CS Interview: Taylor Nichols on 1BR, Whit Stillman, Congo & More!

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CS Interview: Taylor Nichols on 1BR, Whit Stillman, Congo & More!

CS Interview: Taylor Nichols on 1BR, Whit Stillman, Congo & More!

Earlier this summer we got to see the nail-biting horror thriller 1BR, which could be the first in a very cool franchise. One of the standout performances comes from veteran actor Taylor Nichols, best known for his roles in Whit Stillman classics like Metropolitan and Barcelona. ComingSoon.net got an exclusive career-spanning chat with Nichols where we highlighted some of his biggest roles in film and TV. Check it out below!

1BR will be getting its East Coast Premiere at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival this Sunday, October 20. Click here to purchase your tickets to the screening!

RELATED: Fantasia 2019: David Marmor & Alok Mishra Talk the Thriller 1BR

After leaving behind a painful past to follow her dreams, Sarah scores the perfect Hollywood apartment. But something is not right. Unable to sleep, tormented by strange noises and threatening notes, her new life quickly starts to unravel. By the time she learns the horrifying truth, it’s too late. Caught in a waking nightmare, Sarah must find the strength to hold onto her crumbling sanity…or be trapped forever in an existential hell.

1BR is the debut from writer/director David Marmor and produced by Alok Mishra and Shane Vorster for Malevolent Films, Allard Cantor and Jarrod Murray for Epicenter, as well as Nic Izzi and Sam Sandweiss, and executive produced by Peter Phok.

The film’s diverse cast includes Alan Blumenfeld (Heroes), Taylor Nichols (PEN15, Jurassic Park III), Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story), Giles Matthey (Once Upon A Time, True Blood), Earnestine Phillips (Here Comes the Boom), Susan Davis (Wargames), Clayton Hoff, Celeste Sullivan and Nicole Brydon Bloom as Sarah, in her debut feature film. 1BR features a vibrantly nightmarish score from celebrated composer Ronen Landa, best known for his work on horror hits The Pact and At the Devil’s Door.

On “1BR” (2019)…

“I play good guys. You know what I mean? And so, for me, it was like, ‘Oh, this is a great opportunity to kind of jump in and do a bad guy.’ I actually had just played a cult leader in a comedy. I wanted to stray away from that, I wanted to find a little more menace, but I didn’t want to be sleazy, pervy, creepy. I wanted to be scary. You know what I mean? I think David, the director/writer, did such a wonderful job steering the movie that way, so that it didn’t become just a creep fest. You know, the scenes with Giles and me, when we hold her against the wall and all of that, it could’ve been a little bit sexually oriented. I didn’t want that. At one point, somebody asks, why did you pick me? And I think it’s actually Giles who says, ‘Jerry knows.’ I liked this idea that I knew she needed some help. There’s one scene where I pat her on the arm and I say, ‘This is for your own good.’ That’s as awful as it can be when the person who’s torturing you in their mind thinks that they’re really doing it for your own good. Tough love. And it was fun. Alok, the producer, and David had seen a short movie that I did where I played an abusive father. That’s what gave them the confidence to say this is the right guy for this movie. One of the reasons I’m proud of ‘1BR’ is because it really did give me the opportunity to play a different side of me, and one that I actually like tapping into. I would work with David Marmor in a heartbeat and I would work with Alok and these guys again on a prequel to ‘1BR’ or another movie that they’re doing.”

On “Metropolitan” (1990)…

“Whit Stillman and I had become pretty good friends over the years. We’ve known each other now for 25, 30 years. He’s been a big part of my life and knows my wife and my kids and I know his ex-wife and kids. I don’t see his kids much anymore because they’re all over. ‘Metropolitan’ was just something that I did. It was a world that I didn’t know, and so much of Whit’s dialogue was stuff I didn’t know either. I was young and I was right in the middle of my hardcore theater training. I think theater training gave me a discipline and a perseverance and a stamina I needed for that film. I needed the discipline to do the homework and I needed the perseverance to keep going and I needed the stamina to do these long shoots and do these long monologues. So truly, it was wonderful. And I think maybe had I not done those movies early in my career, I probably would not have done them the same way, you know what I mean? I was so innocent about the work that I just jumped right in and did it and I think it paid off. At first, I didn’t understand it. I was like, you know, is this funny? Is anyone going to think this is funny? And I can remember Chris Eigeman even saying, ‘No one’s ever going to see this movie except my mom.’ And it turned out to be the opposite.”

