From the time the acting bug bit 33 year old actor Timothy J. Cox, he took an interest in character parts, wanting to follow in the footsteps of legendary scene-stealers like Charles Durning and Rip Torn.
In a 2007 BlogCritics.org interview, the actor said the following about himself, "I’m not tall, dark and handsome. My face is not the kind of face that sets hearts to fluttering. I’m a short, stocky guy with glasses, so of course I’m a character actor, which is great for me, because character actors always work."
To look at his website (www.timothyjcox.com) it looks like the path of "character acting" has been the perfect path for the Philadelphia native who alternates regularly between stage and film work, usually cast as timid, worrisome schnooks and irascible relatives.
Small of stature with twinkling eyes and a warm, friendly smile, the actor, who has called New York City his home for almost a decade, has managed to keep pretty busy in a wide array of stage and film productions; showing no signs of slowing down.
Cox is currently on the festival circuit to help promote The Watchers, a suspense / thriller from Two Man Crew Productions (www.twomancrewproductions.com) directed by Sy Cody White.
It stars Jeff Moffitt (who co-produced and co-wrote the screenplay with director White) as an ordinary man who thinks he’s being pursued by some rather strange individuals and begins to question his own sanity in the process.
I had the pleasure of seeing the film in its entirety at the Cinematique Film Festival in Manhattan a few weeks ago and was impressed by what I saw, especially since the film was made in seven days, at a cost of only $350 (for food and travel for the cast). I found the film to be a taut, original thriller with plenty of surprises to entertain all.
Cox, who appears in a couple of scenes as Moffitt’s rather skeptical shrink, Dr. Orwell, was quite impressive as well, proving his mettle as a character actor. He managed to bring mystery and even a little humor to his very interesting role.
I briefly met and chatted with Mr. Cox at the festival, but it was today that he agreed to sit and chat about his work and The Watchers.
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Rogue Cinema: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me.
Timothy J. Cox: Thank you. It’s my pleasure.
Rogue Cinema: How did the role of Dr. Orwell in The Watchers come to you?
Timothy J. Cox: Jeff (Moffitt) and I had worked together earlier this year on a wonderful short film called Socks and Cakes and we…uh…well, we just hit it off immediately. Jeff is a guy…he’s only recently gotten into this business…but he has a great energy and enthusiasm. He takes the work very seriously, but also keeps his sense of humor handy to get through the long days. We stayed in touch after Socks and Cakes, hoping for the chance to work together again…and that chance came when Jeff called me and told me about this project that he’s mounting. He asked if I wanted to be involved and I said "Yes" and the rest is history.
Rogue Cinema: According to what you told me at the Cinematique Film Festival, you actually didn’t see a final script prior to filming?
Timothy J. Cox: No, I didn’t. Suspense and mystery is one of my favorite genres and I knew that this film had its share of twists and turns, so I asked Jeff to not send me the entire script.
Rogue Cinema: You wanted to be surprised like the audience?
Timothy J. Cox: Exactly. I enjoyed trying to figure everything out…along with the audience. It made the experience of watching the film all the more enjoyable for me.
Rogue Cinema: Were you surprised?
Timothy J. Cox: Very much so. Very clever and original, I thought.
Rogue Cinema: Was the film really made in seven days?
Timothy J. Cox: Yes, it was.
Rogue Cinema: That’s amazing.
Timothy J. Cox: It is. I only worked two of those days though, but Jeff and Sy were running all over place, trying to get everything in the can because Sy had to leave town for another commitment, so it was a bit of a time crunch.
Rogue Cinema: That’s impressive, considering the quality of the version that I saw.
Timothy J. Cox: I agree. To me, the film looks wonderful, very sharp and polished. Sy and Jeff have been working and continue to work very hard on getting the film just right, tweaking little things here and there. Overall…I’m mighty happy with the turnout. The colors and the way Sy edited the film really add to the suspense. I give both Jeff and Sy a lot of credit for putting everything together and making this film happen.
Rogue Cinema: I understand that the film has just been accepted into the Big Apple Film Festival? Congratulations.
Timothy J. Cox: Thank you! Yes, the cast just found out about it earlier this week. It’s very exciting.
