Sam Trammell discusses his role in the indie drama Crazy Kind of Love, currently playing in theaters and available on VOD formats
True Blood fans who also enjoy a heartfelt indie drama will no doubt enjoy seeing Sam Trammell among the talented ensemble cast in Crazy Kind of Love, which you can find in theaters and on VOD formats right now. Virginia Madsen stars as a recently-single mother with two sons (Graham Rogers and Zach Gilford) who begins to re-examine her life, while following her son's budding relationship with a young neighbor (Amanda Crew). Sam Trammell plays Jeff, a small-time drug dealer who helps the family come to terms with their issues and help them heal. I recently had the chance to speak with Sam Trammell over the phone. Here's what he had to say.
I'm always curious about the process actors go through, when you're going through scripts and choosing what project to take on next. What was it in particular about Crazy Kind of Love that drew you to it?
Sam Trammell: First of all, I had the time to do something, I was on my break. The script came down the line, and, for me, it was a really beautiful story. I really liked the character. It was this really eccentric kind of character who is not who you think he is. The character, more than anything, draws me to the scripts. This guy is this pot dealer, but he ends up actually helping this kid out, after his father leaves him, and being some of the glue that helps mend the family. For me, it's all character, really, and, the icing on the cake was the story itself was really appealing to me, as well.
In playing a drug dealer like this, is it tricky to find a balance between who this guy really is and what he does for a living, since he isn't exactly a pillar of society?
Sam Trammell: Well, yeah, a little bit. I mean, he's not like a hardcore drug dealer, he just deals pot. You have to really develop a back story for him. With characters who aren't in every scene, and even characters who are, you have to fill in the blanks. I didn't really see him as just a drug dealer who I had to make into a decent person. I had already thought about where he lived, what he was looking for in his life, where he was in his life, you know? It really wasn't tricky, putting opposites together. It was more of building a story for him, and that it's just very clear. The fact is he deals pot, but he's also a proponent of being responsible. He doesn't want the kid to use family money to buy pot, because he knows the dad just left, so he gives him a job, basically. For me, it's really about coming up with a full back story and filling in the gaps, and then knowing where your character is in his life, and what he wants. Then you know his perspective, and gain a character perspective. Once you have the character perspective, then you start to think like the character, and everything is very rational. You have to make sure your decisions are rational to the character, if that makes any sense. I know it's actor mumbo-jumbo here (Laughs).
There's quite an awesome cast that you get to work with here. There's Virginia (Madsen) and Anthony LaPaglia, along with these younger actors like Graham (Rogers), Amanda (Crew), and Zach (Gilford). Were all of these actors on board when you signed on, and can you talk about getting to be a part of this ensemble?
Sam Trammell: Yeah, I had actually worked with Anthony LaPaglia on Broadway. I had understudied years and years ago, and he's an amazing actor. I've always been a fan of his. Virginia Madsen, she's incredible. I've been a fan of hers forever, and I'll tell you something. These young people in the cast, Graham Rogers, Zach Gilford, and Amanda Crew, they're amazing, but Amanda in particular was outstanding in this movie. In a lot of ways, she's the life of the movie and makes it all happen. She's the catalyst for this family. She kind of comes into the family's life kind of like a hurricane and kicks everybody in the butt. She's so charming and great. Zach Gilford has a great part in this too.
This is (director) Sarah Siegel-Magness' feature debut, after producing a few other films. Is there anything you can say about her style, and how that worked for a story like this?
Sam Trammell: Yeah, it was her directing debut. I think she was a producer on Precious and some other films. She's really a performance director. She's very much an actor's director. She had a great DP who thought a lot about lighting and camera and stuff, but she was really focused on the performances of the actors. She was collaborative. It was almost like she had done acting coaching in her life. As an actor, sometimes you don't expect much from a director, because, not all director's are going to be watching you really closely. It's just the way it is. Some are more technical, and some are more performance-oriented. I really liked working with her, because she really got in there and watched how you did takes in different ways, and was always watching the performance very closely.
Was improvising encouraged on the set, or were there takes done a certain way that I guess you weren't expecting?
Sam Trammell: There wasn't a whole lot of improvising. We stuck to the script pretty closely, but she was always a fan of trying things different ways. She's have an image in her head of how she saw the scene, but actor's bring their own personalities to parts, and she was very much willing to go with that. She had an open mind, and would encourage us to try different things. It was a lot of fun.
Sam Trammell: My story line is amazing. I can't really say a whole lot, as you know, but there are a lot of big surprises that happen this year. I personally am really excited about the vampire story line this year, because you really get to learn about more of what they're capable of, and more specifics about vampires. I think this season is our best season in the last few. I think it's better than last season, and better than the year before. At least as far as reading the scripts, I've felt that. Watching the first few episodes, I'm even more convinced. I'm just really into this year. I think it's one of the best year's we've done. As I said, I can't say much specifically, about teasing stuff, but there are really going to be some big surprises this year. There are always surprises, but this year, there are some major things happening, with my character as well. I know that's vague, I'm sorry.
Has there been any talk as far as an endgame? For a cable show, they usually go seven or eight seasons. Has there been talk about Season 7 maybe being the end?
Sam Trammell: There's been no specifics. Every year, HBO has never told us, definitely, that we have another season, until a few episodes in, and then they make the big announcement. We don't know anything. My guess is the show is still a pretty strong show. It's not going to go forever, definitely, but I think it still has some life in it.
Is there anything else that you have coming up that you can talk about, as far as films go?
Sam Trammell: Yeah, I have a movie that I did last year called White Rabbit that I'm really excited about. They're just finishing the editing on it. It's a drama about this family in the South, and I play this guy who is a meth addict and an alcoholic who is recovering and becoming a born-again Christian. It's sort of the effects of this family on my son, who is committing some violence at school, and it's really fascinating and extremely well-made and very moving. I hope people get to see it. It's one of the best characters I've gotten to do in a movie, in a few years. It's really a great character.
What would you like to say to your fans or anyone curious about the film, about why they should see Crazy Kind of Love in theaters?
Sam Trammell: It's a beautiful movie, and it has some incredible performances. Graham Rogers, Virginia Madsen, Amanda Crew, and Zach Gilford are all just amazing. It's really a feel-good, beautiful movie to see, and I think it will appeal to a lot of different people. For people who who me from True Blood, it's a totally different character than Sam Merlotte, so I think those True Blood fans will dig it, to see a different side of me.
That's all I have. Thanks so much, Sam. It was great talking to you.
Sam Trammell: Yeah, great talking to you too. Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.