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March 27, 2014 | posted in Filmmakers
Alec Whaite from Claudia Pinto’s “The Longest Distance,” shares his inspiration for film, how he prepared for his role, and what’s on deck for his career.
CIFF: What inspired you to become an actor?
AW: My grandmother and I used to play mimicry games, and I remember loving that. I played Peter Pan in a school production when I was six years old, and I profoundly enjoyed it. It sort of always made sense to me. One of the greatest things I’ve been told about acting is, “Plays and great stories are about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances of the soul.”
CIFF: Why did you decide to pursue a role in “The Longest Distance”?
AW: I never thought I’d get the role to begin with. When I auditioned for the film I was told that the character was in his mid-thirties, with long dark hair and muscle built. The audition tape would serve as training and in the best-case scenario an opportunity for me to send my work to a great director hoping that she might consider me for other future projects. When I read the script, I fell completely in love with Claudia’s compelling story. When I was offered the part, I don’t think I’ve ever said a quicker “Yes!” in my entire life.
CIFF: How did you prepare yourself for your role?
AW: I play Kayemó, a young man born and raised in the innocence of the Venezuelan Amazon who decided to run away in the pursuit of a better, more ambitious life. I underwent a specific diet regime that consisted of only eating food that one would find in the Great Plains: lots of vegetables, fruits, seeds and grains. I also started working out with a trainer so I could get his body type. I wanted to explore the dichotomy of Kayemó’s inner life, how he lost it and came to terms with leading a completely different lifestyle.
CIFF: How has your theatre training been different in L.A. compared to London?
AW: I’m eternally grateful to both, the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in London and the Stella Adler Academy of Acting & Theatre in Los Angeles, for giving me so much. Theatre in London is beyond accessible. You can walk into a pub and on the back terrace they’re prepping for tomorrow’s fringe matinee. It’s absolutely wonderful. I found great relief in training at Stella Adler. In other words it became my everyday church. That transition period one might have to deal with was basically non-existent as I felt I had been there for years.
CIFF: What is next for you?
AW: I am currently developing a script with my brother, which we’d like to have ready before the end of the year. After having experienced The Longest Distance, I have been toying with the idea of writing for the screen, submerging myself in learning the craft and building it slowly.
CIFF: Is there anything else you think would interest CIFF audiences?
AW: Claudia Pinto’s film is the first movie ever to be developed and shot almost entirely in the Venezuelan Great Plains. The setting is the sixth biggest national park in the world as well as one of the oldest territories on our planet.
— Amy Kersey
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FILM UPDATE: #CIFF36 alum YOU'VE BEEN TRUMPED is screening tonight at Capitol Theatre! Ticket and timing info here: https://www.clevelandcinemas.com/moviedetails.asp?id=6624
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