Can there be any more fun than chatting to hot, talented actors (hot in many senses of the word) about their career, their life and their views?
I think not…I love my job as Editor for Divine. I get to meet the most interesting people and be a nosey parker into their lives, all in the guise of ‘interviewing’. A bit like watching gay porn all in the name of research for my books *winks*
Anyway, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. May I introduce Nicholas Downs, actor, producer, writer and from the few chats we’ve had online, an all-round great guy. Welcome, Nicholas.
Thank you for that amazing welcome, now about these books 🙂
Susan: I’m going to break tradition here and give you a warm up. Before we get into the more serious questions, I have some fun ones to throw at you so we can get the flavour behind the man who’s been described as one of Hollywood’s Hottest…
If you ruled your own country, who would you get to write your national anthem?
Nicholas: Well perhaps you after learning about your inspirations…But seriously, I’d say probably Jim Sheridan. In America is one of my favorite films. But then it would be a more spoken word national anthem then a sung one but that’s cool too.
Susan: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for someone?
Nicholas: I once chartered a boat from a crazy captain to go out on the ocean to hunt down a man eating great white shark all because some silly mayor wanted the beaches open…oh wait, that’s Jaws. Man, I love that movie!
Susan: If a loved one was to serenade you, what song would you most like them to sing?
Nicholas: When in Rome’s The Promise…they know why.
Susan: Just for Nicholas – here’s that song for him
Susan: What fairy tale character would you most associate with?
Nicholas: Is it bad to say none? Now if you had said superhero, stand back!
Susan: What’s the least favourite personality trait you like about yourself?
Nicholas: If I understand the question correctly, it’s what do others maybe not like about me sometimes but that I like about myself…if I got that right, I’d say my strong opinions and not being afraid to share them, in a respectful way of course. I think some see it as a good thing, while others might think, “Oh Nicholas has an opinion on this, and there he goes”.
Susan: Would you rather be the one in a movie who gets the girl or guy or the baddie with all the good lines?
Nicholas: Good question. I think because I’ve played the former a few times it makes the latter sound nice and juicy. I think playing a bad guy would be fun and memorable and just downright enjoyable. Who doesn’t like to get naughty every now and then?
Susan: If you could replace one body part with a super bionic replacement what body part and what features would the new bionic replacement have?
Nicholas: Oh I think the eyes. Super sight, facial recognition, lasers…what? too far?
Susan: Okay, warm up is over. Let’s get down to business…
Susan: Q: Back in 2010, in an interview with OUT Magazine about Outfest, you said this:
Nicholas: I think we’re in a situation where, if a lot of our films were submitted to mainstream film festivals, we wouldn’t get in. I think Outfest is very important and until mainstream film festivals start to show more gay films, we are not going to get there. People want to take affirmative action away, but I don’t think that as a country we are ready to take affirmative action away. I think it’s kind of the same thing. It’s crossing over. But I do think that more films are coming out about people who just happen to be gay, and less are about coming out or about people dying of an illness.
Susan: Do you think the situation has changed – has there been an upstream surge in gay films getting into the mainstream or is it still a bit of a battle to get this genre recognised? As an author writing M/M or gay romance, I can sympathise with the fact that it’s tough to convince people we should be taken seriously sometimes.
Nicholas: I will say that I think every year things do get a little better and in 5 years I’m sure we’ve all felt that some. Has my above statement changed, not so much? I mean there is still a huge and necessary place for LGBT film festivals, without them there wouldn’t be that outlet for filmmakers and fans alike. There are a few film festivals that are branching out and showing LGBT films, but it’s slow to go and usually requires a known actor in it to make that happen. I do think that platforms like Netflix and other online streaming companies are allowing all kinds of people to watch all kinds of films. And I think the better our LGBT films are made the more serious they will be taken. When the films are about people, no matter their sexuality, and their issues, which we can all relate to as humans, then we forge a connection. The story becomes a universal one, that no matter who you are, you can’t deny. I’ve been at a few film festivals with a film called, Is It Just Me? and have had straight people, because they announced it themselves, say that they really connected to the film because of its universal love story. That’s promising.
