Josh Jackson plays a new character in the freaky thriller Gossip – the victim of vicious rumors that far too many people believe. It was a tough role, especially the fight scenes! He gives us the goss…
How rough did the brawl scene get between your character Beau and James Marsden’s character Derrick?
It was rough, it was rough enough, believe me! It was good though – we broke the door too, which was pretty impressive. I think.
We heard that James was supposed to hit you with a prop, but it fell apart in his hands and some bits of it hit you in the eye..
Yeah – it totally brained me! But I wasn’t really firing on all pistons at the time though, so it was my fault too.
So there were injuries?
There were. But you’ve gotta have war stories. If you don’t get hurt or scraped or banged up in some way, you’re not really trying.
Why do actors love doing fight scenes?
Because you don’t get to do it in real life. If I was to deck you in real life, you’re going to deck me back and it’s gonna hurt. So, it’s like playing swords with your brothers and sisters – it’s mucking around and being GI Joe.
What did you enjoy the most about shooting that scene?
That it was fun! It was so much fun. And they make breakaway food and breakaway pots, so I wasn’t really hurt, other than a couple of bumps and bruises and a little soreness the next day. Truthfully, I really enjoy doing stuff like that. I’m young and stupid and willing to hurt my body.
I like getting into the physicality of it all. There’s a lot of talking, so I like involving myself physically, because you have all those things at your disposal. I’m not talking specifically about the fight scenes, because that’s not really a good way to tell a story. But when you have the physicality at your disposal, it’s nice to let the reins go a little.
That’s the extreme version of what we were doing, which is kicking and grunting and up and against the wall and knee to the groin and face in the dirt – crazy stuff. We got away pretty light. I’ve had a couple of fights where you’re bleeding afterwards after being hit by a stunt guy.
We heard too that when your co-star Marisa Coughlan slaps your fave, we actually hear the real impact!
You know, the fight scenes hurt infinitely less than that slap did! I couldn’t heart after that for the entire day. She had told me right before the scene, “I’ve never done a fight scene – I’ve never done this before.” And so we did the first couple of takes and she didn’t hit me, and I knew it would look so bad, so I said, “Okay, fine – really hit me.” And she hit me like (Josh mimes a sweeping roundhouse whack) “Bam!”
And I wanted to cry! I was like, “Oh god! Boo hoo!” And then we had to re-shoot the scene. We finished, and then we re-shot it and she had to smack me all over again. And then there’s take three and, of course, being a young, stupid guy, I said “No – we can do it again. Let’s do it again.”
Was it nice to play the bad boy for a change?
Yeah! that’s the fun of the job, to do different things – to be a bad boy, to be a good boy, to be anything in between and all shades of grey. Nobody’s clean, nobody’s flawless. So yeah, it’s fun because that was a chance to fail in a different direction. It was a challenge because I’d never done it before, and when you give yourself the opportunity of failure it’s exciting. If you can fail, you can truly succeed.
Dawson’s Creek is a huge hit, so you’re not stranger to the successful teen formula. But what do you think it is that makes Gossip work?
You’re going to meet some resistance with this question. First, define the teen formula. If this was Mel Gibson, John Malkovich and Tom Hanks and their characters were in a corporate film, is it still a teen film even if it’s the exact same story? Is gossip a teen issue? No. What I’m saying is that there is no true teen formula – it’s a perception based on stuff that has nothing to do with the film. Gossip is really just a movie that’s made unto itself, which I like.
You’re frequently billed as an up-and-coming actor. What’s the best thing about where you are now?
Well that’s the classic Hollywood story – the 20-year-long overnight sensation. Like Anthony Hopkins being considered a new actor when he did the Silence of the Lambs. Or you have Sir Ian McKellan, who comes across to American and does Richard 111 – he’s described as “A great new talent discovered!” But the man’s been knighted, so somebody must have noticed at some point that this guy was an actor!
These people, now they’re a big deal, but they’ve been toiling away in anonymity, or not even in anonymity, but now because they’re in something successful and Hollywood, it makes a greater tale to spin. “Well, look who came out of nowhere!”
So you’re a young veteran at 22…
I like that!
How do you cross over from TV to film? How do you choose your roles?
To be perfectly honest, my film roles have are chosen carefully now because of the financial security that Dawson’s Creek has given me. I can afford not to work, which is not noble but it is the truth. It’s my estimation that if you’re a good actor or if you have the potential of being a good actor and you continue to improve as an actor, you should be able to find employment. Whether it’s at major box office level or minor box office level is kind of inconsequential.
And as far as transcending TV, I haven’t worked for eight years before I got into TV. But I don’t think there’s a formula for making that transition. I’m just happy to be working to be quite honest, because before Dawson’s Creek and before the glut of teen films I was unemployed and I was broke and I was pissed off and the work I could find I didn’t want to be doing. I found myself taking job that I didn’t really want to do, simply because the paycheck was going to keep me fed.
You and James Marsden starred in the TV movie “On the Edge of Innocence” about five years ago…
James has much less to be embarrassed about in that film than I do!
When you made an appearance on MTV’S Total Request Live show recently, a huge crowd of girls were waiting to catch a glimpse of you. Do you think you could ever get used to all that attention?
That was a nightmare. But there’s the creative fiction I’ve built for myself – nobody out there is really out there to see me, truthfully. People are there because they watch Dawson’s Creek, or people are there because Gossip is being promoted right now, or The Skulls just came out or for whatever reason they’re there.
And all that is about is this thing I built which unfortunately uses my own face. If I was a carpenter, at the end of my work day I would have a wall to show for my work, and if it fell down then I would have done a poor job and if it stayed up I would have done a fine job. As an actor, the product of my day’s work is a character, but the character is embodied by my face and by my voice and unfortunately sometimes by my mannerisms. So this grey area then becomes the product I produce – the thing that is the fruit of my labor is obviously related to me.
But I don’t really feel as though I’ve done anything personally as Josh Jackson to deserve that many girls out there screaming and yelling. They’re screaming and yelling because they like Dawson’s Creek, because they like Pacey’s jokes – because they’re there and everyone else is screaming and yelling. They’re not really screaming and yelling for me. That’s how I deal with it. The only thing you can take from it is that it means that people are watching what you’re doing, which is part of the whole point.