Meet Joe Anderson
You may already be enamored with him from when he portrayed Henry Austen in “Becoming Jane” or Max Carrigan in “Across the Universe,” but Joe Anderson has proven he’s a solid actor who can take the lead in “The 27 Club,” which enjoyed its east coast premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and is headed to its west coast premiere at the Seattle International Film Festival, which kicks off May 22nd..
Based on the unique rock and roll club of musicians who died at the age of 27, including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain, “The 27 Club” follows grieving rock star Elliot across America as he struggles to heal after his best friend and band mate Tom (James Forgey) dies at the age of 27.
“It’s not pretending to be anything and it’s from the heart,” Anderson says of the film, which is peppered with humor, thanks to the grocery store clerk played by David Emrich, who he hires to drive him across the country to attend Tom’s funeral. Along their cross-country journey, they pick up hitchhiker Stella (Eve Hewson), whose presence helps Elliot escape from his maddening grief that has him wondering if he too should join the 27 Club.
Comfortable seated in the empty theatre where the screening of “The 27 Club” had just taken place, Joe Anderson chatted up the film and his own struggles in life, as well as his future projects in an exclusive interview with Celebrity Everything.
Q: Tell me about your character Elliot who seems to be pretty embattled.
J: Yeah he is. What drew me to his character was that the work I’ve done before this was very extroverted and happy-go-lucky, so I wanted to try to do something from the inside out, rather than from the outside in. This script just seemed perfect especially because it’s offset with humor. But I was worried I was going to disappear up my own asshole halfway through the film. It’s a really hard line to walk.
Q: What do you mean by that?
A: It’s not an ego issue; it was not worrying about whether the audience likes the person or not – not wanting to be liked by the audience. And not censoring myself to the way I would react to things, because [Elliot’s] a bit harsh at times, and I didn’t want to worry about that and just do it for real.
Q: What do you like about him?
J: I like his good nature, but it gets lost. I like the fact that he wasn’t the front man [of his band Finn]. There were scenes that got cut where Tom was taking heroin and there were all sorts of nastiness going on and Elliot came in and gave him a talking to, it was kind of paternal, but you get that with his relationship with Tom. But he lost that to a certain degree, and I’ve been in similar situations in my own life – trying to hang onto decency and honesty – sometimes you can snap at people and behave like an asshole, so I admire him for not going all the way down the gutter.
Q: What were the circumstances when you were at that point in your own life?
J: A good friend of mine died of meningitis. I lived with her, she was actually my girlfriend’s best friend, and we were really close and I remember watching her turn black across the dinner table. The few months after that were hard, not with drug abuse though. Also knowing that I had something to offer – whether it be acting or directing or writing – and being in a country where it’s very hard to break into that scene. England can be quite snobby sometimes. You have to prove yourself but you can’t prove yourself unless you’ve done something, so it’s a catch 22. But coming over here and working in the States gave me a can-do way of thinking, but I remember the frustration and banging my head against a wall in England saying, “But I’ve got an idea!” It manifested into itself, and it was only until I came here and the floodgates opened and I realized my ideas are valid.
Q: What are your thoughts on the 27 Club – is it just a belief that it’s cool to die at 27 or something more to it in your opinion?
J: It’s the theory that the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long – actually it’s a quote from “Blade Runner,” but whatever. It’s true. I’m 26 now and I’m going through the fact that there’s no more kid; the mystery is gone. You have to hold onto being a kid. Look at Mick Jagger on stage – he’s a big kid. The magic is gone. If I go to a party, it’s going to be the same thing. People get lost in hitting that mark. People subconsciously manifest walls as a way of stopping themselves from reaching that point. They don’t want to grow up; they want to live forever and be young. So I wonder if it’s a weird psychosomatic thing that happens to people. But I also wonder if you looked at everyone who died who was famous at 44 if you would find the same thing.
Q: Have you ever been at that point of thinking about suicide?
J: Yes. I was bullied badly when I was a kid in school and was hospitalized five times – even stabbed – lots of things. It does go through your brain. People with eating disorders have the same thing – a sense of control. But I knew I could get it all out through this medium, through acting. So what’s the point of offing yourself when you can make a movie?
