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Exclusive: Alex Neustaedter Discusses Working with Meg Ryan on ‘Ithaca’

Exclusive: Alex Neustaedter Discusses Working with Meg Ryan on ‘Ithaca’

Alex-Neustaedter-Ithaca

“Ithaca” star Alex Neustaedter discusses his role in Meg Ryan’s directorial debut film.

“Ithaca” is the story of a boy named Homer Macauley who begins to transition to manhood when he takes a job as a bicycle telegraph messenger. The film is the directorial debut of Meg Ryan and it also reunites her with Tom Hanks as they share an onscreen relationship once more. Alex Neustaedter plays the role of the film’s focus character Homer. We had the chance to discuss the role with Alex and his experience working on the film.

Film Fad:

Hey Alex how are you?

Alex Neustaedter:

Hey how’s it going? I’m good.

Film Fad:

So I have to ask how do you pronounce your last name? I was looking for the phonetic way to say it and couldn’t figure it out.

Alex Neustaedter:

Yeah, it’s tough. It’s “Neustaedter.” It’s German it means from the new city.

Film Fad:

Hey it’s a recognizable name so it’s going to stand out amongst the “Smiths” and everything. (laughs)

Alex Neustaedter:

Right. (laughs)

Film Fad:

So it’s kind of a big deal to be involved in the film “Ithaca.” It’s Meg Ryan’s directorial debut. How did you land this role?

Alex Neustaedter:

So I was coming back from the baseball game and I got an audition, the breakdown for it. I was already really into it just from reading this breakdown and I had to film the audition that night. It was a tape because it was being auditioned in New York and I did the tape at 1 in the morning and I didn’t hear anything for 2 weeks and then I get a call from my manager saying that I need to New York and meet Meg (Ryan) and Janet (Brenner) and audition in front of them. So I did that and I think an hour after the actual audition I was in a New York City hotel eating lunch and I get a call that I need to have pie with Meg tomorrow or the next day because I got the part. And I just kind of freaked out a little bit and I was screaming in the hotel and it was pretty funny because everybody was looking around. But that’s how I kind of got the news and the next day I met Meg and Janet and we had pie just to represent the movie because there’s pie in the movie as well. It was pretty crazy.

Film Fad:

Yeah I was about to ask what the significance of the pie was. I didn’t know if she was just a big pie fan or something like that.

Alex Neustaedter:

Yeah. I don’t remember where it was but the pie was tied in with it in the movie.

Film Fad:

So based off the synopsis, this is a pretty serious role, it’s not just some minor supporting role. Your character is vital to the story. Could you kind of elaborate upon the significance of your character Homer?

Alex Neustaedter:

So when you start the film and it opens up you see this young 14-year old who’s enjoying life and then there couldn’t really be anything wrong with it. A picture perfect small town. And he has to get a job because his mom is low on money and his brother’s in the war. So Homer takes the initiative and gets a job as a telegraph messenger and what happens is he’s very naive. He doesn’t understand the significance of what he was doing and what was really happening. And the first telegram that he delivers is from the Secretary of War and it’s a death telegram. So right there it kind of lands on him and the severity of what he’s doing and throughout the film we see each part of the story and of him becoming a man through his eyes and through what he experiences and that goes a long with all parts of this film. Meg (Ryan) did a great job of using the younger kids like my little brother and then the other 4 or 5 boys in the film to kind of elude to what he’s getting further and further away from. Which is that young childhood. Throughout the film you really get to see the sense of him becoming a man.

Film Fad:

So you also share screen time with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan who have both done quite a few films together; they’ve kind of established some chemistry. Did you have any difficulties integrating into that kind of environment which they had already established? Did you find any challenges on set adapting?

Alex Neustaedter:

No, not at all. They were both very supportive and very welcoming. They have such a good report with each other that it was hard not to fall in with them. They just always bounce off each other. When I was there, I think the scene with Tom (Hanks) that I was there was when I wake up, the nightmare scene. So we didn’t get to really interact but there’s definitely a presence we have with each other in that moment. It was very real, it felt real. But overall, no, they were very welcoming. But you could definitely tell they have a lot of history and it was really cool for sure.

Tom-Hanks-Meg-Ryan

“They have such a good report with each other that it was hard not to fall in with them.”

Film Fad:

Were there any particular challenges that you faced being in a film that has some really high profile actors and then also Meg Ryan’s directorial debut? Did you find any challenges that you hadn’t experienced before?

