As Denzel Washington puts it: (on making movies)
“It’s simple: You get a part. You play a part. You play it well. You do your work and you go home. And what is wonderful about movies is that once they’re done, they belong to the people. Once you make it, it’s what they see. That’s where my head is at.”
Acting in front of a camera takes talent. It takes confidence, maturity, and imagination.
Q: Are you a Houstonian born and raised?
A: Actually no. I was born in Wharton, Texas and raised in Victoria. Victoria is about two hours south of here, but being so close in proximity to Houston I grew up a Houston sports fan. My family and I would come shopping here, and it really feels like I am a native Houstonian.
Q: What did you want to be growing up?
A: Believe it or not man I was really big into sports when I was younger. I was just kind of a class clown, I never really wanted to do entertainment until I got into college. I did some theatre in elementary, but it was the little things that most people do at that age. When I got to high school it was strictly sports, I even got offered some scholarships to play football and baseball, but I passed those up to do entertainment. I thought it was really fascinating, I wanted to be a story teller and entertain people. I went to college, majored in Media Production at the University of Houston, and here I am making movies!
Q: How was your experience at U of H? I am a U of H graduate as well, are you excited about how the university is growing?
A: I’m extremely happy about U of H and the program. It’s exciting seeing us get on the map, especially with our football program when coach Sumlin was here, and Case Keenum…. I guess that even started before with coach Briles and Kevin Kolb. We’re going to the Big East I am happy about that, a new football stadium as well, it’s just a bunch of great things, it’s going to be huge for the community of Houston.
Q: After your first movie related job how did you feel? Were you comfortable with the process, did you feel like this could be a good career path for you?
A: Actually believe it or not my first movie experience I had planned to be just an extra on set, and as I was sitting and waiting I was getting nervous, so many people and so many lights all around, I was like man I am so nervous! The director was walking around cursing a lot, which was extremely intimidating, but next thing I know he walks up to me, pulls me to the side, pulls out a script and is like “can you do these two lines?” and I was like yeah sure. So my first experience on a set I got bumped up to a speaking role, so I expected every experience to be like that…..and of course it wasn’t like that! It’s a lot of hard work, you have to keep grinding, that’s what I am doing and hopefully one day I will be at the top.
A: I gotta go with Denzel Washington, he’s amazing. Some people say he “Denzel-ifies” his role but he’s such a strong and powerful actor so he can do that. I really tend to study method actors, for example Christian Bale’s role in “The Fighter,” was just amazing. He lost all that weight; I like actors who do that because it helps you get into the character. I saw an interview with Sally Field once and she said that every character she’s ever played she’s taken a piece of that character with her. Robert DeNiro in “Taxi” was great, when he really became a taxi driver and drove people around… that’s what it’s about.
Q: Speaking of method actors, my next question revolves around a method director. You have an upcoming role in the highly anticipated “Django Unchained” directed by Quentin Tarantino. Tell us what it was like working with him.
A: Quentin Tarantino is a character, he’s definitely the most out there director that I have ever worked with in my life. When he’s directing he can spend literally all day setting up one scene, and then while were shooting it “CUT CUT CUT!” he changes it. It’s so brilliant how he puts things together, he’s just a genius. You can just see the wheels turning in his head when he’s directing, and I am so blessed to work with Tarantino. My role in “Django Unchained” is a slave mule wrangler. They flew in the same horse trainers who were the trainers on “True Grit.” I worked with a mule for two and a half weeks, so if you ever need a mule trainer I swear I can do that. I had to use an old school plow, it was nuts getting into the slave character. We were filming on a plantation where our ancestors actually got beaten, you could see the authenticity. It was something I will never forget for the rest of my life, I think the film will be really successful when it comes out Christmas day.
Q: What are some movies that we can look forward to that you’re starring in?
A: After I got “Django Unchained” I have been getting a lot of calls, I am high in demand (no I’m just kidding) but my next film is called “Cold Justice” a true story about a guy who gets locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. I play his best friend, and I am a musical prodigy in the film, we will start filming next year. Another movie I am working on is “The Prodigal.” That’s going to have some legit A-list talent, they haven’t announced those yet but the names I have heard blew my mind. We start filming that in January, look out for that one!
A: I always wanted to portray Jimi Hendrix in a movie. I want to do a true story of an icon, and study them. If not that then a role like Christian Bale had in “The Fighter” where I would have to lose a significant amount of weight and really get into character.
Q: How long have you followed the Houston Rockets? I am a huge fan as well, who is your favorite all time Rocket?
A: Just like you, I am a huge Rockets fan. My dad is a huge fan as well; ever since I was little I remember sporting the mustard and ketchup jerseys. Social media helps me keep up with them; I even gave in and got the CSN-Houston channel so I can keep up with the team. My favorite all time Rockets player is the “Dream.” My dad is a huge Hakeem Olajuwon fan. I remember when I was little we had a code to get into stuff, and it was always Olajuwon’s number 34. Right now my favorite player is Kobe Bryant, his mentality to win is something I respect. I’m also huge on the Texans, they are 10-1, and I hope they can bring some hardware back to Houston, that would be huge for our community and the Houston film community.
Q: What do you think about the landscape for film in Houston? Is it a viable city to film in?
A: I really do think Houston is a great spot to shoot films. They have so many big venues, a couple years ago they were talking about making the “Astrodome” into a movie studio, but that idea is gone. It’s a huge city; Houston is a friendly place to shoot scenes. We have a beautiful campus at U of H, we have parks, I think one day it will happen. Houston is close to my family, and it’s my home.
Q: What advice do you have for anyone interested in entering the film industry?
A: I think the number one thing is you have to have tough skin. A lot of people are going to criticize you, always remember keep your eye on the prize. This industry is really tough, you have to be confident. Having a coach or mentor can help your career a lot. You just gotta keep fighting, and keep clawing.
Kasey James continues to fight and claw his way to the top. You can follow his film career on his IMDB page Kasey James and follow him on Twitter @iamKCtheGreat