Interview: Alex Wolff, star of ‘Coming Through the Rye’
Alex Wolff talks about the emotional journey he took during ‘Coming Through the Rye’
Hey what’s up everybody?
This is Matt Brunhofer from FilmFad, and this week the latest Alex Wolff drama, “Coming Through the Rye,” opened in New York on Friday, October 14th, and it will open in Los Angeles on Friday, October 21st.
And I got the chance to interview Alex Wolff, and I talked to him about how he prepared for the role, what it was like working with an Emmy-award winning director, and if, like the film’s protagonist, he learned anything along the emotional journey that is “Coming Through the Rye.”
Full interview down below!
Nickelodeon’s “The Naked Brothers Band,” was your first huge gig in the business. But your portrayal of Jamie Schwartz in “Coming Through the Rye” shows you’re not a little kid anymore. How did you prepare for this role?
“My whole life I’ve been obsessed with ‘The Catcher in the Rye.’ It’s my favorite book in the whole world. It’s been passed along through my family, from my grandfather, to my dad, to my brother, to me. And we all signed the same copy. Once we finished reading it, it’s kind of like a family tradition. So, I’ve been obsessed with it since I was thirteen, when I first read it, and to see a script about a kid obsessed with ‘The Catcher in the Rye,’ it’s pretty much like my wheelhouse. Jamie is driven and intense and doesn’t let anyone bring him down. He’s sort of this, I wouldn’t say optimistic, but has a driven attitude towards life and doesn’t let people bring him down. People tell him, ‘You can’t find him. You’re not going to find Salinger. You can’t do this.’
And I think that’s a lot how people talk about your career, your acting, your music, or whatever. They say, ‘You can’t do this. You can’t do that,’ and I’ve always had a personality of ‘I’m gonna’ do it. I’m gonna’ do it. I’m gonna’ do this. I’m gonna do that.’ And so I really just loved that script. So, that’s just great. It’s a great thing.”
Did the director, James Steven Sadwith, allow you to inject pieces of your own soul into Jamie Schwartz or was he very particular about the mindset and character of the young protagonist… since Jamie is based off of the director himself?
“A lot of people have wondered if he forced me to be like him or anything, and he really didn’t. I wanted to take as much from his experience as possible. I wanted to… I got the exact coat that he wore, like I saw a picture of him during that time, and I said, ‘Let’s get those exact clothes.” That was the first step to creating Jamie, but he was insistent on having it be the character and having it also be true to me, not just be true to him.
You know, because the script is really the Messiah. That’s the main thing you have to follow, not just what the director wants or what happens. It’s really about who the character is, and so the only thing he was specific about is how he saw the character, but never about making about what he did or how he felt. He let me bring everything to it. That’s why he’s a great director, not just a good director. He’s a great director. He’s collaborative and amazing. “
Jamie learns a lot about himself during his journey. How about you? Did you learn more about yourself than you anticipated when you first took the role?
“Yeah. I mean, of course. I feel like I sort of learned how to act. I mean, I’ve been acting for a long time, but that was the most demanding, intense thing I’ve done, then. That whole experience meant a lot to me. I feel like I kind of grew up on that movie. That’s how important it was to me.”
Absolutely, and this is more of a dramatic role for you, so do you see yourself going after more comedic or dramatic roles in the future, or are you one that likes to bounce between the two?
“Well, I mean, I had done ‘In Treatment’ and a few indie movies that were more dramatic, so I don’t know. After “Coming Through the Rye” I did a family dramedy that was ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,’ it was sort of like both. And then after that I did ‘Patriots Day’ and ‘The House of Tomorrow,’ ‘My Friend Dahmer,’ which are all real heavy dramas, but then I’m doing ‘Jumanji,’ which is really fun and adventurous.
So, I get to bounce back and forth…Everyone jokes around that I’ve had the darkest year of anyone in the world, cause I did. I played the younger Boston bomber brother, then I played a kid dying of a heart transplant, and then I played the best friend of Jeffrey Dahmer. That’s pretty intense, so I don’t know. I think you just gotta’ do what’s true. I think people get very hung up on genre. You gotta’ just do what’s good and real.”
As young working actor in Hollywood, what advice can you give to the up-and-coming artists out there?
“I say don’t be concerned about the trivial, stupid things. I’ve seen people get hung up a little bit on ‘How’s this going to look on my resumé,’ or ‘How’s my headshot,’ or ‘How’s my blah, blah, blah’ ya’ know, all that stuff. I think focus on going to acting classes and working on the actual work of it, focusing on that. And also, people get hung up on genres. I think if it’s good and you do your best and you really work and you brought truth to whatever you were doing, do that.
I mean I’m young, so I want to learn from everybody. I’m learning as I go, but one thing I’ve discovered is the less I’m concerned with my IMDB page or that kind of bull****, the more I am clear of unnecessary stress and the more I’m completely, 100% focused on the work.
Focus on the art of it and the work of it. It’s possible.”
“‘The House of Tomorrow’ and ‘My Friend Dahmer’ I talked a little bit about, and I’m super excited about those. I mean I’m really excited about ‘Coming Through The Rye.’ That’s, like, my baby. I’ve watched myself become a ‘man’ on that movie. I can barely watch it because it’s so emotionally vulnerable.
Oh! And I did a movie called “Dude,” which I’m really proud of. It’s also this sort of dark dramedy about these kids in L.A., these slightly messed up kids in L.A. that I just really loved with Lucy Hale. ‘The House of Tomorrow,’ Asa Butterfield is amazing in that movie and Ellen Burstyn. They’re all great. ‘My Friend Dahmer,’ Ross Lynch was amazing, and Tommy Nelson was amazing.
There’s a lot of different movies (I’m in). I’m also directing a movie called ‘The Cat and the Moon,’ and that’ll be really fun to direct. I’ve done short films before, but this’ll be great for my first feature.”
That’s all the questions I’ve got for you today. So, on behalf of FilmFad, I want to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down and answer a few questions from us.
“Awesome, dude. Thanks so much!”
Once again I want to send out a big “Thank You!” to “Coming Through the Rye” star Alex Wolff, for sitting down with us here at FilmFad and answering our questions. Make sure to go check out “Coming Through the Rye,” which also stars Stefania Owen, Adrian Pasdar, Academy Award-Winner Chris Cooper and many, many more.
It opened in New York on October 14th at Village East Cinema, and it will be coming to Los Angeles on October 21st at Laemmle Monica, Laemmle Town Center, and Laemmle Playhouse.
You can also check out my review of the movie at here.