Exclusive: FRANKIE AND ALICE’s Adrian Holmes Interview
Thirty-six year old Adrian Holmes has been working steadily as an actor for years, but it looks like 2011 will be his break-out year. Besides playing Halle Berry’s love interest Clifton in the Golden Globe-nominated FRANKIE AND ALICE, he also has featured roles in the upcoming Wrecked with Adrien Brody and Red Riding Hood with Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried.
Daemon’s Movies recently talked to Adrian about acting opposite Halle Berry, how his best role is one he hasn’t found yet, and why Gary Oldman gave him a single toothpick.
You seem to have always worked steadily, but these last few years have really gotten busy for you.
Adrian Holmes: Yeah. It’s been pretty crazy. I’ve been enjoying the surf, riding this crazy wave and I hope that it doesn’t end any time soon. I’m just really living in the moment and just having a lot of fun, doing what I love to do. It’s pretty crazy.
How did you get into acting?
Adrian Holmes: I got into acting when I was a kid. I did a lot of plays growing up in elementary school. My first big play was ‘The Wizard of Oz’ where I played the Lion. That was a lot of fun and after the play this little girl asked me for my autography which I found really amusing and I didn’t understand it. My mom was like, ‘You were the lion; you did a great job. Of course she should want your autograph.’ I was like, ‘Okay,’ and that put a nice taste in my mouth. I thought, ‘This is cool.’
I was the middle child of five kids growing up. I had an older step-brother and step-sister and two younger brothers. When you’re the middle child you disappear a little bit. So I was always kind of animated and performing and doing different things to get attention. Believe it or not, even though I did that I was still a little bit shy. So I did that to kind of come out of my shell. So when I got into high school I did drama and I found it really very therapeutic, just performing and getting out there and giving myself an excuse to have a voice and giving myself permission to escape from who I was and kind of hide behind these different characters and these different masks. I just continued grow legs from there. I got an agent. I did some background work. I started getting some smaller parts and some bigger parts and then the next thing you know the last ten years it’s all I’ve been doing. Knock on wood and I thank God everyday.
Lets talk about ‘Frankie and Alice’,’ which has a lot of award buzz. I think it comes out wide in February, but is out in L.A. and New York now?
Adrian Holmes: Yeah. February 4th. That’s when it comes out.
Halle Berry has already been nominated for a Golden Globe, and you play her love interest, right?
Adrian Holmes: That is correct.
Halle Berry plays a woman with multiple personalities in ‘Frankie and Alice.’ How does that affect your character?
Adrian Holmes: Well, my character’s name is Clifton. I’m a DJ in this go-go club that she dances at. It takes place in 1973, that whole era. So she’s going through her multiple personality disorder. I have no clue that she’s suffering from this condition. Our characters basically have this relationship; we flirt at work and one thing leads to another. We go out one night and get a little carried away with drinks and then she comes back to my place. We get a little hot and heavy and she turns into Alice, who is a racist white woman from the south. So, my character was completely taken aback from that and she assaults me, attacks me and it gets really crazy. You’ll understand when you see the movie, and then after that she basically spends the rest of the film in the hands of her psychiatrist played by Stellan Skarsgaard.
It’s a phenomenal story. So many people do suffer from this illness. I did a lot of research for it. I did the project, and funny enough, Halle and I both looked at similar content online for research. It was really cool to collaborate and get together on set and share of the some of the stories. It was really great to watch her in this role. She was so good, so committed. This is her baby. She’s one of the executive producers as well. It’s something that she’s been working on for years, and to be a part of it, this is a piece of history. Her nomination, Golden Globe. Possibly an Oscar, I wouldn’t doubt. It’s really cool to have my name attached to it. It’s very powerful, very moving, very emotional and she’s so great at playing those kinds of roles. That’s what I love about her. She’s so fearless. She can take on anything. She’s so versatile. She can take on anything. I’m hoping to have the same kinds of roles in my library in the years to come.
