An Interview With Actor Timothy J. Cox

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By Andrew Buckner

Today I have the one of a kind honor of speaking with a prolific character actor, Timothy J. Cox! Welcome! Can you tell us about yourself?

Thank you so much for having me, Andrew!

When I first moved to New York City 15 years ago, all I wanted to be was a good supporting actor in the theater. I wanted to do Shakespeare, Chekov, Ibsen…the classics. I loved all of those stock characters…they were all so much fun to play. So for several years, theater is all that I did, with an occasional film job, but in those early experiences, I wasn’t terribly pleased with my work or the overall projects.

In the last 6 years though, I’ve done more film and have come to really love it. I still love the theatre and I would jump into a play tomorrow if the project was the right fit, but right now, my focus and energies are in film.

What were your earliest acting influences?

Movies have always been an influence to me. Even before I was an actor, I was always a fan of the movies, doing impressions of Brando in The Godfather for my family.

From an acting standpoint, the biggest influence on me has been the work of Jack Lemmon. Lemmon was just so familiar up there on screen, with characters that dealt with the comedy and tragedy of every day life. The average Joes. Those characters really appeal to me. Those are the types of characters that I love to play.

What are some of your all-time favorite performances?

Aside from Jack Lemmon, I am also a big fan of anything that has Jason Robards, Albert Finney, Alec Guiness, Kathy Bates, Patricia Clarkson have done. Same goes for Paul Giamatti and William H. Macy. Allison Janney is wonderful in everything she does and to me, Bryan Cranston is a God.

The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) cites you as acting in 117 different titles! That’s amazing! Where do you get this drive from?

It’s simple. I like to work and try to work as much as possible. I get an immense joy from the process and the energy of a film set, plus I learn something new with every role, even the bad ones.

What was your first acting role?

When I was in the 8th Grade, there were auditions for the school musical being held during the school day, during Math class, so I decided to audition just to get out of class. I went into the audition, with no desires or aspirations to be an actor, but the director must have seen something in me because he cast me in the leading role and 25 years later, I’m still doing it.

How do you feel you have grown as an actor in the time since?

Oh, I’m still growing. I think as actors we are all works in progress. That’s the wonderful thing about this work, you never stop learning. You can always dig a little deeper, push a little more. The challenges are what make it great.

You are also a screenwriter. Your credits in this category are the 2011 short, “The Teacher’s Lounge” and “But It’s Valentine’s Day” from the same year. Also, you were the author of the up-coming “Finality” (2016). You also were among the top billed in these works. Comparatively, what is the experience like of conjuring up a character, penning it and then bringing it to life on-screen? Do you think you were successful at portraying the individual the way you imagined him on these occasions?

It was nice to experiment with screenwriting on those occasions. Some of it worked, most of it didn’t, but I will say that I loved to have the opportunity to try. Like everything else that I have done, those screenwriting assignments were interesting learning experiences.

As I mentioned, “Finality” is your latest effort in this category. What can we expect from this undertaking?

I wrote this script a couple of months ago, after reading an article about Bernie Madoff. I wondered what his final moments, before going to prison, were like. I wondered what he felt, if anything in those final moments, so that’s where the idea for the script came from. I presented the script to Matthew and Ross Mahler of 8mm Films, who I really enjoy working with, and they liked it. We had such a wonderful time on “What Jack Built”, that I was thrilled and delighted that they were excited about the project. I’m really looking forward to bringing that one to life.

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Returning to your incredible acting abilities, you recently played the part of Dr. Bradley in a short film which struck a chord with me called “Dirty Books”. What can you tell us about this character?

Dr. Bradley is a genuinely decent man who, I think, secretly admires what David is doing in the film. David’s fighting for something he believes in. Yes, Dr. Bradley needs to maintain order, as part of his position, but there’s also a little twinkle in his eye, especially at the end of the film. I think Dr. Bradley wishes that he had the passion and tenacity to fight for something like that when he was David’s age. That was so much fun to play, so I must credit Zach (director/writer Zachary Lapierre) and Ian (writer Ian Everhart) for penning such an original script.

