Sean Faris Talks Pawn, on Blu-ray this week
When the robbery of a quaint diner goes sour, viewers are taken on an intense and twisty thrill ride in the indie Pawn, currently available on Blu-ray and DVD, which features an all-star cast including Ray Liotta, Forest Whitaker, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Szohr, Stephen Lang, and Nikki Reed. At the heart of this story is Nick, portrayed convincingly by Sean Faris, a young man just released from prison, who is in the wrong place at the wrong time as the robbery unfolds. I recently had the chance to speak with this talented actor over the phone, to discuss his role in director David A. Armstrong's thriller. Here's what he had to say.
I'm a big Pawn Stars fan, and, for whatever reason, when I first heard of this project years ago, something involving a pawn shop popped into my head. Did you have any sort of reaction like that when you picked up a script called Pawn?
Sean Faris: Oh, no no no. I had a brief synopsis as it was sent over from my agency (Laughs). I had a good idea of what I was getting into, and the excellent cast that was behind it. I was already kind of sold on it, before I even cracked it, but once I cracked it open, and got about 15 pages into it, I knew, especially with the cast, and how twisty the story was turning, I was hooked and ready to go.
It really kept my interest throughout the whole film, just because of the nature of the narrative. You think everyone is a suspect, at some point.
Sean Faris: Right, exactly. It's like everybody, including the bad guys, are all pawns in this big game of chess being played between the cops and the mob, right?
Yeah, absolutely. Was there anything specific you did to get into the mindset of playing Nick? He's an ex-con, he's trying to get his life back together, and he gets sucked into this insane situation. Were there certain things you pulled from?
Sean Faris: You know, you can paint him as an ex-con, but I just feel he's a petty criminal. He was just trying to make ends meet, and he was doing it in a selfish way, without taking into consideration his wife and the people around him. He went to jail for it, but while he was in jail, all he was doing was contemplating the fact that now his wife is pregnant, he's in jail, and he's going to be a father. I think that was a major, major wake-up call for him. He doesn't want anything to do with the criminal life. He wasn't a career criminal, he was just young and stupid and trying to make some quick, easy money. I think going through that, made him a man, because, coming out, all he wants to do is take care of his family, and be there for his family. I didn't really have to carry the criminal aspect with me. I was able to leave that behind, because he was coming out a new person. He had already gone through his hard time, and he's a person who is very focused on taking care of his family, his goals of being a good father, and being there for them, and then he's thrown into a situation, unwillingly, where he's fighting not only for his own life, but for his family's life and for the life of people he grew up with, who are stuck in this situation with him. It's such an emotional roller coaster he goes through, and that was very much a major draw for me to the character, to be able to play those aspects and enter into the mindset of what someone like that might be experiencing. I really looked at my own life, when someone really close to me passed away. One of my best friends' father passed away, and his dad was very close to me in my life. When I was out here in Los Angeles, I would call him and talk to him about things that were going on. I was really attaching myself to those emotions, and letting them play out in this other atmosphere, this diner. It's like, when Stephen Lang's character gets killed, that's someone who Nick knew all of his life, going to the diner. There was a little bit of a re-attachment going on there for me, for those emotions. You also let them play out in the scenario that you're in, and see how you react to what's going on around you. That's pretty much what I did.
This must have been an actor's dream, to get to work with guys like Forest Whitaker and Michael Chiklis. I was really impressed with Chiklis' British accent, to be honest. I was not expecting him to be playing a British guy.
Sean Faris: You know what was really surprising? There were many days on set where he would walk around on set like normal, but there were some days where he walked around and did the British accent all day. When the cameras are rolling and they call action, he just pops right into it, no problem. I thought he did a great job with it. I particularly liked the scene between him and Max Beesley, because Max is English. It was a profile shot with them going back and forth, and I thought they matched up so well together in that. You really bought into Chiklis being a Brit.
I agree. I was a huge fan of The Shield, so anything he's in, I'm usually interested in.
Yes, it was. I believe you shot this both in Connecticut and L.A. as well.
Sean Faris: Well, we shot most of it in Connecticut. We did a couple of re-shoots in Los Angeles, yeah.
They say it once, briefly in the film, that it's set in Connecticut, but you don't exactly get that sense of place, although I didn't think that was very important.
