Becoming “Crazy Famous”: An Interview with Actor Gregory Lay

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Gregory Lay has always loved acting. A graduate of Boston University Film School and the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater is a well-versed film, television, and stage actor. Having done short films, Lay got a role in the 2011 Hollywood film The Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon. Lay takes center stage as the lead role in Crazy Famous, a new funny indie comedy coming to VOD, Digital HD, and DVD on January 9 from Gravitas Ventures.

World Film Geek had the opportunity to talk with Lay about making the film.

Thank you Gregory for talking about Crazy Famous. I saw the film and I laughed my butt off. It was hilarious and I really enjoyed it!
That’s awesome man! That’s so cool you thought it was funny. It’s a real relief. It’s awesome! Thank you!

Before we talk about the film, can you tell me how you started your film career?
I’ve always wanted to be in films since I can remember. It’s always been kind of a before I can remember ambition that started. I went to Boston University Film School and I’ve always wanted to be in films. I’ve always loved and have been obsessed with acting and comedy my whole life. I went to film school and I did theater while I was there. I decided to take acting training after college. I went to the Neighborhood Playhouse in the city for two years.

Once that was done, I was trying to see how to get involved in film because you know, it’s a crazy competitive world out there. I did everything I could. I did as many student films as I could and as many off-Broadway films as I could. I learned as I went. Let’s see it was 2006 when I got out so it was like getting into a situation where you work with the best team possible. Developing crews of my own who are able to create stories in the vein that I want to on film.

It’s a process but my first major studio film was the Matt Damon film The Adjustment Bureau so it was from there, pushing the envelope. Getting into bigger projects, better projects and working with bigger people, better people. Since that credit, it’s all about that one little breakthrough. It was a small part, but still, working on a big studio film right off the bat. Seven or eight days working with those guys, it was great!

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Gregory Lay as Bob in Crazy Famous (Gravitas Ventures)

That’s great! Let’s talk about Crazy Famous. How did you get involved with the film?
I auditioned for a much smaller part and in happenstance, I got a call from the casting director, but the guy who directed the film, I knew him. We worked together on a film in 2011, and Paul Jarratt, the director of Crazy Famous, was an assistant director on the film. So I contacted him and decided I would be perfect for the lead role. I auditioned for the lead and I didn’t think I would get it. A month went by and I got the phone call. It was great! I loved the script. I thought it was hilarious and I thought it was going to be really funny. I went for it and I got it!

For those who haven’t seen the film yet, describe your character of Bob in your own words.
Bob is a guy who has been pressured, manipulated, and traumatized by his parents and their need to live vicariously through his fame and finding it impossible to find happiness. To find fulfillment, so he ends up doing whatever he needs to do to get the attention of his parents. So, he does something crazy and jumps the fence at Camp David. He gets arrested and still doesn’t get the attention from his crazy risks and paths so he takes one more crack at it, all to get the attention of his parents. It takes him to all these wacky places. That’s pretty much what drives a lot of human beings I suppose.

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Christopher Lloyd, Michael Keaton, Stephen Furst, and Peter Boyle as The Dream Team (Touchstone), which seems to have inspired Crazy Famous.

I hear you there. The chemistry between you and co-stars Richard Short, Victor Cruz, and David Neal Levin reminded me so much of the 1989 comedy The Dream Team, with Michael Keaton.
Dude! Loved that movie! I think I mentioned that when I read the script! I’m 100% with you. I watched that movie obsessively. That was one of my favorite comedies right there! That’s one of those movies I watched twenty or thirty times, one of those movies you just watch all the time.

I do that all the time (Laughs)!
Exactly, and people may think we’re crazy. They wonder why the multiple times, but there’s something about it that just brings it in and you’re still seething off it, whatever it is. But, The Dream Team was probably why I loved making this movie. I thought it could really bring that character-driven physical comedy. The absurdist comedy I loved from that era.

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David Neal Levin, Victor Cruz, Gregory Lay, and Richard Short in Crazy Famous (Gravitas Ventures)

Exactly, and I thought the chemistry between you guys on this film was great. What was it like working with them?
It was great! They are all so talented and they were all so open as well. Everyone was up for the challenge and we all just jumped in. One of the biggest challenges is when you meet a group of people and sell like that. You want to shorten that period of adjustment as much as possible. They hold back a little bit because I know in their head they want to do their job.

When you realize everyone is kind, cool, trustworthy, and positive, and everybody just lets it fly, you just see it and it was great. Our trust and the creative process developed through us exponentially as it went on. And it couldn’t have been a better fit. Everybody got along and was super giving, super generous. And they were super funny! Everybody got it! They knew what characters they were playing and the dynamic of the four of us and we all knew what we needed to go and we got it! That’s half the battle!

There was one scene in the film that I couldn’t stop laughing at. It was the scene where during your escape attempt, and Dr. Phil had no pants on and Larry is attempting him to bring him up an air vent. I have to ask. Did you nearly break or break at all, because had I been on the set of that film and saw that, I would have been dying even more than I did watching it.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure the entire crew broke for several minutes just to laugh (Laughs). Literally, because it was so necessary. Just imagine, what you don’t see in the movie is an actor dangling from the ceiling with a white harness around his bare butt cheeks, like in his crack. And spinning around a grown man, feeling like a fool (Laughs). So filming it is all about grabbing pieces and editing it together and making it look like he has no harness, and they did a great job! But yeah man, it took a while too and it was not fun!

(Laughs) Yeah I can imagine, because I kept thinking about him spinning around and Larry getting hit in the face and that’s all I pictured and I kept losing it.
Yeah, dude! For sure man! I’m sure I had to leave the room at one point. Because it’s obviously funny, not so much to give him his privacy (Laughs). You can’t just see that up there and not think about it. It’s just funny!

Bob is someone who is looking for fame and in today’s world, there are countless people who search for that fame as well. As an actor, what advice would you give those who aspire to follow their dreams and become involved with acting?
Find the reason why you’re doing it. Keep stripping layers. Find the way. What is it you want to say as a human being? Concentrate on the work and all the rest of that s**t will come, if it’s supposed to come. You can’t chase the results of something. You have to have faith in the process. Nobody starts at the top. Nobody starts confident. It’s a marathon. An experiential lifestyle, so focus on the work. Always the work and the rest will come.

Finally, what will you be working on next?
I actually wrapped up a feature film I also co-wrote called Hudson. I wrote the movie for David Neal Levin, who plays Dr. Phil in Crazy Famous. My friend Sean (D. Cunningham), who is a commercials director, and I wrote it. It’s a feature film about two strange cousins and David’s character is called Hudson. Richard Masur is in it. He plays David’s father. We just put it together, shot it, and got a great cast. The founder of the band Blind Melon even came up with a song for us.

And as usual, just hustling it out there. I have another film with my Simon, who I made my feature film debut with. We are working on our second film together. So yeah, that’s in post-production now as well. Other than that, I’ve just looking for new projects and see where it leads.

Great! Crazy Famous comes to DVD, VOD, and Digital HD on January 9. If you like films like The Dream Team or that absurdist comedy era, then you will enjoy this film! Thank you again Gregory for talking about the film.
And I am so glad you mentioned that! I’m so glad because we’re 100% on that one! Thanks for having me!

A Special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Gregory Lay for making this interview possible.

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