Actress, fashion designer and model, Samaire Armstrong has successfully conquered many a vocation. But as she admits, despite her many film and television credits, plus all the magazine shoots she’s done, she’ll always be “Anna from The OC”.
Armstrong’s latest venture is “Around June”, a sweet, inspirational and well-crafted indy film that celebrates the power of love to overcome life’s obstacles and find a place of beauty and freedom. Sweet, shy June (Armstrong) spends a solitary life working at a diner and caring for her simple- minded Uncle Henry (Brad William Henke) and her alcoholic, abusive Father (Jon Gries). Playing in the rain one day, she meets the eye of Juan Diego (Oscar Guerrero), a struggling immigrant, whose gaze and bashfulness enchant her. Earnest and sincere, he too is taken by her beauty and radiant spirit. Prodded by Henry, who narrates our fable, these two lonely outsiders come together and begin a delicate romance. With the love and kindness of Juan Diego, June confronts distant family tragedies and finds the strength and courage to fly away to freedom.
Clint Morris caught up with Armstrong, also recognized for her role as ‘Emily’ on “Entourage”, to chat about her enchanting new movie.
Entertainment Hollywood said “Around June” is “One of those films that need to be watched”. Why is that? What’s the film’s magical ingredient, you think?
Wow, that’s an incredible thing for them to say. I think you said the perfect word that describes the film: magical. It was created with a wild seed of magic. A good film always begins with a good script, and that is just what Around June began with. There is a lot of simplicity to the characters and the story, but every good story has a reveal and a twist, where you learn more about the reasons the people you are caring for are acting or behaving in the way that they are. And once you understand their reasons, you somehow make sense of the reasons you may think or behave in a way that you do.
What was it about the story that appealed to you? Could you relate to it?
To me, June is a very isolated character with so much joy and love to share. Initially, for various reasons she is very closed off to both knowing how to, and also being allowed to, love. When the script came to me, I very much related to her. There is so much innocence inside and a strong desire for growth. A conflict brews between what she thinks is right, and who she owes her allegiance to.
Now coming off something like “Entourage”, where there’s likely big-budgets and more time, I assume you noticed quite a few differences working on the independent movie? What was most apparent?
Haha. Yeah, there is a big difference between an independent film and a big budget one. One of the bigger ones is the financial strength to push a film: marketing and whatnot.
Oh yes, most definitely.
With an indie, you do your best with limited resources. You must use your imagination a lot to pull through and get to your desired outcome. Praying helps!
As much as I love Los Angeles, San Francisco just seems a more relaxed, tranquil city. Tell me about working there… is it more relaxed?
I think it’s far more eccentric then LA, yes. I’m not sure about it being more relaxed… the film did seem to give that impression.
It did! Now being the lead of a movie, did you feel more pressure to bring your ‘A Game’ or that you’ve got a greater responsibility to make sure the movie turns out well?
You know, you can certainly feel the pressure as far as being in a majority of the scenes and what not, but I hope I never set foot on a set, not bringing my ‘A Game’! I find that no matter what I am going through in my life, whether it’s just being exhausted by a rough schedule, or completely ecstatic with a new relationship, it always manages to bring something special through the screen if I let my inner self breathe.
Tell me about working with the amazing Jon Gries, who we of course know from such movies as “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Fright Night 2”. Very intense performance from him here. Were those scenes hard to shoot?
Man. He’s pretty incredible. Yes, very, very intense scenes. We had a lot of time to bond and develop a loving relationship while working so that the dynamic between us would be real. When the characters have love, the conflict is that much more grand. Actually, in one of the scenes, I accidentally pushed a very large wooden box on his foot in the heat of an argument. I felt so horrible that I think I actually started crying harder…
I read you’ve got your fashion label. How do you divide your time between acting and the business?
I feel so lucky to be an actress. You hear the term, “hurry up and wait”? Well during the waiting, I fill my time with a variety of things I love to do. For the last year I have been working on my music and band, My My My. It always seems to work out that I can keep my plate consistently full and without conflict. I think they all bleed into one another anyway.
You just worked with one of my most treasured friends (and someone I do PR for) Kristina Anapau on Brett Donowho’s “5 Souls”. How was it working with Krisitna? Did you enjoy doing that movie as much as she did? It sounds like a lot of fun!
Oh yes, she is wonderful! She actually got me the job.
Really? That’s great!
We’ve been running into each other for years at auditions. She put in a good word for me.
Nice! You’re walking down the street. Someone recognizes you from one of your films or series. Which one do you think it is?
Anna from the OC [Winks]