Interview with Jaime Gomez.

proronald

“16 to Life” writer/director/producer Becky Smith sat down to talk with Jaime Gomez about his character, his experience and his career.

 1. TELL US ABOUT YOUR CHARACTER IN “16 TO LIFE”
I play Ronald, a small town guy who left for awhile, was married, divorced, but has returned to care for his ailing mother… basically a sweetheart! Ronald was injured in a snowmobile accident many years before while vying for the affection of the town babe, Louise, played by Teresa Russell. Needless to say he lost the race but fate, in all it’s mystery, has played out so there is another chapter to this story.

2. HOW DID YOU PREPARE TO PLAY THIS CHARACTER?
I spent time with a friend of mine at Cedar Sinai racing around the halls there on wheelchairs… I wanted to be muscularly fit to not have to struggle at all from pushing myself around. It’s amazing the looks you get, the pity, the stares… I also worked on my wheelies. I could move forward, back, around corners all in a wheel stand… all the important stuff! Medically, I did deeper research and imagining life in a wheelchair is very humbling to say the least. It certainly is a daily test of character of which Ronald had plenty. The realities of an injury like this are quite sobering so the opportunity to play an amazing man like Ronald was very fulfilling!

3. WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE WORKING ON LOCATION ON THE MISSISSIPPI?
Being on the Mississippi is an experience I will never forget… I met a real River Rat, saw soaring eagles and met the most amazing small town folks ever… I watched the moon set reflecting off the moving water, a lazy blue and green lighted tug gliding by while holding hands with the town babe “Louise”. I raced across the river in a speed boat, saw Indian holy grounds, and staying in my lil B&B up the street from the set was a lot like having a sleep over at the Walton’s! Biscuits and gravy, hot cakes and waffles, delicious coffee, homemade butter and the frilliest room I’ve ever stayed in just made me feel a great sense of love and belonging for the place… It was magical!

4. HAVE YOU EVER WORKED WITH THERESA RUSSELL BEFORE? HOW WAS THAT EXPERIENCE?
Theresa and I worked together in the same show, Nash Bridges, but not actually together in a same scene… her character got me Killed!!! I’ve always loved her work so when I found out she was playing “Louise” I jumped without hesitation to work with her. We hit it off and she was easy to “play” with, I trusted her and we had a great time… I’d love to work with her again.

5. HAD YOU WORKED WITH HALLEE HIRSH BEFORE? WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE?
I’d never worked with Hallee before but right away I liked her focus and fire. She was great!

6. HOW DO YOU FEEL GOING FROM TELEVISION TO FEATURES AND BACK?
I feel that the speed at which you work in TV can be fun because everything moves so fast, you do it, you see it, and then you move on. It’s a high wire act with specific moment to moment deadlines… The adrenaline to get it right in one take I find very exciting, like theatre… Movies on the other hand are more methodical and time is made to explore the scenes a bit more… When it’s right, it’s a great place to be… when it’s not, it can be painfully slow… but what the hell, I love it all!  I’m an actor so basically feed me and I’ll show up! As the great Laurence Olivier said, “I get paid to wait! The acting is free”!

7. WHAT KIND OF INDIE FEATURES DRAW YOUR INTEREST?
The character study is what interests me most… I had to do a whole movie in a wheelchair!  To explore what it’s really like… what does Ronald think… home alone with his past, present and future staring him in the face at night, night after night… human frailty is what interests me… what makes us tick, why do we tick… who’s doing the ticking!!! I guess I’m trying to say the exploration of why we, as a species, do the things we do… good and bad… the reasons are the mystery I’m searching for… Lots of people are in wheelchairs and don’t even know it… But Why? I like the Why question!

8. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO NEXT?  WHAT KIND OF CHARACTERS DO YOU WANT TO PLAY?
I want to play Jesus! Jesus of LA! An un-employed Mexican American construction worker who changes the world! I want to play well paid characters!!!

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