Read our exclusive interview with Simon Rex, who portrays up-and-coming actor Kane Connor in the new drama-thriller ‘The Truth About Angels.’ The film, which is now available on Blu-ray and DVD, follows Kane’s high school friend Pablo, played by Antonio del Prete, who feels trapped in his turbulent marriage. As a struggling artist looking for his big break, Pablo goes to a Hollywood party with Kane, only to have his dreams slip away after being tempted by a mysterious party girl, Kristi, played by Dree Hemingway. Rex discusses with us, among other things, why he was attracted to the role of Kane, and what it was like working with first time feature director Lichelli Lazar-Lea.
ShockYa (SY): ‘The Truth About Angels’ focuses on Pablo discovering the dark side of the world he once coveted, and in turn learning to appreciate his life at home. Do you feel that many people crave the Hollywood and celebrity lifestyle, and don’t realize how good their lives are at home?
Simon Rex (SR): Yes, I think that’s true. I think everybody around the world is enamored with Hollywood. Everybody, at one point in their life, at least most people, want to be in the movies, or be famous for whatever reason. So there’s an allure to it. So I think the movie is good at showing the dark side of Hollywood, which no body really sees. You just see the final product in the movies, or with all these celebrities going shopping, with the paparazzi.
But what you don’t see is what this movie shows, which is there is a very dark side to Hollywood. It’s the only place in the world where people come here, and their chances of making it are so small, so there are so many crushed dreams. There are so many people who have to do other things. Like you see all these beautiful girls in L.A., and they’re all trying to make it, and there’s so much competition. But the reality is that 99.9 percent of the people aren’t going to make it. Then there’s all the drugs and there’s a lot of affairs and temptations, and it’s like Sin City. That’s what the movie shows, the dark side that exists. It feels like a cool party, but sometimes it’s a dark party.
SY: You play Pablo’s high school friend Kane, who recently garnered fame as a up-and-coming Hollywood actor. What attracted you to the role?
SR: It actually wasn’t really too much (of a stretch) because in real life, I do acting. I play an actor, and I made him a little more arrogant and a little more full of himself, and a little more selfish, I guess you can say. When the situation comes up at the end of the movie, I kind of run away, instead of being a man.
I mean, a lot of these actors, if you think about it, if you go back to the Roman era, actors were not considered to be a glamorous thing. (Actors were) like clowns, or jugglers. It wasn’t like they were held on a high plateau-actors were kind of looked down on. Nowadays, Hollywood actors are treated like royalty. It’s funny, because they’re just humans, we’re just humans, and they’re treated so differently.
Sometimes people get caught up in what people see them as. There’s a weird psychology behind fame. Sometimes you see actors play these roles, and in real life, they take on these roles, and act like it in real life. Like Tupac Shukar, he played in that movie ‘Juice,’ he played a tough gangster (Bishop), and then in real life, he kind of adapted that character, and became that guy. It’s a weird thing. For me, all I did was play myself, but more exaggerated for the Hollywood fame.
SY: ‘The Truth About Angels’ marks the feature film directorial debut of award winning short filmmaker and screenwriter, Lichelli Lazar-Lea. What was it like working with her on the set?
SR: She was great, she was really sweet. She’s a really nice woman. She communicated good with the actors. I just liked her as a person. If you don’t like a director you’re working with, then it will affect the performance, the mood on set. She’s a very sweet person, and we got along fine. It was a good group of people on this movie. A lot of times on independent movies that have a low budget, you’ll have the person who wrote it direct it. So they’ll have the same vision, and it’s a lot easier as a process.
SY: Since Lichelli also wrote the movie, did that help with her vision as a director?
SR: Yeah, absolutely, I always say that, if the writer directs it. A lot of times I’ve seen movies where the writers are on set, and their vision isn’t the same as what the director wants to shoot. It causes tension on set, and it cause drama. If the person who wrote it is directing it, it’s quite simple to execute that. It’s always easier when the writer directs it, I think.
SY: Lichelli’s husband, Antonio del Prete, plays Pablo in the movie. What was your working relationship like with him?
SR: I think is he a really good actor. We became really good friends through the movie. You’re on set all day, hanging out. He’s just a really good person, which is rare in Hollywood. Most actors aren’t necessarily the nicest people, there’s a lot of attitude and ego. He couldn’t have been more of a sweet guy. I have nothing but good things to say about both of them.
SY: Dree Hemingway plays Kristi, who causes Pablo to face both temptation and his conscience at the party. Do you feel Kristi represents the temptation many people feel in their lives?
SR: Yes, absolutely, that’s everywhere. There are so many beautiful girls in L.A. everywhere, and temptations. As shallow as it is, it’s not just about someone’s beauty (elsewhere). But here in L.A., it really is. It’s kind of messed up, because around the corner, there’s just so many beautiful girls everywhere. Like the movie shows, it’s never ending. You can drive yourself crazy out here, because around the corner, there’s a beautiful girl everywhere, and it’s not reality almost. I think it was a perfect representation of the (Hollywood) allure.
SY: What was Dree’s work ethic like on the set? Given that she’s Ernest Hemingway’s great-granddaughter, was she able to distinguish her work in her own right?
SR: Yeah, she was a total professional. You know, this was a low-budget movie, and no one was making money off of it. So everyone was doing it for the artist (aspect). A lot of times on movies, people are just doing them to get their money and to then go home. On this movie, we worked a lot of long hours, and no one was making a lot of money. So everyone was putting their heart in the right place.
I think for a model who hadn’t had a lot of acting experience, she did a very good job. I mean, she’s so beautiful, you just have to point the camera at her, and she doesn’t have to do much. She definitely has that star quality. She looks like a movie star from another era, almost.
SY: Lichelli has said she finds it interesting that viewers are affected by ‘The Truth About Angels’ based on the point they are in their lives, rather than their elasticities or economic backgrounds. Do you agree with that observation?
SR: Yeah, that makes sense to me. I’m not sure if that’s what she was going for, I can’t speak for her. But for me, it definitely connected to a lot of truth. In Hollywood, as an actor, you have a lot of ups and downs, peaks and valleys. Sometimes you’re doing good, and sometimes you’re not. My character in the movie is doing really good, and is a really successful actor. I can relate to that, but then there’s also times when you’re not doing so good. It was cool to play a successful actor who’s doing really well, because I can connect with that. There were times in my life where I was on top of the world, and there are times where you’re not. So that was pretty cool.
Written by: Karen Benardello