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Interview with Jonathan Keltz from the upcoming movie “Prom”

April 17, 2011

We had the opportunity to speak with Jonathan Keltz who stars in the upcoming movie “Prom.”  We would like to thank Jonathan for his time and fantastic interview.  “Prom” opens April 29th.

Before The Trailer:   What was the defining point in your life when you decided you wanted to be an actor?

Jonathan Keltz: I was pretty well able to make that decision at a young age.  I grew up with very passionate parents.  So at a young age I knew I wanted to find that passion, that thing that drove me like it drove them.  I think it was about fourth or fifth grade that I decided this is what I wanted to do. Obviously at that age, I really wasn’t at a place where I could commit to it, but I started doing theater, started doing stuff in school and taking classes outside of school in about sixth or seventh grade.

I was living in upstate New York at the time.  It wasn’t until I moved to Toronto when I went into High School that I started to act professionally.  It took me a couple of years to get my work visa and everything sorted out.  Then I got right to the work. I was about sixteen when I started acting professionally, but I had been studying for a number of years before that.  Once I started going professionally, I knew that is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and its motivation that has carried me ‘til now.

BTT: Were your parent actors? Were they the ones that inspired you?

JK:  They were not actors.  My dad was a co-founder of Scholastic Productions so he was very much involved in the industry when I was younger and my mom was in PR, so she was involved in that side of things.  When I first told my dad in fourth grade I wanted to be an actor when I was older, he said, ‘No you don’t, we will talk when you are older.’  Once I showed my passion, dedication and motivation for it, that is when he absolutely came on board.  My parents have been so supportive of it, and very supportive of my dream, since the get go really.

BTT: Can you tell us about the plot for your new film, “Prom” and about your character in the movie?

JK: Yeah, I play Brandon Roberts, which is the first love interest of Nova Prescott which is played by Aimee Teegarden.  I’m sort of the All-American prep kid.  I am on the rowing team, the golf team, the debate team, the swim team, president of student council.  I am on the prom committee with her. Basically I am doing anything I can to create that perfect application for college, the consummate overachiever, trying to do everything.  Me and Nova have been competing for valedictorian, top of the class, everything;  pretty much since kindergarten.  We are co-captains of the swim team, we’re  together on the prom committee.  So she has been pining away over me all of these years.  She thinks I am her perfect guy and I have just been completely oblivious to this.  I have been focused beyond high-school, beyond Princeton and college and what not and my future ahead of me.

BTT: If you had to compare the movie to other movies, or a combination of movies is there anything you would compare this movie to?

JK: Yeah, it’s very much like a Disney like teen, “Love Actually” meets a John Hughes movie.  It’s sort of your ensemble cast.  Everyone’s individual journey, with their couple, with whoever they are in love with and that journey to that big night, to prom, that final night together before we all go off and lead the rest of our lives, so it’s pretty much about that individual journey and what happens.  We try to show as many sides of that story as we could.

BTT: When you were getting ready for your role, was there anyone in particular that you based your character upon?

JK:  I certainly had quite a bit overachiever in my blood.  I am an ambitious guy.  I did row on the crew team, I did do a number of these different things.  There was a long time, where before I started acting professionally, I did everything I could to apply and get into the Yale drama program.  Things sort of changed in my path of life, altered a bit once I started getting involved professionally.  A lot of the things I did was turning up the volume on certain aspects of myself and down on others, sort of working with what I already had naturally and then breathed and had fun working with the other cast.

BTT: As far as the writing, was there anything in particular that inspired the story?

JK: I think it was more of wanting to capture this story.  The producers and the writers obviously did a great job with the script.  They wanted to capture this moment.  There hasn’t been that consummate prom movie.  There have been movies about high-school that have a prom in it, but not anything that really captured the importance that night has garnered and accrued over the years.  That is what they wanted to do.  They wanted to incorporate that and show how many different stories and how many different proms there really are.  Everybody’s prom is different and when everyone that walks out of prom is different.  So I think that was sort of the inspiration behind it and here we are.

