December 2015 - Cover Story - True Words from Jim Parrack
It was another year of promoting the annual Santa Fe Comic Con and I was prepared for the outrageous cosplay costumes that took some folks a year to create and the celebrities who would be gracing us with their presence. What I wasn’t expecting was the openness of one star in particular. I didn’t know what to expect with Jim Parrack. Dressed in jeans and leather jacket with a laid-back presence, I wasn’t sure if Parrack would be overflowing with feedback or a quiet soul that I would have to pull information from. Just finished filming Priceless here in New Mexico, releasing next year, Jim wasn’t unfamiliar with the territory, sharing previous projects that he worked on. But it was the next question that lead me to believe that this interview would be very interesting.
When asked how he felt about this year’s comic con, Parrack replied, “I don’t really like this shit too much.” Now, before you comic con fans start a riot, Jim explained what he meant. “I like the people, but I don’t know how to interact in a situation like this, so I get very uncomfortable.” I wanted to know more. Actors are used to meeting with their public. I asked if it was the size of the crowd or the experience in general that lead to being uncomfortable. “I’m not understanding how to be here,” shared Parrack. “It’s an unnatural way to interact. People would say somebody is worth extra interact at the table - I don’t buy that. I feel like we’re just people. So, it’s not that I judge it, I just don’t understand, expect to just say, ‘Hey, how ya doing?’
For Parrack, meeting his fans or the everyday Joe is an occurrence that happens naturally. “It’s usually just an organic thing, that you cross paths or something. We’re human, we have an instinct for that,” says Parrack. “I don’t have no kind of instinct of what to do when someone puts you at a table and people gotta pay…It’s just very uncomfortable, but I love watching. I wish I could just sit back and watch.”
Well, fans have been watching Jim, who made a name for himself, as Hoyt Fortenberry, on the HBO series True Blood, and his drive for acting came from watching a very influential actor. “I saw this mini-series Lonesome Dove with Robert Duvall and it just blew me away,” says Parrack. “It’s one thing to think about it, but I started acting a little bit and found that I loved it. You know how a dog likes to chase a tennis ball - that’s how I feel.” Parrack has worked alongside with talented actors like Brad Pitt, James Franco, and the man who influenced him - Robert Duvall, but when asked who he had on his “dream list” to work with, he shared that there was one actor he would love to work with. “A lot of them I’ve gotten to work with, but I saw Al Pacino in a play Glengarry Glen Ross - that would be a dream.”
The talk of working with legends lead to talk of upcoming projects. Parrack shared a few of the movies he’s been working on. “There’s this movie coming out, The Adderall Diaries, next summer it’s Suicide Squad. I did a movie with my wife called Tatterdemalion, it’s a physiological thriller.” When asked what the experience was like working with his wife - simply put, “It’s the shit.” The conversation turned back to True Blood. Jim didn’t expect the fan base that it would create and popularity it would form. Parrack did admit that he didn’t see it coming. “I don’t think I was very aware of it. I think what I was really aware of was parts started like this, but I get to that. (creating a “Point A to Point B” scenario with his fingers.) My enthusiasm about the show was ‘this is good stuff that’s happening’. I really didn’t have a sense of the rest of it.”
Parrack’s trip to Santa Fe was not only to meet with fans but give something back to actors looking to make a career in film, creating a three-night course for them to learn for his experiences. “I’m real upfront. There is no way in three nights of sitting down that you can walk away saying, ‘Got it’. What I’m hoping to do is help people define for themselves what’s ‘being a better actor’. I’m looking to perk up people’s curiosity, see if I can inspire them and give them a little taste of an approach that might be or might not be for them.” Another thing that Parrack was passionate about in this teaching was building actors that have respect for their craft. “If I wanted to be a doctor and I ran into your emergency room and said, ‘Ready’, you’d die and I’d go to prison. But actors, they think they’re special. So it’s become a mixed crowd of people who are devoted - have respect for what they’re doing and who came before them. Then you have people who don’t want to get a job and be treated special. If actors in America has a bad wrap, it’s partially deserved.”
When it comes to his legacy and what he would like it to be, a question he hasn’t been asked before, Parrack looks at what’s to come to inspire people. “The things I did…and this is next chapter - I have no say in what I’ve done before, I’m developing myself,” shared Parrack. “But what I do here forward, I hope, increases people’s appetite for life. Whatever I do, it stirs you up and makes you want more out of life…and then just die.”
Needless to say, the interview ended with a laugh and with me feeling refreshed to witness the honesty of such a devoted actor. Whether it’s on the street, on a set or in a classroom, Jim Parrack has something to teach and you will walk away with a valuable lesson.