James LaMarr: Breaking Through with Closet Space's Determined Hero by Brian Kirst

With good natured determinism, actor James LaMarr has gone from small roles in films like 'Courage Under Fire' and 'A Killer Within' to guest appearances on 'Prison Break' and major roles in projects like 'The Scorekeeper'. More importantly, LaMarr plays the male lead in Mel House's ('Witchcraft 13') latest bloody opus, 'Closet Space'. LaMarr, now braving the wilds of Hollywood, counts 'Closet Space' as his favorite movie shoot and shares his detailed memories below. You can, also, keep up with LaMarr's burgeoning career at www.jameslamarr.com just be sure to avoid those awkward, uncomfortable on set kisses!

  Brian: Who inspired you to enter the wacky world of show business? - Kermit the Frog? Darth Vader? The sexy naked girl who gets it at the beginning of 'Jaws'?

James: I "accidentally" fell into a featured role in 'Courage Under Fire' while I was in college at Texas A&M University - I was on set as an upperclassman military advisor for the rifle drill team ('The Fish Drill Team' ; the soldiers shown spinning rifles in the movie; the same group that did 'A Few Good Men', just different cadets a few years later) and some important looking guy from the crew says to me, "Hey, you want to be in a scene with Denzel & Sean Astin?". Of course it was a no-brainer - so in the scene I'm standing there chatting about some letter with Sean, then Denzel walks up, grabs Sean and they walk off and do their dialogue together. But of course, the scene got cut! That sound you heard when the DVD FINALLY came out several years later was me crying because the deleted scenes were nowhere to be found. The kicker was that the trailer for the film showed a clip of the later part of that scene, but then in the release the whole scene was missing completely. Bummer - it was supposed to be my big break! But that experience definitely gave me the acting bug - Sean was the nicest guy and I was able to spend a good hour standing there talking with him, and being on set with all the action was quite moving. The feeling to get back there never went away.

Brian: You recently appeared on the popular 'Prison Break' . - Any exciting moments/occurrences while filming that?

James: Man, I really love that show. My wife and I have watched it faithfully since the pilot, so when I heard it was coming to Texas to shoot the 2nd season I nearly had to change my shorts. I called my agent and said, "You have GOT to get me in there!" I was like a kid in a candy store - getting on one of my favorite shows, plus it was the first time I had a trailer on set. Well, it was a section of a trailer, but still! It had my name on the door with my own sink, bathroom & bed, and we're not used to that for most projects here in Texas, so it was a neat experience. Don't worry, I'm not spoiled though. Strangely, I didn't get to work with any of the other cast members during my days on set; all of my scenes were just me plus the extras. But I did get invited out with some of the cast & crew one night and we had a good time. On the show, my character played an important role in the conspiracy then went missing, so I'm really glad it is coming back for a 3rd season. We'll see what happens.

Brian: Another one of your credits is 'A Killer Within' which features popular genre actors like C. Thomas Howell and Sean Young. Do you have any cool stories about working on that flick?

James: Yeah, literally - that shoot was FREEZING! - Seriously, like in the 20s or something crazy like that, with wardrobe definitely not matching up with that. I played the paramedic that drove the ambulance and wheeled out Sean Young's body (that was actually a male crew member under the sheet!). As soon as "cut" was yelled after every take we sprinted back to the fire to warm up. Sean wasn't even on set that for that, but I got to work with C.T. a little. Don't try singing - "Soul Man" to him - he doesn't find it very amusing. But all kidding aside, Helluva nice guy - we spent a while talking football. Packers fan, if I remember correctly. He must be having a hard time with that lately - but then again, I'm the one that's a Texans fan.

Brian: In fact, you seem to have gotten a lot of film work in Texas. Do you have an absolute favorite project you've worked on? Also - now that you have a large body of work behind you, do you plan on trying L.A. - or are you going to be "true to your school" and remain in Texas and explore the opportunities there?

James: Closet Space was definitely my favorite shoot. We shot most of it on location in the middle of Nowhere, Texas & it was a blast. The cast & crew were forced to spend several days together at a time and we all just got along great and had a ball. We were sad when we left the location. We also did a lot of rock climbing for several scenes, which was fun & great exercise - I highly recommend it.

As far as the L.A. thing goes, I'm actually already there! Texas will always be my permanent home, though, and I still actively pursue work there & have a project lined up to shoot later this year. The state is trying to get a bill pushed through right now that will provide a lot of financial incentives for projects to come to there, and we are all praying it makes it because it should bring lots more productions to us. I think I can definitely live in L.A. for now and still have the same opportunities in Texas, though.

Brian: So, how did you get involved with 'Closet Space'?

James: I tied Mel up in a basement a la 'Pulp Fiction' Gimp Scene until he agreed to cast me. Actually, I was supposed to audition for the lead in 'Witchcraft 13' and we just couldn't match up our schedules for that, and then months later he called me up out of the blue and asked me to read for the lead in 'Closet Space'. Luckily we were able to work it out this time!

Brian: I am sure that Jack, your character in 'Closet Space', experiences much bloody mayhem. Do you have a favorite gruesome onscreen 'Closet Space' moment?

James: Yes, he certainly does. I wish I could divulge that info without giving anything away!

Brian: Was there a scene that you found incredibly difficult to film in 'Closet Space'?

James: I had to share a kiss with the lead actress while her husband was present watching off screen, so that was interesting to say the least. (Note: Female lead, Melanie Donihoo is married to director, Mel House.) But business is business!

Brian: You said 'Closet Space' was filmed far from civilization. As you mentioned before, this seemed to have brought about instant cast bonding.

James: It really did - we all became fast friends and still stay in touch. I don't think everyone normally clicks on set as well as we did. We brought games & movies to keep us occupied between fighting off scorpions. It was a great experience and I have good friends to show from it. And other projects - Peyton Wetzel, who plays Glen, was producing another film called 'The Scorekeeper' at the same time up in Dallas, and they were having trouble casting one of the leads for it. We were sitting on set one day between takes and he just has a revelation that I'm this character. So he gets me a last minute audition the next day and sure enough, I ended up working with him on that one too.

Brian: Cool! What were the things that you enjoyed most about working with Mel House, 'Closet Space's' director?

James: He was this refreshing combination of vision & creative allowance; he had a clear, specific idea in mind for every shot and he communicated it very well to the cast, but he left it up to the actors to have the freedom to do their thing within it. He didn't try to micromanage or line read - "Say it like this". Some directors can be that way and it can drive actors' nuts sometimes. Mel was really great to work with, and I hope we end up on future projects together.

Brian: Lastly, any future plans and ambitions or bits of wisdom (IE: Don't cross on green, backwards and blindfolded) that you'd like to share with us? And, thanks for taking part in this! It's been a blast!

James: Avoid tentacles - they're just bad news.