Susan: Q: You worked with Nathan Fillion in an episode of Castle *fans herself* I’m a huge fan of the man and saw him at a Film Con quite a few years ago. How does it feel to be in such an iconic series –tell us a bit about life behind the scenes when filming a hit series. Anything funny you can share with us? Quirky stories about Nathan are welcome *grins*
Nicholas: Getting to work on Castle was an amazing experience. It’s always nice to hear and find out that someone you are the fan of is also a great person and Nathan Fillion totally lived up to that. He’s not only a grounded and funny actor he’s just a great guy. From the moment I walked on set, he made me feel welcomed and apart of the team. It’s not always easy stepping into a well-oiled machine, like a series that’s got a few seasons behind its belt, for just one episode but when you have that kind of support it helps tremendously. My writer friend, David Booher (who’s a terrifically talented writer) had a copy of the comic Serenity he got from Comic Con and I brought it to set one day and Nathan gladly signed it for him. He’s very loyal to his fans.
Susan: Q: You’re a writer and producer for the TV series Steam Room Stories which features…well, features gents in a steam room in various stages of undress. We’re actually doing a promotion on this series soon for the magazine with Pip Ellwood. What bought about this series; what was your aim in getting this series on the air for people to enjoy?
Nicholas: I do the series with JC Calciano (Is It Just Me?, eCupid, The 10 Year Plan). After we finished Is It Just Me? and become good friends from that experience we wanted to continue to work together in any way we could. I came on as a producer for this film, eCupid, and about the same time we came up with the idea for Steam Room Stories. We thought how can we reach as many eyeballs as possible to push our films and other projects. We came up with a simple and sexy web series idea and thought this will be fun and a good way to advertise the films. Now it’s taken on a life of its own. We now shoot at YouTube studios, have almost 28 million episode views and over 56,000 subscribers. We have a great group of guys we work with and although it has a sexy vibe the core of our series is a comedy.
Susan: Q: I’m guessing you’re a man who likes physical activity and sports. I was amazed to see this on your website-
|Massage Therapy, Surf (Beginner), Certified Scuba Diver, Rollerblade, Horseback Riding, Spin-Cast Fishing, Snowboarding
Susan: *Looks away guiltily* I can’t even climb the stairs without getting out of breath and this makes me feel like a slacker. You have so many interests – which is your favourite?
Nicholas: Fishing hands down.
Susan: Q: You are one of ten children. Wow. That’s a lot of siblings and a lot of weddings for your folks to pay for when your sisters get married? I bet it must have been one busy household- what was it like being in such a big family? I had two sisters and that was enough.
Nicholas: It was like living with a baseball team and having enough siblings for every position. It was definitely not without it’s crazy times and still is really. I think my mom said at one point she had 7 kids in the house at one time, how she managed it or that more of us didn’t lose a limb is beyond me. But we are all still intact and most of us are still sane. 🙂
Susan: Q: You probably get asked this question all the time, but as I believe you are probably a role model for a lot of people out there, so I think it bears repeating. What advice have you got for others trying to break into this industry? It’s all very well to say ‘stay focused, don’t give up’ but when it looks like things are really looking bleak, and a person’s dreams aren’t being realised- do you have anything to share with them as to how they overcome this?
Nicholas: If you still love it and there’s nothing else that could trump it then stay in it. There will be cycles of hot time and cold times, I’ve had a few myself. But the love for it has gotten me through those cold times for sure. In these moments and even when it’s busy always try and do your own thing for your career. Don’t think someone else is going to do it for you, you are your own best manager and you have so many ways, especially today, to further your career. Find aspiring writers/directors/etc. team up with them and make projects, continuing putting yourself out there in your own way.
Susan: Q: You got your break in ‘Is it Just Me’ playing the character of Blaine, a gay man out to find his perfect match with some hilarious results. That film has since been nominated for and won awards. How difficult did you find it to get roles when you first started out?
