The Cleveland International Film Festival promotes artistically and culturally significant film arts through education and exhibition to enrich the life of the community.
April 01, 2017 | posted by Lara Klaber in Filmmakers
You may not immediately know Ely Henry’s name, but you’ve seen him more often than you probably think.
Since playing the “Homeschooled Boy” in “Mean Girls” (2004), who believed that God invented the Remington rifle so humans could battle dinosaurs and homosexuals, Henry has become a staple of film and television, largely in character and comedic parts.
“When I was younger I played a lot of nerds and dorks, but now that I'm older I find myself playing a lot of assholes and weirdos,” he explains. “I pray that change doesn't apply to me personally but...well, not for me to say.”
In “Some Freaks,” he steps out of those roles, at least a little, playing the charismatic but closeted Elmo.
“When I auditioned for the part, Elmo was described as the ‘typical horny high school best friend, except he's gay,’ and that's pretty much how I see him,” he says. “In a movie like "Some Freaks," which examines what it means to be an outsider, Elmo demonstrates the difficulty with being outgoing and seemingly confident but secretly ashamed to be who you really are. It's something I really relate to, personally, not from a sexuality point of view but rather in my own dealings with social anxiety.”
He was also drawn to the part because Elmo was so layered. “On the surface he's this funny, charming guy, but underneath there's a lot of pain.”
Humor comes naturally to Henry. When I ask him if he has plans to direct, his immediate response is “I would love to. Do you have something for me? Let's set up a lunch.” And when I tell him about this year’s CIFF theme, he has a ready answer as well: “Illuminate … that's that group that runs the world right? I'd love to be a part of that through my work.”
His streak is continuing; next up for him will be a superhero comedy called “Zeroes,” and the work keeps coming.
“In the future, I'd really like to be able to follow in the footsteps of someone like Phillip Seymour Hoffman,” he reflects. “He's a character actor who managed to break away from bit parts and oddballs to creating these incredible roles in larger projects.”
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