Does it raise your game as an actor when you perform opposite someone like that?
Adrian Holmes: Absolutely. You can’t show up on a set with an actor like Halle, someone that’s such an A-lister, a gold medalist in the industry and not be prepared and not raise your game. It’s like playing one on one with Michael Jordan. You can play with your boys in the yard, but when you’re playing with somebody that’s such a professional they can see through the bullshit and you can’t get away with a lot of those things, those tricks that you might get away with on your friends. So I love working with people that are going to push me and challenge me and bring out the best in me. That’s why I’m in this industry, to push myself and to be the best that I can be.
Ironically enough I wasn’t that nervous to work with her. As excited as I was to work with her I wasn’t nervous because I was just excited about doing good work. I just wanted to make a good movie, do a good film and the better that I am in this film the better everyone is. It’s a collaboration and I know what type of an actress Halle is and how she approaches her work. She’s so committed and I didn’t want to be the loose end. I wanted to make sure that I was competing on the same level and doing my best to put out a great project. From what I’ve heard we’ve all done that and I’m really excited and proud. It’s been a great ride.
And then you worked with Gary Oldman in the upcoming ‘Red Riding Hood’. That story terrified me as a kid and I can only imagine what it’s like with a werewolf.
Adrian Holmes: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. At the beginning of this year I felt that something big was coming. I felt that 2010 was going to be a good year for me and I felt that this summer there was something coming. I didn’t know what it was, but it was just in the back of my mind. And then sure enough right after my play–I did a musical called ‘Wild Party’ in Maine–and right after that I got this audition for ‘Red Riding Hood’ and I heard that Leonardo DiCaprio was attached to it. I thought that he was in the movie, but he was producing the movie. I didn’t know that Gary Oldman was in the movie. I didn’t know much about it. I knew that Catherine Hardwicke was directing it–she directed ‘Twilight’. I went in and had three or four call backs for the part and what a rush that was. Everybody was just so excited to be there and I think that’s because of Catherine. She really set the tone. She’s got a great energy and is very, very passionate about this movie and we had a lot of fun. That’s what I really liked about working on this.
The sets were crazy. They were so elaborate, the detail that they put into building the sets. The whole movie was shot–most of it was shot on a soundstage, but we made it look like outside during the wintertime with snow and everything. We had all this incredible fake snow that they brought in. You walk in, and it’s the summertime that we shot in, it’s warm outside and it’s like this winter wonderland. It’s supposed to be cold and I’m wearing this captain’s garb, this really crazy soldier outfit and it was very comfortable, but it was quite warm after running around for hours. So we’re supposed to be cold, but yet you’re sweating and there was no cold air coming out of your mouth. But we made it work and I think it’s going to look visually stuning. The DP Mandy [Walker] was the DP on ‘Australia’. She was fantastic. So I know it’s going to look great.
Gary Oldman was amazing. He’s one of the greatest character actors of our time and I’m one of his biggest fans. I didn’t know who was going to show up. I didn’t know if Dracula was going to show up or what, what kind of guy, but when we had the read through and he came in and really blew us all away because a lot of times stars don’t show up for the read through. They just show up when they have to be there and he came and he really committed and was really excited and gave us his all. What I really learned from him is that even in our rehearsals he gave us a hundred percent. Some actors in rehearsal will kind of go through the motions, but won’t really give you everything. But Gary would be there in jeans and a T-shirt and just giving a hundred percent to really let us know where we were at and what to expect from him. That made us all look at each other and go, ‘Okay, this is where we’re at.’ He was great. There was one time that I was looking for a toothpick on set and I asked him if he had a toothpick because he had one earlier. He said, ‘No. I don’t have a toothpick.’ Later on, one of the ADs comes to me with this little napkin all folded up and I said, ‘What’s this?’ He goes, ‘Compliments of Gary Oldman,’ and I open up the napkin and it’s just this toothpick. This single toothpick was folded up. I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I looked over at him and he gave me this little wink. He’s just so funny. He had a great sense of humor and a big Beatles fan. Him and Lukas Haas, Lukas plays the guitar and so they’d be jamming all the time on set. Lukas would be playing Beatles tunes and the two of them would be harmonizing and singing Beatles songs. So we’d all have a little pow-wow in the corner in between takes, listening to the Beatles. It was just really fun and I miss that experience. I made a lot of great friendships in the process. Gary and I are still in touch which is great and it’s really helped sharpen my sword as an actor, having those experiences.
Then there’s ‘Wrecked with Adrien Brody. Now, you shot ‘Wrecked’ in 2008, right, and it’s just getting a release date?
Adrian Holmes: Actually, no. We shot ‘Wrecked’ in February of this year in Vancouver. We shot ‘Frankie and Alice’ in 2008. ‘Wrecked’ we shot in February this year. We shot it up on Vancouver Island there in the forest and that was crazy. Adrien Brody really had to overcome a lot of obstacles for this film. He had to really sacrifice a lot. He had to eat all sorts of crazy things like bugs and be out there in the cold and go down the river, which was not the warmest river at all. He just threw himself at it a hundred percent. He was so intense, so driven, and he was a really great guy as well.
Am I missing any projects that you have coming out soon?
Adrian Holmes: I just finished a movie called ‘Hangar 14’ with Stone Cold Steve Austin and Michael Jai White and I’m not sure when that is going to be released, but look for it on DVD.
And you’ve worked with Steve Austin before, right?
Adrian Holmes: Yeah. This is my third movie with him. I did ‘Damage,’ about an underground fight club, and ‘Hunt to Kill,’ an action/vengeance movie. He’s always great to work with.
Do you have a favorite role or project so far?
Adrian Holmes: The best role, my favorite role hasn’t been done yet. I’m always looking forward. I’m always wanting to better myself and practice my craft, find the right opportunities, and I think the best is yet to come. I’ve had so much fun working. ‘Red Riding Hood’ was a ball, working on a movie of that scale. I hadn’t done anything that size before. It was an incredible experience working with Halle as well. That was a real highlight. I’ve just been very blessed.
Looking forward, what would your dream role be and who would you love to work with that you haven’t yet?
Adrian Holmes: I’d love to work with Will Smith. I think we definitely speak the same language. He’s very motivated and just very high on life and it’s all about inspiring and being an inspiration and that’s basically how I live and I think. So I think that working with him would be a real great accomplishment. Denzel [Washington] of course. He’s a great actor as well and I’ve learned so much from him. Morgan Freeman. There’s a lot of them. But I’d say that right now I’d really like to work with Will.
You’ve done a lot of drama. Do you prefer that to comedy?
Adrian Holmes: Unfortunately I haven’t had much opportunity to do comedy. I would love to sink my teeth in some good comedic roles. I find that the dramatic roles kind of come naturally. I see myself more as a Denzelian style actor, very intense. But I want to be an actor that is versatile and can’t be placed in a box like Will Smith. That’s why I admire Will, because he does everything. He does action. He does drama. He does comedy. He does everything. He creates his own projects. I’d love to be versatile like that.
What does 2011 hold for you, do you think?
Adrian Holmes: I just leave it to God because he’s writing my story and he’s done a pretty good job so far. So I’m just going to leave it in his hands and trust and just be ready so that I don’t have to get ready. That’s my motto, just always be ready and be focused and keep the right people in my camp and just have fun. This is a process. It’s a dream to be able to make a living in this profession, to be truthful in imaginary circumstances. I’ve always loved telling stories and to get paid to do it for a living is a dream come true. I have nothing to complain about. I’m very blessed and I just hope to be able to have longevity and do it for a long time.
Be sure to catch Adrian in Frankie and Alice, which opens in select theaters February 4, Red Riding Hood, which premieres March 11, and Wrecked, which will hit theaters at some point in 2011.
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