June 26, 2022

Clifton Collins Jr. as weary horse-racer Jackson Silva within the new drama Jockey.Courtesy of Sony Footage Classics / Mongrel Media

Even in case you don’t know Clifton Collins Jr.’s identify, you realize his face. The soft-spoken actor with the extraordinary eyes, hard-edged smile and silver tongue has been wildly energetic within the margins of your favorite blockbusters (Star Trek, Pacific Rim), Oscar bait (Visitors, Capote, As soon as Upon a Time in Hollywood, Nightmare Alley), status TV (Westworld) and extra. Nevertheless it took Collins three many years within the central-casting trenches earlier than he landed a real lead: the weary horse-racer Jackson Silva within the new drama Jockey.

Enjoying Silva, a Phoenix jockey simply previous his prime, the 51-year-old Collins delivers a small-scale marvel of a efficiency, channelling years of ache, triumphs and battle scars into one tidy, enchanting package deal. Forward of the movie’s Canadian theatrical launch on March 4, Collins spoke with The Globe and Mail about paying his dues, and giddying up.

I’ve been listening to about this movie since its premiere at Sundance greater than a 12 months in the past. On the one hand, it’s nice that the excitement has sustained so lengthy, however on the opposite, is it a burden for you as an actor to maintain having to revisit a efficiency as soon as it’s achieved?

When you will have this sort of collaboration and this small dimension of a crew, the reality is that any likelihood to speak about it’s a humbling honour. Earlier than signing on to it, my 30 years of expertise informed me it was going to be a tricky one, and a harmful one. We didn’t have some huge cash, we’re on a stay race monitor. So to get to look again on how we pulled it off, it’s a wonderful option to assess the aim you meant to achieve creatively. And to appreciate it should work out for the following movie, too.

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This isn’t your first collaboration with Jockey filmmakers Clint Bentley and Greg Kwedar, having made the border thriller Transpecos in 2016. And from what it seems like, this was one other atypical filmmaking course of, too, with you actually changing into concerned in your character’s arc …

The way in which one approaches sure roles is at all times going to be dictated by the monetary means and collaboration that you’ve got. Working with somebody like Guillermo del Toro on Pacific Rim, that’s an enormous finances but additionally very collaborative. This one, all you will have is the facility of the phrase. Like Transpecos, it was very collaborative – Clint and Greg knew going into Jockey what I used to be going to carry to the desk. It’s like hanging out along with your buddies for a couple of months. Even on the weekends, I’d catch our superb director of pictures going to shoot some B-roll, and I’d be like, “Can I come alongside?” It’s a blast, if you do it for the proper causes.

Enjoyable however intense, too, no? By way of what was required bodily from you.

You’ll be able to’t take into consideration that half. I acquired all the way down to 143 kilos. You don’t need to let anyone down. I minimize off all my ties from Los Angeles, preserving in contact solely with my two mentors and my grandmother. Each night time in northern Phoenix, I used to be going by means of scenes. I acquired there two weeks early to take in the tradition with the jockeys. The reply is actually simply dwelling it.

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There’s this previous Hollywood joke – one repeated just lately in Licorice Pizza – of at all times ensuring in your resume to say that you could trip horses, even in case you can’t. However you got here to Jockey with expertise.

Ha, yeah, you simply reply sure to any query: Are you able to drive? Are you able to trip? Sure, sure. I do have a giant horse background, although. My grandfather Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez was a contract participant with John Wayne, so the western surroundings was a giant a part of the household. And coming from Westworld, too, the place the horses are so extremely skilled it’s like driving a brand-new Porsche. However the good factor on Jockey is as a result of we had an actual skeleton crew, there’s an excessive amount of anonymity whereas I’m using. If something, I acquired heckled by spectators for being barely obese. Like, “I’m making an attempt to make weight, pal!”

Your efficiency right here presents an incredible narrative to writers like me: now we have this long-time character actor who paid his dues, lastly will get the highlight. Do you pay a lot consideration to how your profession is perceived by the press, by others within the trade?

Probably not [laughs]. I’m a fifth-generation entertainer, so it’s deep within the blood. I do have an incredible pleasure in sharing the expansion and evolution of my profession, however I additionally simply need to assist my movies as a lot as attainable. It may be a distraction in case you pay an excessive amount of consideration.

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I see an image of your grandfather within the background there. Do you ever take into consideration what he may make of how your profession turned out?

He did get to see me in Capote earlier than he handed. He was excited and felt that he may move in peace as a result of, he stated, the greenness of myself had worn off 20 years in. Effectively, it sounds higher the best way he stated it in Spanish. “The dumb has left you,” so to talk. I’m really writing a movie of his life story now, so there’s a number of time to replicate. It’s a biopic that takes us up into his first huge profession break on Groucho Marx’s You Wager Your Life. He was scared to exit to L.A. as a result of he couldn’t learn. He had that imposter syndrome. He simply boarded up his home in Texas and thought he’d be again in a couple of weeks. That didn’t occur.

Jockey opens March 4 in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal theatres, with extra cities all through spring

This interview has been condensed and edited

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