Interview by Susan Kamyab
In the Beginning, Three were Created…
Man made of Clay.
Angels made of Light.
And a Third…made of Fire.
From the beginning, stories of angels and men have captured our imaginations and have been etched into our history crossing all boundaries of culture, religion, and time. These two races have dominated the landscape of modern mythology for countless centuries, almost washing away the evidence that a third ever existed. This third race, born of smokeless fire, was called the jinn. Similar to humans in many ways, the jinn lived invisibly among us and only under dire or unusual circumstances were our paths ever meant to cross.
As humans became the dominant force on Earth, contact between man and jinn steadily decreased.
Modern man has all but forgotten the jinn.
“Jinn” is the new thriller set to make its theatrical release in Dallas on April 4. I got a chance to speak with the star of the film, Dominic Rains to discuss the movie, his character, and projects he hopes to work on in the future.
How did working on “JINN” compare to any other production you have worked on?
Well first of all it was the first time I was carrying a film the whole way through. It was by far one of the most physically exhausting experiences I’ve had which in turn was emotionally exhausting. I mean there were days where I was drenched in water in Michigan 30 degree biting weather, and that’s just one part of it. The majority of the shoots were night shoots so my hours were completely off. I also played three characters in the film which made it ever so interesting. But given the material at hand, the most challenging place was trying to find the arc of the character. Sometimes you’re shooting out of sequence, time is against you, you’re shooting on 35mm film so you’ve got to get it right or you’re just burning film, unlike digital where you can shoot endlessly, and you’ve got to focus all your energy to make sure that you know in the grand scheme of things, you’re giving just enough for the 180mm lens that’s focused on your eyes. One exaggerated expression here or there and it’s a 15 foot difference on the silver screen. AJ, the writer/director, loved to tell me, ‘its all in the eyes!’ haha… But learning to focus and harness that energy was important. And knowing what the scene was about was imperative.
What can you tell us about the character (Shawn) you play in this film?
Shawn is an automotive engineer living a quiet idyllic life with his wife Jasmine when one day it is interrupted by a package delivered by a sketchy dude that contains an encrypted message. It warns him of imminent danger and that this ‘thing’ the Jinn is coming after him. At first Shawn tries to disregard the message but weird things start to happen and after a number of events test his belief, his wife is kidnapped and Shawn is forced to face his fears and is tossed through a gauntlet of emotional, physical and mental tests. He is helped along the way by three men who aid him in what to do to fight and overcome the Jinn, but ultimately he’s the only one that can save himself and his family.
What was your favorite scene to shoot?
I had two favorite scenes in the film; the first was with his parents when he’s trying to piece everything together and the second was at the end of the film where he rises to the occasion. I won’t say anymore than that but that it’s a very cool scene and you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it. Everything came together, AJ’s direction, our stunt performers, Ray Park, and the incredible genius of our VFX supervisor Joe Coleman. It was a test of many things that evening and it’s a testament to the work of a great team. On a personal level it was a test of the physical and mental for myself.
Why should audiences go out and see this film? How does it stand out above other mystery thrillers?
Well besides the fact that it’s based on an ancient mythology that over 2 billion people believe in around the world, it’s mentioned or alluded to in the books of the leading three religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Also, it’s a fun family film for all ages; it’s essentially a hero story of courage and the will to fight to overcome our fears. We see the slow rise of a man who finds it in himself to become the man he never thought existed.
You have worked on a variety of different TV shows and film. What genre of film do you hope to work on that you haven’t done yet?
I’d really like to go into more heavy dramas, dark comedies and twisted psychological thrillers. It would be a dream to work with filmmakers like Gasper Noe, PT Anderson, The Coen Brothes, Lars Von Trier. Very avant garde, art house, challenging character pieces. I love playing heavy character pieces. I enjoy the leading men as well but since they tend to be closer to me they’re more a naked vulnerability. With character heavy roles you get to be vulnerable as well but you get to funnel them through a lot more so you can indulge a bit more, it seems.
Who are some actors that you admire and hope to work with in the future?
There are so many actors I admire. So many actors of all ages that inspire me and push me to do great work that I don’t have enough space to say them all but in the meantime I’ll express a few. God bless Phillip Seymour Hoffman, he was a titan, he’ll stand as one of my all time greats. I would love the pleasure to work with Ethan Rains, Daniel Day Lewis, Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Robert Duvall, Willem Defoe, Susan Sarandon, Matthew McConaughey, Brad Pitt, JACK NICHOLSON for sure, Anthony Hopkins, Cate Blanchett and the list goes on.
Since childhood, movies have been one of my best escapes, adventures, romances, and laughs.I am always asked “What is your favorite movie?”. The Breakfast Club, hands down!It was the first movie I ever emotionally connected with and in general John Hughes’ work had a tendency to never let me down.