The Wonder of the “Night”: An Interview with Johnathon Schaech

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Photo: Ben Miller

If you don’t know the name Johnathon Schaech by now, you must be living under a rock. Since his breakout role as the ego-driven Jimmy Mattingly in Tom Hanks’ hit film That Thing You Do!, Scheach has been everywhere in film and television. He has been in many films such as The Forsaken, Road House 2, 8mm2, Day of the Dead: Bloodline, and the Prom Night reboot to name a few as well as recently appearing as Jonah Hex in the CW’s miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earth. On February 21, Schaech plays the concerned husband of a murder victim in The Night Clerk, coming to select theaters, On Demand, and Digital from Saban Films.

WorldFilmGeek had the chance to talk to Schaech about his latest film.

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Johnathon, I have to say it is an honor to talk with you. I’ve been a fan since That Thing You Do and I enjoyed The Night Clerk. The lead character was a bit close to home with him having Aspergers’s and I felt it had a neo-noir feel to it and I enjoyed your performance in it.
Thank you so much! It is so great to hear that. The movie was originally about two hours, but they cut it down to about 90 minutes, so my role was greatly reduced. It was reduced for time because the distributors felt it needed to be done that way, but I’m glad you liked it.

What led you to take the role of Nick in the film?
One of my acting teachers gave me the script. They thought it was a great script and I was floored by it. I told my agents and my manager got me the part. I loved the script because it was about a man with Asperger’s and I’ve worked with TACA, Talk About Curing Autism, for over ten years now. When we first started there were 321 kids and now the numbers are astonishing. And I thought Tye Sheridan is a really great actor. What did you think of Tye?

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Tye Sheridan as Bart, the titular Night Clerk (Saban Films)

I was blown away with his performance. I’ve seen films where the lead character has a form of Autism and Tye was one of those actors who really gave it his all in that role?
I totally agree. He was brilliant in the film. Another reason why I did the film was that I got to see [writer-director] Michael Cristofer again. Here’s a little story. In 1999, I worked on a film with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Lange. The script doctor they brought in to help us develop our characters and helped us define them was Michael Cristofer! I was scared of him (Laughs). And I also learned we both were on Ray Donovan! He was the priest that Liev Schreiber kills in an episode!

Wow! Talk about small world!
I know right? It’s starting to become a very small world. (Laughs).

You got to share the screen with John Leguizamo (right), who plays the detective in charge of the murder case, and Ana de Armas, who I felt gave off this femme fatale vibe in the role of Andrea. What was it like working with these two?
Ana is magnificent. She is a very dedicated actress. She is both brave and vulnerable. She is really something else. I’ve seen and worked with Gwyneth Paltrow and she grew up in the industry, dated Brad Pitt, then she won the Academy Award for Shakespeare in Love. I mean Ana has that same energy and now, she’s in the new James Bond movie and a film about Marilyn Monroe! She’s going to be around for a very long time!

As for John, man! He is a super crafty actor. He’s got this commanding presence and he’s definitely at the top of his game. I mean I had to bring this emotional performance and he would bounce right back. I mean it felt like an emotional Wimbledon match (Laughs). I’ve been such a fan of his for years and to work with him was an absolute honor.

Did you see the film?
Well, the distributor cut the film down to about 90 minutes but originally it was two hours. And my performance, John’s performance, and even Helen [Hunt]’s performance was cut down For the distributor, they felt they needed to focus on the central character, which was Tye’s.

I’m actually happy to hear you say you enjoyed it because had we had say, a director’s cut, I think it would come out much better. Especially with Helen’s character. She is one of the best actresses ever. I mean she was phenomenal. She really delved into researching the role and the fact her character is the mother of someone with autism, I mean for me it was really personal.

 

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Formerly known as Talk About Curing Autism, this is a non-profit organization Johnathon has been involved with for over a decade. Click the link at the bottom of this interview.

I know what you mean. I’m the father of autistic children myself, which is why in some way I felt this was a film close to home.
I will tell you. I have a 6-year old child and another on the way. With TACA, I speak with parents of autistic children and they actually helped me learn to parent.

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Helen Hunt as Ethel, Bart’s mother, in The Night Clerk (Saban Films)

I know how that is. I still learn about my kids and try to parent as best as I can.
You know? I’m actually glad to be talking with you. There are parents who let their kids do their own thing and we don’t get to learn about them as much as we hope. And I think all parents should learn what their kids want. It’s very important. That’s why I wish they had more of Helen’s character in the film because to see her attempts to parent Tye’s character could have the film more emotionally driven.

Well, maybe if a director’s cut is ever seen, there could be some sort of premiere and recommend it to people.
That’s actually a really good idea!

Finally, are there any new projects in the works for you?
Yes, I have a new film called Quiet in My Town. Michael Carney directed the film. It’s about a Southern town where a young woman who comes of age. Something happens, and she has to make a decision. I play the pastor who offers her advice. It’s a very powerful movie.

The Night Clerk comes out tomorrow and for those who like a neo-noir style thriller will enjoy this one thanks to the performances of the cast, including Johnathon Schaech here. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about the film.
Thank you for having me! It’s been great talking to you!

A special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Johnathon Schaech for making this interview possible. For more information on The Autism Community in Action (TACA), go to https://tacanow.org/

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