Five Burning Questions with Of Mice and Men Star Jim Parrack
May 21st, 2014
by Josh Ferri
Jim Parrack, the actor/producer best known as sweet Hoyt Fortenberry from HBO’s drama True Blood, makes his Broadway debut opposite pal James Franco and Tony nominee Chris O’Dowd in the acclaimed revival Of Mice and Men. Parrack gives a magnetic performance as Slim, the unofficial leader of the ranch-hands…and as a bonus, he looks like a cooler, hotter version of the Marlboro Man. Broadwaybox caught up with the stage and screen star (who can also be seen in the new film A Night in Old Mexico) to talk about his Romeo and Juliet romance on True Blood, Brando’s best and crying over comic strip characters.
1. When I went to Of Mice and Men plenty of people were crying; what was the last movie or play that moved you to tears?
The last movie that did was Nebraska. The moment in that when they go into his old house and there’s a tree outside the window, I thought about how as a kid he would have looked at the tree and dreamed that maybe life would go different than it did. And the last play I saw that really made me cry was Dog Sees God at our acting school Playhouse West. When [CB] opens the letter from Charles Schulz, the guy who created the Charlie Brown series, and it basically says, “I know you’re going to go through some hard times but everything is going to be ok,”—that gets me.
2. You were directed by James Franco in the film As I Lay Dying, you’ve both worked at Playhouse West, now you’re making your Broadway debuts side by side. What makes you two click as artists?
First off, we really, really admire and want to be around the hunger for expression the other person has. I doubt either of us has spent a moment of our lives thinking about acting as “a profession.” I don’t think people would look at us and say, “those guys are real pros,” in an ugly sort of way. We behave professionally, and we love, appreciate and obsess; we hero worship the people we admire. But the value that each of us brings to it is the idea that acting is personal and it’s rooted in life. The way you go about acting is you really do the thing. I met plenty of people who when they hear that statement they say, “absolutely that's true,” and when it comes time to act, they do something else. And James is not one of those people. And that’s my kind of acting. And we also have a beautiful friendship of almost 13 years now, so when one of your best friends is congruent with your creative beliefs, it's a no brainer.
3. You’re also the president of a production company, 120 productions. To you, what’s the perfect film?
Oh boy. My two favorite films, I think each are perfect in different ways, are On the Waterfront and John Cassavetes’ Husbands. Cassavetes is my creative hero; [Husbands] summarizes what it is to be a male more than anything I’ve ever seen. It's wild and free and funny and honest. And maybe On the Waterfront summarizes what it is to be a broken human being in search of redemption more than anything I’ve ever seen. Those two movies just perfectly, and not too heavy handedly, take you right to the heart of something.
4. What’s the wallpaper on your cell phone?
It’s me and my beautiful girlfriend, Leven Rambin, making out in Times Square after the show one night.
5. If you could only keep one scene from True Blood on your reel, which one makes the cut?
When Jessica and I meet in Merlotte’s. That was the first scene I ever did on camera as an actor that I felt good about—that I liked. I had been in small theatres and studying for a long time and just hadn’t had that experience in front of the cameras yet; something about the camera freaked me out for a couple years. And I think it's a pretty perfectly written television scene and I like the way it unfolded.
I loved your arc with Jessica on that show.
Then stay tuned [laughs].
See Jim Parrack in ‘Of Mice and Men’ at Broadway’s Longacre Theatre.