Associated Content Interview: Chris Kerson Talks Cost of a Soul, Written by: Karen Benardello
Actor Chris Kerson, who portrays Tommy Donahue, a wounded military veteran returning home to Philadelphia from Iraq in the independent movie 'Cost of a Soul,' was finally able to showcase his talent in the true-to-life film. 'Cost of a Soul,' which is from first-time writer/director Sean Kirkpatrick, focuses on the struggles Tommy and DD Davis (portrayed by Will Blagrove), another wounded veteran, face as they return to their crime-stricken neighborhood.
The crime-drama was released by Relativity Media's Rogue Division into 50 AMC Theaters nationwide on May 20, 2011, as part of the AMC Independent program. 'Cost of a Soul' holds the distinction of winning last year's "Big Break Movie Contest," which gives previously undistributed feature-length films the chance to gain exclusive on-screen distribution across America. The film is now available on Cable On Demand, iTunes and Amazon, and will also be streaming on Netflix next month.
While promoting 'Cost of a Soul' in New York City, Kerson generously took the time to sit down and discuss, among other things, what it was like working with Kirkpatrick, and how he prepared for the role of Tommy.
Question (Q): The first scene of 'Cost of a Soul' featured you in an intense military interrogation in Iraq, and show how Tommy was wounded. How did you prepare for the scene?
Chris Kerson (CK): There were guys who were vets who came back who were interested in the acting process. I read the interrogation scene and I talked to them. I actually talked to them and asked them to help me with the event. They said "Not only will we do that for you, we'll do a real interrogation. We'll put you through a real interrogation, like an Iraq interrogation. We'll get a warehouse in Jersey, we'll get water, we'll get a car battery. Don't ask me what all these means, you'll see it." He (one of the veterans) looked at my work. He's like, "Wow." He mentioned Al Pacino. He's a real method guy. "You're a real method guy" But he said, "This is going to scare the daylights out of you when you see what this takes." He said, "If you want to walk away at any point, that's okay. (But) I gotta show you what it takes to point a gun in some guy's mouth." The way it worked out, I never got to do that. The plans fell through, the guy didn't follow through, and I was off filming.
But I knew for myself what I could tap into to give the type of reaction Tommy goes through. It was interesting because the first thing we filmed in Iraq was the scene in the bathroom, it's a lot smaller in the film now, it was larger in the festivals. It was originally in the festival film that Tommy was putting a gun to his chest because he's considering killing himself, and he's looking at pictures of his daughter. It was my first day, it was so technical, and we were doing one, two takes and moving on, covering all this stuff. Sean was like, "put the gun up here, and this is what I need." It was much more specific than directions he would later on give me. And they got what they got, but we got out of the bathroom scene, and we started with that interrogation scene.
I've spent all this time on-stage, and I said "Now I can show Sean what I do." There's another person supposed to be opposite me, and I know where Tommy's supposed to be coming from, and what he's trying to do here, so let me go. It was scripted that he was going to react this way, but a lot of what you're seeing is Sean letting me go and do my thing. I didn't know what the quality of the film was going to be because I wasn't allowed to see dailies from the film because he didn't want me to be self-conscious. But I argued with him that I never become self-conscious from dailies, I learn about my acting. But he didn't want me to see them, and maybe he was right. He probably was, and it's a good performance, considering he let me see the Iraqi scene.
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