On TV series “Man of the People” (1991-1992)

“James Garner was just a prince among men. I mean, he was so great. I can remember at the audition, when you do those kind of network things, you have to be tested. I was in New York and I flew out to LA and I did the test. I was waiting and there were two or three other guys reading for the role. I was waiting outside the office for the cab to take me back to the hotel, and James Garner, who not only was in the audition, he read with you in the audition. And you know, stars just don’t do that. They don’t want to be bothered or whatever. But when he came out of the audition, he said, ‘Do you want a ride home?’ And I went, ‘Yeah.’ And he gave me a ride back to the hotel. When I got out of his truck -of course he drives a truck, it wasn’t a Trans-Am or a Camaro or whatever he drove in ‘The Rockford Files’- He said, ‘I think you’ve got yourself a job, kid.’ He was just so supportive, and he was on the set first and he would rehearse with you. He was really great. At that time I saw myself much more involved in the theater track. I did musicals when I first started and I kind of saw myself doing that and living in New York and doing theater and indie films. Once I did this show with Garner, I realized how free it can be. It gives you money to do other stuff. I kind of liked LA. I didn’t think I would ever live in LA, but once I moved out there, I kind of liked it and then I got kind of hooked on the regular work. I don’t like not working. It’s hard because unless you’re a huge movie star, you have ups and downs. And I don’t like the downs. TV lets you fill those downs up because you’re just working more often.”

On “Barcelona” (1994)…

“I loved doing those projects and Whit was really supportive and he cast Chris and me right away for the next movie, for ‘Barcelona.’ And again, I did the same thing again. I didn’t know anything about Spain. I didn’t know anything about foreign sales. I read those books by Dale Carnegie and all of that stuff. Being the lead was scary, but I would argue a little bit that it is still an ensemble film with Mira Sorvino and with Tushka Bergen and all of that. We certainly saw it that way. Other people may have seen it as just Chris and my’s movie, but I think Chris and I really saw it as a foursome. Even with some of the Spanish actors, that it was an ensemble. I just saw it recently. There was a 25th anniversary screening that the American Cinematheque did. The movie holds up. It’s funny. The audience really seemed to respond to it. And I think for a long time, I was a little bit insecure about my work in the film. But seeing it 25 years later, I was like, ah, you know, don’t be so hard on yourself.”

On “Congo” (1995)…

“Bruce Campbell is hands down the funniest fucking guy I’ve ever worked with. John Hawkes, you know, who’s such a great actor, and Bruce and myself, we were on the advanced team. So we had to go everywhere where the stars went, but we filmed one day, and then the stars would go there and film like a week or two. So then we had to hang out in Costa Rica sort of at the beck and call with nothing to do. So Bruce did this thing where he wouldn’t cross water. And so, we’d be hiking through the areas around Costa Rica and he would come to a puddle and he would do like a 10-minute bit on not being able to cross the water. John and I would just fucking laugh for no one else. There was no one else there. It was just the three of us. Bruce is struggling to cross this foot wide creek, you know? We had a blast. They were great to work with. Frank Marshall, the director, and Kathleen Kennedy, the producer, were also great. One place, there wasn’t enough room for trailers, so they put Bruce and John and me in Kathleen and Frank’s trailer. And they hung out with us like we were studio executives, or we hung out with them like they were actors on the show. And Kathleen has cast me a couple of times in movies that she’s produced. And they are both just salt of the earth movie moguls, if that’s not an oxymoron.”

On “The American President” (1995)…

“I made a huge mistake on ‘American President.’ ‘Barcelona was a Castle Rock movie, and Rob Reiner invited me in for a meeting and asked me which role I wanted to play in the movie and I said Michael J. Fox’s role. He laughed, then said, ‘Really, which role do you really want to play?’ And I chose the aid to Richard Dreyfuss because I thought it was a different character than I had played in the past. I should’ve chosen the role that Josh Malina ended up taking. Josh is great and he was great in that role, but I just felt like that was a role that I had done in the past, and I didn’t want to do it again. I made a mistake for two reasons. One, that character worked a lot more and made a lot more money. And two, I think early on in your career, one needs to solidify who they are so that the world, the casting people, the producers, the directors know that that’s what they’re getting when they cast Josh Malina. That’s what they’re getting when they cast Taylor Nichols. I tried to go against that and I thought I was doing the right thing at the time, but I actually think I made a mistake. That said, Richard Dreyfuss was great to work with and I learned a lot from Rob Reiner in the short time on the set. And so, I’m glad I did it, and it was a fun, fun movie, to have been involved in. I’m the one who finds out that Sydney Ellen Wade, Annette Bening, has burned a flag and all of that kind of stuff. So it was good. It was sort of a bad guy character.”

