There’s only one man who has more going on this year than Matt Damon and Leonardo Di Caprio combined… and you’re probably don’t even recognize his name (yet). Tim Griffin has appeared in a few films, such films as “Star Trek” and “The Bourne Supremacy”, but this year he’s adding quite a few flicks to his CV, including “Abduction” with Taylor Lautner, J.J Abrams’ “Super 8″, Josh Stolberg’s “Conception” and a sequel to the horror flick “The Collector”. Griffin is also involved in the new “Prime Suspect” series, which Peter Berg will executive produce and direct the pilot of.
Suppose I best start to by asking, how did you get involved in Josh Stolberg’s film “Conception”?
Josh and I go way back. I’ve known him since we were roommates in college! In fact, I have a permanent scar on my chin thanks to Josh: he was directing me in a production called “Juvie,” and during rehearsal he had us blindfolded and handcuffed while being led through the theatre by our fellow actors. I was playing the mouthiest Juvenile delinquent of the bunch, and Josh took me aside and, as an improv exercise, told me to verbally “go after” the actor assigned to be my “guard.” Long story short, I guess I really got the guys goat because he took me and slammed me face first into a wall. I was bleeding from the chin, but because I was blindfolded I had no idea, so I just kept mouthing off. Poor Josh had to stop the rehearsal and take me to the hospital to get me stitched up. We’ve been collaborating ever since. I joke with him that we should aspire to be like Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson, also friends and former schoolmates, who have gone on to many great films together.
Which role do you play in the film? Did you work with the majority of the cast or did everyone work different days?
There are a series of couples who all “conceive” on the same night. Each couple represents a completely different experience. Julie Bowen has a kind of Mrs. Robinson relationship with a younger Gregory Smith, another couple is on a first date, another couple are teenagers, and so on. I play Tommy, who along with his wife, Gina (played by America Olivo) are definitely the hot and heavy couple who love to do two things – fight, and then…make up. We basically only have two sets that we worked on the whole movie: the bedroom, and the shower. You can figure out the rest. As far as I know, none of the couples overlapped. If you’re name was on the call sheet, that day was all about you and your partner.
You’ve been cast in such great films in recent years – is there one role in particular that you believe has helped your career?
Shame on you for making me choose! My (cop-out) answer is that they all are important, but for different reasons. “Higher Learning” was my first film, and even though my part wasn’t that big it gave me the chance to work with a big-time director in John Singleton (who I just reunited to work with on “Abduction”) so that was special to me. “Lovergirl” was first starring feature role. But probably the biggest turning point was when I did “Bourne Supremacy” in 2004, because it’s one of those rare “lightning in a bottle” movies where everything came together. It was just a hand-over-fist success, both commercially and critically, and even though I had been working consistently as an actor for over a decade before “Bourne,” things seemed to explode after that movie hit. Being a part of the Bourne Trilogy, to me, is like being in the “Lord of the Rings.” Just a huge thrill, and even bigger honor.
Having read the script for Chris Weitz’s “A Better Life”, I’m intrigued to know who you play in that?
I understand your confusion. Because the story is about an (illegal) immigrant gardener and his teenage son, Luis, who is struggling to survive the twin perils of gangs and immigration agents in East L.A….sounds like the perfect vehicle for a Blonde haired, blue-eyed Irish-American actor born and raised in Chicago, right? Actually, Chris Weitz put together an amazing cast, of mainly Mexican-American actors, many of who are newcomers. I loved the script, and just wanted to be a part of the movie, so Chris asked if I would play Charlie, a world-weary cop who has seen one too many kids grow up to be gang bangers, and ends up unfairly profiling Luis after he gets in a fight at school. I don’t want to give anything away, but it is a heartbreakingly beautiful story.
And “Abduction”, how did you enjoy doing that? What was it like working with Taylor Lautner – has he remained down-to-earth despite his sudden success?
Taylor Lautner, I was happy to discover, remains very down-to-earth in the face of insane fame and notoriety. After spending 4 months trekking across the Carolinas with George Clooney, I’m used to seeing a whole towns full of people come out to watch us film, but the crowds that would gather outside our base camp while filming “Abduction” was a level of hysteria that I was unaccustomed to. People, young girls especially, would camp out for days at a time just to get a glimpse of Taylor. It was like being on tour with the Beatles. And Taylor, like Clooney, couldn’t be nicer to his fans. Stopping whenever possible to sign autographs or take pictures, but invariably it would turn into a frenzy and eventually the security team would have to escort him away. If I was 19 years old, I don’t know if I could handle that level of fame. But Taylor takes it all in stride, and remains grounded. He was a pleasure to work with.
Is there anything you can tell me about “Super 8”? Maybe you can talk about working with one of my favorite actors, Kyle Chandler?
There is, literally, NOTHING I can tell you about “Super 8.” For all I know, you are really J.J. Abrams, and this is all a big test of my ability to keep a secret. As Schultz used to say on “Hogan’s Heroes:” I know NUH-ZING!
“The Collection” is also coming up. What happens in this one?
I loved making this movie! Josh Stewart, who is a brilliant actor and a longtime friend, returns as the thief, Arkin, who spends the first movie trying to escape the Collector’s insane house of horrors. In “The Collection” Arkin is forced to lead a team of would-be mercenaries trying to collect the reward for rescuing a rich man’s (“Thelma and Louise’s” Chris MacDonald) missing daughter, back to the Collector’s lair. My character is Dre, one of the mercenaries who also happens to rock one of the world’s worst haircuts (picture Charlie Sheen in “Major League,” only 10 times worse). Our director Marcus Duston labeled Dre: “the human Alka Seltzer table.” Basically on the outside he’s all badass, and acts like he doesn’t give a flying f**k what you think (hence the haircut), but once he and his fellow mercenaries realize that they have become trapped themselves in the Collector’s web, Dre is the first one who starts to lose his s**t. Think Bill Paxton’s character in “Aliens,” all swagger until he realizes he and his fellow marines are in completely over their heads and immediately goes do pieces with the famous line: “GAME OVER, MAN!” That’s basically Dre. This was my first time working with Marcus, but hopefully will not be my last. He is absolutely one of the nicest, the most enthusiastic, most positive people I have ever met, and he loves and cares about his movies SO MUCH. When it comes to the horror genre, in my opinion, the man is an genius. He treats everyone with such respect, and he just flat-out inspires loyalty. Can’t say enough good things about the man.
You’re in “Prime Suspect” now. How is working with – another “Friday Night Lights” alum – Peter Berg?
I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out! I leave for New York in less than two weeks to shoot the pilot for “Prime Suspect” and Peter is both our executive producer and director, so am a really excited. Our cast, led by Mario Bello and Aidan Quinn, is stocked with incredible actors. Sometimes I pinch myself (no joke) because I almost can’t believe it. It really is like living in a dream, only this time, the dream is real…