Check out our interview with actor Carson MacCormac who can currently be seen starring in the lead role of “Chris” a teenage runaway, in the gritty independent drama, East of Middle West by director Brian Lucke Anderson. Carson recently won the Best Actor award at the Montreal Independent Film Festival for his portrayal of Chris in the film. In addition to East of Middle West, Carson is also heavily recurring in Season 2 and 3 of “Locke and Key” on Netflix.
Follow Carson @carson_maccormac
How do you prepare for a role?
I always start prepping my roles by looking at the script and forcing myself to remain totally removed from my character. I try to look at the bigger picture, what messages the story is trying to tell and eventually, how my character fits into the telling of those messages. From there, I start looking at the scenes my character has and start picking out as many nuggets of information as I can about them. I try to pay attention to the reasons why they approach conversations the way they do, what they want in each scene, etc. After that I just start writing. At first about seemingly inconsequential things, like their favorite movie, and eventually I start making some serious decisions about the ‘why’ behind all of my characters choices. Fill in the backstory when needed and I just see where my mind takes me as I get an ever-growing view of who my character is. After that there isn’t much rhyme or reason, I get creative with how I get the character on its feet. Keeping things new and fresh for each character is important to me as I find routine sometimes stops me from exploring a character in non-linear patterns. An example of this would be reading lines on a treadmill for an intimate scene or taking a shouting match and whispering the whole thing as slowly as I can. Playing the opposites in preparation always helps me out a lot.
Tell us about your work on gritty independent drama “East of Middle West?”
East of Middle West is quite an intense film. In the spirit of keeping the high-octane stakes of the film, our shoot schedule was equally as gritty, spanning 21 days in beautiful Iowa. The film follows two story lines, one of a teenager named Chris who goes on the run after making an irrevocable mistake, and the other being Denny, a man who spends the film grappling with guilt, trying to find ways to forgive himself from the weight of tragedy that he has placed on his own shoulders. The film is littered with unseen twists and brings a gorgeous, grounded cinematography that captures Iowa in a light I never would have expected. I think the final product is a great representation of our cast and crew’s drive to bring this incredible story to light.
Tell us about your role as Chris?
Chris goes through the ringer in this movie. He’s a loner who’s used to having too much time to think and while it turns him into quite the introspective person, it also builds within him a fire and hate for those he deems responsible for his isolation. His father is the only man in a small town who’s serving a life sentence and that reputation follows him like the plague. When he’s forced to leave his hometown, he begins a perilous journey where he balances the freedom of finally being able to find himself with the guilt of his crime. With the law nipping at his heels he becomes a petty criminal to survive, constantly searching for a way out.
And about your recurring role in Season 2 and 3 of Netflix’s “Locke and Key?”
I had a blast with my character on Locke and Key. Without spoiling anything… I was able to get up to some pretty cool action sequences because of my role. The character goes through quite the journey, and I think audiences will love how he fits into the grander storyline in Season 2. The twists in this season really shine through as a cornerstone of what makes this show so intriguing to watch. I can’t wait for people to see how my character brings with him a fair number of twists of his own…
What can we expect for Season 3?
Everything from the first season amplified x10. There is serious danger to the Locke’s that come from all different forms and they are forced to cope with some remarkable reveals. The stakes alone make for quite the wild ride this season and when you sprinkle some impressive action and a cast with the chops to bring this story to new heights, I think you get that inexplicable mixing of elements that every tv show strives to have. When you get your popcorn before tuning in, make sure you don’t forget to buckle in your seatbelt as well.
What other projects you have been part of?
I just finished working on a Netflix film ‘Luckiest Girl Alive,’ slated to release sometime in the Fall of 2022. It stars Mila Kunis and has an all star cast that I am thrilled to be a part of. I think the film is going to be something special and is a prime example of the kinds of movies I think need to continue to be made. Some of my more notable work would be on the DC film SHAZAM! and the Netflix series “October Faction.” I have also worked on a number of other features such as Giant Little Ones and tv shows such as “Big Top Academy” and “Bellevue.”
What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?
I love period/ historical shows and would love to play a role in something dated. I also have quite the fondness for rogue-ish characters, as I enjoy the grey morality and wit that they often carry with them. Something along those lines would be a treat to play. That, or a character who is just totally off his rocker; the crazy ones are some of my favorites!
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
It has to be creative collaboration. There’s so many reasons why I have yet to even consider turning back on acting, such as a gaining of self-awareness, the freedom to explore imaginative situations while getting to make a living while doing it, but my favourite is working with other talented actors and just seeing the creative sparks fly. I think anyone can relate to that feeling in one way or another: when you’re playing charades and you and a friend string 4 straight answers together, when the game is on the line and the ball is in your hands, when you riff with buddies about an outlandish business idea that you’ll all get rich off over dinner. That pocket of creativity is an addiction that I have yet to find a cure for.
What’s your advice for the newer actors?
