Interview with up and coming young actor Sam Rosen who delivers a break-out, scene stealing performance in The Oranges.
Sam Rosen plays Ethan who is dumped by his girlfriend, Nina Ostroff (Leighton Meester)after she catches him cheating on her at a party. After years away, Nina retreatsto her family’s home in suburbia in time for Thanksgiving and falls in love with her parents’ best friend, David Walling (Hugh Laurie), a man old enough to be her father who has known her since she was a child. Their affair throws the lives of both families – the Ostroffs and Wallings – into chaos as David and Nina go public with their affections. And to make matters worse, Ethan shows up determined to win his ex-girlfriend back.
Q: Are you pleased with the film? A: Oh man, yeah, I’m really excited about it. It’s the biggest thing I’ve been in thus far and the coolest thing by a mile, so it’s pretty great.
Q: He’s a great character… A: He’s a fantastic character and you know I get some great lines in the film – the dialogue is just fantastic. They wrote a ton of great lines and you try not to screw them up and deliver them to the best of your ability and if somebody gives you the thumbs up, that’s great.
Q: Ethan starts out as an edgy kind of bad boy but later in the story we see that he’s actually quite vulnerable and realises that he made a big mistake in losing Nina. It gives you plenty to play with.. A: For some reason I play these characters that could go either way, like they could be scumbag jerks or they could be a nice guy. But I try to make them likable. And I don’t think that Ethan is all bad. He screws up but who hasn’t done that? I think he’s a guy who is in the moment and going for it. And he shows back up looking for Nina when his heart tells him to do that.
Q: How did you get the part? A: As far as I know they saw a lot of other guys. I auditioned for the part and I remember gong into the room and waiting in a lobby and recognising almost all of the other guys that were there for the call. And it was one of those auditions where you could hear what was going on in the room, which is just terrifying (laughs). We were in New York and I kind of went for it and there was a good feeling in the room and I came out and I’ll never forget this, I looked around at the other guys and literally, the whole room gave me the thumbs up. And I was like ‘alright, that must have gone OK..’ And then there was a call back and another call back and they brought me back from some other roles and they weren’t sure if they were going to go with me for Ethan. I think I had three or four call backs and finally I got the call to say I’d got it and that was just great.
Q: So it represents a big break for you? A: Oh absolutely, this is a huge break for me.
Q: So what was it like making the film? Were you nervous with that cast? A: Oh yeah, I was really nervous because this was the biggest thing I’ve been on. I showed up on set and I think I worked with Allison (Janney) for my first day and she was literally stopping and saying ‘let him try this..’ stuff we had been messing around with in rehearsal. She was so welcoming and clearing stuff for me to play and Julian (director) was up for it and it was so much fun to play. And Hugh (Laurie) was so much fun to play with and you know you get that feeling where it’s like ‘am I just goofing? Because this is so much fun…’ But between the writers, who wrote such a great screenplay and Julian giving us the room to try things, it was a great experience.
Q: Is it true that you didn’t have trailers but shared a house near where you were filming? Did that help break down the barriers? A: There was a house just down the block from the houses that we filmed in and we would just hang around there all day and we would hang out and talk and bullshit and we would just walk down to the other house and do our scenes. So it was a great environment and we all got really comfortable with each other and that helps with the stuff you do in front of the cameras. We had a couple of real houses – just the same as the families live in the story. My apartment for the party scene at the beginning of the film is in Brooklyn, which, again, is where that apartment would be, it’s where these guys would be living and that was a fun day too and it’s always nice, when you are immersed in real locations.
Q: It’s a story that has to walk a tightrope with an unconventional relationship between an older man and a younger woman at the heart of it. What did you make of it?: A: You know morality is a tricky thing. There was a woman who stood up at the Q and A we did after the screening at the Toronto Film Festival and said ‘I don’t agree with it morally..’ and to me I would say to her ‘what do you mean when you say that? You don’t agree with people finding happiness? You don’t agree with people following their hearts?’ There’s nothing illegal about it and these people make the decision to follow this thing through in front of the people it affects and everybody has to sit down in that room and say what they feel about it and I sort of think that’s the best way to go about dealing with this stuff. Of course there’s going to be anger, of course there are going to be hurt feelings but you should get that stuff out there and talk about it. To me, that’s one of the great things about the movie – it’s funny, it’s moving and it makes you think and it’s a great talking piece. People see this movie and they want to talk about it – and that’s great.
Q: How would you define the film? Is it a comedy? Or a drama? A: To me it’s a comedy – or in the broad spectrum of things you have to call it a comedy with a dark edge. But I can definitely see it being a movie that opens up a lot of dialogue and discussion. I find that when I mention the main plot twist of the movie, Hugh and Leighton’s story, that it’s a guy who ends up having a relationship with the daughter of his friend and neighbour, I get a lot of eye rolls because people think they know what it’s going to be. And it’s not that at all. But it is a hard movie to describe and I guess you might say that it’s about a group of people dealing with the choices they are making in their lives and trying to find happiness and how that effects others.
Q: How did you get into acting? A: I started out doing children’s theatre and plays when I was 12, 13 years old. I come from a theatrical family – my Dad is a writer and my Mom has done everything from costumes to acting and my Uncle had Tony award winning theatre company. So I was kind of immersed in it when I was growing up and that path led me to New York and off Broadway and now this. I’m still living in Brooklyn but man, give me a job and I’ll go anywhere (laughs).