Richard Speight Jr. Interview – Liana’s Afternoon with “The Trickster”

My afternoon with the Trickster

I admit that I am a bit technologically out-of-touch. Not because I’m not computer savvy, I’m just not time-management savvy to keep up with it all. It took a long time to sign up to MySpace, which I barely check; signing up to Twitter is at the top of my to-do list this week; and I have yet to sign up for FaceBook, although I have a feeling this item should move to the top of that list as well; especially since it appears that MySpace is just so passé now!I’m happy to report that I have friends who humor my lack of ‘techno-connection’ and kindly forward to me news and must-know gossip… straight to my email inbox, which I DO manage to check like an addict getting a fix, or in my case a caffeine fix. That is how I found out that Richard Speight, Jr. would be in San Francisco on Sat. June 13 for the tenth anniversary showing of his film “North Beach”. Since this was practically in my backyard, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hang out with Richard in a more relaxed and informal setting than any Convention could possibly offer. And conveniently enough, it was the same weekend as the North Beach Festival, making this a two-for-one deal too good to pass up. The drive was quick and the weather absolutely perfect!THE CITY
The title of the film is also the name given to a particular section of San Francisco (‘The City’) located, obviously enough, to the north. If one were to follow The Embarcadero lined with all the Piers to the end, they would find themselves in North Beach. It is an older section of the City that features a cramped home layout and hilly neighborhoods, some with an incline grade so deep that the sidewalks are fashioned into stairs. The infamous Lombard (“crookedest street in the world”) is there. And the infamous difficulties in dealing with parking in the City also have a cameo in the film.

The film was showing at The Roxie, a theater well-known for its diverse choice of programming. Founded in 1909, Roxie is the oldest continually operating cinema in the City and has just under 250 seats total. Its historic marquee has been renovated, and it is soon slated to get some additional upgrades in seats and sound as well. Too bad it can’t get a better neighborhood. In contrast to the pleasant area of North Beach, which was the setting of the film, Roxie is located in what is probably now one of the most unpleasant areas of San Francisco. The type of area you would probably want an armed escort in attendance in order to walk through at night.

But aside from being one of the oldest theaters in the City, Roxie has a long-standing reputation as one of the most provocative and risk-taking theaters in the nation. This fact was further highlighted by the set of trailers previewed, which focused highly on Japanese art porn. Yup, porn. I thought it was cute though… gotta love the moaning in a Japanese accent!

THE FILM
The film “North Beach” follows a day in the life of musician Tyler after he stumbles out of the wrong bed, that of a 19-year old stripper from New Orleans. It appears that secrets and indiscretions travel fast around the neighborhood and soon everyone is aware of Tyler’s faux pas, including his girlfriend Paige. Feeling more guilt than humanly possible, he spends most of the day trying to find time to “talk” to Paige to explain his cheating ways, while she spends the day trying to avoid him, probably more out of disappointment than anger. The film takes us through the day in various situations that come up as the chain-smoking, coffee-drinking Tyler is still trying to talk to Paige. The fact that the neighborhood knows all the gossip doesn’t help, and neither does the collection of a colorful and bizarre support group of friends who seem to get in the way of that “talk” at every turn.

At first glance, it seemed unlikely that this film would manage to keep interest in this story going for about 90 minutes without just dragging along. Tyler is basically attempting to win back Paige and to deal with anything else that comes up in his slacker life as the day progresses. You want to hate Tyler for being a cheat, but instead are strangely drawn in to his understated quiet, guilt, and mesmerizing piercing blue eyes. You want Paige to forgive him and take him back because in the end, this is a romantic comedy at heart. The cast works together like a well-oiled machine, the characters are uniquely multidimensionsal, and the dialogue often clever. It is put together well and acted well, making me wonder why Peterson didn’t pursue more acting in the years to follow considering he certainly had the looks and talent for it. Although if Supernatural ever needs a meatsuit for Lucifer in season 5, I can certainly picture Casey in the role; it just doesn’t seem like Casey would be the type to pursue such a star-making opportunity though. In addition to co-directing, Richard Speight, Jr. does an excellent job with the wildly funny and energetic character of Pete, the drugged out friend who considers himself a rock star. The role gives Richard a chance to put some of his musical talent to use, and offers pleasant moments of comedy.