Q: Let’s lighten it up. Any funny moments happen on set?
J: The biggest running joke was that Eve [Hewson] kept referring to me as Grumpy Joe – at the end of the day of doing this stuff, it was hard to crack a smile. Oh and I remember flicking a cigarette out the window of the car and it went straight out, straight back in, and right down my shirt.
Q: You’re in another film, “High Life,” that also centers around that junkie theme. Are you afraid of being typecasted?
J: I knew my physicality and what I look like. Actor know thyself is one of the first things I learned. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be an action hero and run around with guns, but they’re not the sort of movies I watch. There’s something about character-driven movies and about the numbing of the situation – even like in the Matrix – all this – is it real or is it not? And the big question: What are we doing on this planet? Americans tend to medicate a lot – anti-anxiety medications – look at Heath Ledger – and it all has to do with the question, what the fuck are we doing here? So no, I won’t be typecast because you can choose your work, but “High Life” is different; it’s tongue-and-cheek and is hopefully going to be really funny. You get typecast if you become a product. There are big actresses and actors that make big money, but they never change their haircut. But if you have a lifestyle where you need $8 or $9 million more, it’s your own stupid fault.
Q: Is Jennifer Aniston one of those actresses, I know you worked with her on “Traveling”?
J: No Jennifer’s great, but she’s just booked until next year. We talked about “Derailed” and how she liked to play darker characters, so I think we’re going to see a lot more of that from her and a bit of a reinvention of her.
Q: What else did you chat about with her?
J: Life and paparazzi and how that affects people. She taught me some great lessons: surround yourself with decent people, you don’t have to be everyone’s best friend – you just need love and support, and you don’t need your marriage plastered all over the fucking newspapers. And mine won’t be because I don’t choose it, not that she chose it, but she was in a huge TV show, so it was already done.
Q: What’s “Traveling” about?
J: “Traveling” is about grief, grieving, and loss and people helping each other. Aaron [Eckhart] plays a young, self-help Dr. Phil guy whose wife dies. He’s about to make it huge, but is lost, and Jennifer plays a florist who is dating my character, but it all unravels. It’s a good sentiment.
Q: What was it like working side-by-side with Jennifer?
J: She was great and cracked me up. And a hard worker! She’s unbelievable and a powerhouse! She just keeps going and going! I was in school watching her on “Friends” and watching her work that comedic timing and now seeing the mechanics behind that – she’s great. Too many movie actors believe less is more now and with fancy camera work it’s great, but where are the Pacino’s and Sean Penn’s and more ka-pow? We need more wow!
Q: Did you have fun working with Timothy Olyphant in “High Life”?
J: Tim’s awesome! He’s a legend. He was just a really solid family guy with his head on his shoulders. He’s so much more precise than anyone else I’ve ever worked with actually. He maps out what he does – where he’s thinking, where he’s breathing, what light he’s looking into, is he here or there? He’s such a lovely man, it works. There was one scene in the car, you know you doing something ridiculous and there’s that one person you can’t look at because then you’re gone, he’s terrible for that! I had to run into the car and he turns around in the front seat and looks at me in the back, and I’m on coke, coming back from the ATM, and I sit in the back and I sniff, but as soon as we made eye contact, we started laughing and were gone. It’s light and funny. It kind of is a druggie movie, but it’s about four hapless people in the 80s trying to rob a bank when ATMs just first came out.
Q: Who’s your favorite actor?
J: My favorite actor is Frances McDormond. I think women are generally better actors than men. I’ve never been one to idolize, but it was also Pacino in “Dog Day,” a guy who is not typically good looking, to go from nothing to 100 miles an hour that I found extraordinary.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
If you want to direct, be an actor. And fuck ‘em too! So many people come from where I come from and hear, “You’re not allowed.” Just do it. Jennifer Aniston gave me that piece of advice, and my dad.
Q: What are your hobbies?
J: I watch movies, anything and everything, probably 9-10 a week, and I’m writing a feature called “Maggie” at the moment. This is a hobby for me, so this doesn’t feel like work. I love it.