I always say that ‘why’ is the best question an actor can ask, at all times, regardless of how elementary the answer may be. It builds the good habit of questioning everything around you, and that is a vital part of keeping a sharp eye and strong morals in an industry leaden with internal and external temptation. Develop a curious mind and it will help keep you grounded.
Moreover, embrace the confusion and the messy. Life is not always messy, but the most memorable parts of it are. Don’t play the everyday, steer into the messy and sporadic state of mind that takes us over in moments of crisis. Don’t get me wrong, in order to do that effectively you have to know your character and the scene you’re in through and through, but the fun part comes in the letting go of everything else. Identify who you are and what you want, and then chase that want with the ferocity warranted by the scene your character is in. Become a master at taking that leap of faith and you’ll not only become a much stronger actor, but I have found that it is in that pocket of creativity I have learned a great deal about myself as well.
What would you say are the greatest lessons you learned so far in this business?
Creativity is not a mystery, and it is not something that is planted within only a select few. Like anything it is an industry based on a skill that you can learn; don’t let anybody tell you that you don’t have the ‘it’ factor, because the ‘it’ comes from drive, patience, and growth.
Focus on what you can control. It is an actor’s favorite chant to sing the woes of our industry and it is easy to get lost in all of the things actors can’t control. Focus on what is in your power and ignore the rest as much as you can.
Go easy on yourself, and obsess over the work, not the end goal. Life loves rejection and hardship, and a lot of it we can’t control. Make sure you love the work and try to remain stoically-inclined
How would your best friend describe you?
He’s the most competitive person I know. No, seriously, this guy has never said no to a challenge, even if he knows he’s going to lose. The worst part is he always seems to win as well! (He may not include that part but in my version he most definitely does) He’s a total mama’s boy. He gets so deep into his own head sometimes that I have to slap him out of whatever reverie has taken him over at the time. It’s a lot of fun, seeing as I always want to slap him anyways.
If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?
I had to think about this one, but I think it perfectly encapsulates my wants and needs in one title. I need my own time. I have always identified myself as something of a loner, despite having an incredible cast of friends that I am grateful for. I do, however, still require a great deal of personal space. Albert Einstein once said “Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth.” I love that quote, and it’s a quality I treasure in myself. That being said, the concept of isolation speaks for itself, and I want all of this ‘alone time’ to stand for something. I want it to be for a purpose. It’s human nature to search for meaning, for purpose, and yet still I can’t help but want to have a voice worth listening to, at least for someone.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
Story – by Robert McKee. I know it sounds strange. A book on screenwriting? Really? The reason lies in the necessity of storytelling for me. I think any successful entrepreneur would tell you that you’re selling more than a product, you sell a story along with it. You have to be a capable story teller to make it as an entrepreneur. Story outlines this process in a way that is, granted, tailored for scripts, but brings with it a plethora of universal lessons on how to sell a story in an engaging manner.
What’s next for Carson MacCormac in the last months of 2021?
I have a few projects in the works I hope to be able to discuss soon. I’m finishing up East of Middle West’s festival circuit before heading back to Toronto where I plan on sneaking away to a cottage or two before the weather turns. I plan on spending some of the holiday season with family and friends, and will continue to work as much as possible along the way.
What is your favorite healthy food?
And your favorite cheat food?
Cheese… any cheese, it really doesn’t matter.
What is your own definition of happiness?
Happiness is funny to me, as I don’t think that it’s a goal of mine. I want to be content, and live a life that is filled with happiness, but happiness is a feeling, and as it is with all feelings, they wane over time. Contentment would be my skewed definition, simply because I think if I can reach a stage in my life where ambition has been exhausted, then I will have lived a life worthy of my own standards. That’s all I can ask for; contentment of self and as little regret as possible.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Kobe Bryant. He remains a major role model of mine and he held the unique quality of being as great of a teacher as he was a competitor. I would have so many questions to ask him.
Best advice ever given?
Life is too important to be taken seriously. – Oscar Wilde
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
I mean the dream would be to be filming In a country I’ve never been to before, playing a character that interests me just as much as it terrifies me, and working with actors and a crew who I adore.
Favorite song? Why?
It’s the opening song to my favorite album ever. To me, it is an unparalleled introductory song that sets up the journey of To Pimp A Butterfly with a swagger and grandeur that I could listen to endlessly. It’s the perfect song to get lost in and for someone who clearly enjoys the art of storytelling, the whole song is a masterclass on setting stakes, introducing characters and foreshadowing all mixed into one incredibly addictive beat.
What do you think of social media?
Fun, addictive, and here to stay. Social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and although I think that it brings with it many dangers, it can be used in positive ways just as frequently as negative ones. If as a whole, we continue to bring awareness to the perils of social media, and there are many, then we can mitigate the bad sides of it while amplifying the good ones.
Where can we follow you?
Book: The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
Quote: “Words are momentary. Intent is momentous.” – Matthew McCounaughey in his book Greenlights.
Tv Series: Friday Night Lights
Favorite Food: Pasta
Travel Destination: Jamaica
Sports Team: Toronto Raptors
Photo Credit: Jonny Marlow