2017 might be just the year Actor/Producer James Clayton has been waiting for. Appearing on The 100’s episode titles ‘The Chosen’ and in Timeless as first actor to play this role since Robin Williams in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb in 2014.
If your jaw isn’t hanging then it sure will as he also starred as the lead in three featured films-CANDiLAND, Residue and Down the Line. Later this year, James will be acting and producing the action/thriller High Caliber.
He plays the lead character of Peter in CANDiLAND, alongside Gary Busey (who plays Peter’s estranged father Arnie) and Chelah Horsdal (in the role of Tess, the object of Peter’s attention), in a story of intensified mutual attraction to the point of deadly obsession. He lost 55 pounds for the role dropping from 185 lbs to 130 lbs in a span of just 8 weeks. The hard work paid off as he won Best Actor Award at the IndieFest Film Awards 2015 and at the Los Angeles Independent Film Awards 2016. And, as a producer, CANDiLAND won Best World Premiere 2016 Julien Dubuque.
In Residue, he portrays the private investigator Luke Harding who reads a book of sinister origins owned by a seedy crime lord Mr. Fairweather (Matt Frewer). Unbeknownst to Luke, the book is a much sought after supernatural artifact and Fairweather’s greatest rival, the enigmatic Mr. Lamont (William B. Davis) begins pursuit of Luke with his most truest henchmen Boston & Jacob (Costas Mandylor). As this was filmed after his previous role he had to regain his weight and add muscle mass. He built himself up from the 130 lbs to 190 lbs for this film.
Lastly in Down the line, a struggling comedian portrayed by yours truly, wakes up trapped inside his mind and must fight alternate versions of himself to escape. A psychological thriller in which he plays nine different lead characters.
How would you introduce yourself to the world?
I’ve actually never been asked that question before! In a literal sense, as actor/producer James Clayton. In regards to my film and tv work, my number one goal is to be involved in entertaining stories that involve emotionally moving characters.
While every show has a specific target, you seem to be everywhere. Where will we be seeing you?
2017 is definitely my busiest year. on TV. I appeared on Timeless as President Theodore Roosevelt and on The 100 as Hassler. I currently have the honor to appear alongside Gary Busey in the psychological thriller CANDilAND on VOD and iTunes and will be starring in the two more features this year: the supernatural horror Residue (July 18) and Down The Line (Summer 2017).
How do the sets compare. Being in a television series compared to a movie? Which one feels more cozy?
Both sets feel just as cozy. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some very talented people and the pace on both styles of set have been very similar. There isn’t a lot of down time on any of the sets. Very efficient and quick shooting. That style is in my wheelhouse as I typically have A LOT of energy and you get to immerse yourself in the work fully. It’s very rewarding.
What would you say has been your toughest and most challenging role so far?
CANDiLAND. Through the course of the film I loose 55 lbs. I started at 185 lbs and went down to 130 lbs. It was mentally and physically the toughest and easily the worst period of my life. BUT, I became the character and when I watch the film I’m thrilled at the results. I don’t think my character would have worked if I hadn’t committed.
How did you feel playing Pres. Roosevelt? Being the latest person to do it might have brought up some emotions?
It was a great privilege. He’s an american hero and some of the most amazing actors have played him. Robin Williams was the last actor to portray him before me. He was an extraordinary talent and person.
What is your role on The 100?
I played a character named Hassler who is chosen to be part of the 100 with his wife Sonya Hassler. Our characters are very emotional as the stakes are so life and death for every character by the end of this season. The set is amazing and the writers are doing an incredible job. I’m crossing my fingers I may return!
Being the lead in 3 different movies must be amazing and hectic. How did you manage to work around 3 sets and still star in shows?
I don’t sleep! lol. All joking aside, acting and filmmaking is my way of life. Every morning I get up and ask myself what I can do next to push myself. As the days go on I add another brick to the wall. My wife and family are incredibly supportive and I think if I didn’t have their support I wouldn’t be able to focus and be as productive as I’ve been the last 3 years. I’m been really lucky.
In terms of characters and roles, which role or character are you dying to portray that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
Two actually. I’ve been itching to do an action film and I’m actually going to camera on one called High Caliber in the fall. The film is very Die Hard meets Saw. I can’t say too much about it yet but I just finished reading the latest draft of the script and I believe it’s going to be a crowd pleaser. I’d also love to do a romantic comedy. One of my favorite movies is Silver Linings Playbook. The characters are really big and the story is tremendous fun. And a super hero film would be great too. The Green Lantern would be a lot of fun to play!
Do you do your stunts by yourself?
I haven’t had to do any big stunts yet but as of right now I’ve done everything. I have a keen interest in doing as much as I can but I also have a healthy respect for stunt performers. I have some friends in stunts and the talent they have in certain areas I certainly don’t. If they wanna jump off a building for a scene I’m more than happy to let them.
Do you have any rituals prior to filming?
No. I have my own process for breaking down the script and getting into character but I augment it for every new role. I’ve really found what works for one role will most often not work for the next a lot of times. I think mixing up the technique keeps things fresh as an artist.
How can you suddenly change yourself into a whole new character for a few minutes?
That all comes down to technique and making as many specific choices before the camera begins rolling. I like to tackle the illusion in two ways: how the character thinks and their physicality. I find once you start working on those two, the illusion of character comes pretty effortlessly. I wouldn’t identify as a method actor. I don’t stay in character. The writing also plays a very large part in creating the illusion. If the writing is good, the acting is usually pretty straight forward. It’s when the writing is bad it’s harder to pull off something believable. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with really good, unique writers.
Going back to your movies, which of the three should the fans look forward to the most?
Residue. Hands down. The film is a tremendous amount of fun to watch. We just had our world premiere at the Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida and we had rave reviews. One of the biggest questions was, “When do we get to see a sequel.” The audience is going to love the ensemble cast as well. We have the fantastic Taylor Hickson from Deadpool and Aftermath as well as Elysia Rotaru from Arrow and Liam Neeson’s upcoming Hardpowder. We also have horror icons William B. Davis from the x-Files, Matt Frewer from Watchmen and Max Headroom, and Costas Mandylor from the Saw series.
What are your passions other than acting?
I have a passion for working out. In my line of business it’s great to have something to focus on that is very objective. The more work you put in the better results. Very simple.
If you had one sentence of advice to aspiring youths, what would it be?
Just do it.
One final question, how has being a part of movies & series change your taste in movies/series?
I don’t think it has. I love all types of stories. I’ve had a little down time this month so it’s certainly inspired me catch up on a lot of shows!
Residue will be released on July 18th, 2017 by XLrator Pictures & IndustryWorks Studios in North America in select theatres, as well as on VOD, digitally, and then on to Netflix later in the year.