Blake Cooper Griffin – Love Is All You Need?
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) Please tell us the premise for Love Is All You Need? and about your character.
A) I’m very excited about being a part of Love Is All You Need?. It is a movie that when I auditioned for it, I wanted the part right away. Although, you want everything you audition for because it is natural to have roles that are very special to you. The role in Love Is All You Need? was very special to me because I immediately realized when I read it that the vision Kim Rocco Shields had of this world that was an alternate reality had the capacity to change people’s minds and hearts. As an actor, at least for me, that is the kind of story I want to tell. The movie is set in a world where gay is straight and straight is gay. It’s set on a college campus where a couple, Ryan and Jude (a male/female couple) fall in love. In this world, male/female couples are out of the mainstream and they are bullied. I play Bill Bradley who is the college quarterback and the head of the of a fraternity. It is the fraternity that Ryan (Tyler Blackburn) pledges. I have major problems with their relationship and the story kind of unravels from there. What is great about the film is that it is really a metaphor for all times of beliefs. By flipping the world, you can plug in any kind of belief into it. When you get to see the movie, you will see that there are all kinds of bullying represented. The movie takes a look at the implication of intolerance and treating people fairly. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it.
Q) Did the role of Bill change or evolve since your audition?
A) That’s a great question. I’ve never been asked that before. It did. A lot of the reason it changed and evolved is because you read the script and it is sort of your Bible for how you are going to play the part. Then, you work on it in your apartment or wherever you are. When I found out I booked the movie, it was about five days before shooting began. I just stayed in my apartment for five days and after I read it over and over and over, I imagined what it would be like for Bill to be in the circumstances he is in. He is an antagonistic character. He’s a dark, dark role. When I showed up to set, I got to meet our great director (who I can’t say enough about), Rocco. Then, you sort of have this collaboration which is the most exciting part because of all of the ideas you have been working on and imagining. I watched YouTube videos and the short that the feature film was based on over and over again. All of that work, you show up and kind of let it go and you work with the people that are there. You get to meet the cast members and this kind of magical thing happens. Especially with this movie, from Rocco to David Tillman (one of the writers) to Michael Zampino (an amazing producer) were so on board with this mission of helping other people. It felt like there was a larger picture than just making this movie. I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of things that I think are meaningful, but this one really had this context that had a vision and wanted to say to other people, “Hey, you’re not alone.” Also, it would hopefully change some minds of people who may be intolerant.
Q) How did you originally hear about the role?
A) I was probably home one night and it was seven o’clock. Usually auditions come in around then because that’s when casting offices close. My manager sent over the audition. He said, “Here’s a script for tomorrow and it is eleven pages.” He told me he needed me to prepare these four scenes and also here is the script. So, I sat down with a cup of coffee. I did what I always do and started with the script. I didn’t even read the scenes I was going to do first. I just wanted to read the script and absorb the story. I read the script and by page two, I was sold! I thought it was one of the most inventive scripts that I’ve read in a really long time. The way that Rocco and David wrote the characters was all so clear in my mind. I read the script and got the scenes they wanted me to do (all eleven pages) and I went in to audition. I was actually auditioning for Ryan, which in our feature film is played by Tyler Blackburn. I gave the audition and I felt like it went very well. I left and called my manager to say, “I love this project and want to be a part of it. Can you check on it?” He told me they hadn’t heard anything so I thought it was gone. Then, a few weeks later they called me back to meet the producers and director, but calling me in for Bill Bradley. So, it was a complete change. I was so excited they called me in for Bill because even when I read it the first time I was so interested in his character. When I got the audition material for Bill, I was like, “I’ve got to get this job.” I’m really excited that it worked out. Even after my audition, I was so passionate about the project that I did something that I had never done before – I wrote the director. I wrote Rocco and David and a letter to say, “I’m really on fire to play Bill Bradley. Thank you for seeing me and I love your script.” The rest is history!
Q) Unfortunately we never stop needing an advocate for bullying, no matter what kind it is.
A) The mission was so important. Also, as an actor, when you get a chance to play juicy, well written, dynamic parts there is nothing better. That’s what I want as an actor, to play parts that are really interesting. I think when people see the film they’ll see why I’m really excited to play Bill Bradley. I want to be clear, I’m very different for the role of Bill Bradley. I am a tolerant person. I care about other people. Bill is not coming form that place, but that was the challenge and what it made it exciting for me to step outside of my comfort zone and work on something that was far from who I am. I hope that when people see the movie that they’ll feel the passion that I had for playing that character.
Q) How hands on was director Kim Rocco Shields?
A) Rocco is very intuitive so she was very aware of how I worked as an actor. I could tell she was talking to me in a certain way and she would talk to the other actors a certain way. I think that is an amazing ability in a director and she gave me a lot of freedom. The first night that I had to shoot we shot the climax for my character and it was a very physical and emotional scene. Rocco really gave me freedom and it made me feel so comfortable. She came up to me and said, “Listen, we’re going to do several takes. Don’t worry about it. I want you to do what you feel like is right for you to do in each take. Follow your instincts. I trust you and that’s why I cast you.” I have to tell you that it meant so much to me and it made my job so much easier and more free. She would come over with little ideas and something to spark my imagination. It would just kind of catch fire from there. Having her support on set, I really think it makes all the difference on the film and everyone’s performances on the film. I’m so proud of my performance, but I’m also so proud of everyone’s performance. Emily Osment is amazing in the film. Briana Evigan turns out an incredible performance and Tyler was excellent. Jeremy Sisto is always great and he is great in this one. I think their performances are so great because they are talented actors who I look up to and respect, but also what Rocco did for us and facilitated for us.
Q) We’re all going to see you in the upcoming movie Before You Say I Do.
A) I’m shooting that right now in Los Angeles. I’ve been getting up at four am because it shoots thirty miles from my house and LA traffic can be crazy. But it’s a totally different role. I play a nice guy. It’s kind of a romantic comedy. It’s really great to be working with Becca Tobin from “Glee.” I’ve been shooting that and it is a fun, family friendly film that I think people are really going to enjoy.
Q) When can we expect it to come out?
A) I don’t know. I would imagine that maybe sometime this summer.
Q) You are a part of social media. Do you enjoy the instant fan feedback you receive to your work?
A) I love that feedback! I really do! What’s been fun is that we really get to start a conversation. Whether I’m doing a comedy like on “Major Crimes” or when I was on “Jessie” or this movie I did with Cuba Gooding, Jr. called Life of a King, which also was a social justice movie or if it’s “Necessary Roughness” where I played this punky, tattooed kid with piercings who was the boyfriend of the lead girl…I love that because people get to tell me what they think about it. I get to hear their ideas. I love it! I love Instagram. I am also on Twitter and Facebook. It’s really fun. It’s kind of instant and you get to meet a lot of interesting people and hear what they think about these projects. It’s so fun!
Q) Is there anything else you would like us to be sure we share with fans?
A) I would just say that I hope that everyone will come out and see Love Is All You Need? when it comes to your town. I hope that people will follow the movie. Stay tuned for Before You Say I Do that I’m in with Becca Tobin and Ryan Kelley. You can follow me on social media. I would also encourage people to find ways to get involved with anti-bullying efforts in their town or their school. I really think it is important to find a way to bring more kindness to the world.