A PIECE OF PARISE: Hot Actor Jeff Parise Shares a Bit of Himself. by Owen Keehnen

Indianpolis born actor Jeff Parise is a HOT commodity. On the scare front he has a scene stealing role as Bobo in Phil Creager's 'Death By Engagement', and he is curretnly shooting Josh Eisenstadt's horror flick 'Dark Reel' in which he stars as Derek Deeds. 'Dark Reel' also stars Tiffany Shepis, Tony Todd, Edward Furlong, Lance Henricksen, and Alexandra Holden.

Jeff also has solid roles in Wim Weders' 'Don't Come Knocking' which costars Sam Shepard, Tim Roth, Eva Marie Saint, George Kennedy, Fairuza Balk, Sarah Polley, and Jessica Lange as well as 'The Chumscrubber' with Glenn Close, Ralph Fiennes, Carrie Ann Moss, and Rita Wilson. WOW! That's some good company. On TV Mr. Parise is Reese Phillips in the award winning series 'The District', Buck Costello on 'Judging Amy', he was series regular Nick on 'Cupid' with Jeremy Piven, and has had guest parts on 'CSI', 'CSI: NY', 'Walker: Texas Ranger', 'Veronica Mars', 'NYPD Blue', 'Monk', 'Millenium', etc.

He is also a very sought after anbd prolific painter and has numerous showings and exhibits. For more Parise check out www.jeffparise.com ... after you read the interview below (of course).

  RACKS AND RAZORS: Did you always have stars in your eyes as a kid growing up in Indianapolis?

JEFF PARISE: Always. As a kid, it was hard to draw a distinction between fantasy and reality. So, as an adult, I've made a living at combining the two.

RR: What qualities do you think you have that have made this amazing acting career possible for you?

JP: Naivet'e for one. I have no reference in my family as to what it takes or "how to" be an artist for a living, so I think it was the stars in my eyes we talked of earlier. Also, a curiosity about this life. I'm so curious about the human race. I try and translate what I've learned and what I'm learning about our behavior in the characters I play.

RR: Jeff, you've had such an extensive career on TV and in films. I want to hear about your work as Derek Deeds in the upcoming horror flick 'Dark Reel' costarring some scare flick heavyweights - Lance Henrickson, Tiffany Shepis, Alexandra Holden, Edward Furlong, and Tony Todd? How did that come about?

JP: Well, I had a juicy lead in another feature film named "Callback" (directed by Eric Wolfson), where Joe Lorenzo, the casting director for Dark Reel. (and now my manager) saw me. He called me in to audition and BOOM! I got the part.

I played the part of Derek Deeds, a horror film director, prone to volatile outbursts. It was great working with the ever and always cool Edward Furlong. Lance Henricksen is plainly and simply "The man". He told some great stories, gave some great advice, did some great work and split. Tiffany Shepis and Mercedes McNab (Buffy the vampire slayer) were both so much fun to work with, hell, everyone on that shoot was fun!

RR: Can you give me a teaser that will make it irresistible to Racks and Razors readers?

JP: There's blood and boobies... and Tiffany Shepis and Mercedes McNab.

RR: Jeff I also want to hear about your work as Bobo in Phil Creager's 'Death By Engagement'. Was it fun to be the sort of comic relief in a horror film?

JP: It was great working with Phil. It felt like a real creative collaboration. He let me have a lot of fun with character. To me, that is always the sign of a good director. Once they know you have a good handle on the character, they allow. Then you feel trusted, that's when some magic can happen. As far as the comic relief/horror movie thing. I always take it case by case. Character by character. If they happen to be a funny character, awesome! If it happens to be in a horror movie, great! I usually just focus on the human characteristics and let the director piece me into the puzzle.

RR: Did you mold or base the character Bobo on anyone in particular?

JP: Well, I had a few people in mind but not one specifically. It was sort of a stew of shady individuals I've known and witnessed throughout the years.

RR: What is unique about acting in horror films as opposed to other genres?

JP: Well, in the two horror films I've done, there hasn't been much of a difference in the approach to my acting. I pretty much just think back on all the times I've been chased by a masked, ax wielding serial killer in my real life and I go from there.

RR: I also want to hear about your experience of working with the amazing director Wim Weders in 'Don't Come Knocking' with Sam Shepard, Jessica Lange, Tim Roth, Eva Marie Saint, Fairuza Balk, George Kennedy, and Sarah Polley. So do you have some memory of working with that amazing cast you would care to put in a timecapsule for posterity?

JP: That experience has been one of the very best so far. To be surrounded by your heroes is quite a surreal experience. It was my third time working with Wim Wenders. About 10 years ago I had made a list of directors I wanted to work with and he was number one on that list. No shit. Wings of Desire is my all time favorite film. And he's just the Zen master director I'd hoped he's be. What a kind a generous man he is. Not only did I get to work with Wim again, but I found myself in an airport drinking a beer with Tim Roth talking about his approach to playing Vincent Van Gough... I mean, come on! And just when I didn't think it could get any better, I then find myself in a dive bar in Utah, bellied up with Sam Shepard talking about what it means to live your life as an artist over a beer and tequila shot. Priceless.

RR: In addition to acting you also have written a couple of screenplays and are a very sought after painter. Does the kernel of inspiration for all your artistic expression come from the same place? And if it differs how so?

JP: I think all the inspiration comes from the same place, the approach however is much different. Kind of like doing yoga. The whole body is used, but different poses require different muscles. The yoga in this case is creative expression. I think I have the same goal as most... to be fully self-expressed. I find I express myself best by being a well-rounded artist.

RR: I want to hear about your painting and when and why it started and where you see it going?

JP: I've been painting now for about 15 years. About 8 years ago I was cast in a Buddy Giovinazzo (The Unscarred, No Way Home) film that shot in Berlin and it changed everything. I had never been to Europe, so I asked them to pay me in cash and fly me out of Prague 2 months later. I back-packed Europe, saw all the great painters and their paintings and began to understand "the game of art". I was looking at paintings that were hundreds of years old in some cases, the artist long dead, but his paintings were alive and well. The paintings and I were having an energy exchange. I was moved by something made hundreds of years ago. I want my work to do that to someone hundreds of years from now. That\rquote s were I'd like to see my painting go. But the fun part about that is, it\rquote s out of my hands. I have no idea how many people will or won't see my work after I die. The only responsibility I have to it is to leave as many paintings behind as possible before I go. I have hundreds of paintings. In one on going series I'm working on called Naked and Famous, I paint life-sized portraits of friends and family. It's really capturing a community of people in the early 2000's. As of today, I have just over 85 in this series.

RR: Okay Jeff, what was the first movie you saw that scared the shit out of you?

JP: The Exorcist.

RR: We're pulling the car into the Jeff Parise Drive In. What three horror flicks are on the triple bill for the night and what goodies are they going to be serving up at the conession stand?

JP: Well, I guess that would be 1. The Exorcist 2. Dark Reel and 3. Death by Engagement. Drive In's pay residuals, right? And the goodies would be absinthe, red wine, cheese, olives and dark chocolate. Ahh, the decadence.

RR: What scares you in real life?

JP: Prison.

RR: What makes you go psycho in real life?

JP: Interviews, mother fucker! And if you don't stop asking me personal questions I'm gonna cut off your extremities with a butter knife and feed them too you. Then I'll sew up all your exits so you rot from the inside out!