What was it like bringing Dr. Bradley to the screen?

Zach and Ian wrote such a great script, with characters that felt very real, so I just trusted the material. When you have great material, it makes your job as the actor much easier. You just show up, trust the material and the people around you and great things can happen.

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Another depiction of yours that was tremendously powerful was in Mark Battle’s short film, “Here Lies Joe”. In it you play the head of a group called Suicide Anonymous. His name is Bill. What can you tell us about this experience?

It’s a beautiful film; a wonderful slice of life, served up in such an honest manner by Mark and Pam Conway. I read the part of Bill and I really gravitated to him. Like Dr. Bradley, Bill is a genuinely decent man, the kinds of guys we see every day. Not terribly extraordinary men, but men who go out there in the world every day and struggle and survive through all the madness that is thrown at them. There was an honesty to Bill, a sweetness that was very easy to play. I especially loved that even though he appears in one scene, Mark and Pam made him very real on the page. He jumped off the page for me.

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You were also in the 2015 comedy from director Sean Meehan, “Total Performance”. In it you played Walter Baron. Let’s talk about this character. What was it like?

Walter is a man in a very unfortunate situation. He runs a company with his best friend and the best friend is not cutting it, so he has to fire them, but he can’t get the words together to do it. Again, something drew me to Walter. The words. The character. The situation. Another average Joe. I really like these guys. They’re very relatable. I know them very well.

I knew that the film was going to be something special and unique, as all of Sean’s films have that quality. It’s such a delightfully unique film that cannot really be categorized. It has it all and I’ve been delighted at the reaction that it has received.

tim cox total performance

You also brought to life Mr. Bowers in Foster Vernon’s debut comedy, “Hell-Bent”, from this year. What was that like? 

Yes. I just shot that movie a couple of months ago and I am thrilled that it’s out for people to see. I worked for one day and that was a fun experience. It was great to play a real hard ass in the Jason Robards from “All the President’s Men” mold. Just a no-nonsense kind of guy.

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I also see that you have a lot of works that you are featured in that are in post-production. Can you tell us about them?

I have the film One of Too Many written and directed by Amber Robinson of Sustained Entertainment in post. That’s the first part of a two part film series that addresses the recent rise in shootings that have been taking place in the country. I will be working on the second part of the series as well in the fall.

The comedy, “Gary from Accounting”, written by Phoebe Torres and produced by Chirality Films is also in post. I had a lot of fun working on that.

Lastly, I have the magical short, “Mail Time”, from writer/director Sebastian Carrasco. Just wrapped that a week or so ago. I played another average Joe, a real mensch, who gets a little taste of magic.

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Do you have any other up and coming projects you would like to talk about?

I am in pre-production on the web series Shade, in a recurring role, produced by 1 Brain Productions. It’s a great part, so I’m excited to jump into it.

In August I will be working with writer/director John Henry Soto on the short film “And on That Day”, in a fun supporting role. John’s a great guy and I’m really thrilled that I get to work with him.

I’m also in pre-production on a zombie film currently titled Project Z working with writer/ director Daniel Pozmanter. Looking forward to working on a zombie film as I am a big Walking Dead fan.

Do you have any final thoughts for us?

Thank you for having me, Andrew! It’s been a real pleasure. Hope to have more films to share with you in the coming weeks. Thanks for your support of my work and for your support of all film.

Thank you for your time! I look forward to checking out your future works!

You can find out more about Timothy J. Cox at his actor’s site here.

Mr. Cox’s profile can be found on IMDB here.

You can connect with him on Facebook here.

“Hell-Bent” – (Short Film Review)

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By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ****1.2 out of *****.

