Monday, February 10, 2014

Interview: 'Get on Up' with James DuMont

James DuMont — who’s been on tons of TV shows, like “American Horror Story,” “Treme,” “Nashville” and “Bonnie and Clyde,” and on the big screen in “The Butler,” “Ocean’s Thirteen,” “War of the Worlds,” “Speed” and “Along Came Polly,” to name only a few — is one busy guy. It seems like everywhere you turn, there he is. And James is thrilled to be working so much and so hard. I spoke with James recently, and we discussed “Nashville,” his role in the Oscar-nominated “Dallas Buyers Club,” working with Robin Williams in “The Butler,” and his latest film, the James Brown biopic called “Get on Up.”

Celebrity Extra: Just a few months back you played a key role, D.J. Bobby Delmont, on one of my favorite prime-time shows, “Nashville.” What was it like working on that show?

James DuMont: That’s a great little character, and Hayden Panettiere is fantastic. She is such a wonderful actress. And she was so much fun and so good, and I was like, “Well, you know, I’m going to be manhandling you.” She goes, “Don’t be afraid, because the more you give it to me, the more I’m going to take care of you later on.” So we just had this little pact together, which worked out pretty well.

CE: You’ve also been busy with “American Horror Story” and “Treme,” but what I really want to talk about is “Dallas Buyers Club,” which was just nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, as well as Best Actor for Matthew McConaughey and Best Supporting Actor for Jared Leto. Tell me about the film and your role in it.

JD: It’s an amazing film. The director is Jean-Marc Vallée, who is a French-Canadian director who directed a movie called “C.R.A.Z.Y.” a few years back. He’s a brilliant director. I have this really wonderful, amazing role playing Jared Leto’s father — Jared plays the character of Rayon, who’s transgender and is dying of AIDS. Rayon becomes part of the Dallas Buyers Club with Matthew McConaughey, who plays the real-life Ron Woodroof, a pioneer in the creation of the cocktail that kept people alive and was much more effective in warding off the early HIV to AIDS than AZT. He becomes an unlikely kind of hero in this movie.

It’s a really powerful scene Jared and I share. He does powerful work in this; as soon as we finished our scene, I tweeted that Jared would get an Oscar nomination for this role. I’ve worked with Oscar winners, and I can see and identify Oscar-caliber work.

CE: Speaking of Oscar-caliber actors, you played opposite Robin Williams and Forest Whitaker in “Lee Daniel’s The Butler.” Tell me about that.

JD: That’s true. I’m working with Robin and Forrest, and I’m thinking: “Well, one of these things is not like the other. Who doesn’t have an Oscar in this scene? That would be me!” It’s interesting to be the guy who can hold his own with what’s recognized as the highest caliber of folks. I love being able to play a historical character in “The Butler” like Sherman Adams, who was the chief of staff under President Eisenhower (played by Robin). He was kind of like Dick Cheney to George W. Bush.

And then I get to play an estranged father who has a transgender son who now has AIDS. And how do you deal with that scenario? It’s kind of a powder-keg moment. I’m just plugging along. I’m doing the James Brown biopic next, which is called “Get on Up.” I play a USO envoy for when James Brown comes to perform in Vietnam; I welcome him to come perform for the troops, which is pretty fun.

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