In McCann’s Nowhere Man, Rochon plays “Jennifer”, a woman who, at the start of the movie, may be quite insane. For reasons that will become clear as the story unfolds, she assaulted her fiancée, Conrad (Michael Rodwick), and castrated him. As the movie begins, she is holding his severed member for ransom and our sympathies lie completely with Conrad. Later, layers are pulled away, and we begin to see that Jennifer may be more the victim than victimizer. “Nowhere Man” is a challenging movie—not only from the standpoint of the actors, but for the audience as well. There is nothing mainstream about this film, nor is there anything artificial. To achieve this, the notoriously-demanding McCann insisted on nothing but the best from his actors.
“And I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Rochon says. “You need someone who knows more than you do and has vision and knows how to push you farther than you push yourself. That’s what he does. He gets performances out of his actors that actors can’t do themselves and most directors don’t know how to do. He’s a real talent and it was a real privilege to be able to work with him. He knows how to run his sets and his actors so that by the end of the shoot he has gotten every last bit possible out of everyone involved. He’s also brutally honest. For better or worse. Trust me—for a real artist it’s better, because pandering doesn’t push an artist to do their best and look back with pride and with a feeling like they really put their balls to the wall and kicked out the best performance they were capable of.
Rochon stresses, however, that while she had to stay on top of her game on “Nowhere Man” to give McCann what he wanted, she gave the same effort to “Dr. Horror”. To the untrained eye, it may seem that comedy is easier than drama, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Remember the apocryphal saying: “Dying is easy; comedy is hard.”
“Neither should be under estimated! When done badly, drama becomes melodrama and comedy becomes schlock. Approaching comedy is demanding because you have to understand energy, timing, beats, purpose and doing it all with a sense of ease. Then if you don’t have a good partner, all that won’t even matter because it will all fall flat anyway. So once you have the material squared away, casting is the single most important thing of all. In drama, you need a terrific sense of concentration and deep commitment. You have to have a director who knows what he or she is doing and a partner that will make your job easier because of what they’re bringing to the table not harder. Again, the casting of your partners will make or break you again. In both cases I had directors who were perfect for each genre. Tim McCann for ‘Nowhere Man’ and Paul Scrabo for ‘Dr. Horror’.”
Of course, there is a very important building block that no movie can be without—or would even exist without. “Everything starts with the script regardless of the film’s budget,” Rochon asserts. “I can’t say enough how important a script is and how much it will make or break the flick if you don’t spend enough time on it. With good material you can do anything on any budget, you can really shine. Comedy, drama, horror—anything. Being just the actor I can only do so much, or try to do so much with the script.”
With “Dr. Horror” in limited release—currently being self-distributed by director Scrabo—and “Nowhere Man” making the festival rounds, Rochon has been able to sit back and see the films and her performances for what they are. And the verdict?
“I am deeply proud of both! ‘Nowhere Man’ will always be a project I am proud of and one that even now I am amazed I did! It was very scary and risky stuff for me and while I get nervous about its release from time to time, I stand by it all the way and point to it as one of the pinnacles of my career so far. With ‘Dr. Horror’, I was very pleased because I could watch it and laugh and really enjoy it. That is so rare when you watch one of your own films and derive pleasure out of the experience! I honestly think it’s really funny and deserves some sort of camp/cult status. On both films I just feel so lucky to have really amazing performers to bounce my acting off of and have it make a difference! In ‘Nowhere Man’ I had the amazing Michael Roderick and with ‘Dr. Horror’ I had the hilarious Trent Haaga, Nathan Sears and Michael Thomas—to mention only a few.”
Posted on March 29, 2005 in Interviews by Mike Watt
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