Sean Faris: Right. Well, because you don't get too many exterior shots. Almost everything takes place inside the diner, about 90% of the film. Then, anything that was shot outside the diner, was shot in L.A. (Laughs). Except for the S.W.A.T. scene and all that stuff, the rest was shot in Connecticut.
Connecticut is not normally a place many productions go to. How did that community respond to a production like this, especially with so many big names attached to it?
Sean Faris: Oh, man, they loved it. They were a very, very welcoming community. In fact, the S.W.A.T. team that you see outside, that's not just a bunch of extras, that's the local S.W.A.T. team. We had the real-deal guys. Those were a few interesting days on set. The community was very happy to have us there, and they let us get away with a little bit. We weren't able to do any live firing, though. The gunshots and all that was all done in special effects. We were shooting all night long out there. We'd be out there until 7 o'clock in the morning, shooting away. The community would come out and line up outside and watch us shoot, especially the exteriors. It was really cool. It was nice to be somewhere that hasn't really had a film community come through it. Everybody was more fascinated and into it. If you go to a community that's been shot in several times before, by the time you get there, they're usually pretty jaded. They'll drive by and make noises and honk the horn and blow your takes, because now you're creating traffic in their community, and they don't like it (Laughs). It was nice to be welcomed.
David A. Armstrong, the director, I believe this was his first feature, after a slew of credits in different departments. I was really impressed with how this whole thing came together, in both the direction and the script (written by Jay Anthony White), because it's really complex and it would be really easy to get lost in all these twists and turns. What are your thoughts on how he handled the story, and his style on the set?
Sean Faris: I'm still amazed that it didn't get too confusing. We shot a non-linear script, so the script itself is out of order and all over the place. Then, we're on the set shooting, and you never shoot things in order, and even if we shot in order, it would still be non-linear, because the script is non-linear. So, keeping it together, and focusing on where we were coming from and where we were going, as a set, as a movie, as a cast, was quite the job to handle. I felt like David handled himself very well and was very patient, very calm. He kept it together pretty well. Also, Chiklis is really good at that kind of stuff as well, and he's also a producer on the project. He would be there for us if we had questions like, 'Wait, what is going on? What just happened before this?' That would happen so many times on set, with any given actor. I think even Chiklis at times would be like, 'Where am I at? Where am I at?' It was more of a group effort, but I think David handled himself really well. I mean, 15 days, that's a task for any director. That's a major task to take on, and my hat goes off to him.
Is there anything that you're currently working on that you can talk about?
Sean Faris: I'm currently working on Pretty Little Liars, playing Detective Holbrook. The season premiere will be June 11th, and my character will be introduced onto the show then. It's a great set. The girls are all awesome, everybody, the cast, the creators, I. Marlene King, Oliver Goldstick, my hat goes off to them. They're awesome. I really enjoy being on that set. I currently have a film I shot in Hong Kong doing the film festival circuit. Then we'll see what comes up next.
Are you going to be a regular on Pretty Little Liars this season?
Sean Faris: I'm recurring, so it all depends with where they want to go with the story line. Roma Maffia, from Nip/Tuck, she's playing my partner, and she's awesome. We have a good time on the set together. There's a nice timing between the two of us. She's the older veteran and I'm the young detective who's a little brash. It's cool. It's fun.
I believe you're also venturing into producing.
Sean Faris: Yeah, I've produced a couple of shorts, and I've been credited as a producer on an indie feature. Producing is something I definitely want to get into. There are a few ideas that I'd really like to write, but I'm not a writer. I'm actually in search of a writer for an idea that I have, that I think is gold. It would be like a Showtime, HBO, a cable show. Network television wouldn't be able to get away with the content that I want to put into it, but yeah, I definitely want to get into producing, and maybe direct a short or two as well. I might need to take one of them and direct it as a teaser, which would be my first. There are many avenues to travel.
Sean Faris: It's a tense drama that's set in a diner, and anyone can be guilty of anything, or innocent, whether you're a cop or a patron or a hostage. It's told from many different perspectives, and it's going to keep you guessing until the end, so check it out.
Great. That's all I have. Thanks so much, Sean. It was great talking to you.
Sean Faris: Hey, thank you. Have a great day.