“North Beach” is a well-done and fun little film worth adding to your Netflix queue or even ordering from Amazon. It is what independent films are all about; not Oscar-worthy, but lots of heart. To see the trailer on YouTube. The film is Directed by: Jed Mortenson and Richard Speight Jr. Produced by: Jed Mortenson and Casey Peterson. Written by: Casey Peterson. Starring: Casey Peterson (Tyler), Jennifer Milmore (Paige), Richard Speight Jr. (Pete), Jim Hanna (Robbie), Barrow Davis (Veronica), Hopwood DePree (Ted) and featuring a cameo by Gabrielle Anwar, currently starring in Burn Notice.

PLAYING WITH TRICKSTER

This tenth anniversary screening in the City helped raise money for charity in honor of Rob Mulloy, one of the producers of the film and close friend of Richard’s who died of stomach cancer a few years ago. Following the screening, everyone was invited to a small bar down the street to chat and hang out. It seemed like everyone wanted to buy Richard a beer, and if he had taken up all those offers, he would’ve quickly passed out drunk! We were further invited to another bar later in the evening, but I missed out on that since I was meeting up with a friend for the North Beach Festival and dinner. Although Richard had offered to sign autographs and allow the stroking of his beard to those who attended, I only took him up on his offer for autographs. As tempting as it was, I didn’t want to molest the beard, although if I didn’t know any better I would think he was trying out for a part in a Grizzly Adams remake. I almost didn’t recognize him when he first walked into the theater! You can see what I’m referring to in this picture of Richard, Casey and me. The loud bar atmosphere was not exactly conducive to attempting any type of “interview,” but we managed to have a brief, nice conversation. I hope that Richard didn’t get too offended when I pointed out “You’re not that tall!” Not that he is short, by any means, as he is of standard height. But when we think of how tall Jensen and Jared are, and how Richard appeared on film along with them, I just had the impression that he was much taller!

North Beach was the result of friends getting together to create a film; friends who had been attending USC studying Theater at the time. It was filmed in the City, except for the pool party, which was filmed in the quaint South Bay town of Los Gatos at the home of director Jed’s parents. And in an interesting piece of trivia, Richard met his wife Jaci while working on the film. She plays the 19-year old stripper Michelle and looked quite fine at the pool party in her skimpy black bikini!

I presented Richard with a couple of photo printouts to sign. The first was a studio shot with my poor graphics attempt to connect it to Supernatural. The second is a photo taken at the recent L.A. Con by Gaby from Austria that I added a logo to and printed out. I explained that these would be used as incentive prizes for the fundraising campaign organized by SupportSupernatural on behalf of It’s A Dog’s Life. There were a few Jericho fans there as well that brought along DVDs and other memorabilia for Richard to sign. Had there not been the noisy bar and people milling in and out constantly saying hello, I would’ve asked a whole bunch of questions having to do with this movie and how it came to be; various aspects of his career and family; comparing acting, writing, directing & music; his thoughts & experiences on the various fandoms; upcoming projects; and of course, a couple of fun questions about The Boys. I also wanted to ask Casey about writing this screenplay, his motivations and inspirations. But again, the sidewalk outside a bar is not exactly the best place for in-depth conversation!

And if you needed any further proof as to what a kind-hearted person Richard is, then look no further than his next act. Taped to the outside windows of The Roxie were two mini-posters of the movie. Richard went back down the street, brought the posters back, and handed one to the group of Jericho fans and one to me as a Supernatural fan! And if that weren’t enough, he autographed the poster and called Casey to come over to autograph it as well!

All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend the day in San Francisco. But there was one burning question that I wanted to grill him on… Richard has stated that he made a New Year’s resolution to catch up with all the episodes of Supernatural on DVD, and I really wanted to know how his progress on that resolution is going! Oh well, maybe next time

~ LIANA ~ (aka “Mousitsa”)