On “The Last Days of Disco” (1998)…

“I’m barely in the movie, but I played Ted from ‘Barcelona’ in one scene and I played Charlie from ‘Metropolitan’ in a different scene, which is kind of clever of Whit, I think. I was doing a play in New York at the time, and I was pretty busy and I had to be at the theater at a certain time, seven o’clock every night. I only worked like two or three days on the movie. They were actually shooting in New Jersey and it was a little bit of a problem getting back and forth and making sure I was on time. I remember to be honest, being a little bit disappointed that I wasn’t doing a bigger role in the movie. I think I let that temper my enthusiasm for the project a little bit. And for that, I feel bad about. I think maybe I didn’t take either of the two characters as seriously as I could have or should have. That said, Whit has always told me that Mackenzie Astin’s work really changed after having me on the set and him kind of getting into his character more through my characters, which was nice. I feel a little bit bad that I let my ego get in the way. That Chris had a part was never a problem for Chris and me. It was more a problem of like, well, why didn’t Whit put me in that role or something like that? And here I was, making $700 a week doing a play, and they were making $7,000 a week doing a movie. And I was like, ah.”

On “Boiler Room” (2000)…

“Ben Affleck was just taking off when he did that. I’ll never forget, we did the read through and he came to the read through. Everybody was kind of looking up to him and kind of expecting him to be a flake, and he fucking nailed that monologue in the read through, off book almost. And that kicked everybody in the butt. I didn’t work with all those guys, I only worked with Giovanni, but I think the fact that Ben came in—I remember it was like January. It was cold. We were in this place down in the East Village for the read through. Ben got there like a movie star. And as opposed to saying, ‘I’m a movie star, I’m going to phone this in,’ he did the opposite. He was like, ‘I’m a movie star. I’m going to rock this fucking thing.’ I think it made Vin Diesel and Scott Caan and Nicky Katt and Giovanni and everybody else realize, ‘hey, we better step up our game.'”

On “Jurassic Park III” (2001)…

“They didn’t have a script. They were even talking about shooting stuff with me at the end of the movie, and then that idea got nixed. Joe Johnston did a great job. I’m barely in the movie, but I got to work with Laura Dern, and he is such a whacko. She’s really, really something special, I think.”

On “Godzilla” (2014)…

“That was a blast for me. I was brought in very late. I was brought in for the reshoots. It’s always so crazy. How much did that movie cost, $200 million to make or something like that? Gareth Edwards was the director. He was so great. But it was really funny, I read for it on a Thursday or something like that, didn’t hear anything. Then, Monday rolled around, and I think Monday was my birthday, and my wife and kids and I had gone out and got Thai food or something like that. Monday night I got a call that I was hired to do it on Tuesday, and I had a fairly long monologue about the Mutos and Godzilla and all that kind of shit. And so, I had kind of forgotten the line in the intervening four or five days. All of a sudden had to go back and learn the lines. Then the costumer calls me and says, ‘What do you have to wear?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, I have a blue coat.’ She goes, ‘Okay, yeah. Just bring that.’ And so, it was almost thrown together like a ‘1BR’ shoot as opposed to this $200 million shoot. That’s it. They had everybody there. They had David Strathairn and Sally Hawkins.”

On “Pen15” (2019)…

“We’re doing Season 2 of that starting in September. That’s been such a joy to be on because Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine, the two actresses and producers/writers—Anna plays my daughter—are so creative and so nice. We did tons of improv. They also trust me and actors. That’s just where I want to be. I want to work with people who want to work with me, who trust me.”

On someday working on a movie with Chris Eigeman and Whit Stillman again…

“Lots of people have talked to Chris and me about that, about why we haven’t done other movies together because he is so sarcastic. And for the most part, I’m so kind of naïve or innocent or whatever, that it’s such a great pairing. Whit at one point had talked about doing a Western with the two of us. I don’t know whatever happened to that. Then he talked about us both playing small roles in ‘Damsels in Distress,’ and I ended up doing it and Chris ended up not doing it. And I think had Chris done it, Whit would’ve made more with those two roles. But because Chris didn’t do it, there wasn’t a whole lot to do about it. So I think Whit thought about it, but he just kind of moved onto other stuff. Between ‘Disco’ and ‘Damsels’ he and I were in touch. I would see him if I was in New York or whatever and he would see me if he was in LA. And he also went through some personal stuff at that time, too. He got divorced and just went through a lot of that and kind of getting all of that sorted out. So I never felt like he and I were apart, you know what I mean? We stayed fairly close. That said, the actual shoot on ‘Damsels’ was a little bit strained, and I think he was stressed out getting the movie done and working with so many different new actors and all of that.”

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Weekend: Nov. 14, 2019, Nov. 17, 2019

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