Alex Neustaedter:

You know I think the challenges were mostly with the time that we had to shoot because we only shot in 23 days so we always had to work faster. But I wouldn’t say there were challenges that really held back any performances you know? Everybody worked together and even with Meg being as high profile as she is, where we were shooting everyone was very accepting they didn’t go starstruck crazy in that area and it really made it easier to shoot exteriors and stuff like that without so much commotion. So I have to give a lot of props to Petersberg and Richmond for being very welcoming in that sense. But just the time was probably the hardest part because when you don’t have all the time in the world it makes it more difficult. But I enjoyed the struggle because we always had to push ourselves even harder to keep up with that time interval and that time change. But with Meg directing I think there’s no challenges at all because we had a lot of discussion prior to filming and we had a really good report ourselves. So her being a director and her knowing how to shape the performance to try and get it to how she wants the film to be projected and how it will be received really was very easy I would say, very smooth in that part of the process.

Film Fad:

Well slightly switching gears, I know you also have a television series that you’re part of called “Colony” that’s more action-oriented. Do you prefer the excitement of recurring action and adventure or do you find more of an interest in this type of intimate character development?

Alex Neustaedter:

Good question. I really both of them and I enjoy the balance for sure. I think it really depends on the character in general because some characters, they’re built around the action. Personally I like them both but I’d say in the future, the character aspect really grabs me and that’s what keeps me coming back. The action action is just part of the story and everything like that but the character is really what drives the piece and keeps people hooked and attached to a person if they are relatable or not. Personally the character aspect is more on my side but the action really goes hand-in-hand with that so I couldn’t say which one I like more.

Film Fad:

Okay so kind of going into a more niche subject. Given the action/adventure genre I know superhero films have kind of spawned off of that and become huge right now. Say you had the chance to play a superhero, who would you choose on screen?

Alex Neustaedter:

I’ve always been a fan of Superman. Just because the flying powers are terrific I think. (laughs) But also because the Kansas farm town and I’m from that area so that’s relatable for me at least. So I would say Superman if I could.

Film Fad:

That’s always a good choice. Picking a character that you can find some sort of personal connection with. Do you have any current superhero films right now that might be some of your favorites?

Alex Neustaedter:

I love the Batman series. “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Dark Knight.” I thought what Christopher Nolan did with that and landscaping that environment of Gotham and he how he shaped it and created it around the characters. It was very character driven. Even in an action based kind of story it was terrific and they’re arguable some of my favorite movies just from that part of him being so good at telling this very intricate and dark story. But yeah the most recent Batman series.

Film Fad:

Oh cool. Yeah I definitely agree, I’m a big Christopher Nolan fan myself. So do you think indie films are also something you would like to explore in the future given that you were talking about character development and I know those tend to be passion projects for a lot of actors. Do you think that’s something you’d want to explore or do you think you’d want to be more into the mainstream blockbuster realm of film?

Alex Neustaedter:

You know I’ve kind of always started with indie films so I have a deep passion for indie films and what it takes to create them. I definitely want to have a good balance of both because there’s also great studio budgeted films as well that are created but I’d always love to have indie films that I become very passionate about. Because that’s one of the things personally as an actor that is driving me. You know acting is finding roles and finding stories that have meaning and that stir passion inside of me. Because that keeps me going and that keeps me really interested and into it but always with a message. That’s always something I want to continue to do, always something to tell the audience that they may not know or to refresh them because that’s the side that I want to come from. Whether it be a huge studio picture, but always something that can enlighten somebody is definitely a dream of mine.

Film Fad:

So when can we see “Ithaca” and what other future projects do you have that you’re looking forward to after that?

Alex Neustaedter:

I don’t know exactly when “Ithaca” is coming out right now. I think they’re looking for distribution. I’m not 100 percent sure yet and I think they might have pushed it back to 2016. So we’ll let you know on that but “The Colony” is coming out January 14th on USA and then another film I did called “Shovel Buddies” is going to be coming out sometime in 2016. And I just finished another film which I can’t talk about right now but it will be coming out next year as well. But it’s going to be a really cool, character-driven story as well. I think they’re going to release the data and the news on that in January. And other projects right now, I’m very open so nothing set in stone on the horizon. Hopefully “Colony” picks up for season 2.

Film Fad:

Well Alex thank you so much for your time, I’ll let you get back to your Friday.

Alex Neustaedter:

Thank you, have a good weekend.

USA-Colony-Show

Alex Neustaedter alongside Josh Holloway in “Colony”


“Ithaca is set for release in 2016 and “Colony” is set to premiere in January 2016.

Check back with us for more updates about Alex and his other projects.

About The Author

Ryan

Ryan has been fascinated with film and pop culture since childhood. Throughout college he "played it safe" taking the more lucrative route of being a computer programmer while squeezing in film related courses where he could...but even during his post college career, he could never escape his true passion. After following one of his favorite blogs for a long time, he approached the site's Editor about writing and they reluctantly gave him a shot. He later became their Senior Writer which led to a variety of other projects, radio show appearances, features, and high profile celebrity interviews. Despite his success with blogging, he still wanted more so in order to expand his creative addiction, he merged his IT skills and blogging know-how to create FilmFad.com which has continued to grow into a creative Mecca of pop-culture fun and integrity.   [email protected]    Film Fad

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