Interview with Actor Jason Croot

Jay Croot

ED- The Eerie Digest has had the opportunity to reach across the Atlantic Ocean and interview actor Jason Croot for all of our readers. Jason, You first appeared in film in 2000, but prior to that you had a great stage career. Please tell us about some of these productions and the role that you played in them.

JC- Hello and thank you for inviting me to do the interview for Eerie Digest. My early stage career covered some classics including Eugene O’Neil’s ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ where I played ‘Edmund Tyrone’ as soon as I picked up the play I instantly connected to Edmund and relished the performance, the next production was the brilliant ‘Death of a Salesman’ where I played ‘Biff’ I love this play and really enjoyed getting my teeth into the role. My other memorable performance was ‘Pinter’s’ ‘Betrayal’, ‘Pinter’ is not easy by any stretch of the imagination and was as complex to me as ‘Shakespeare’ but I found that once you research the characters and the world of the play that they belong in it suddenly clicks. I love theatre and all it has to offer, it has been so long since I have performed on stage one day I hope to return.

ED- We have many students that read our magazine and hope to have careers in acting. Please describe your training in this exciting career and what first inspired you to take it up.

JC- I wanted to do drama from a very early age at school every time I walked past the stage it was jumping out at me but my friends teased me and I never took it on. 15 years passed and I stumbled into acting by accident it was not until the age of 27 I decided to tread the boards. I went on a TV Dating show ‘Blind Date’ there was a live audience of 500 people and 15 million viewers in the UK, when I got on that stage it was the most powerful feeling I have ever felt I have never felt so alive as soon as I finished I knew I had found my calling, when I got back from London I joined my hometown of Bradford College for performing Arts, and then two years later I moved to London where I went to Birbeck University for Drama and I attended The Poor School a credited Drama school all of the training I believe was worthwhile.

ED- Your first film roles were in several television series: ‘Playing the Field’, ‘North Square’, and ‘Fat Friends’. How did acting in these differ for you as opposed to performing on stage?

JC-  Whilst studying I wanted to gain some TV experience I got a lot of walk on roles one line parts or just being a supporting artist I was itching to get bigger roles but knew I had to be patient, I used this time to study some of the lead actors and how things worked on the film set. I found it all an invaluable experience

ED- Between 2001 and 2004 your career picked up and you were first seen in ‘Bob & Rose’, followed by ‘A Touch of Frost’, ‘Blood Strangers’, ‘The Neighbor’, and ‘Alexander’. These were larger roles for you in front of a camera. Describe them and the productions that you performed in.

JC- This period was very influential in my career, these roles where a platform in my early acting days ‘The Neighbor’ was a catalyst for me this was my first NYFA film I went on to do 8 more but this one film went on to be shown at film festivals worldwide including Berlinale the film still is one of my favorites I play a paranoid Schizophrenic it was not easy role but I really got into it and the Director ‘Stathis’ was great. The other productions were smaller roles but important to my apprenticeship in acting 

ED- Your career continued to grow, and you performed in two shorts, and five more projects in 2010 that included ‘The Fixer’ and Freight’. Please describe these productions and the themes behind them.

JC- Between 2004- 2008 I was doing lots of short films 25 in total and getting my show reel together, I also did a few TV commercials. I guess to me Acting is like football or soccer to you guys in that you play week in week out trying to win every game some you win some you lose, I started in the lower leagues having the odd big cup match every now and again. In 2009 the hard work was finally paying off ‘The Fixer’ is a big TV show in the UK the theme is about a ex special forces team working for the government cleaning up the streets, I played alongside ‘Tamsin Outhwaite’ my role was ‘Ivano Popov’ a Bulgarian hit man. ‘Freight’ has recently been picked up by ‘Mel Gibson’s’ Icon Films, the theme of this is human trafficking there are street wars between a Yorkshire gang and Eastern European Mafia I play the role of ‘Iosef’ a Romanian gangster I played alongside ‘Andrew Tiernan’ {300}.

ED- In the same time period you portrayed various roles in ‘Carmen’s Kiss’, ‘Rough Cut’ and ’Inbetween’,. How did the personality of the characters vary in each of these and how difficult was it for you to project each of them without mimicking the others?

