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Want to scare 'The River' star Leslie Hope? Just add water


February 21, 2012|By Curt Wagner | RedEye

Well, anything else you want to say about the show?
What else can I say about the show? I can tell you that I’ve been acting for a long time. I’ve been acting for 30 years and I didn’t think I would be this happy in an acting job again and it’s been fantastic, and that really is the truth. I’m so pleased to be working with Zack [Estrin] and Michael [Green], in particular, who are the showrunners, and that cast. ... The reality of being nine actors away from home, working with each other for the first time, there was room for everybody, and that too was great.

You’re up in Calgary to shoot “Merry In-laws,” right?
This is “Merry In-laws” with Shelley Long and George Wendt playing Mrs. Claus and Santa Claus. I don’t know why, I just think it’s hilarious, right? And my buddy, Lucas Bryant [from Syfy’s “Haven”], is playing the son of Mr. and Mrs. Claus. We still don’t have our girl yet, so I’m hoping that’s going to be settled today or tomorrow.

Sounds like a lot of work but a lot of excitement. Do you enjoy the directing side a lot?
I’m very, very happy to be directing, which to say it’s a job that suits my personality. I tend to be somebody who’s interested in all aspects of production. If I’m acting, from what kind of car my character drives to what kind of shoelaces I have. And as a director I can engage in big-picture thinking, which you don’t always get to do as an actor.

Do you prefer directing nowadays?
I can’t say I prefer it per se, because frankly, when you get a job like “The River,” it’s a big-thinking kind of job. And I’m playing a filmmaker. In real life my bosses on that show are incredibly collaborative and open, and allow me to sort of engage all parts of my brain in playing that character. When it’s like that I love it. When they tell me to shut up and get in the corner, I don’t love it so much. They don’t tell me, but on other jobs essentially you get told that, and that doesn’t work as well for me.

Tell me about this short film you made, “GayKeith.” I watched last night and I found it a little sad but funny.
That’s good, that’s what you’re supposed to think. That’s very good. What can I tell you about “GayKeith”?

How did you get involved with it?
Two things had happened. I had directed a movie where I was dealing with a certain level of oversight, because when you’re doing TV movies you have a lot of people to answer to. And I came off of that movie and decided I’m just going to do whatever the hell I want. If I can think it up then I’m going to try and shoot it. And I had this monologue that my friend, Scott [Edgecombe], who plays Scott in the movie, had written. That was true and I just thought it was so funny. I mean the basic storyline is true; the dancing isn’t true, but the basic storyline is true.

And I just thought it was so hilarious, this notion of you went to these lengths, so to speak, to find out what you should have known, right? Like it’s not that you just went on a date or something. I mean you went downtown, in the middle of it, and went, “Oh, I don’t think so.” I thought that was funny ...

I was also really interested to see how you could make a movie work on the Internet, and how to build a campaign for that. So I tried that too, about eight or nine of these little 30-second sort of seemingly unrelated spots for the movie. And I was fortunate enough to hire whoever I wanted; I could cherry-pick my favorite people in terms of crew. And I was also interested in working with animation.

It’s done really well, I have to say. It was released right before Christmas. It went all over the place on the Festival Circuit, which I also think is hilarious. It went to New York at CineKink, which is the kinky films store. And it was picked up by TriCon, which is a Canadian distribution company, which I’m very pleased about. “GayKeith” has distribution!

I also can tell you that there are certain people I’ve shown it to, my attorney included who I really like and respect tremendously, and she was offended by it. And she goes, “Leslie, I don’t know what to say.” She was trying to be nice. She goes, “I have so much respect for you and I really want to get behind you as a director and I just can’t send this movie out.”

It’s one of the few things I’ve done where I was able to say I really don’t care if you like it. I love it so much I still laugh when I watch it by myself. It doesn’t matter to me in the best sense what anybody has to say about it. I mean I hope they like it, I hope they’re not offended, but I don’t actually care.

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