A Q&A with Actor Jon Wächter of ‘BAG BOY LOVER BOY’

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Polaroid-Photos

Jon Wächter at the Fantasia Film Festival, 2014. Polaroid photo by Esinam Beckley.

Andres Torres’s BAG BOY LOVER BOY is a lonely New York City story about a hot dog vendor named Albert. His downward spiral begins with a quick, seedy, upward spiral.  Following a late night meeting, Albert is taken in and generously nurtured by an evil photographer named Ivan (Theodore Bouloukos). Ivan wants to exploit Albert’s very particular looks for a new photo project. With his shirt off, Albert patiently waits to ‘’learn about art,’’ but eventually decides to use Ivan’s gift of a Polaroid camera to start creating his own art.

Jon Wächter plays the role of Albert in this gritty, hilarious satire. Our basement-dwelling vendor is absolutely charming right from his very introduction, and the audience is left wondering if Wächter is even acting.  Though far from cynical, the Fantasia Festival crowd has seen everything in between, and viewers were still taken back by the awkwardness and unfamiliarity in Albert’s strange smooth talk when BAG BOY LOVER BOY premiered as part of the brand new Fantasia Underground program. We talked to star Jon Wächter about making movies in Sweden, working with director Andres Torres and answer the question that audiences really want to know—how much of Jon Wächter is actually Albert?

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Esinam Beckley: Can you describe the process of first getting chosen to play the role of Albert?

Jon Wächter: In this particular case there was no process like that because we were friends from film school, and so even though to the large majority of people it seems like a first time director, and a first time actor, it wasn’t actually like that at all. This is the first film that we’ve sent to a festival but we actually made like six or seven short films before this. Andres directed and wrote them, and I acted. We worked together on a large number of short films, so he knew me. He knew what kind of roles he liked seeing me in. He had an idea that we should make a movie together. He had several different ideas, and then he came up with this idea for BAG BOY LOVER BOY. He explained that we should do this film, and he was already working on the script. I just felt that it sounded like an interesting project. He already knew he wanted me to be BAG BOY, and so he pretty much wrote the film with me in mind for the lead.

EB: Did you have previous film or acting experience?

JW: Andres and me went to film school together. I sort of became the actor in the class. Everybody wanted me to act in their short films so I did about 15 short films during that year. Some really tiny ones, and some larger ones. So yes, I did quite a lot of acting at that time. Also, I did an optional practical year where you get to work in the industry that you are studying in. I went as a filmmaker, but then sort of ended up as an actor. It was just what everyone wanted, and it was where I could get work.

EB: You mentioned you also make films. What kind of films do you make personally?

JW: I like mixing genres when I make my own films. I always have comedy in them, dark comedy. Thriller, romance, and sci-fi. I like to have dreams in my films too, very surrealistic styles.

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EB: The film just premiered during the 2014 Fantasia Festival. What was it like watching the film with an audience for the first time?

JW: It’s funny actually; I don’t think I understood how people reacted. I could hear people laughing which was nice. I never saw it as a comedy myself. I think I never realized how people reacted until afterward. I mean, to me, when I watch the film I see a character. I was thinking are people going to find it convincing? Are they going to believe me as this guy? I never realized how deeply connected I would be to Albert to the point where people would assume I wasn’t even acting! It never in my wildest dreams crossed my mind. When I watch the film I see acting, I see somebody completely different from myself.  So that was definitely something I was not expecting. To be so closely connected to the point where people don’t know what is real, and what is not. It was really odd. I don’t know, I guess it’s good. I suppose that is what you want. It’s just not something I ever expected.

EB: Are you/were you a fan of horror films at all?

JW: As an actor it’s an interesting role to play. I’ve always felt like it would be fun to do a horror film that focuses on the killer, and not on the characters.  You can’t really invest in the characters in horror films because you know they are probably going to die. Most of them are going to die. One or two might survive. The killer I’ve always found to be the most interesting character. Like who is the killer? Who is this masked anonymous guy murdering everyone? What’s going on in his mind? Who is he? So I found what drew me to this film, was to make a film from the perspective of the killer. Not from the perspective of the people getting hacked up or murdered.  I felt that was an interesting way to do it. In general, I like all genres of films. I’ll watch anything if the story is good, but I would say the found footage kind of films or a couple of teenagers in a cabin aren’t really my type of films. I find this film is not a conventional horror film.