Rogue Cinema: Is the film being submitted to other festivals as well?
Timothy J. Cox: Yes, so hopefully, our streak of good luck will continue.
Rogue Cinema: In looking over your resume and the many things that you’ve been involved with over the years, what makes The Watchers so special?
Timothy J. Cox: The story of this regular guy…just going about his business, who suddenly becomes a target… it really drew me in. While he’s trying to piece everything together, we begin to see his unraveling; his mind going in different directions. The film really takes you for a ride. It’s what movies are supposed to do.
Rogue Cinema: How was the process of making the film?
Timothy J. Cox: It was great fun working with Jeff and Sy, who are a solid team. Both created a wonderful environment for their actors to play around in. Both are real pros.
Rogue Cinema: I have to ask, do you ever feel like you’re being watched?
Timothy J. Cox: (laughs)
Rogue Cinema: New York is a big city?
Timothy J. Cox: True. I’ve never gotten the kinds of looks that Jeff’s character gets in the film, but you know…we’ve all been watched at one time or another or done the watching. On the subways here in New York especially.
Rogue Cinema: Why do people like to watch other people?
Timothy J. Cox: Well, in New York City, people are very curious about other people. How they walk? How they dress? Behavior? Attitude? It’s fascinating and good research for actors. I think it was Brando who used to ride the subways and study the faces of passengers, how they walked and talked.
Rogue Cinema: What draws you to character parts like Dr. Orwell?
Timothy J. Cox: Oh, well….roles like Dr. Orwell are richer, more interesting to play. For me. In the case of this Dr. Orwell…well, something just clicked. I loved how there was a hint of mystery about him. Can he be trusted?
Rogue Cinema: I asked that as well. I thought he was a watcher.
Timothy J. Cox: Great! That’s what I like to hear. Jeff and Sy will be thrilled to hear that as well.
Rogue Cinema: Dr. Orwell appears in only a few scenes, but he makes an impact.
Timothy J. Cox: I hope so. He’s a fun character and a perfect fit for me as far as the size of the role is concerned. I like to come on, do my thing and then get out of there.
Rogue Cinema: Get in and get out, right?
Timothy J. Cox: Exactly. This is what happens when you have a supporting actor mentality.
Rogue Cinema: You never wanted to be a movie star?
Timothy J. Cox: Oh, sure…I had the same dreams that a lot of young actors had about movie stardom and celebrity, but that passed quickly for me. I wanted this for a career…so I learned early on in my studies that if I was ever going to have any success in this work, it was going to be as a supporting actor.
Rogue Cinema: Did you just know that that was where you fit?
Timothy J. Cox: Well, I had great directors who pushed me in that direction when I started taking the work seriously. I just knew in my gut that I was never going to be the romantic lead that gets the girl, but I knew that I could play the lead’s best friend who convinces him to go get the girl..
Rogue Cinema: You’re the mensch?
Timothy J. Cox: (laughs) Yes, I’m the mensch. The mensches are more fun to play.
Rogue Cinema: You have said that character roles are the scene-stealers?
Timothy J. Cox: Absolutely. Look at what Amy Ryan did in Gone Baby Gone and Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. She made such an impression in two very different dramatic roles and then she goes on The Office a few seasons back and shows us that she can be funny too? She’s amazing! That’s the kind of career that I want. Character actors can do it anyway they are asked, whether it’s comedic or dramatic.
Rogue Cinema: How do you prepare for a role?
Timothy J. Cox: To me, it’s all in the script. The script has to be solid. If the script is good, then it makes your job as the actor so much easier. You just trust the material and the people around you. When the material is not so good is when you have to push up your shirt sleeves and then it becomes work. Acting shouldn’t be work. I mean, it’s called play for a reason. To me, acting is extended recess time, playtime for adults.
Rogue Cinema: Are you an actor for life?
Timothy J. Cox: (laughs) Well, I don’t have a choice on that one. I never bothered to learn how to do anything else, so the acting profession is stuck with me.
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The Watchers will be presented at the Big Apple Film Festival between November 2nd and 6th at the Tribeca Cinemas in New York City. Please check http://bigapplefilmfestival.com/ for details on the festival.
To view the official trailer for The Watchers, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0Y0bLAsD9Q