Holy Rolling with Jason Fuchs
The young actor dishes on his new movie about Hasidic drug dealers.
There’s nothing Jason Fuchs can’t do. He’s produced movies, acted in indie films, performed on stage, appeared in primetime television and written his own projects – all at the age of 24.
In his latest movie, Holy Rollers – opening in Toronto and Montreal on June 18 – Fuchs co-stars with Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, Adventureland) and The Hangover’s Justin Bartha. He plays a young Hasidic Jew who unintentionally gets involved with drug dealing.
When Fuchs auditioned for the role of Leon (Eisenberg’s best friend in the movie) and met with director Kevin Asch, he knew it wasn’t such a stretch for him to play the part. “I come from a Hasidic Jewish family on my dad’s side. He grew up in that world,” says Fuchs, who’s been acting since the age of seven.
The 24-year-old says he admires his character in the film. “When Jesse’s character, Sam, and my character find out what it is that they’re doing, they really have two choices. They can continue on or they can turn back and abandon this outside universe, and Sam makes one choice which is to continue exploring, which I think is a pretty enticing option,” admits Fuchs. “And I think it takes a lot of moral courage for Leon to make that choice that he wants no part of it, even if that means potentially ruining a friendship.”
Fuchs believes his character serves as an example for the audience and for Sam of the good marks of the Hasidic Jewish life. He says Holy Rollers – which is based on a true story – isn’t just accurate to the Hasidic lifestyle, but also respectful of it.
So what did he do to prepare for the role? “I took a lot of ecstasy,” he jokes. “No, for me, because I’ve always only been one generation removed from that world, I didn’t need to do a lot of outside research. For me it was really drawing from everything that I’d seen from my grandparents and my extended family.”
He understands that some people who look into the premise might think of the film as a critique on faith, but Fuchs says that’s far from what Holy Rollers is.
“I think it’s a story that’s not only really entertaining, it’s a story worth telling,” he shares. “It really is a movie that I think in a wonderful way is a reaffirmation of faith. And I suspect that people who hear about the film might think that it’s just the opposite, that it’s an attack or a critique of that world in particular and the faith-based world in general, and it’s not. It’s a movie that really does have some positive things to say.”
Holy Rollers premiered this year at Sundance, where it was well received and garnered a Grand Jury Prize nomination. Fuchs himself is no stranger to the film festival circuit. In 2006, he produced, wrote and co-starred in a movie called Pitch. The short film won four awards at four different film festivals.
Fuchs hopes to shoot another project he wrote, The Last First Time, in the fall. The comedy will see him play a college freshman who’s a virgin and finds out the world’s going to be destroyed by a meteor within 48 hours. He tries to use this to hook up with Miranda, the girl he’s had a crush on since the sixth grade. High School Musical’s Ashley Tisdale has signed on to star opposite Fuchs.
“I’m very proud of that script," says Fuchs. "I love that genre. I love great romantic comedies. I almost think in some respect it’s the hardest genre to do right, you know, like it’s so difficult with that genre because you go into a movie and you know exactly what you’re gonna get…It’s so formulaic and to read a movie like that, respect the formula, respect what people are expecting of that genre and still have it feel fresh, to still have people have a genuine response to it, I think is pretty difficult.”
Another film he shot, the independent feature The Firefly and the Bride, is in post-production. Fuchs is also writing an animated feature for FOX that should be released in 2012. “I’ve never written for animation before,” admits Fuchs. “I’m super excited to take on a project of this kind of scale.”
Fuchs – whose credits include film, TV and stage roles – is sticking to film for two reasons: “I really love the process of film where it’s so fast, so little time to figure stuff out and by the time you’ve figured out what you want to do with the part, you’re onto the next scene.”
Reason No. 2 is food related. “Movies are much better when it comes to food. There’s a caterer, there’s a craft servant – even in a small film. If you’re just basing your decision on food, which as a Jew and an actor is pretty much how I pick, film kills theatre,” he jokes.
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