Timothy J. Cox is not a stranger to Rogue Cinema. We’ve featured him and his work before. So it was with great excitement that we learned of his most recent project, his first screenplay, Swan Song. Staff Writer Michael E Smith interviewed Timothy and here’s what we learned.
Timothy is a stage and film actor based in New York City. Swan Song is his first screenplay and it “tells the story of hit man Ken McCord and his struggles with walking away from the only life he’s ever known.” (Timothy’s own words)
He started the project in 2004 and intended it to be a stage play. It was then “put in a drawer, where it sat for 7 years.” But this project refused to stay drawer bound and he was compelled to take it out and rework it as a screenplay. The film, Swan Song, is being produced by InFocus Entertainment and directed by owner/partner Rob LaSalle. They’ve already got one key scene “in the can” with actors Jeff Moffitt and Daniel Martin Berkey that they hope will raise funds for the film.
So without further ado, lets chat with Timothy J Cox…
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1. IMDb states in your bio that Jack Lemmon’s performance in Days of Wine and Roses prompted your choice to become an actor. What other actors influenced you?
Oh, wow. How much space do you have? Seriously, I could go on for days about the actors who have and continue to influence me. When I was a kid, I used to go to this video store in Wilmington, Delaware, where I grew up and rent a stack of movies of one particular actor. I’d rent six movies at one time and I’d spend my weekends watching and learning from the prestigious schools of Gene Hackman, Spencer Tracy, Albert Finney, Alec Guiness, Jason Robards, Katharine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave and so many others. I would watch the movies in the order that the actor made them. It was great to see the actor grow in each role. I’ve learned from so many. Lord knows, I’ve stolen from so many as well. I’m still learning; still a student in this work.
2. Your experience ranges from stage to film, which do you prefer to do and why?
I’m about 50-50. Film is exciting and fun and in my experience, very fast paced, which I enjoy. With film acting, you have to rely on your instincts and training and just go for it in a scene, as in most cases, you don’t have the time for long periods of rehearsal. So, you just have to trust yourself, the material and the people around you. Sometimes something clicks and works perfectly and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s what take two is for. As far as the stage, well, I’ll always love the stage because of that immediate reaction you get from the audience. Plus, every time you go on stage, it’s ”opening night” again. It’s new for the audience; it’s new for you the actor as well. I love it all though. I love to work, whether it’s stage or film.
3. Do you have a “dream-team” of actors and directors you’d really love to work with?
Honestly, I wish I could back 70-80 years and be a part of Frank Capra’s or John Ford’s stock company of actors…people like Jane Darwell, Ward Bond, Thomas Mitchell. They had such wonderful careers. Being a part of a stock company or ensemble like that would be my ideal ”dream team”.
4. What prompted you to write the screenplay Swan Song?
There was a period…a year or so ago…where I had this burst of enthusiasm for writing and Swan Song was the result. In the past, when I started to write, I had an idea and started to run with it, but I lost interest real quick or was distracted with life, work, etc. That didn’t happen this time and I’m glad. It was a fun process, a difficult process though, as I’m sure any writer will tell you.
5. Why did you choose a hit man as your protagonist?
That life…the mob life…in all its forms (Cosa Nostra, Irish Mob, etc) has always fascinated me. For years, I’ve read books and watched documentaries about mob enforcers/hitmen like Sammy ”The Bull” Gravano, who was John Gotti’s right hand man or John ”Red” Shea, who worked alongside of Whitey Bulger. When reading about them, they always struck me as very quiet men…loners…but when they got the call to do a ”job”, a trigger went on in their heads and boom, they did their jobs with a certain machine-like precision. That’s what I envisioned for Ken McCord. This man is a killing machine. This is all he knows and he’s good at it, but deep down, he wants something more. The film chronicles his internal struggles with the life he’s chosen…the price he’s paid for it, mentally, physically and emotionally and a question nags at him throughout, ”Can I walk away from this life, the only life I’ve ever known?”
6. When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing stories and little scripts since I was a kid, but Swan Song is the first thing that I’ve written that I’m fully proud of. I don’t consider myself a writer. I consider myself an actor who tried something different.
7. Obviously, being a writer and an actor the temptation must be there to do a Rocky. Do you have any intentions of going down that road?
No, I never intended to write a great, big leading role for myself. I’m a supporting actor and I’m going to play a supporting role in the film. I’ve always had this supporting actor mentality…I come on, do my scenes and then get out of there. The part that I’m going to play in the film is a good one. He has one cool scene and then he’s out. That’s enough for me. We got a great lead actor in Jeff Moffitt, a colleague from several past film projects (Socks and Cakes and The Watchers) and a dear friend to play McCord and he’s going to knock it out of the park.
8. In terms of writing, I have to ask; who are your greatest influences?
Any script that Paddy Chayefsky wrote (Marty, The Hospital, Network) always blew me away. The Coen Brothers have always and continue to amaze me as well. That’s a ”dream team” right there.
9. Are you still planning to write for the stage or has this acceptance of your screenplay caused you to completely shift direction?
I never say never in this work. I never thought I’d pen a screenplay, let alone see it then be brought to life by a talented group of people like Rob LaSalle and Rafael Ortiz. The skies the limit!
10. Are you going to continue to write?
I hope so. It’s a fun, but difficult process. If a good idea comes to me, then I’ll get it on paper.
11. When do you expect the film to be finished?
Well, we’re at the stage now where we need to raise money to make the film a reality. The scene we shot a few weeks back, which will be part of the promotion to raise funds, is very close to completion. I’m very excited to see it and share it with the world, Everyone involved with the project has worked so hard already on the project. I feel so blessed.
12. And finally; what have you got going in the acting department?
I’m in pre-production for the comedy web series Marty and Doug’s New Religion, Part 2, with All Things Random, which will be directed by another dear friend and frequent collaborator in Sean Meehan (Over Coffee, Waste of Space). I will be playing both God and the Devil, which is every actors dream. I also have several films in post-production, including the comedies Filmmaker and Homeless Real Estate, also from All Things Random, We Just Want To Play from Team 3 Productions and the drama Jackpot from Chantaletc Productions.
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We’d like to thank Timothy for taking the time to talk to us and reveal a bit more about his first screenplay and where Swansong is in filming. If you want more information about the film the website is http://swansongfilm.weebly.com and if you want to see more about Timothy check out his website http://www.timothyjcox.com.