Jack Kesy has been cast in Guillermo del Toro’s new TV series, “The Strain,” a thriller about a mysterious viral outbreak of vampirism.
Kesy is already being compared to Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale. You know why? Because he’s that sexy. And, want to hear something scrumptious? He has no idea how hot he is. During our photoshoot, I told him my hand was trembling. He said, “Why?” I said because you’re so handsome. He looked puzzled and said, “Really? I don’t see myself that way.” Oh baby, sexy and modest. Wow.
Dorri Olds: How did you get cast in “The Strain”?
Jack Kesy: It happened very fast. It’s a crazy story. I put a self-tape together and sent it off. Two weeks later, I heard back that April Webster, who is a great woman, wanted to meet me, and they were crazy about it. It was like my third audition ever. They showed it to FX and the higher ups, and they said, “We think that tape is strong, and you don’t have to fly back and forth.”
I don’t do my tapes straightforward like, “Blah, blah, blah.” I try to put some cinematic feel into it. I put my own spin on it. Obviously they appreciated it. I flew to California to meet Guillermo del Toro and [executive producer] Carlton Cuse. We had coffee and went over the project, and Guillermo gave me this big bear hug, and he was like, “Welcome aboard, motherfucker.” And that was it.
Can you describe your character?
I play Gabriel Bolivar. He’s a rock star in New York, and he’s an icon figure of a shock rocker, like a Marilyn Manson or Iggy Pop. He’s a spoiled brat prince of darkness rock star — you know how they are. He turns into a vampire and slowly but surely becomes the master of the vampires.
How did you become interested in acting?
I never wanted to be an actor, even though I grew up in New York City with all the great Broadway actors. I was running around the street, but when I was 24 I had a spiritual awakening.
What do you mean?
The older I get the more my perspective shifts and grows, and I think it was just meant to be. It’s like I was always practicing for this moment all my life. Here’s the more practical story: I watched the movie, “Scent of a Woman” with Al Pacino. I don’t know what it was, but that movie grabbed me by the heart and by the balls. I really fell in love with Al Pacino’s character, this bitter cynical man who was also this anarchistic beautiful spirit that was stifled. I related to that.
Watching this guy who was misunderstood and didn’t belong anywhere, I didn’t feel so alone. Even though he was about 70 years old. His age had nothing to do with it. It was the essentials of his character, not his age or exterior. I just related to his personality, and it moved me. Something shifted inside of me. There was this moment in the movie where he’s yelling, “You frickin, Pacific, Oregon, Snot-nose, what do you fucking know about pain?”
When he did that, it hit me this guy isn’t acting, he’s for real, and I thought I could do that. I think if I start acting, some kid’s going to watch me and want to act. So I grabbed an envelope of money and took an acting class in the city, and my whole life changed. A door to a whole new world opened, and it was transformative. I started diving into the arts, reading, writing, watching movies obsessively. I could’ve opened up a DVD store, a little mini Blockbuster. Yeah. My mother thought I was crazy. Did that answer the question?
Yes! OK, next question: Do you have a favorite genre?
No. I don’t discriminate. I like anything that’s talented or gifted, whatever it is. I got into crazy mime theater. I like [Tadeusz] Kantor and [Jerzy] Grotowski, Bali theater, and all that weird shit. I like anything that engaged me or if I learned something. As long as it’s done well and there’s some gifts in it, I like it.
FX ordered a 13-episode first season of “The Strain.” It premieres Sunday, July 13 at 10 p.m.
Watch the trailer:
Meet Jack Kesy:
Dorri Olds is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.