Lies with Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell," Lawson reports. "It's a show we're so proud of and I'm really excited about where it's going in this new season. I'm developing a few projects as a writer/director too which has been an exciting new development for me. But that said, I'm always looking for the next thing. And it's always a surprise."
Find out more about Crave and check out the trailer here.