How badly did I want to talk to Brendan Sexton III? I had to pay a long distance phone bill of $8.94 to New York out of my own pocket. A small sum for such a talented young man, yes, but that amount could have ushered me into the Long Beach 26 for Session 9 and any movie I wanted to sneak into afterwards. Small sacrifices, I'd nail myself to the front of a T-shaped German import for you any day. His is the good sh*t.
Sexton is one of the most non-glaring, underrated actors to come along in sometime. His performance in Session 9 is above the rest of the film. He helped kill that Brandon Teena fellow in Boys Don't Cry, and he hit on a mixed-level relationship with Heather Matarazzo's Weinerdog in Welcome to the Dollhouse. Brendan's presence is that of a "Walter Hoyt"-type schoolyard bully who'd punch you in the arm just for passing him in the hallway on his way to detention. He'd be the first kid to have you in a headlock, underwear up over your head, your ear bleeding from a pencil wound, for no real good reason at all.
Halfway through my conversation with him, I could feel Sexton becoming weary of my questions. I slowly grew more paranoid as the phone call went on. I thought he was going to reach into the wire, past the wall, and take the thing away from me. I have to say; it was fun...
(Judy Garland has me on hold with Somewhere Over the Rainbow and If Bluebirds Could Fly: An odd introduction to Mr. Sexton the 3rd. While I'm on the phone, the mailman brings my roommate a package. I can hear him ripping it open in the other room, where my recorder is set up. He starts coughing bloody mucus into his hand; remnants of last night's party. I pray that he'll shut up before Brendan gets on the phone. It's a good ten minute wait...)
O: Hi, is this Brendan?
Sexton: Yeah. Hi. Who's this?
O: This is B. Alan.
Sexton: Hey, B. Alan, how you doing?
O: Good, how are you?
Sexton: Not bad.
O: How's your day been going?
Sexton: Okay. We started a little late. But, you know...
O: That's all right. I know you've been doing press all morning. What question are you just sick of hearing right now?
Sexton: (He gives a weird 'Yee-ahhh!' laugh that makes me smile every time I hear it) There you go. That's a good one. Can I pass, then you can come back to me and ask if that's my final answer?
O: Yeah, 'cause you're going to see if I ask that one question you're just sick of, aren't you?
Sexton: Yeah. There you go.
O: You're next movie is Black Hawk Down, right?
Sexton: Yeah. Definitely.
O: Can you tell me about the character you play in that film?
Sexton: I play Private First-Class Richard 'Alphabet' Kowalewski. (Laughs) Keveveski. Kesiveski (Continues to laugh). No one can pronounce his name, so they call him Alphabet.
O: Alphabet? Cool. Is that going to be a pretty big film?
Sexton: Yeah. It's going to be huge. It's going to be a hundred million-dollar Ridley Scott blockbuster coming out next summer.
O: I didn't know that was a Ridley Scott film.
O: How different was that experience from working on a smaller movie like this one you just did, Session 9?
Sexton: You can easily get lost on a big film. Where, as on Session 9, we had maybe 30 crewmembers and a half-dozen actors. So, you can't get lost. It's much easier to get disoriented on a movie like Black Hawk Down.
O: So you were able to stay much more focused on Session 9?
Sexton: Yeah. Definitely.
O: Are you happy with the finished product?
Sexton: Yes. Don't you know it? Definitely. Absolutely. I thought it was cool. I was actually surprised because we shot it in twenty days, which is like asking to commit suicide. To try and shoot a film in that amount of time. You're asking too much. But, I thought that the other actors and the director put a lot into it. They were keeping it fresh.
O: I enjoyed getting to see the inside of the Hospital. I thought all that stuff was really great.
Sexton: Cool, dude.
O: Does doing a movie like Black Hawk Down give you more independence and freedom to do the smaller films?
Sexton: That's what I'm hoping. I hope the exposure gives me more freedom to pursue other things, rather than just small parts. It definitely gets people recognizing my name, so...
O: You're looking to widen your range from the smaller films, then?
Sexton: I'm doing a lot of things. I'd like to widen my education. I'd definitely like to widen my film range. I mean, I'd love to do some theater. If this gets me to do some theater, and gets me into that process, that would be great, too.
O: Are you going to start college pretty soon?
O: Where are you going to do that?
Sexton: Here at the University; at the public University.
O: So you're pretty much based in New York, then?
