I just saw the movie "Thumbsucker" last night and I thought this new actor's acting was AMAZING. I want to see it again. It's like you can see everything he feels flitting across his face even though when he doesn't say anything, and it's fascinating to watch. Very, very sensitive.
Here's an interview he did.
Thumbsucker - Interview with Lou Pucci | SPIKE
And one in writing:
: I was wondering, since your dad was a working musician and your mother was a former beauty queen, did you ever feel that being in entertainment was inevitable?
Pucci: Uh…. That’s a strange question, but, I don’t know. I don’t know if it was inevitable or it was just what was going to happen. It’s just a little different because I feel like I always knew I was going to be in entertainment, but no one was really making me be there. For some sick, demented, sixth-sense-type reason, it was always…… that I would. Like my parents kinda named me Lou Taylor Pucci because they thought it was a good stage name. So I guess inevitable or whatever, I always knew I was going to do it.
: Personal Velocity, was that your first film role?
Pucci: Yeah, that was the first thing I did on film.
: How did you get cast in that?
Pucci: It was just a regular audition. I went to an audition in New York, a regular casting call, and I wasn’t even going to go. My Dad said I should. ‘Since I've never done anything like that, it was kind of ridiculous. Not only was it film, not only was it a movie, but it was also a part that I had never even thought about playing before. I had just come off the stage in The Sound Of Music, like singing and dancing and running around with a happy face, and then I did Personal Velocity where I played this screwed up, tortured, messed up, not-even-talking kid who was demented in many different ways and so I didn’t think it would work. But I went to the audition and it was really, ridiculously… natural for some reason, and I finally got the hang of it. It was at that audition where I felt comfortable on camera for the first time. And I had been to a lot of auditions where I had been on camera but none of them ever were right. There was always something that I didn’t get. I had done theater for a long time, but theater acting and film acting are two completely different things, and it took me a long time to figure out how to do anything on camera.
: Did you tap into something in yourself for your character in Personal Velocity or did you draw on somebody you knew?
Pucci: No, it was definitely just… me. It wasn’t like it was somebody I knew, like I was able to mimic something. The truth is, I was nervous as hell, probably the most nervous I’ve been… ever. At auditions, I’m the most nervous, and you have to find a way to take that energy that you have… that really nervous, screwed up energy that you can’t even think with, and use it to your advantage during the audition. And so, since that character was so completely messed up and nervous and shaking all the time, all I did was just upped it, you know, I just went, “OK, well that’s exactly what I’m gonna be. I’m gonna be that kid and this is why I’m nervous instead.” So I just kinda used it to my advantage, I used exactly what was going on in my own mind and just kinda switched it around on myself. So it came out really naturally, really easy.
: How many times did you have to audition for the role?
: Not bad.
Pucci: Yeah, I went to the first audition, which was just a regular audition and the casting lady really thought it was awesome, so I was like, “OK, (laughs) I got a callback, that’s weird.” And then I met the director, who was very awesome, Rebecca Miller. It was the same audition but she was just staring at me the entire time. It was really… very… uh, it was again, extremely nerve wracking, but I just did the same thing and it worked out.
: How was your experience during the making of Personal Velocity?
Pucci: It was awesome. I got to meet, and act with, Fairuza Balk and she was great to work with because she indirectly taught me a whole bunch of shit that I did not know. That I did not have to completely be the character at all times, you know, joke around on set and be yourself and then when the camera is rolling you are just that person… you can do that. Just how to be on set, how to be an actor. She didn’t mean to do it, I don’t think, she just did. I just watched (laughs).
: That was probably a better way to approach it, rather than having somebody just lecture you about things.
Pucci: Absolutely. I have always, always, always been really into experiencing things and not teaching somebody, because I can’t be taught. I tried to go to acting lessons and stuff like that and it doesn’t work for me. Some people can, some people are awesome with it… but I mean I could never go to college for acting or something like that. I would hate it. I would completely be uninterested and I’d never act again. That’s how I did theater. I just did it. I just randomly did it one day. My parents made me audition for a community theater and I did that for like a year and a half, but it was just that experience of doing it for a year and a half and then I got the hang of it and knew what was going on. I just watched.
: Has your entire approach to acting been a “learn as you go” process?
Pucci: Yeah, absolutely. I think it is the best way to do it. I didn’t really even learn too much in school, really, because everyone is always just telling you. If I wanted to learn history, I’d just read a book, I’d actively go at it. When you are passively sitting in a seat and somebody is telling you stuff, it kinda just doesn’t go in… it doesn’t go into my brain. I have to search for it, or watch for it, or become completely interested and enthralled in it for anything to sink into my brain (laughs).
: On screen, you seem to be completely a natural at acting. Do you feel that way, or do you feel that you are working actively at it?
Pucci: Uh… I don’t know how to answer that one. There are so many complicated answers to that. There are so many different pieces to that one that I can’t even figure out. I don’t know what a natural is. I know I was always talented from when I was little, I could always sing and dance and I hadn’t been taught. I could sing pretty easily and I think that was just because of my Dad… because of hearing him all the time sing. I hadn’t sang before, but for some reason it just came out very easily… when I wanted it to, for the first time, at the audition for Oliver! here in New Jersey.
: Well then, my take is that at least performing is a natural thing for you.
