With the special screening of Hectic Films' "A Familiar Spirit" coming up on September 10th at Heroes & Horror Con III in Bakersfield, CA, Jesse Najera collaborated with Sara Carey to interview one of the stars, Chris Kovacs.
You've attended San Diego State and NY Film Academy; how do you think these schools influenced your life regarding film?
The New York Film Academy forced me to look at movies and performances completely differently. I now see tiny details in movies, and the choices actors make in their performances. Method acting allowed me to take my raw skills and concentrate them in a more meaningful way. Meisner was one of the main classical methods I learned and having an absolute belief under imaginary circumstances has been invaluable to my acting. San Diego State helped broaden my thinking and help grow as a person. I actually went back to college to get my bachelors degree in Political Science and minored in Journalism. Acting takes dedication and years of study and practice; that is probably the closest relation to being a student at San Diego State. I have always wanted to graduate college because I like challenging myself.
Tell us about your first acting role and how you got started. What drew you to acting as a career choice? How did you become involved with hectic films?
My first acting role that I auditioned for was a play in my hometown. I played Officer Brophy in "Arsenic and Old Lace". It wasn’t a large role, but I remember preparing for it as if I were the lead on Broadway. I’ve always loved to play “make believe” and acting always came naturally. I first became interested in acting, (believe it or not) when I saw "The Lion King". As soon as I found out that Jonathan Taylor Thomas played young Simba, I remember thinking, why the heck couldn’t I do that too? I became involved with Hectic Films through my friendship with Rachel Bird. We worked together in Burbank, CA and I got to know her husband Rickey Bird through Facebook. Very quickly we became friends. We had planned to work together much sooner although conflicts in scheduling never worked out. Recently Rickey asked me if I would be interested in auditioning for Jim in A Familiar Spirit, jumping at the chance, I of course said, “Yes!”
Is there a type of role that you feel drawn to, or wish you could play more?
I consider myself a nice, all-American type guy, so the thought of playing someone twisted with something wrong with them always intrigued me. I enjoy playing “the hero” but dramatic roles that challenge me as an actor are the most fun to play. For example, I would love to play someone like the Joker or Patrick Bateman in "American Psycho".
What movies do you feel were formative for you? Do you have a favorite movie genre or theme?
A few films that I felt were formative for me were: "Saving Private Ryan", "Braveheart", and "American Beauty". I think my jaw was on the floor after watching each of those films. Every single one left a lasting impression on me. I absolutely love all types of films, but if I had to choose one movie genre or theme it’d have to be true-life stories. I appreciate great writing as much as the next person and I think writers deserve every bit of credit as the actors, but sometimes the most amazing stories come from actual events.
Tell us about your character, Jim, in "A Familiar Spirit". What was it like to play him? Your character has a hard time believing in the paranormal. Do you feel the same way? How would you react if you were told, or thought, your house was haunted?
There is definitely more to Jim than meets the eye. He is full of confidence and truly believes he can take on the world, but his lack of success in the entertainment industry is what’s keeping him back. He loves his girlfriend and wants to provide for her in every way he can, but like most struggling actors, money isn’t falling from the sky. He also passionately denies any possibility of there being ghosts in the house despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
It was great playing Jim, some of his offbeat humorous remarks are something I could see myself saying. Yes, Jim does have a hard time in believing in the paranormal, but I’m less skeptical than he is. I’m of the school of thought that you shouldn’t mess with stuff like that. Who knows if there is a “door you can’t close.” I’m not anxious to contact the paranormal. I’ve had some weird things happen and that’s about as close as I ever want to get. If someone told me my house was haunted, I would stay with family or friends and sell the house immediately. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’d also probably sue the realtor and previous owner for not disclosing the fact that the house was haunted!
You only get to watch one actor for the rest of your life, you can't see any other movies if they don't play a role in them. Who would you choose and why?
Wow, that’s a tough one! I have so many people that I look up to, but if I could only watch one person for the rest of my life, I’d choose Robin Williams. His talent truly blows me away and he was one of the most diverse actors around. His stand-up comedy had me in stitches laughing, and his dramatic roles were truly heartbreaking. One of my favorite things to do was to act out his standup to friends and family. His passing was absolutely devastating. It was one of the few times I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach when I heard that he had passed away.
And finally, what would your advice be to budding actors?
My advice to budding actors is to follow your heart. Don’t compromise your character or integrity for the sake of a role. Stay true to yourself and know your worth. Another tip is to be kind to everyone! Even if you are having a terrible day, you don’t want to be known as a difficult actor to work with. I would also say it’s important to act as much as you can. Audition for plays, read scripts and truly become an expert. Lastly, one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given was, set a time limit on how long you are willing to pursue acting with no real success. If after 7 years, or however long you choose, you are not happy with where you are at, do something else and move on with your life. I believe one of the saddest things is wasting your entire life on something that may never happen. Some people are perfectly fine taking that chance. But that is something that you have figure out for yourself.