JC- The beauty and enjoyment in Film Acting to me is you get to take on different characters; I always research every role I do and hope that each one is believable and different to the last. Until you have the script down and character it is always difficult. In the above films I played A Russian heavy in ‘Carmen’s Kiss’ as Serbian drug dealer in ‘Rough Cut’ an international terrorist in ‘Inbetween’ , I guess the first 3 roles where similar. ‘Inbetween’ was a Canadian Feature Film loosely based on the ‘Bada Meinhof’ gang we filmed my scenes in London, the Director Dave Antonelli was very good and he has advised me on many things in my career over the past few years, I hope to work with him again hopefully in Canada or the states. I see myself heading out there and giving it a try at some point.

ED- You then switched mantles and became involved on the other side of the camera as well. In ‘Le Fear’ you not only performed as Rasputin, but wrote, produced, acted as the casting director, and directed it as well. This is quite an accomplishment. Tell us about the varied roles that you undertook and how your previous roles trained you for such an arduous undertaking.

JC- I’m glad you asked this question, I was walking to the supermarket one day and had this idea to make a film about a film, I’d worked on so many film sets and saw so many things and met so many quirky people for example cast reading newspapers and texting just before a take and some difficult to work with actors.  I thought I want to make a film about these people. I never knew how stressful but yet rewarding making films can be until I made ‘Le Fear’. The whole pre production was 2 weeks and we filmed 95 % of it in 2 days, my love for acting and my determination got me through this and of course 10,000 espresso’s. Producing a film is not an easy job and even though at the times I found it very difficult, looking back I’m glad I did it. We used a lot of improvisation around the script and it worked well. The film should be released spring/summer this year and I hope people like it. Rasputin was just a cameo role an actor dropped out the night before filming and I stepped in. I hope to do a sequel in the next year if I can find some investors.

ED- You also went on to producing and acting in ‘Demons & Doors’ and ‘Song of King Solomon’ in which you also donned many hats. As these are in post-production stages, can you describe these projects for us?

JC- Once I had filmed ‘Le Fear’ I wanted to Direct some more, I went for a casting for Stephen Southouse at Zelica films he cast me for the role of  ‘King Solomon’ on the spot he had 8 months pre-production after numerous emails he agreed I should help him produce the film. We filmed out in Greece. Playing ‘King Solomon’ was my most difficult role to date, I did all the research but even so the text was very complex as we used original Biblical text, ‘King Solomon’ was reported to have 700 wives and 300 concubines, we decided to choose a chapter of his life rather than his whole life story. The film is now complete and it has a lot to offer you can never tell if people like your films but you always hope they do. ‘Demons and Doors’ is a physiological drama where Marion an actress murders her lover’s wife and she is put into an institute and develops multiple personality disorder, every time she changes personality she is played by a different actress, there are 45 Marion’s and 25 other characters. I Co-Directed this with Stephen Southouse who wrote it, we improvised around the script. Much like ‘Le Fear’ I think there is a beauty to this method and in leaving the actors to act and the cameras to keep rolling. We currently have 48 hours to edit with a few more scenes to film we have a very strong cast we decided to use me as Marion’s Dad at the last minute, all in all both films were very rewarding for different reasons

ED- Your latest projects also include ‘Elevator God’, ‘Life Is Just’, and ‘Darkness Into Light’. Are you able to tell us something about these as well?

JC- ‘Elevator Gods’ I love I wanted to be in this film as soon as I read the script in 2007, it’s a comedy feature film the storyline is about  80’ tribute bands my role ‘Cobra’ is Collin Farrell/ Don Johnson Miami Vice lookalike false tan and pony tail it’s a funny script. The director Pete Hunt is a very passionate film maker I hope this film does well for him. ‘Life Just Is’ is a film about a group of 20 year olds growing up I played ‘Walahfrid’ who is an outsider. ‘Darkness Into Light’ is an interesting storyline and character ‘Mordecai’ an Egyptian Archeologist the film goes back in time from modern day back to the days and times of Jesus Christ.

ED- Where can our readers see some of your earlier work and when can they see these many new productions in the future.

JC- A lot of my early work can be viewed on you tube I have my own channel magicactor11 lots of clips are on there. Some of my new films will be on general release the smaller productions will be available probably on Amazon, we have fan clubs on Facebook for ‘Le Fear’, ‘Song of King Solomon’ and ‘Demons and Doors’ it will be announced on there when and where these films will be released and where they can be viewed.

ED- Jason, you have come a long way and I know that many of our readers want to find out more about you. I want to thank you for spending this time with The Eerie Digest and hope that you will keep us updated in all that you do.