Its 12:04 am
Welcome to another edition of “8 Questions with……”
I got a call from from super PR guru Steve Joiner and he says he has someone I need to meet. Well,I’m always open to meeting new people and thus I got a chance to talk with our next guest,the very prolific Jeff Davis. Jeff has worked with directors like John Woo and Wes Craven but still will slide over to a fun horror film like “Navy SEALs vs. Demons”. In other words,he does our kind of movies,be it a big budget film or a small indie,Jeff has earned a reputation for bringing his A game to every role he does.
Jeff has just wrapped a new Western film and is gearing up for his project called “The Demon Within” in which Jeff is wearing all the creative hats and is ramping up for a Fall shoot. Jeff does this while balancing a rich family life in Los Angeles.
I definitely could hear the passion Jeff has both for his career and his family as we chatted on the phone for a while. I glad I’m getting to ask Jeff 8 Questions and after reading this,you’ll be be glad as well……
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your current project.
Hello,I’m Jeff Davis and I’m an actor.I just finished shooting a Western called “Showdown on the Brazos” in the San Antonio area, where I played the Reverend Silas A Parker. I followed this film with by an episode of the new Netflix series “Ratched” where I appear as a 1940’s police captain. I then followed that with the lead role in a film called “Outrage” in Houston where I play a dad who’s daughter is kidnapped. I am also working on producing and directing my first film, an independent horror film “The Demons Within”, that we will be shooting in the fall if all goes well.
What was it like growing up in Maine? Was your family artistic?
It was a great place to grow up. I worked on my grandparents dairy farm at a very young age, feeding, milking, and tending the cows. Also haying in the summer. I grew up in a very rural small town where we rode our bikes every where, went to the brook to do some fishing, Saturday night stock car races, it was amazing. I played basketball in high school as well as track & field and once I turned 18, I even raced stock cars for a few years before deciding I wanted to act.
My family was not really in the arts at all, it was just something that seemed to be in me.
When you decide you wanted to be a actor? How did you persue your goal?
I got the bug in my early twenties I guess. I had done a fashion show in high school and a local commercial but never really gave it much thought, it was just in the back of my mind. Then a friend talked me into taking an acting class, which led to me doing a play and I really enjoyed it but still never really thought about taking the leap. I had started my own business selling fitness equipment, supplements and gym clothing called Action Fitness. One day I was sitting in my little office in the back watching TV and saw a girl I knew from my acting class and the play that I did. Her name was Laura Bonarrigo, she was on a soap opera, “One Life to Live” I think it was. That was when it hit me, that was what I wanted to do with my life. From that day forward there was nothing else I thought I could do, I sold everything and flew to Arizona where I visited my dad for a month, bought a car and a set of golf clubs at the swap meet and drove to Los Angeles. It wasn’t easy but something was calling me.
What was the first role that you booked and what was going through you mind on that day?
Well I had been in LA for about 3 months and I was sending out my pictures to anything and everything. I got a call for an audition that was 3 hours away in Santa Maria. I made the drive, a week later I made the drive again for the call back and I booked the lead in a little vampire movie. The movie never got finished but I made some great connections and learned how to hit my marks, deliver lines, etc… on the job training. I was so excited and I had a great first experience, I really learned a lot about acting and about myself.
What three ways has Hollywood changed since you started for the better?
Same question……..but for the worst?
Well it has become less personal for one. I used to be able get casting info and had deliver my headshots, but now it is all electronic. Also it used to be when you went in for a TV callback, you had a room full of writers, producers, director, I loved the chance to go in and get a feel for the room and really play to the folks in the room. Now it is almost always just a camera and a casting director. They tape and send to producers, or worse they have you self tape and send it in, no contact at all!
I miss the personal touches, but that being said, I adapted and make the most out of it.
How do you handle roles that require you to do things like smoke, drink or curse that you don’t do in your real life? Does an actor have any leeway in avoiding these kinds of portrayals?