Nicholas: Well there’s always the catch 22 of how do you get a good agent without a good resume and how do you get a good resume without the good agent. That is true in so many facets of the industry, not just acting. Like we spoke about above I’ve had great years and more lean years. Pearl Harbor was my first big studio film and that was pretty early on in my career. Before then it was challenging just to get into the casting room, in some ways that can still be a challenge to date. But I see it as levels, the more one can add to their resume it can bump you up a level. It’s just getting those projects that bump you up that can be quite the challenge sometimes. I don’t think the difficulty goes away it just morphs and becomes something new, a new challenge. And as long as you can evolve with it, you can live in it.
Susan: Q: Tell us what’s in the pipeline for you in months to come. Any new, exciting projects you’re working on, any hot men you get to be in a film with, anything we should know about where to find you in future? Spill the beans…
Nicholas: I’m auditioning for a few projects currently, fingers crossed. I am in a new short film called, Playing it Straight, which is on my Facebook page and can be watched. I recently worked on a short film that is based on a book written by James Franco. I worked on a couple web-based shorts that will hopefully be online soon. Earlier this year I was in a Lifetime movie called, Beautiful & Twisted, which stars Rob Lowe, that has been re-running on Lifetime. I was in a commercial for Fairfield Inn (a hotel by Marriott) that has Kacy Catanzaro (American Ninja Warrior) in it. And I’m also working with David Booher to develop some projects for TV.
Susan: Okay, I think I’ve exhausted Nicholas long enough. We’re going to have to wind this down, and say Goodbye. I know, I know. I don’t want to either. But the man has to eat and get back to work. Oh and might I mention he’s currently reading some of my books *faints*
Wow now that you mention it, I’m famished. 🙂 And he needs to get back to reading …
Susan: Nicholas, thanks so much for the interview, it was wonderful chatting to you. And if you’re ever in London, get in touch, please. I’d like to see if that ‘London’ accent you say you can do actually lives up to my expectations 🙂 And buy you a pint at the pub.
Nicholas: I will definitely be brushing up on that accent before I head over, but I’m sure after a few pints it will sound flawless, at least to me.
Nicholas Downs Trailblazer Campaign Video
Nicholas’s Official Bio
Nicholas Downs is a successful film, television and stage actor, who has also appeared in many national television ads. Originally from a small town in Iowa, Nicholas is one of ten children. He fell in love with acting the moment he first discovered a stage and has been working on his craft ever since.
His feature film roles include both Hollywood blockbusters Pearl Harbor, The Girl Next Door, Constantine, The Holidayas well as award-winning indie features 16 to Life, The Awakening of Spring and Anderson’s Cross. Nicholas can be seen on hit television shows including NCIS: Los Angeles, Castle, Cold Case, Boston Public, The Young and the Restless, The Guardian, Make it or Break it and the recent Lifetime Movie, Beautiful and Twisted.
This has been a busy few years for Downs, who was cast in leading roles in the feature films, Is It Just Me? (winner of numerous festival awards) -and The Apocalypse According to Doris. Downs has traveled internationally to promote Is It Just Me? and 16 to Lifeat several film festivals (Palm Springs International Film Festival, Polar Lights International Film Festival, Asheville Film Festival). In Detroit, Is It Just Me?won Best Feature at the DIFF and in Hawaii it won the prestigious Rainbow Award.
Links to his work are below
Is It Just Me? – https://cinema175.dotstudiopro.com/channel/is-it-just-me
Playing it Straight – https://vimeo.com/65185923
Homecoming – https://vimeo.com/keithhedlund/homecoming password – homecomingmovie
Nicholas’ Social network links
Nicholas certainly has an impressive resume…. http://nicholasdowns.com/resume
Here are a few links to interviews and appearances Nicholas has done, if you want to learn a bit more about him.
Photo credits: Headshots – Deidhra Fahey / Nicholas in grey shirt and hat – by Peter Schafer
Nicholas interviewed by Susan Mac Nicol