Hi, Ray. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Your character in Addict Named Hal is sort of the touchstone for all the other characters as they face recovery from their addictions. You are their rock. Say something about your character and how you approached it. What were some of the appeals and challenges you had in playing this character?
When I read scripts, I try to find a piece of myself in every character I get the opportunity to play, if possible. One thing that stuck out to me about Hal is his selflessness. It seems he never put himself first. He tries to go out of his way to do things for others, even if the outcome is detrimental for his own self. He’s everyone’s light. That really stuck with me because that’s how I try to live my own life. As selfless as possible and try to bring smiles to people’s faces. I guess you can say I try to be a “Ray” of Sunshine. See what I did there?
Lane Michael Stanley’s script was nicely translated on screen. I told Lane that the film has a very amiable and light approach to a dark subject matter, for the first half before the movie takes a turn, but I was impressed with how the film isn’t grueling or unappealing for what it is showing us. I believe this is due, in part, to how you play Hal. Say something about the atmosphere on set and how Lane directed you in the role.
Lane and I have worked together in the past so I already know what makes them Tick!! I cracked the Lane code! If something isn’t hitting the way it should, Lane gets quiet and starts biting their nail while staring off in a deep thought. PSA FOR ANY ACTOR WHO WORKS WITH LANE IN THE FUTURE!! IF THIS HAPPENS, THAT MEANS YOU AREN’T GIVING WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO GIVE!Â When this happens, ask Lane, “What is it and how do you want me to fix it.” It also made it easier for Lane to just be blunt and honest with me throughout the whole shoot. Lane knows I can handle hearing, “Ray that sucked” and I’ll know it’s coming from the right place to bring out the best I can give. The atmosphere to me was all based around trust. That’s the word I would use. Trust, if that makes sense. Trust and Love. I say Love because I love giving hugs. **Also Lane don’t blackmail me for giving out your secrets I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry **
It appears that you haven’t had a ton of camera time experience before Addict Named Hal. Talk a little bit about where you come from in terms of acting and how this film got on your radar and how you were cast. Once you were filming, were you able to slip into this role easily or was it a challenge?
This is very true! I’m very very green when it comes to acting on camera. I did Forensics in high school and college which is basically competitive stage acting with no props and no makeup no microphone no lights, none of that – while needing an argument as to why you are doing this 10 minute monologue piece. I know, it sounds very complicated. I happened to audition for a play Lane wrote called ‘The Tiny Banger’ I think back in 2018? That’s when Lane and I first got to work together. When I saw the casting call for Addict Named Hal, I actually wanted to audition for a different role. I wanted to read for Bradley. Lane contacted me later that week and wanted me to read for Hal. I was like, awh fuck. The lead?! Shit. Sigh, okay, Ray. You can do this. I was really nervous LOL. I’m just happy it all worked out! When we started filming, I think the first couple of days I was really nervous and getting my feet wet. I can definitely say I was in my head a lot. After day 3 or 4 is when I got comfortable and started to just trust my own self and rely on Lane’s directions to make sure I’m doing what they envisioned.
Talk a little bit about the rest of the cast and how you all interacted. The film felt like it came from a very authentic place and if I had to guess I’d say that some of the extras and some of the bit players were actual recovering addicts. Were you able to get any inspiration from anybody else on set? Were some of those meetings we see in the film real?
I kid you not, I know people say this shit all of the time about the cast and crew, blah blah and it seems like a copout answer. I swear on everything, the cast and crew really did bond from the jump. All of us. There were many laughs and jokes and goofiness happening in between takes, FOR SURE. I felt like I got inspiration from everyone, to be honest. Everyone is so talented and takes their craft seriously so it’s easy for you to get pointers on how this actor does this on screen, who they do that on screen, etc. I personally was inspired by everyone I saw and had the privilege to share the screen with. When it comes to the meeting scenes, I was told they were very authentic. I haven’t had the opportunity to attend an actual meeting, but from conversations I had with some of the extras, it felt extremely authentic. Lane had a vision of realness and wanted to execute that.
Was there ever a moment in the movie that resonated with you beyond just playing a character? Talk about some of your strongest impressions and memories from working on this film.
My personal favorite scene of mine that stuck with me the most was when Amy and Hal are in the car after the robbery and she asks Hal, “Was your friend in there? Is she okay?” That silence from Hal after the second question was BIG for me. Hurting friends is something that would RUIN me. In that scene, my “Yep” response was super real and I didn’t give a fuck about the camera. It wasn’t there. My favorite memory of working on the film is a blooper that got cut because we ruined it! LOL When Hal, Amy, Rich and Andrea are leaving the meeting walking down the hallway, there’s a shot where we are supposed to be walking OUT of the building. Hal goes to the wrong door to exit and the door is locked…then all of us just bursted out laughing. Lane got SO mad at us LOLOLOLOLOL – Lane if you have that raw footage, PLEASE put that out!!