O: All your life?
Sexton: Yeah. I can't live without taking the train. It might even be a handicap.
O: Did you see Pearl Harbor?
O: Ewen Bremner was in Pearl Harbor. What did you think of that, seeing as how he comes from a small film background much like yourself?
Sexton: I think Ewen Bremner is incredible.
O: He is. I was just surprised to see him in that movie.
Sexton: He's like a mini-powerhouse. He's like a good stick of dynamite. He can surprise you. He's like one of those M-80s you don't think is going to blow up, but it's disguised as a stick of dynamite.
O: Did you see Julien Donkey-Boy?
Sexton: No, I didn't see him in that.
O: Oh, you haven't seen that one yet?
Sexton: Did you like that?
O: Oh, yeah, I love that movie.
O: Have you seen Gummo?
Sexton: Yeah, I liked it.
O: Harmony Korine's other movies...Are you a big fan of his?
Sexton: Yeah, definitely. He's definitely out there to piss people off.
O: Your co-star from Welcome to the Dollhouse, Heather Matarazzo, has a movie out this weekend. Any plans to see The Princess Diaries?
Sexton: Uh? No. Unfortunately, I thought aristocracy died two hundred years ago, man. Apparently it hasn't. So, I'm definitely doing my own ten-dollar boycott of the film.
O: Which leads into my favorite question. Do you think people should pay to get into your movie, and then sneak over to one of the bigger movies?
Sexton: Yeah. That would be good. I'd feel more justified in paying ten dollars. Movies are making hundreds of millions of dollars now, and it's because the audience is willing to pay for it. They're getting hurt for it. Luckily, I'm an actor. I can write it off on my taxes. But, you go on a date, forty dollars is what it cost to go to the movies. Back in the day, you used to get three films, some cartoons. You know? It was like that.
O: Do you sneak around to different movies when you're at the theater?
Sexton: Oh, Hell yeah. Hell yeah. You gotta do that.
Sexton: That's what the big cineplexes are good for. Like the big 25. You buy one film, then see six. It's good for that.
O: Did you see Planet of the Apes yet?
Sexton: No, I haven't.
O: When I was talking with Brad Anderson, the director, he seemed really displeased with the slasher flick genre. Are you a fan of slasher movies?
Sexton: Not really. I'm more into the films that box you in. This film lets you scare your own self. It doesn't show you anything; it lets you create your own worst-case scenarios. You have to figure out what happened.
O: If someone offered you the next big slasher flick, would you do it? Or would you turn it down?
Sexton: I don't know. It depends. It's all subjective: Payday, exposure, cool people to work with. It's all subjective.
O: Would you want to do it if it was one of the bigger horror directors like Wes Craven or John Carpenter?
Sexton: I don't know. It depends. It really depends on where my soul is at; what my soul feels.
O: Are you looking forward to Jason X and the return of Jason Vorhees?
Sexton: Oh. I didn't even know about that.
O: It's coming out fairly soon. Is that not your type of thing?
Sexton: I would have to see. Maybe it will be my kind of thing. Maybe it will surprise me.
O: Have you seen any of the Friday the 13ths?
Sexton: Nah. I've only seen the first two. But I went to the lake. I went to the camp where they shot that. In New Jersey.
O: Really? That's cool. What was that like?
Sexton: That little pond, lake, thing?
O: Were you shooting something?
Sexton: Nah, nah, nah. I just went to camp out there.
O: You can actually still go to camp out there?
O: A lot of people playing tricks, and stuff?
Sexton: Oh, yeah.
O: So, that was a fun time?
Sexton: Yeah. (Laughs)
O: Was being out at that camp scarier than any movie you've ever seen?
Sexton: Uh? I don't know. This one's pretty scary.
O: At the Caruso-Anderson table discussion, they were talking about how it's kind of hard to frighten an audience now days. Especially the younger kids. Have you ever been truly frightened by a film?
Sexton: I get more creeped out. That film Memento creeped me out. I was looking over my back through the whole thing. I get more creeped out than scared, and spill popcorn all over the place.
O: I checked out the Session 9 website the other day. The back-story on your character is that you're the lead singer in a Dokken cover-band.
Sexton: I'm the lead singer of what?
O: A Dokken cover-band. Do you know this?
Sexton: (Laughs) No, I didn't know that. I didn't know that's what my character was.
