Jun. 2, 2003, The Star
DAPHNE GORDON – Entertainment Reporter
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Fast-talking Jackson struggles with role. Playing character in a coma harder than it appears. Missed stirring Glen Close scene as eyes were closed.
When Joshua Jackson decided to take a part that would allow him to work opposite an actress he revered — Glenn Close — he had no idea he would be unable to talk to her, look at her, or react to her in the slightest when the two shot most of their scenes together.
In the quirky new film The Safety Of Objects, which opens Friday, Jackson plays Close’s son. The problem was that his character is in a coma for most of the film.
And while playing a guy in a coma might sound like a slacker’s job, it was a real challenge for the friendly Jackson, who is most known as Pacey on the teen drama Dawson’s Creek.
“I don’t sit well for very long. It was so hard to spend hours and hours in one position. And to not react was much more difficult than I thought … Here I have Glenn Close, this absolutely wonderful actress, and I can’t even interact with her. Not only that, I couldn’t even look at her.”
Jackson took writer/director Rose Troche’s offer before he knew the details of the part.
“They told me it was a cameo,” said Jackson during a recent visit to Toronto to promote the film. “And to have opportunity to work with good people, with Glenn Close and Patricia Clarkson … I accepted almost immediately, then I figured the part out later.”
Close plays Esther, a doting mother who spends most of her time nursing her teenaged son in his bedroom, talking affectionately to him, monitoring his every bodily function, and even playing his favorite music through a set of headphones.
Meanwhile, Paul lies completely lifeless in his bed, his limbs paralyzed and contorted, his brain a blank.
“He’s brain dead,” explains Jackson. “There is no possibility of him coming alive.”
It was particularly difficult for Jackson to not peek through his eyelashes at Close when the two were shooting the emotional climax of the film, when Esther must decide whether she is keeping her son alive for his benefit or for her own.
“There was one take of that scene that was just electric, you could feel it in the room,” remembers Jackson.
“I really, really wanted to watch her during that take. I so wanted to participate. When we were done, everyone was just quiet. The camera guy was crying, Rose was crying. The boom guy was so wrecked he couldn’t come back to the set.”
The part was difficult, but Jackson craves challenge, both as a person and as an actor.
“I try to do things that I fear a little bit, that I’m not sure I can achieve, as strange as that sounds,” says Jackson, who turns 25 next week.
Dawson’s Creek ended earlier this year, leaving Jackson free to pursue roles in feature films and attempt to shed his alter ego, the fast-talking, self-deprecating Pacey Witter. He isn’t worried he’ll suffer the fate of many young actors who have been typecast after playing popular parts on long-running television shows.
“I think if you’re good, you’ll continue to work,” he says. “There’s a level of fear that will prevent you from working, that will stagnate you. And this business is such a fickle mistress. You can’t really plan a career as an actor.”
Born in Vancouver, Jackson now spends most of his time in Los Angeles, where he lives with his beloved dog, a 9-year-old Black Lab and Rhodesian Ridgeback cross.
“He’s a big old sausage,” says Jackson. “I watched him being born and he’s my most constant companion. He always comes on set with me.”
Named Shumba, the dog will travel with Jackson to Vancouver this summer, where he plans to relax with family after six years of constant work on Dawson’s Creek.
He will take a break from acting, which will leave him time to complete the community service portion of a sentence he received in court earlier this year.
Jackson was charged with assault and being drunk and disruptive following an incident last November in North Carolina, where Dawson’s Creek was shot.
A self-confessed hockey fanatic, (“the Canucks are my guys”) Jackson had treated 95 members of the show’s cast and crew to tickets to a Carolina Hurricanes game in Raleigh, N.C..
“A friend of mine spilled a beer, and got manhandled by a security guard,” explains Jackson sardonically, admitting he’d had a few beers himself.
“I looked over and saw a guy kneeling on my friend’s back, so I got in there … The whole thing took eight seconds and I spent the night in Wade County Safety Centre. They don’t call it jail there.”
Others were involved in the incident, but Jackson thinks he was nailed unfairly. “I’m a bit pissed off that I was the only guy who got dragged out of the hockey arena. It seemed like special treatment to me.”
The judge’s sentence wasn’t even the worst of it. “Believe me,” says Jackson, “there was no end to the schtick I took from the cast and crew after that. They got me good.”
He hopes to fulfill the community service requirement by acting as a hockey referee for kids in Vancouver. But he’ll have to fly back to North Carolina to complete the rest of the sentence — two six-hour alcohol education seminars.
“I don’t know what to expect at an alcohol education seminar,” laughs Jackson. “Maybe they teach the different kinds of liquor.”