Interview by Dan Skip Allen
It's always interesting to see a character that is predominantly known for being a character actor step into the leading role, and the extremely talented Clifton Collins Jr. gets that opportunity with the horse racing film Jockey. We at disappointment media got the opportunity to talk with Collins Jr. about the film and his role, including what he did to prepare for the film and his relationship with the cast and crew. Check out the interview at the link below!
On Preparing for the Role
disappointment media: Jockeys notoriously have a very rigorous training routine prior to their races, did you have a special routine you had to do to prepare for this challenging role?
Clifton Collins Jr.: Yeah, I was constantly doing calisthenics and similar workouts, what they were doing. In conjunction with that strict diet, that's probably not conducive to the type of workouts I was doing. But it did help me to get down to 143 pretty quickly.
disappointment: Yeah, I bet that couldn't have been easy.
Collins Jr.: No. [He laughs.]
disappointment: How much experience did you have with with riding horses prior to working on this film?
Collins Jr.: Quite a bit. But that was mostly on rodeo horses through Westworld. And I had the pleasure of working with some of the greatest horse wranglers that the industry has to offer. And those horses you know, you can run with them like you would drive a Porsche there's so accurate in like a precision sense. But the thoroughbreds are very, very different. They're like the dragsters of the horse world. So they're not going to be doing all the maneuvering that you can do on a rodeo horse on Westworld. These horses, you just hope to nudge a little to the left a little to the right. Maybe slow 'em a smidge, or let him go to go to the front of the line and hopefully take the win. And you're not sitting on the saddle, neither. You're up and you're you're leaning on the shoulders, you're leaning forward back, and you're in sync with the horse like a band member would be. But it's it's a life and death thing as well, in addition to a rush.
disappointment: This is definitely a very intimate, emotional role. Did you approach this differently from some of the other characters you've played in the past?
Collins Jr.: No. And I was fortunate enough to have a previous working experience with Greg Kwedar directing Transpecos and Clint Bentley producing. So there is a beautiful shorthand that was developed as a result of us collaborating together. And this one, the three of us very closely worked in really developing this, and then once Molly and Moises came to set a week early, we were able to get whatever intel that they were bringing to it as well because they were spending their own time with the trainer and with the the jockeys. But I was with the jockeys every single day, two weeks before we started shooting.
disappointment: One of the most interesting things about the film as the father-son dynamic, how did you
approach this part of the story?
Collins Jr.: Oh, very tenderly and painfully. I've got a past working relationship with Moises. We did a film called The Perfect Game. And there was five kids there that I mentored that I'm still fairly close to today, except now they're grown ass men. So it was fantastic to work with Moises and watch and become this young, cultured thespian. But you know, he has turned into an adult. So I had to like kind of like give him a heads up, "Yep, I am still an idiot, the same idiot you worked with last time. Obviously, you know, I'm gonna bring it. I'm gonna be here for you. Whenever you need me, you got access to me 24/7." So there was an element of trust there. But it was so painful too. So we explored a lot together. We went through a lot of the stuff. You know, sometimes Greg and Clint would be there in the room with me, then sometimes they wouldn't. But Moises and I, and also Molly and myself would also spend quite an amount of time in my room going through scenes and exploring the emotions and you know, what's really happening to hopefully evolve it because it was constantly evolving as we were shooting.
disappointment: One of the most impressive things about your performance is how you were able to capture some of the small mannerisms that jockeys have. How did you work to perfect those?
Collins Jr.: Honestly, it was really just sticking around. Just being in the jockeys' room because I was there all the time. I cut off my ties from L.A. so that I could just be completely consumed with that world. You know, so if I found out they're gonna watch a movie or this or that. You know, sometimes we go off and watch a movie that's out of the box. It's got nothing to do with jockey being a horse rider or any of that stuff. So I would shy away from that because if I can double dip and steal more for more of what was useful for the film and the role, I would do that. But it was really as a result of being with them and speaking to some of the retired jockeys as well. You know, I got to find out how they retired, why they retired. Did they retire on their own? Were they forced into it? You know, because a lot of these guys, they get paralyzed or injured or maimed. And then they may, they can still walk, and they have their facilities more or less, but they can't ride. They love it so much, they'll become an agent, or they'll become a trainer or all these other things. So, you know, picking their brains and that kind of stuff.
disappointment: You've worked with Clint Bentley and Greg Kwedar before. How did that relationship progress
with this film?
Collins Jr.: It progressed in such a way that we can't wait to do our third film together. You know, there's a certain magic that happens when the three of us are working together, and you take any one of us out of the equation, it's just, it's not the same. So we developed a shorthand on Transpecos. You know, we maintained a friendship throughout the years. And they approached me for this one and they knew that I was going to want to jump in, they knew I was going to carry gear all those days we needed extra hands and help, and I want to be a team player. So it's a beautiful thing to have a filmmaker and a producer, two artists who belive you in such a way, and lean on you and use you that way. Because you're all leaning on each other. You can't make a movie by yourself, especially on this level. And that intimacy is beautiful, it's a family unit when you're making a movie.
Jockey hits theaters on December 29.