O: That's funny that you didn't know that. Do you know who wrote the text for that website?
Sexton: No. That's awesome, though.
O: Are you a big fan of Dokken?
Sexton: Honestly, I can't tell you. (Laughs) I don't know. I've never heard them.
O: I've never actually heard them either. I kind of know who they are, but I've never listened to their music. So, you're probably not a singer, either. Are you? I thought they got some of the basis for that from you.
Sexton: Oh, yeah, totally. From the music I listen to in the movie.
O: Just from the movie? Not from real life? Cool. In the press book they gave me, it talks about Session 9's nightly ritual of going to the bar. Who was the hardest drinker out of your group?
Sexton: Who was the hardest drinker? Peter Mullan. Peter Mullan can sit with six pints of Guinness, and everyone else will go upstairs. And he'll hold it down. He'll hold it down there. (Laughs)
O: Cool. Any crazy stories come out of those nights at the bar?
Sexton: Uh?(Laughs). Yeah, but I don't know if they're good press, though. I don't think it would be good for publicity.
O: Come on. Can we hear one of them?
Sexton: No, no, no. One of the good stories is that we were in the Boston area and two New York teams were in the World Series. I think that pissed everyone off. We were in the bar watching those games.
O: Which movie of yours do you think people haven't seen that you would like them to see?
Sexton: Probably Boys Don't Cry. I'd like to support that.
O: Were you surprised by the success of that movie, or did you know it was going to be as successful as it was?
Sexton: I didn't know it was going to be that successful, but I definitely knew that it would have an impact. I've had young Latino women from the South Bronx come up to me and say they loved that film. And they said they were scared of me.
O: (I laugh) Yeah. You are a bit imposing on film.
Sexton: Thank you.
O: Yes. A little scary talking to you, but it's okay now.
O: That's another thing, though. I was a little intimidated by David Caruso before I met him, just from the stories I had heard. He turned out to be a really nice guy. Were you intimidated by him before working with him, at all?
Sexton: Yeah. Definitely. You don't know what to expect. I was definitely intimidated by him. I was afraid he was going to piss on us, and step on everybody. But he was pretty cool. I've definitely met nightmare Hollywood types who think they're getting twenty million dollars a picture when they're not. But they act like it. And they just insult everybody.
O: No names, huh?
Sexton: Yeah, definitely.
O: I totally understand that. When I was watching the movie, I was watching these guys work, and they seem to be going so slow. Do you think they would have gotten the job done in one week had things not gotten all screwy?
Sexton: I don't think so. I don't know. That's grueling work. It's really hard, and it drives people down. It makes people lose a few screws along the way. It's dangerous work, too.
O: Was there actually asbestos in there when you guys were filming?
Sexton: Yeah, there was. But if you wet it down, it's pretty okay.
O: You guys were pretty safe doing that?
O: Can we go back to the first question?
Sexton: The worst question I hate getting is, "What's your favorite role?" Or, "What's your dream role? What role would you love to play?" That's the question I hate the most.
O: Well, I won't ask you that, or expect you to answer it.
Sexton: Yeah, yeah...I hate that one.
O: That's about all I have for you right now.
Sexton: Okay. Cool.
O: Is that good?
Sexton: Yeah, man. That is good.
O: Well, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me today. I really enjoy you as an actor.
Sexton: Thanks, man. What are you? Movieweb?
O: Yeah. Movieweb. That's what we do.
Sexton: All right. I'll look you up.
O: Yeah. Check it out.
Sexton: Have a good day.
O: Thank you. Bye.
(And that ends our broadcast day. I hung up the phone only to get a lecture from my roommate about leaving the front door open a crack. That f*ck gags on red-yellow throat custard the whole time I'm having my interview, and he jumps on me for some piddly sh*t? I told him to shut up and go back to bed, then I told him he could have it worse. He could be an asbestos removal blue-collar hack. The anger brings half a forty my way, a bruise on the forehead. I tell you. I have got to move out of Long Beach. Asbestos removal isn't sounding so bad. Hopefully I can do it without my facemask and die before the end of the week. Maybe I can find a boss on the verge of becoming unhinged. Considering my social popularity, I don't think it would take much urging to find an ice pick in my eye. My moustache is driving one of my co-workers over the edge as we speak.
Go see Session 9. Or don't. I don't care. For more on asbestos removal, click: http://www.nasar-asbestos.com/