You can always turn down a role if you feel uncomfortable with any of the content, you can also discuss with the director and producers if you feel it is not right for the character.
I myself do not drink or smoke, I do curse from time to time, as for portraying it on film, I play characters, I separate myself from the character, if it makes sense for the character to smoke or drink and it works for the film, that’s what I play. I do not do commercials that promote smoking and drinking because I would not feel comfortable with telling someone to do something that I do not do myself.
If I was asked to do something that I was not comfortable doing, I would speak up and if they would not work with me, I would step down from the project.
How did you get involved with “Navy SEALs vs. Demons” What was the shoot like?
That was just a film that I auditioned for though my agent, I went in a read for a couple of possible roles, they called me a week or so later and offered me the role. It was a lot of fun. My scenes were shot in an office space in an old building down town, there were a group of actors we all had our positions at our desks and we had fun with it. I didn’t have any of the action in that film, we were just agents in our office.
What three roles have been your favorites?
My 3 favorite role? One would have to be the tech sgt in the Nicholas Cage, John Woo film “Windtalkers”. It was a big film for me at the time with a huge director and big name talent and I felt I held my own on screen. Next would probably be my role as a grieving husband on the show “Criminal Minds”. It was a really emotional scene and I felt once again that I showed that I had some talent, I shared the screen with the very talented Aisha Tyler and felt that I held my own. Now for all out fun, I finally got to do a western, something I have always wanted to do. I did not get to be the cowboy, (but that is coming in the near future) I did get to play an 1800’s preacher, Reverend Silas A Parker and I had a lot of fun bringing him to life!
You are shooting a Western film called “Showdown On the Brazos”,are you surprised that the Western is very much alive and thriving? What is going to make “Brazos” stand out from other Westerns?
How funny, to follow up the last question, that was the film that I played the Reverend in. I have finished filming that and it was so much fun, met some amazing people down in Blanco Texas. Am I surprised that the Western is making a comeback? No, I am happy I also have my own western in the works, I hope to help it continue to thrive once again!
“Showdown” will stand out from some of the other Westerns because of the unknown talent that came together to make the film. It was a passion project for director and star Bill Foster and I was so glad that he decided to make me a part of it. It is a classic style western with the feel of the westerns that we grew up watching. It has a group of bad guys who try to corrupt the town, but in typical western fashion the hero come through with the help of the preacher and save the townsfolk.
What directors that you have worked for impressed you the most and what made them stand out?
John Woo, someone of his caliber, took the time to come to me after my shoot and tell me thank you and what a great job, what an honor.
I worked with the Horror legend Wes Craven on “New Nightmare” watching him work was such a treat. I learned so much, he was a master in the art of scare!
How do you keep busy between acting projects?
I have a wife and two sons that keep me busy, I play basketball when ever I get the chance and I do some handy work, I had to do it to survive over the years and built up a really good clientele and I continue to take care of them as much as I can. I enjoy working with my hands, it keeps me grounded.
The cheetah and I are flying in to watch you work on your new project but we are a day early, now you are playing tour guide for us, what are we doing?
If I’m shooting in LA you are going to hit a few of my favorite places. Must sees for someone who has never been here are, Hollywood Blvd, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Third Street Promanade followed by the Santa Monica Pier. A trip to Universal Studios is always cool too!
We would probably hit Mel’s Diner for lunch, I’m not an LA guy but these are things I know people like to see, but there are so many more! The Hollywood Bowl, Griffith Park Observatory, and too many amazing restaurants to even know where to begin!
I like to thank Jeff for taking the time to sit down in the middle of earthquake central and chat with with us. As you can see,Mr. Davis has a VERY full plate in front of him with “Showdown” heading into post-production and “The Demon Within” hopefully shooting this fall.
You can follow the busy JF on his various social media platforms which you can find on his personal website.
Thank you for dropping by and supporting Jeff by reading this interview.
Please feel free to drop a question or leave a comment below.