Pucci: I just feel like that if it’s not natural… then I don’t know what it is. I mean if the truth doesn’t come naturally to you, then who the hell are you? To me, acting is just completely telling the truth. I am a horrible liar and it comes out when I act, because I can’t lie. So I have to make myself feel it’s the truth and I can do that (laughs)… just with reason, just by thinking about it. It’s really easy to sympathize with a character… just become that person. Maybe that’s the natural thing, is that I can sympathize with pretty much anyone, and know how they feel, and kinda become that person.
: Not everyone has that kind of empathy. Perhaps that is one of the things that sets you apart.
Pucci: Maybe. I mean, if I had to pick something, I think that would be the most basic part. Just realizing that you’re the same as the other guy, even if he’s a killer and you’re not, you know?
: Prior to the audition for Personal Velocity, did you have an agent?
Pucci: I did. I had an agent from when I was 11 because I did Sound Of Music. I had an agent and a manager and they got me Sound Of Music. But after that, they didn’t do… much. It’s not something I want to say, that “Oh, they sucked” because they didn’t, it’s just that I had a child agent and a child manager and they had a lot of other children that they were working with and I was just ‘one of the kids.’ So when I was out of The Sound Of Music, I’d have some auditions and things… they got me Personal Velocity, though. But it seemed almost like a fluke because I never had a feature film audition before and I had been with them for over a year. They didn’t get me much stuff, but when that happened, I finally found a niche.
: So what happened to your original team after Personal Velocity?
Pucci: I had to leave my first agent and my first manager. I left my manager first, because it was just too much. It was 25% altogether… it was 15% and 10%, the manager takes 15, so we got rid of my manager because I wasn’t getting anything, and anything I did get, 25% of it was already gone. So it made no sense. We got rid of my manager, because we had to… it seems, and we stayed with my agent. We were going to stay with my agent for a long time, but he kinda harbored some kind of bad, or pissed off things toward me because we left my manager, because he liked my manager. So it seemed like he wasn’t trying to do anything, and at the same time he hadn’t seen Personal Velocity, when it had been out for months. This other guy was calling, Bill Rogers who is now my agent, from Los Angeles saying, “Hey, I’d like to be your agent. Do you have representation?” and I said, “Yes. I’d like to stay with him and I really don’t want to change agents.” but he made me see that I wasn’t doing anything that I could be doing. He gave me scripts. It was the first time I had ever got a script. I just read them and I was completely enthralled. I was like, “Holy shit! OK, I can read the whole script and know exactly what the film is about.” Before that, you get like three pieces of paper and it gives you a summary of the story and you have figure out, from that, who the hell your character is. It’s kinda ridiculous. But now I had a whole script, I can read the whole thing, take in a whole movie, and realize who that person is. That’s what happened. One of the first scripts he sent me was Empire Falls. That’s the one that I did in Maine.
: Is your new team working out for you?
Pucci: Yeah, they’re amazingly great. I mean, they are awesome. I said that I wanted a manager because he (Billy Lazarus) was all the way in Los Angeles and it was harder to talk to him so it was easier if I got somebody in New York who I could talk to all the time, and that’s exactly what happened. He got the coolest people in the world, One Entertainment – who used to be First Artists, or something like that, and they are awesome too. (laughs) I have like, fourteen scripts sitting next to me right now that I have to read.
: Do you feel, at this stage, that you have the freedom to totally create your character or are you still at the whim of the director?
Pucci: I don’t think I’ve ever been at the whim of a director. It never, ever felt like that. Like, I always just made up whatever the hell I saw in my character. The first one was Personal Velocity and that was just… I mean, I dunno… that’s actually a great story. I went in for the first rehearsal for Personal Velocity… well, I thought it was a rehearsal, but it was actually just Rebecca Miller (director) sitting there in a chair. I went there and I said, “Who is this character? Who is Kevin?” and she said (laughing) “who do you think he is?” and she just made me tell her a whole story about the kid. You know, she just made me do everything, she did not tell me a word. She did not utter a word. (laughs) And she would say, “Yeah, OK, that’s fine, that’s good” but she would never give me too much, you know what I mean? She just took it out of me. It’s the same with Thumbsucker. I was the person who… I was the director’s choice. He picked me because he saw that character in how I was playing it, but he never made me do a certain thing at all. The rehearsals were all improv. We did two weeks of improv… improving all the scenes in the movie, really. Just making them ours… making a family out of those people. It’s always kinda been just whatever came out of me; it’s never the director imprinting something.
: Were you cast immediately for Thumbsucker or did you go in and read for it?
Pucci: I went and put myself on tape, like I usually did at that time… I was putting myself on tape a lot, then. The tape was sent to Los Angeles and my manager called and Bob goes, “OK, we have good news and bad news. The good news is you got a callback for Thumbsucker and I know you liked that script. The bad news is if you want to go to the callback, it’s in Los Angeles.” So I was like, “Ohhhhh….” (laughs) So I was like, I’ve got all of these auditions already, lemme just go there and I’ll go on a bunch of auditions while I’m there and hopefully Thumbsucker will be one of the better ones. And so I just went to Los Angeles for four days, with my manager, and I went to… I don’t even know, I went to about ten auditions and about ten meetings with people in four days (laughs) which is kinda ridiculous. One of the first ones I went to was Thumbsucker, and it was right when I got off the plane. I got off the plane and in three hours I was in the audition. And that was my first plane ride, too. It was the first plane I had ever been on in my life.
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Interview: Lou Taylor Pucci