Opening January 30, Project Almanac centers on David Raskin (Jonny Weston), an intelligent high school student who finds a mysterious device left by his late father. Along with sister Christina (Virginia Gardner), potential girlfriend Jessie (Sofia Black-D’Elia) and best friends Quinn and Adam (Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista), go on an uplifting, yet ultimately unnerving, time travel journey that profoundly alters their lives.
Jonny Weston, who will also be seen this year opposite Shailene Woodley in Insurgent and Zac Efron in the EDM drama “We Are Your Friends,” has started from couch surfing as a struggling actor to landing plum feature film roles (he played surfer Jay Moriarty in the inspiring drama “Chasing Mavericks”).
During our phone interview, Weston talked about his “Project Almanac” experience and explained why acting didn’t enter his life until he turned 18.
David’s a genius, but is a slightly insecure guy, especially when it comes to his budding relationship with Jessie.
It was frustrating at times, because in order to play David I had to kind of focus on a lot of my insecurities I was fed up with and held back from when I was in high school. To revisit that and live in that temperament was pretty off-putting.
Was doing Project Almanac an instant no-brainer for you?
You never really know how badly you want (to do) the film until you start reading with the other actors and you start working with the director and thinking, ‘I’m going to be stuck on set with these guys in a remote town for (a number of months).’
I loved the script and the more I got involved with the people, it just got better and better. But it was a good four or five months of being told “Maybe,” “No,” or “Yes.”
To be an actor, it must take a lot of perseverance to work in this business, especially going through the rigors of the audition process.
If you love what you do, all of those things fall to the ground and break. If you want to make films because you love it or you want to make something meaningful, failure is just kind of a speed bump. So yeah, perseverance is relative – it just depends on what you want to get out of this industry.
It is what you make it, but I’m constantly surprised. It was the best part of my day – I loved it. It’s really interesting to start getting paid for something that you feel is improving you as a person as well. It’s a real trip. If it doesn’t make you happy, I wouldn’t even recommend getting started.
Is that the advice you give fellow actors?
Yes. I had a talk with one of my buddies the other day. Some of my friends who’ve started acting – I really want to give them that talk. I don’t want them to get frustrated for five years and find out that they’ve wasted all their time, you know? But the rewards are endless.
Is the best education for you as an actor seeing the world and applying it to your craft? Because in the end, the more you know about your job, the better.
That’s right. That’s why I didn’t even consider acting until I was 18. I never even considered it once. And I took this theater class on a fluke and I’m really glad I had a normal high school experience. That really grounded me.
When you’re shooting a scene, is there a key in staying in the moment?
I think that comes to making it very personal to you. Making the world and the situation seem more personal to yourself. And then you forget you’re on a movie set.
You also have to remember there is, like you were saying, that along with the training comes the understanding that it is a job and there’s a camera and you have to play to it. If you do personal work on the character, then it doesn’t matter.
The funny thing about the human mind is it focuses on the most important thing. So if the most important thing is people thinking you’re great then you will not be able to focus on the scene and vice versa.
Do you like to watch your movies with an audience to get that visceral reaction?
I used to think that I’m never going to watch myself – but it comes down to a point where you’re kind of insulting everyone that you collaborated with if you don’t go and see it. It helps if the movie is really fun and the director did a great job.
Certainly it’s gratifying to see people have a real, guttural reaction to your film. But I try not to focus on that too much because I don’t want to be that person who’s looking at myself while I’m working.
Thank you so much for your time and good luck with the film.
Thank you man, I appreciate it.