Returning from the set of the upcoming movie American Girls, actor Josh Hammond visits CSReview, talking about his multifaceted carreer in the film industry and highlighting crucial aspects of professionalism in his line of work. Josh appeared in a number of well known movies and TV series such as CSI: NY and Scrubs.
CS: Josh, why acting? Is it really just about the sparkling Hollywood life style, or is there a deeper meaning to acting that attracted you?
Josh Hammond: Hmm, well I think that typically there is a little bit of the “glitz & glam” dream of Hollywood that initially attracts any artist to L.A. I think that dream fuels the passion that anybody has to be an artist to some degree. However, after working in the entertainment industry for 13 years it becomes deeper than the façade. I believe that an artist’s job is to show people what it means to be human. After that many years you realize the streets are not paved with gold and becoming professional is not easy. Hard work, dedication, and an unwavering focus on your goals are necessary to succeed in the industry. You have to continually re-invent yourself to stay on the leading edge.
CS: A universal formula for success in just about anything… What is it about the horror genre that appeals to you as a professional actor?
Josh Hammond: I really enjoy the concept of no consequences between “Action” and “Cut”. Especially in horror, because as an actor you really get to cut loose and go crazy when at work. Scare the grass out of people, kill, rape, and pillage…..all while having fun and getting paid. I feel very fortunate to have such an amazing job.
CS: Trying your hand as a film producer and screenwriter do you see a difference in approaching film production from how you do it as an actor? Is there a common base for all three?
Josh Hammond: A lot of times I think that “actors” have this sense of entitlement, “I’m here! Appreciate me!” I think that’s a load of rubbish. Acting is a job, an awesome one – but nonetheless a job. I’ve always considered everyone as equals, no matter how “famous” you think you are. So I go to work and shut up, until I’m told it’s time to act. However as a producer and a writer I felt as though I had more of a hand in the creative process that I didn’t have the right to as solely an actor. But I will say that the experience of producing gave me a new and more refined approach to the entire process that I hadn’t had before. I think the common thread between all three is that making a film is a TEAM effort. Every department is working toward a common goal – making a piece of art. No job is more important than the others, because without one, NONE of the others are possible.
CS: In your opinion, what are the essentials for a film crew to work well together on the set?
Josh Hammond: COMMUNICATION. In any profession, the ability to relay your ideas and listen to others is crucial in the success of a project. I’ve also found that working with the same crew is also very beneficial to a great teamwork; relationships make a huge difference in the working process. When everybody is comfortable, appreciated and made to feel important, it improves the quality of their work.
CS: Please describe your trademark roles and why you think you are the best man for playing such parts.
Josh Hammond: Fortunately, and unfortunately, I have been known to play the “sick and twisted”. I am spontaneous and inject a sense of humor into all of my characters, which allows the audience to relate, even if just a little bit. Because let’s face it, not everybody out there is a serial rapist or mass killer, LOL. So I think that my upbringing makes me a great candidate to portray these types. Having been raised in a very religious home, I can play the polar opposite, because I know how the astringent rules are best BROKEN.
CS: What can you say about your character in American Girls? What was your initial response to the character?
Josh Hammond: I’m playing Scott Salazus (who is based on a real character), a confused and easily persuaded individual with a low IQ. Put into a situation that has a violent and gruesome outcome. Fueled by drugs and peer pressure, my character makes some very bad choices. My initial response was surprise. I couldn’t believe that the actual news story didn’t get more media coverage, considering how mainstream media thrives on sensationalism. This story was ripe with material to capitalize on. The events therein are pretty unsavory as well.
CS: Is it harder to play in a movie that is based on a true story, knowing that these things aren’t fictional and people really got badly hurt and brutally killed? Does it make you reflect on the human nature more, think what we are doing, where we are going, as a human race?
Josh Hammond: Great question. I do believe that playing in a non-fiction film is much more psychologically challenging, because I’m not “inventing”. It’s more RE-creating a persona and trying to do someone else justice, whether they deserve it or not. Stepping into someone’s shoes that is not “clinically okay” is difficult. A lot of questions must be asked to fully understand where this character was, in his mental space. At some point my character Scott must have felt justified in his actions, if only because of the drug use and the low intelligence level. However, there must have been some reflection on his actions, because Scott went to the authorities and confessed the crimes that were committed. Reflecting and asking difficult questions to explore human nature is necessary for all of us. Understanding what makes us tick is imperative as a member of the human race. I don’t know where we are headed as a society, but I do know that with love and positivity we can salvage our humanity, and become more than we are now.
CS: How do you see yourself in the modern cinematography, where is your place, what is your mission?
Josh Hammond: I believe that my place in modern cinema is as a leading man with an edge. Think Jack Nicholson or Woody Harrelson – in other words, a likeable, every-man, someone you can see as your neighbor or friend, but liable to snap at any moment. I’m a decent looking guy, but I’m no heart throb, and I’m okay with that, because I think that’s what makes me tangible. Plus my sense of humor will win over any part of you that may not be attracted to my looks. So, my mission is to continue working on great projects and become a more evolved human and artist.
CS: A great resolution, Josh. What new horizons have you established for yourself for the year 2012? Where do you see yourself in five years after that, in a decade?
Josh Hammond: I’m not a big fan of resolutions, I don’t like to make promises, or set standards for myself, because then I can never let myself; or others down. Also my dreams and goals change on a daily basis, so I’ll continue playing for an audience of one. Me. I have only set one rule for myself – to keep evolving. In five years I see myself in a mankini, chillin’ with my wife and children on a rowboat, anchored off the south shore of the Salton Sea (look it up on a map –it’s shaped in a peculiar manner, LOL). And ten years from now, I’ll be at an internet café on Mars, smoking sherm…(cigarette dipped in PCP) and trying to fully understand the Fibonacci Sequence! JUST KIDDING, I have no idea. I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow. But I know it’ll be interesting.
CS: Thank you for a very etertaining and insightful interview, Josh! Wishing you more great projects in the future.
Copyright Camilla Stein ©2012. All rights reserved.
American Girls Official Trailer *WARNING: Graphic Content.*