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An Interview with John J Thomassen, Star of The Awakened

by Mike Haberfelner

May 2013

Films starring John J Thomassen on (re)Search my Trash


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What can  you tell us about your movie The Awakened, and your character in it?


The Awakened is a film about 5 people who decide to throw a party to ride out a hurricane hitting Florida at a friend's house. While confined they attempt a "Spiritual Healing" - and the consequences of that choice turns out to be more than any of them bargained for.

I play Kevin, one of the fab five. Kevin is an asshole. He is sarcastic, spoiled, condescending and the catalyst of the mayhem.


What did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much of you can we find in Kevin?


When I read the script, I was drawn to this role immediately for two reasons. First, as an actor I enjoy playing the bad guy. You have the ability to make strong character choices and add color.

Secondly I felt I had P.O.V. in to why he is so brash. I think we all know or have met someone like "Kevin". Quick with a joke at someone else's expense. Immature, obnoxious and loud.

I wanted to delve into why? I think in my youth I have acted like Kevin. Not my proudest moments I might add. I did so because I was insecure within myself and acted out to avoid people taking too close a look to who I really was in fear that they wouldn't like what they saw. Luckily somewhere along the way I realized that who I am is ok and that was a significant change in my life and relationships.

So yeah there is definitely pieces of myself I drew from past experiences in my performance.


As a New Yorker, are you at all familiar with the concept of hurricane parties, which is pretty much the trigger for all things to come in the movie?


I had never heard of a hurricane party before and if I had it's not something I would attend. Unfortunately after Katrina and just recently Sandy, we all should have a healthy respect for Mother Nature.

I think that the idea of these characters making light of the storm by making it into a party says a lot about them as characters before the dialogue begins.


With The Awakened being a ghost story, essentially, is that a genre you can in some way relate to, and your thoughts about the paranormal in general?


I haven't seen any ghosts - if I do I am calling Bill Murray.


What can you tell us about your directors Lou Simon [Lou Simon and Juan F. Gonzalez interview - click here] and Douglas Villalba, and what was your collaboration like?


I can tell you that I respect and admire them greatly. Their passion for the project was contagious. Lou and Doug allowed me the space to create. Lou wrote the script and was co-directing. "Kevin" was not written to be humorous, yet she allowed me to paint him as I saw him and I think thats a testament to her understanding of actors.Juan made me feel like an A-list actor everyday. He couldn't have been more encouraging or accommodating. Douglas was open to suggestion and able to balance our creativity with the shot schedule. I would work with them again in a heartbeat and grab a beer with them any day. Any actors that have the opportunity to work with them should do so!


The Awakened was shot on very limited and confined sets - was that at all a problem, and what can you tell us about the shoot and the on-set atmosphere as such?


I think that because it was shot in basically three rooms, it avoided a lot of the clichés horror films are guilty of. The characters couldn't run, there was no where to go.


The atmosphere of the shoot was great, everyone showed up to work, I made great friendships with the cast and crew that I hold dear. I was blessed to work with everyone from Pedro holding the boom right up to Lou and Doug calling the shots.


Let's go back to the beginnings of your career: What got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?


I have always loved film, it was my secret dream to be an actor since I was a kid. I was inspired to give it a go by two dear friends Jeremy Luke and John Barchitta. We grew up together and while I was in a "normal" career they followed their dream. Jeremy will be costarring with Joseph Gordon Levitt and Scarlet Johansson in Don Jon in theaters everywhere in Oct, and John is a successful stand up comic and actor.

Every step of my journey they have been supportive and I cant thank them enough.

I studied the method at The Lee Strasberg Institute for Theatre and Film in NYC with amazing instructors. I still attend workshops whenever I can and will always do so.


What can you tell us about your filmwork besides The Awakened?


I have been fortunate to work on some great projects, some of them currently screening at the festivals are...

F**K New York is a feature by Kirk White about struggling actors in NYC and when it's time to give up the dream. We sold out the Queens World Film Festival and were accepted into The Hoboken Film Festival in June.

Sharp Love, Sharp Kittens by Jon Sajetowski is a short that has won multiple awards and screened in over 15 festivals. It will be in the Long Island International Film Expo in July next.