“Hell-Bent” is a deliciously dark comedy from first time director Foster Vernon and writers Lorenzo Cabello and Shayne Kamat. The twenty-six minute and forty-second short film, released through MKaszuba Productions (“Inspired“) in 2016, takes full advantage of its wise-cracking demon on the loose set-up. The laughs are rapid-fire. This is thanks to the endlessly witty dialogue Cabello and Kamat have constructed. It is also courtesy of Steven Trolinger’s dead-on performance as the unholy fiend himself, Ricky. Trolinger, whose on-screen persona has a unique resemblance to Dark Horse Comics’ Hellboy, brings a smirk-inducing charisma to his unkempt, obscenity spewing demeanor. It is one which is compulsively watchable. Such is unmistakably noticeable from our initial sighting of him, as he talks into a disconnected phone, at five minutes into the work. His portrayal is one of the many elements incorporated herein that make the proceedings play like an R-rated rendition of Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice from 1988. Even the way Trolinger carries himself seems modeled after Michael Keaton’s timeless enactment of the title personality from the previously mentioned feature. It can also be seen as a riotous parody of the evils of the laboring world. Moreover, the malevolent beings one would call upon to get ahead in it.

The tale follows Michael (in a tremendously realized performance by Justin Andrew Davis). He is in constant competition with Beth (a well-orchestrated depiction by Ashley Kelley) at Brimstone Magazine. Michael is desperate to find a way to prove that he is the best writer at his place of employment. His options appear to be bleak. That is until he finds out that the upbeat and unassuming Agatha (a scene stealing, continually amusing enactment by Leslie Lynn Meeker), who labors alongside Michael, happens to have a summoning circle in her basement. It is than Michael becomes a curious, but confused, bystander to the act of bringing forth Ricky from his fiery resting place. Michael’s initial fear turns into optimism. This occurs as he sees Ricky as the perfect subject for what he is certain will be the article that makes his literary capabilities widely known.

Such a premise is intriguing in its own right. Yet, the filmmakers wisely know when to take chances and when to underplay the guffaws. For instance, the best sequence in this brief endeavor is erected while Michael and Ricky stand outside a church. It is than Ricky decides to play a game called “See You in Hell”. This is where he announces the sins of those who pass by as they file out of the aforementioned building. Soon he points to the structure itself and says, “Tax evasion”. Moments such as these help fashion the piece with its constantly sharp edge.

Yet, it triumphs just as well in its smaller, more understated instances. Such can be seen in the emotionally stirring typewriter shot which opens the composition. It is also visible in one of the hilarious concluding bits. In this segment, Agatha, Michael and Rickey take a picture together. This is arranged in a way that mimics the at home quaintness such arrangements often embody. It all comes together to showcase the variety at hand.

This smoothly paced effort is elevated by Kamat’s impressive, immersive cinematography. He also incorporates wonderfully done editing. Marc DeBlasi gives a crisp, skillfully issued contribution to the sound department. Kailia Bowlby’s make-up is terrific. Likewise, Kiyun Sung’s visual effects fit the atmosphere of the exertion spectacularly well. They are also astonishingly and credibly issued. Such heightens the 1980’s style charm that ebbs and flows throughout the undertaking. Vernon’s direction is stalwart and even throughout. Cabello and Kamat’s writing is brilliant in structure and in quality. Timothy J. Cox is mesmerizing in his representation of Mr. Bowers.

All of these components comes together to create a character oriented, effectively sidesplitting and engrossing product. Such is one that is as narratively intriguing as it is technically gripping. The quips and one-liners are triumphant in punchline and in execution. Yet, the exertion has as many gentle cases as it does boundary-pushing instances. This makes the affair so much more than a string of well-delivered cracks. It provides an undercurrent of heart and unbending concern for its leads. Such makes the depiction all the more even, varied and alive. What could’ve easily turned into a bitter outing becomes a resplendent balance of joviality, proficient filmmaking and depth. In turn, the promising young talents of Vernon, Cabello and Kamat shine. Their collective strengths, along with the rest of the terrific cast and crew, help make “Hell-Bent” a winner on all fronts.

You can check out the official Facebook page for “Hell-Bent” here.