Interview | Josh Thomson from Gary of the Pacific

YOU’VE WORKED WITH THE DOWNLOW CONCEPT BEFORE. DID THEY JUST CALL YOU UP AND ASK IF YOU WANTED TO PLAY GARY? OR WAS THIS DECIDED LONG BEFORE?

I worked with the Downlow for yonks. They got me to act in a comedy radio serial called “The Radio Station” about George FM. In 2006, we did a short film, The Tim Porch Story, which won the 48 Hour Film Festival. When they won, they were awarded an editing suite. Because I didn’t work with them, I made them a deal that I could use the editing suite whenever I wanted, so kind of ended up working with and for them. When they were writing the film, any time they were writing any film, I would wave my hands around and go “Hey, hey, I’m literally right in front of you”. So I kind of wheedled my way into every single thing they’ve done. They specifically wrote Gary of the Pacific for me because I was the most annoying person in the office.

WHAT IS GARY LIKE?

The character is a real loser. He keeps trying and getting broken down and takes a lot of shortcuts. He’s just a monumental failure that keeps pretending that he’s not. He’s a weird and quiet guy, which made it a very strange character building process for him. There’s a lot of me in it and also a lot of other people in the character. DO YOU LOVE ANYTHING ABOUT GARY? Yes. I think ultimately he just wants his family to like him, but the way he goes about it is very stupid.

IF YOU COULD PLAY ANY OTHER CHARACTER IN THE FILM, WHO WOULD IT BE?

Oooh, good question. That’s sort of the thing I’m not meant to answer [laughs]. Any of the other roles would be amazing because they were played so well. David Fane (who plays Gary’s Dad) has an amazing role where he basically just laughs the entire time. He’s so loveable and crazy that you can’t help but love him. Matt Whelan (who plays Nelson) is incredibly funny, and so is Dom (Ona-Ariki), Taofi (Mose-Tuiloma) who plays my sister, and Megan (Stevenson) the American actress. They’ve all made their characters so funny, and my character’s technically an unlikeable guy. I was like “Man, you guys are having a fun day”.

I CAN IMAGINE IT WAS A GREAT TIME ON SET.

We were on a tropical island, so yes, it was amazing. However, I would sweat buckets because everyone else was under tents, but I loved it. Now I kind of go “That’s why some actors on set go insane”. People just wig out or flip out. I reckon you just go insane after a while. DID YOU FIND YOURSELF DRIFTING FROM THE SCRIPT WHILE FILMING? There are little glimpses of improv. The problem with it, especially with a low budget film, is that time is money. Whenever they said that we had a bit of extra time on set to improv, we went insane. The few bits in the film that they kept are really really good.

CAN IMAGINE IT WAS A GREAT TIME ON SET.

We were on a tropical island, so yes, it was amazing. However, I would sweat buckets because everyone else was under tents, but I loved it. Now I kind of go “That’s why some actors on set go insane”. People just wig out or flip out. I reckon you just go insane after a while.

DID YOU FIND YOURSELF DRIFTING FROM THE SCRIPT WHILE FILMING?

There are little glimpses of improv. The problem with it, especially with a low budget film, is that time is money. Whenever they said that we had a bit of extra time on set to improv, we went insane. The few bits in the film that they kept are really really good.

THERE ARE A COUPLE OF CRINGE/AWKWARD MOMENTS IN THE FILM. WHAT WAS THE MOST AWKWARD FOR YOU TO FILM?

There’s one scene where this guy is essentially naked. We didn’t look at him naked, he was wearing what they call a “modesty pouch”’, like a little bag, and he flashed us. When we started laughing we would get told off. You must force yourself not to laugh. One time his pouch fell down a bit, we both knew we couldn’t laugh, so we both made a weird noise, and a tear just rolled down my face. The weird thing is the laugh goes somewhere else in your body. We just shut down, and I felt quite physically sick afterwards. Then for about five days afterwards I would wake up in the middle of the night and burst out laughing and go back to sleep. I just had to get it out. I had to be basically nude in a room full of people in front of a mirror. It’s a low budget movie, so I had to tape a bunch of stuff to myself. You might see the trailer where I drop a towel and you see my ass. In this scene, the directors were saying “Stop clenching your bum!” And I told them I wasn’t. Now I’ve got a clenchy looking bum. You get very self-conscious about filming these scenes.

CAN YOU SUM UP GARY OF THE PACIFIC IN A SENTENCE?

It’s a bloody good time.

As published in Craccum Magazine – Issue 4, 2017.

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