|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'?
"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.
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
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
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?
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.
So, how did you get involved with 'Closet
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!
I am sure that Jack, your character in 'Closet
Space', experiences much bloody mayhem.
Do you have a favorite gruesome onscreen
'Closet Space' moment?
Yes, he certainly does. I wish I could divulge
that info without giving anything away!
Was there a scene that you found incredibly
difficult to film in 'Closet Space'?
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!
You said 'Closet Space' was
filmed far from civilization. As you mentioned
before, this seemed to have brought about instant
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.
Cool! What were the things that you enjoyed most
about working with Mel House, 'Closet
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.
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
Avoid tentacles - they're just bad news.