Jason Vail - An actor that likes to stay busy. - GigSpotting.Net

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Jason Vail - An actor that likes to stay busy.

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Jason Vail.jpgI first noticed Jason Vail in in the film The Cabin by Tommy Faircloth where Jason played a polite but eventually creepy suitor to Morgan Monnig's character Laura.  Next, I noticed he had a small part in Million Dollar Arm, a Disney movie with Jon Hamm,  as a sports agent.  Then I found out that he once lived in Lancaster, South Carolina as a teenager and that is where his passion for acting began and later blossomed in college.

Having spent many of my teenage weekends in Lancaster (I had a lot of friends that lived there), I wanted to find out more about this actor so I contacted him.  Turns out he is a very nice and obliging fellow currently living in Georgia but willing to go wherever the work takes him.   For instance, during the period we talked he was cast for Valley of the Sasquatch which is a production being filmed in Seattle, Washington.  

He is staying busy too, having just recently finished his role in Dorchester's Revenge: The Return of Crinoline Head that premieres tonight in Charleston, South Carolina. He already has seven other appearances lined up that are in some stage of production and dozens of credits behind him.  In the early days he worked out of New York where he had roles in some of the soap operas filmed there such as Guiding Light, One Life to Live, and As The World Turns.  

Another movie that he had a hand in was Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, a fictional retelling of the Lincoln story which was released a couple of years ago and gained a certain level of notoriety.  In it he plays the character of John Wilkes who we later find out is John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln's assassin. That and the movie Gut, which he starred in,  gave a significant boost to his career. 

Read our discussion below and if you get a chance check out the Red Carpet Premiere of Dorchesters Revenge in Charleston tonight.  You might catch him there.





How did you become interested in acting?

Jason  I started in high school.  Joined the drama club.  But I was head photographer for the year book and my advisor said I wouldn't have time. So I quit the drama club.  Bummer because I was just cast as the lead in their first play


You quit the drama club and yet you were cast as the lead in their first play.  What did your advisor think then?  Were you able to find the time for both?

Jason  I could have made it work but he was also my English teacher and I didn't want him to fail me out of spite. So I dropped out of the play. I got the acting bug later while attending Savannah college of art and design.


You were cast in a play there?  What happened?

Jason  No I did a student video for a class I was in.  I directed and acted.  I also directed a very short play for an art history class.  And that is when I got hooked.


In Savannah, what were you studying?  Are you still into photography?

Jason Photography.  Yes.  I recently started to do headshots for actors.  I'm good at it and it beats being a waiter. [laughs]


That's a natural fit.  How did you end up in soap operas? 

Jason  The casting director for C.B.S. saw me at my showcase in New York City for graduate school. Melanie Hazelton I think was her name.  Anyway,  I auditioned for some minor roles and got cast. I was on and off various soaps for almost a decade up there.


So you were living in New York.  Is the pay good for soap operas?  New York is an expensive place to live.

Jason  It is if you are a lead but I was just doing a day here and there.  So I was definitely the poster child for what a starving artist looked like.  I waited tables, caterer, bartender, and even was a carpenter for the bulk of my years there.

I looked for any and all acting work.  Student film, indie film, off off Broadway,  regional theater,  TV, web stuff. Whatever I could get into really.  I was hungry.


I guess it was a great place to make contacts. Right?

Jason  YES. contacts that I still work with today.  Still help me get a leg up in the biz. Help get me into new projects. New Yorkers are incredibly loyal. It is a bond for life.

I think because we know the true definition of struggle.  Like twenty years struggle.  Not oh I've been acting for three years gosh it's tough.  Pssst  That always makes me laugh inside.


It seems that you are getting lots of work this year with Million Dollar Arm, Tammy, Dorchester's Revenge, and The Rectory.  Not to mention around a dozen films for 2014 so far.

Jason  And I just added a few more.  I'm thankful.  I mean truly thankful.  It is a privilege to be working from project to project with little time in between.  I can tell you there was a dark time in my career that I used to believe I couldn't pay someone to cast me.  Thank goodness those times have changed.

The old saying is true,  work begets work. I rarely turn down a project.


Why did you move to Atlanta?

Jason  I started in the south an actor so I knew it was a great market.  Even 25 years ago.  It has always been good to me.  New York was never my scene. And I felt it in my soul.  Plus it was too darn cold.  [laughs]

The major decision was when my mother feel ill in 2011 and I came to be by her side for the last month of her life.  That changed everything.  I decided I needed to be close to my family.


You grew up in Lancaster, South Carolina.  Is that right?

Jason  I was there during high school.  Lancaster is a great place.  A lot of heart in that town.  People are just real there.  I have some incredible memories. That town allowed me to grow out of my shell and be someone


You mentioned you rarely turn down a project.  Is that the key to staying in the loop and getting more work?

Jason  Well.  It depends where your career is.  Luckily I'm offered good projects.  And I'm always looking to work with quality people.  There has to always be a trade off if not for just money. But staying busy is always key to this business  If you lay around the house waiting for the phone to ring you're in the wrong business.  You have to go out there and get it


How much of your work comes from agencies and how much from contacts you've made?

Jason  That's funny I was just about to say that before you asked me.  I'd say 20 percent is my agent and 80 is of my own doing



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Did you get your role in Million Dollar arm through an agency or did you respond to an audition. 

Jason That was my agent.

 
Where was your scene filmed in that movie?  Was that in Atlanta?

Jason  My scenes were shot in Atlanta and Los Angeles at the Lakers stadium.  That was pretty cool.


When you get work on your own, do you turn that over to your agent for negotiations and the business part of it?  How does that work?

Jason  Sometimes yes. If I'm out of town for a long stretch. It is only fair to give them a cut for potentially missing out on projects.  Which means they would lose out on money from my absence.
So it keeps everyone happy.

I get to do my passion project and they get a little cash. That actually just happened this month I'm flying out to Seattle for 30 days to shoot a film that I got on my own without their help


Is it sometimes to your benefit to have them negotiate the contract?

Jason  Yes totally I think it's always a safe thing to have them jump in and do this, do the paperwork for you


You were in the movie Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies which gained some notoriety.  What was your part in that?

Jason I played a double agent named John Wilkes it later turns out to be John Wilkes Booth
That film helped my career take a big leap.  That and Gut.




How much does it matter where you live nowadays if you want to be in the film industry?  It seems to me that it's going to lead to travel no matter where your live.

Jason  Well I was going to Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, SC between 1991-1994 and got my first professional acting work around that time.  That was in the early 90's. If I'd stayed there all those years I would have had as good a career now if not better.  So it doesn't matter as much.  There are many options for young actors. Atlanta, Louisiana, Ohio, Michigan , North Carolina, Nashville, all good places these days.  The tax incentives help of course

I just got cast in Valley of the Sasquatch in Seattle.  I have a few more in the works too. Good to be busy.  

I want to thank you Dan these are great questions and I really appreciate you taking extra time to hunt me down and make this happen,  it is really an honor.

The pleasure is mine and I hope to be able to do it again sometime.