BTT: I agree, I think about it now, there really hasn’t been a movie about prom, where prom was the focus.

JK: Yeah, thee focal point.

BTT: How did you personally become involved with the movie?

JK: Yeah, I auditioned originally for Tyler, DeVaughn Nixon’s character.  Then we went through the whole casting process and they had this chemistry mix and match, where they were mixing everybody up, changing us all around.  It got down to him and me for the role, and they sort of decided you know what they thought and that he was more right for the Tyler role and they just straight up offered me the Brandon role.  I didn’t actually end up auditioning for Brandon, it was through the chemistry testing, through the mix and matching that we did, they assembled all of the people they wanted together. Everybody ended up getting the role they were most suited for.

BTT: When you first heard about the role and the script, what did you find most interesting about the role and the movie?

JK: I definitely liked the ensemble nature of it. It’s really about the entire group.  Obviously he is the focal point of the movie and the pressures that he is facing at home, at school and he is putting on himself.  But it really incorporated so many different characters, and as the casting process was through and as we came together to get ready to shoot it, I saw the cast that we all had assembled and there were such strong individuals and talented actors. I mean, even kids that were working on their first project ever.

I think it was seminal night, obviously I had a prom and it was a big night for me. It was happy, sad, and heartbreaking all at the same time.  I think that is all of the emotions and things that journeys to it.

BTT: Do you have any interesting stories that happened either on set or off set?

JK: People keep asking me whether or not we were pulling any pranks on each other.  We actually were not unfortunately, it wasn’t that kind of set, but we had a great time filming together.  We had some game nights off-set, we played a little bit of turbo cranium, and I have to admit last time I got beat pretty bad.  (Laughs)  I’m still sore from that.  I have been practicing, training and gearing up to rematch.  But yeah, nothing too crazy, nothing too silly because we gotta keep it together.

BTT: I saw that a majority of the filming takes place in Northridge, California. Does the actual story take place in Northridge?

JT: We’re going for that all-American feel but it’s more of the Michigan type feel.  I would have to double check on that, but I believe we’re aiming to have it be Michigan.  Obviously we were shooting here.  It’s like the end of school, so it would be like the summer in Michigan.  But no, California was not the intended location.

BTT: Speaking of Michigan, I saw that one of your next films, Playback was filmed in our hometown of Grand Rapids. Do you have a location that you enjoyed filming in the most? Or one that you hope to film in?

JT: I was fortunate enough that I got to film all over the country, and actually this other movie that I shot called “Transgression” that actually shot in Barcelona.  So I got to go to Barcelona for a couple of weeks.  It was unbelievable.  It was totally awesome.  It was a completely different experience shooting in Europe, the whole vibe on set with the crew.  It was different, but the same.  Every set has this similar element, the people and the whole crew that makes it different, it’s a different chemistry.  It was a lot of fun getting to shoot over there, that whole culture shock, but in terms of where I would love to shoot the most?  I would have to say it would be nice to shoot a movie in Bora Bora, some island paradise.  That would be pretty nice.

BTT: It must have been a big change going from Grand Rapids to Barcelona.

JT: Yes, it was only a couple of weeks in between as well, but Grand Rapids was fun.  It was a blast.  It was cool, I was only there for about two weeks but the movie was so much fun.  It’s a teen psychological thriller and there is this evil that pollutes this town that is slowly taking over, killing off kids one by one, but we had a lot of fun filming it.  The cast was great and the director Michael Nickles was awesome. I really enjoyed working with him.  Grand Rapids was a blast.

BTT: Are you currently working on projects?

JK: Right now is the pilot season so it’s a bit of a hectic time. It’s sort of winding down. Next month we start back up with the final season of “Entourage” and I’m very excited about getting in there for that. Haven’t seen any scripts or anything yet, but really looking forward to get back on the desk and back on that set.

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