Matt O’Leary and Jacob Wysocki star in SXSW Festival favorite, Fat Kid Rules the World.
The actors had different films at last years festival, with Jacob starring in Terri while Matt was in the Grand Jury winning Natural Selection. Having seen both films and really liking their work in each one, I was really looking forward to watching Fat Kid.
The film is actor Matthew Lillard‘s directorial debut and it’s a charming film that I liked a lot. It that will absolutely make you look forward to his next project.
In the film, Jacob plays Troy Billings, a suicidal, overweight 17 year-old. Right as he’s about to hurl himself in from of an on-coming bus, Marcus, a street musician, (O’Leary) dives in to save him. The two become quick friends when Marcus asks Troy to become the drummer his punk rock band. It doesn’t matter that Troy can’t play the drums because that one act of kindness is all Troy needs.
I talked to Jacob and Matt at this years SXSW Festival about acting, working with Matthew and how the two lived together during the shoot.
Oh, and if you listen to the audio podcast, you’ll hear the other star of the film, Billy Campbell and his thoughts on Twitter and Facebook. Check it out if you have the time!
Matt O’Leary: One of the biggest things that I’ve learned, especially with the film Natural Selection which was here last year and just kind of inspired me with the whole indie thing, being able to pull off what I think is cool and what I find inspiring… and I finally was accepted for once. So, I really wanted to really incorporate that in the next film I got, which happen to be Fat Kid.
And, I had this thing where like it was all about building chemistry and I needed to learn who the hell Jacob was. So, when we first met, it was all about like asking questions, like, “What drew you to this?” Obviously, Jacob is big. I’m this skinny guy that can never gain weight that’s why I was hired and we have these polar opposite things and then personally, we’re not much like these characters, obviously, they are different. So, it’s like you want to talk about that.
So we wanted to say what is the actual relation? What little pieces from our life do we kind of skip over but we cherish personally and how can we use those things and aspects of our lives in this? And eventually, I think two weeks into shooting, Jacob and I moved in together then after that it was smooth sailing.
So every night, we ran our scenes. It was like, we don’t need other people. We ran our scenes, we talked about what we wanted to accomplish, we got to be crazy and weird and fail in front of each other. That was the biggest thing, not to be afraid to fail and go out. That’s when you can do those special things and you can really be in it.
I mean, I didn’t have to do much work really. I just had to be wild for about a month and a half and then say whatever the hell they wrote down for me, you know? That’s really what it was. I’m just trying to be as honest and true to the character as opposed to worrying about whatever technical arc there is or blah blah. I mean that’s what Matt [Lillard] is for and he was a great director in that sense in telling us and where we’re going, where we were just at and how to get to the particular energy.
I mean that’s something you can’t describe very well. It’s like, “Well, I want this kind of energy right now.” He was at great in articulating it.
With Matthew also being an actor, how did that help you with your performances?
Jacob Wysocki: Well, I think it’s like he knows how to do it because he has done it so he has these particular ways of, I guess, pulling the strings to get you to do certain things. He knows the tricks because I think the tricks have worked on him before through his experiences. So he was kind of playing all of his little like, “This has happened to me so maybe it will work for them” kind of moments?
Matt O’Leary: I mean when I look at it, it’s like you look at acting, it’s such a weird…
Jacob Wysocki: It’s a weird thing.
Matt O’Leary: It’s such a weird, weird thing and every time you try to acclimate yourself it’s like, “Okay, this is what acting is.” You look at it from an audience perspective. I love film. I’m an audience member and so it’s like, that’s what you usually apply. You want to be truthful, you want to be honest and all these things, but Matt would actually bring up a great point to us. When we were getting tired or when we were trying things and things weren’t working, he would come up to us and say, you know, “You’re not going to be able to do this tomorrow. We’re shooting right now in this scene. There’s no coming back to this. It’s like tomorrow is a new part of the movie and we’re never going to be able to fix this right now, just know that.” And I just remember him telling me that it’s like…
There’s no pressure with that.
Jacob Wysocki: Well, it’s fearful inspiration is what it is. You’re like, “Well yeah, he’s right. I don’t have tomorrow so I better pull this off or I’m going to let everybody down.” So you pull up your big boy boots and go.
Matt O’Leary: What I mean by that is like you got the feeling like you go back, but there are scenes where you look at it and you’re like, “Ugh, I can do that again. I wish I could do that again with what I have learned up until this point from that moment.” And that was kind of the inspiration. It’s like “Don’t do that.” Matt was like, “Don’t do that. Just do it now. Get it done right now.” Put on your big boy boots.