Tied Up by Red Wheelbarrow Productions has won several festivals and accepted into like 20, it will also screen at Long Island International Film Expo in July.

The Letter with James Franco and Wynona Ryder is a feature I shot, unfortunately my scene hit the cutting room floor, but I made the credits and learned so much working with such heavyweights.


Any future projects you'd like to talk about?


Yeah I am very excited to have four features shooting this summer into the fall.

When The Storm God Rides is a huge Epic Western based on a book by Thomas E Kelly and being directed by the legendary Michael Preece. Mr. Preece directed Dallas, Knots Landing, MacGyver, Seventh Heaven, Renegade, the list goes on and on... I get chills thinking about working with him. The cast is so amazing, I urge you all to check it out on IMDb. Kimber Eastwood, daughter of Clint Eastwood is producing. The book is fantastic obviously to get this caliber of talent on board, so I think if you like westerns it is definitely worth a read. I have to pinch myself about this film daily.


Wisp by GMD Films and directed by Paul Gorman is a thriller about a copycat serial killer. I play the title character. The script is fantastic as is the handful of cast already on board. GMDFILMS.COM


Moonman is a exciting new take on Dracula being filmed in the Himalayas and England. I will be playing Van Helsing!!! I mean that is so cool even to write it. lol! I also get to work with a friend of mine and a talented actor Andrew Roth on that one, which is icing on the cake. It's a truly original take on an immortal tale, pardon the pun. Really looking forward to working with the director. Wins on this one.


Feeding on Fear by the Breed is a horror film shooting in the fall with a great cast. Again check this lineup out on IMDb.


You have worked on indies like The Awakened, but also a handful of big budget films. So how do these two types of sets compare?


Big or small the common denominator is the work. Preparation is always the same. Bigger sets mean more names to remember. lol


How would you describe yourself as an actor, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?


I hope I am a learning actor and always remain so. This business is all about knowing yourself, exposing everything about yourself most people keep guarded and being open and ready to try new things.

I have a very detailed way I prep for my roles but hope I continue to be able to allow spontaneity and my gut instincts to be present when the director calls action.


Actors (or indeed actresses) who inspire you?


So many and too many to name. I am a huge fan of John Hawkes, I think he is incredible. I am so inspired by the sheer talent of Hugh Jackman. I will watch anything with Jack Nicholson at least three times.

Tom Cruise and George Clooney define movie star. I think that Chloe Moretz is fantastic as is Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway. I would love to work with Edward Burns and John Cusack. Finally Dwayne Johnson has bigger charisma than biceps. This list will have changed a hundred times if you asked me the same question a hundred days. So many talented people.


Your favourite movies?


Again the list would change and be too long... recent films I really enjoyed:

Silver Linings Playbook, A Place Behind the Pines, Mud, Argo, Fast and Furious 6... does that sum up my tastes?


... and of course, films you really deplore?


This is a tough buisness and everyone from actors, crew, producers, assistants, background, the list goes on and on work so hard on every project. I won't disparage anyone else's hard work.


Your website, Facebook, whatever else? - pics, reel, resume, and a blog I update as often as I can with what I am up to.There is a contact sheet and if you write in the comment box it automatically goes to my personal email. you dont have to fill out any personal info. I hope to hear from you.

John J Thomassen on IMDb, hope if you check it out you click the like button.

John Thomassen on Facebook.

JohnJThomassen on Twitter.


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Anything else you are dying to tell us and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Thank you so much for the interview Michael.

If it's your dream to work in this industry, go for it. Its not an easy road but very rewarding.

I am excited to promote The Awakened. I hope we get distribution so you all can check it out.  

It is being screened next at The Fright Night Film Festival in Louisville Kentucky July 26-28.

I will be attending the Hoboken Film Festival as well as the Long Island International Film Expo in June and July. If you attend, say hi.

I am on the cover of Two upcoming novels, Karmic Wind by Debra Markowitz and To Whom Much Is Given by Cecilia Capers. In bookstores soon.

Friend me on Facebook.


Thanks for the interview!


Thanks again, pleasure chatting!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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and shall not be held responsible for
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Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
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shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD