Sean Faris, the actor best known for his roles in Never Back Down and Yours, Mine and Ours, is part of the all-star cast of Pawn, a story about a robbery gone wrong in a small-town diner. Faris plays Nick, a young man just released from prison who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time as the robbery unfolds.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Faris about the film. We talked about what drew him to the role, the experience of working with such a phenomenal cast, and much more.
Check out the full interview below.
We Got This Covered: For readers who aren’t familiar with Pawn, can you tell us a little about the film?
Sean Faris: Pawn is a thriller/hostage situation that takes place in an all-night diner… It’s an intense hostage situation that is happening in a diner that is actually being run as a front for the mafia. The guys who are robbing the place have a little bit more in store for them than what they planned on their way in. I guess that’s the best I can describe it without giving it away.
WGTC: What specifically drew you to this role?
Faris: There were a lot of factors that drew me in. The script had so many twists and turns in the first twenty minutes that I sat down to read it that I didn’t know what was going on, which is essentially what you want in a suspense-filled thriller. Also, it was a very visual script. You could really see the way everything played out as you were reading it. Not to mention the cast that was attached to it at the time. They already had Michael Chiklis and Ray Liotta and Nikki Reed, and they were in talks with Forest Whitaker. That alone right there is going to suck anyone in.
Also, it’s just the way that it all plays out. At the end of the day, when I finished the script, I really like the idea of a script that’s non-linear. You’re constantly guessing and trying to figure out what’s going on. It really had me questioning what the real deal was until the very end, and I just couldn’t pass on it. Great cast and cool script, I’m in.
WGTC: You touched on the cast a little bit, but they’re not only big names, but really talented actors. How was it working with that cast?
Faris: It was awesome. It was a bit of an acting workshop. You’ve got Michael Chiklis who kind of ran the show with the actors on the set and set the example of professionalism and incredible preparedness at all times. The guy was multi-tasking the entire time he was there. He was producing, he was acting, he was open to help us out with our different ideas.
You’ve got to understand, we shot this film in 15 days, and that alone is quite a bit of a challenge, but also, the script is non-linear, and when you shoot a script you always shoot out of order, you’re here, you’re there, all over the place, but we had to constantly come together collectively and figure out what exactly was happening in this particular scene. You couldn’t just turn back to the script itself since the script is out of order. There’s no clear arc to the script until the end of the movie. Until you’ve seen it all cut together. So there were times when we were sitting there going ‘What just happened? Where are we coming from and where are we going?’ Michael Chiklis was the man that was on it with all that. He really kept us on track there.
Working with Forest Whitaker, all I have to say is three hours with him was the greatest acting lesson I’ve ever had. Single best three hours as an actor that I’ve ever spent. I learned more from him in three hours than I did in 10 years of acting class.
Everybody was so good. I was really enjoying being in the scenes with everyone. When you’ve got great actors, you just get prepared, come in there, do your work, and it’s fun.
WGTC: You guys shot in 15 days? Were there any setbacks you ran into where it seemed like you may not fit things in that tight schedule?
Faris: Every day we didn’t think we were going to fit the tight schedule! Every single day. It was a bit crazy. We all came together as a whole and understood we’re not here for any luxury time. There was a day or two where at least eight members of the cast were called into set and sat around the entire day. 12 hours and didn’t shoot anything. Because we didn’t know where we were going to need people. 90% of the film takes place in the diner. We didn’t know what angles were going to be seen or this and that. It was in those days we were like, ‘If we don’t get through these scenes today, how’re we going to make it happen? How’re we going to make it up?’ But, we all got through it together with some long, long, long days. In our last three days I think we were doing 17 to 19 hour days of shooting to make it happen. We did do some re-shoots too.
WGTC: With that being David A. Armstrong’s directorial debut, how was it working with him?
Faris: He was pretty calm and pretty cool through it all considering. He was pretty relaxed which was essential to us having confidence and it coming through. When we were freaking out he would just say, ‘Don’t worry about it, we’re going to get it, we’re going to make it happen. We’ll bring it all together.’
He was also very collaborative in some respects. There was a scene between myself and Jordan Belfi where we had gotten together and spoke about it, it’s the one where we’re sitting in the diner having pie and coffee. The way it was written before, it felt like it was missing an aspect of brotherly love. That no matter what, whether you get along or don’t, at the end of the day, you’re brothers and you’re family, you’re blood and that comes through. David Armstrong was gracious enough that when we came to him and said, ‘Do you mind if we kind of tweak some things with this scene to give it a little bit more life. I mean I have an older brother in real life, Jamie has a younger brother in real life, and we have that understanding that there’s just a little aspect that we’re not finding here, do you mind if we work it out?’ And he was awesome about it. Jordan and I went home and kind of reworked the scene. We kept the same tone, but we kind of changed up some of the dialogue and some of the direction it was going and we came in the next day and showed it to David, and he loved what we did, so we essential got to shoot it. That doesn’t happen all the time. Sometimes it does, but it depends on the director. Sometimes you’ll have a director who’s willing to hear you out and collaborate with you and bend a little bit, and sometimes you don’t. Fortunately, he was one that was down to collaborate, and we really appreciated that.
WGTC: The film opened in a theatre in LA over the weekend right? How was the response?
Faris: Everyone that saw it seemed to really like it. I saw it, and I really enjoyed it. As far as I know, the numbers are good for us only being on one screen so I feel like it was pretty well received.
I know that some of the critics gave it a moderate review as far as the twists and turns that happen. I think some of that comes from the fact we re-shot three days of it in LA, and I feel like a little bit of it was having a hard time matching to what we originally had. But I think considering what we had, and the amount of time and money the project had behind it, I think that we did a pretty good job of bringing it all together.
WGTC: Star Wars is casting right now and the internet is full of rumours about Justice League. If you had your choice of any role at all, which franchise would you rather join?
Faris: Ahh, that’s a tough one. I mean I don’t know. Star Wars is something I grew up with, so I think I’d have to go with that because I was so into the Star Wars growing up. Then again, everything that they’ve been doing with comic book stuff lately has been phenomenal. That’s a really tough question. Honestly, if I had my pick of whichever I wanted to do at any point, I think I’d have to flip a coin and just say whichever one lands on heads goes this way whichever one lands on tails goes that way and let it fly. That’d be a really tough one to pick between. If you put a gun to my head though, I think I’d have to go Justice League.
WGTC: Do you have anything else planned that you can talk about?
Faris: I’m currently shooting Pretty Little Liars. I play a detective on the show, on ABC Family. Also I have an international film that I shot in Hong Kong, called Lost For Words, it’s currently doing the film festival circuit. It actually won the jury award for best feature at WorldFest in Houston. I was nominated for best actor at the festival, I didn’t get it though. But yeah, I’m just working on Pretty Little Liars right now, and we’ll see what comes up next.
I’d like to thank Sean for giving us his time for this interview. Be sure to check out Pawn, which is now available on Blu-ray!