EB: You mentioned during the Q & A after the film that you are from Sweden. Have any friends or relatives seen the film?

JW:  No, I don’t even have a copy of the film yet. I haven’t actually shown it to anyone that I know. They’ve seen the trailer and everything. I know my nephew is really excited to watch it. He likes what he’s been seeing so far. Some of my friends have seen the trailer as well. They are definitely excited to see it. Obviously, my mom and sisters get a little worried when they see me covered in blood. It’s a little disturbing for them. They are not the kind of people who watch horror films. I don’t know how they will react, but mostly people are excited to see it.

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EB:  In the film, Albert switches from an extremely passive character to a cold hearted, non-remorseful, hateful killer of women. Was it difficult to play this transition?

JW: It’s funny; I don’t think I even thought of it. I know it’s very obvious when you’re watching the film, but I think it’s just subconscious. It wasn’t a thought out thing like okay the character is transforming now how do I do that? I was just trying to play Albert as believable as possible. The transition never entered my mind. It was all just very subconscious.

EB: A large part of what makes this film unique is the way in which Albert responds and reacts to situations around him. How much of your real self did you bring to that? Is there any part or parts of Albert you truly identify with?

JW: I don’t think I brought any of my own personality or myself into it.  Even though I speak the way Albert speaks, I’m trying to imagine. I’m trying to imagine the situation you know? I want it to feel more natural when he reacts to it. I think first of how I would react, and get in that headspace. Then, I don’t react the way I would. I react the way he would. It helps to just go over it in my own head, to make it more natural so it doesn’t sound like a line from a script.  I would say that when I did improvise (like the part where I am directing the girls) I was trying to imagine how Ivan had done it. I was trying to capture his style. Trying to do it the way he does it. Also for the improvised scenes where I direct the girls, I was actually imagining BLOW-UP the way he directs the models. I was trying to think of other characters’ in films, took that, and tried to exaggerate it. He doesn’t really know what he’s doing. He’s just saying shit trying to sound professional.  There are times of course when I feel like I’m on the outside looking in. Albert, as a character, is always on the outside. He’s never in on the joke. Sometimes, there is a group of people you don’t know, and you are on the outside. Or, you’re right between two groups of people, but I don’t feel any part of his personality. I try to be more open to things then he is. I’m always open to things. A lot of people say this character was a very brave role to play.  I joke that if I were actually anything like Albert, I probably would not have taken this role. Mainly, I don’t really see myself in the way he talks and reacts.

It’s funny. My personality is very different. I’m talkative. I enjoy meeting new people. I’ve travelled a lot. I like to throw myself into new situations. I like to joke around. It’s as far away from Albert’s quiet, shy, demeanor as you can come. I guess Andres must have seen that this was a role I could play. To me, when I watch it, I see acting. I wonder if it is even believable or not. There are scenes where I think hmm I should have said that in another way. It just never crossed my mind at all that I would be mistaken for the character.

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EB: Would you say you enjoyed the whole process of being in and working on this film? Will we be seeing you in any new films?

JW: Possibly, we are talking about maybe doing another film. I live in Sweden so I can’t really audition for films in the U.S. anymore. I don’t know what will happen with that. I have no idea what’s in store for the future. It was definitely an intense experience shooting this film. We were on a really tight schedule. It’s a different experience when you’re in front of the camera rather then behind it.  It was the biggest shoot I’ve ever worked on. A whole crew, a producer, production assistants. It was much more professional then my own shoots. It was fun. I guess I didn’t really know what it would be like. Of course it’s tough sometimes when you have no time for yourself, and it’s acting for 16 hours. In a sense, that was good for the film. It kept that intensity up. You stay with the character for so long.  It’s harder to get back into character when you’ve been away for a long time, and then try to get back into it. I was more Albert then myself because I was shooting so much.

EB: What is a regular day like for you back home in Sweden?

JW:  I go to school and study media communications. I’ll go to school for a few hours, and listen to lectures. I Facebook, watch TV, it’s not too glamorous yet.  I write, but I’m not the kind of writer who will sit down for three hours and is disciplined. I like to write when inspiration hits. I could see a woman in the street and think hey that’s a cool outfit, I should have that outfit in a film. I’ll write a bunch of ideas, and try to connect them into a story or a script.

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Official Website: http://bagboyloverboy.com/

About the author:

Esinam Beckley

Esinam Beckley is a student at the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies.

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