Thursday, May 31, 2012
Deeper Dish with Sebastian La Cause
I first noticed actor Sebastian La Cause in the 2010 indie gay comedy, BearCity, in which he played a hot and sexy stud named Fernando. But it wasn't until his web series, Hustling, debuted last year that I became a fan of the multi-talented guy, who wrote, directed, produced and starred in this provocative dramedy about Ryan Crosby, a 40-year-old adult film star/escort looking to change his life. It was one of my favorite new web series of 2011, and Sebastian received two DEEP DISH Groovy Awards for Best Actor in a Drama and Hottest Hunk as well as an Indie Soap Award for Best Actor in a Drama. And now he is planning to continue Ryan's story with a second season of Hustling (click here for his Kickstarter fundraising campaign).
Before BearCity and Hustling, Sebastian appeared on Broadway in Kiss of the Spider Woman, Chicago, Once Upon a Mattress (1996) with Sarah Jessica Parker, Minnelli on Minnelli (1999) with the one and only Liza, and the 2000 revival of The Rocky Horror Show as Rocky. His film and television credits include Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, the infamous Showgirls, Boogie Nights, Chicago, All My Children, One Life to Live, Ghost Town, Gossip Girl and Showtime's Homeland. I am delighted to have the handsome Mr. La Cause here on the Dish to discuss his career and answer a few pop culture questions.
What inspired you to create Hustling and the character of Ryan Crosby?
I was inspired to create Hustling after I returned to New York from spending an incredible six months in LA auditioning for television gigs. I started watching a bunch of web series and I discovered this independent television movement happening and it excited me. I wanted to be a part of that. Ryan Crosby is an amalgamation of two people I met during my time in LA. I had befriended two individuals who worked in the porn industry and who also hustled. They were both so different. One was in their early twenties, the other about thirty. One was somewhat proud of their career and wore it like a badge, the other lived a secret life - telling lies to hide the choices they had made. What they shared in common was that they desperately wanted out of the business but couldn’t figure out how to do that. That was where Ryan was born. I just applied what they were going through to someone who had just turned forty. Before I knew it, I had written eight episodes.
Can you share anything about what is going to happen to Ryan in Season Two?
Season Two is going to find Ryan struggling with keeping things balanced. He discovered that he has a passion for cooking but now he needs to figure out how to turn that passion into a way of life and make money. In the meantime he still needs to pay his bills, so he realizes that he needs to work and his work at the moment is porn and hustling. He also has to deal with the sudden return of his mother into his life. They haven’t spoke in about 20 years so family is a big theme for Season Two. I will also explore Ryan's sexuality. He is gay-for-pay. I find that a very interesting psychology, which is why he’s not simply a gay hustler. I want to delve into that a bit more. I don’t think sexuality is so black and white. I think, we as a society are more comfortable when we can label someone as this or that. But when someone doesn’t exactly fit the mold or isn’t what we project them to be, we don’t know what to do with them or we think they aren’t being true to themselves based on our shit. I think there are more people who live between the lines then we think. And now that I’ve built an audience for the show based on good storytelling, I can show a bit more sex and skin. I didn’t want that to be a big part of Season One. I wanted people to fall in love with the story and the characters. I didn’t want to put out on the first date - it’s so much better when you hold off a bit and build up a little sexual tension.
You will be appearing on the daytime soap, Days of our Lives, in August. How did you get cast in the role of Silvio? And what can you tell us about your character/storyline?
I auditioned for Days of our Lives the first time back when I was in LA. The casting director really took a liking to me. I didn’t get that role but she has been trying to get me on the show ever since. So when the role of Silvio came up, she contacted my agents and asked me to put myself on tape. I did, she showed the tape to the producers and they hired me from that tape. I can’t really tell you much about the storyline or my character except that I carry a gun - no, I’m not in law enforcement – and there’s a lot of action plus it was a lot of fun!
You previously appeared on All My Children and One Life to Live. Out of the three, which soap was the most enjoyable experience?
Days was definitely the most fun - primarily because my role is larger. Plus I was prepared for how quickly they shoot. You basically rehearse once and shoot once, so you’ve got to be on your game 'cause unless you’re one of the stars, you ain’t getting a second take. On All My Children, I played a bartender. I had one scene and I had to do a bad salsa dance with the principle actress I had my scene with. I remember not even knowing that we had shot the scene! By the time I realized, we were already moving on to the next bit – I was like, “Oh great. That’s gonna suck.” On One Life to Live, I played a stripper, which was fun. I only had two small scenes, but I got to get shirtless and be all sexy standing in a doorway wearing a cowboy hat.
You're in the new film, Keep the Lights On. What is it about?
I finally got to see Keep the Lights On when it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last month. It’s a beautiful and intense story. The lead actors do incredible work. I am so proud to be in this film. The story is about drug and sex addiction and the toll it takes on a 10-year relationship between two men. It’s loosely based on a past relationship of director Ira Sachs. I have a nice supporting role. I play a guy named Russ that has two encounters with one of the leads, Erik (Thure Lindhardt). It’s definitely memorable.
Did you always want to be an actor/dancer?
I have always wanted to perform. I started dancing when I was six, and I was obsessed with Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire films.
You've appeared in many different films and Broadway shows over the years. What is the first thing that pops into your mind about:
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit?
How incredibly gracious and cool Whoopi Goldberg was.
Showgirls was all about fun - and I found myself behind the camera for the first time. I shot a behind-the-scenes kind of documentary about the dancers called Sex, Lies and Erased Video Tape.
Once Upon a Mattress?
Sarah Jessica and I were kind of besties during Once Upon a Mattress. She was so very cool and lots of fun. But I hated wearing that page boy wig, that stupid hat and those pointy shoes.
Minnelli on Minnelli?
Liza Minnelli has the sweetest soul and has a very giving nature both on stage and off. Minnelli on Minnelli will always have a special place in my heart. How many times do you get to work with an icon? I think I’ll remember her parties most of all and holding both her Tony and her Oscar.
The Rocky Horror Show?
The Rocky Horror Show was definitely a highlight. It was my first principle role on Broadway. I was surrounded by incredibly talented people, who taught me a lot about performing and being fearless. I also shared a dressing room with Dick Cavett. It doesn’t get much better than that. That man could tell some stories. We were generations apart but got along like brothers.
Chicago (the 2002 film)?
The first thing that jumps to my mind is the table read. The first day of rehearsal was the table read and all the dancers got to be a part of that. Sitting around that table and watching the stars was an incredible experience.
Bear City was awesome because it was my first supporting role in a film. It was also the first time I remember thinking, “I want more of this please.” I knew that I wanted to really push for more film and TV gigs. There is an intimacy to on-camera work that I love. It feels more honest.
If you could go back and give your 19-year-old self a wise piece of advice, what would it be?
Everything’s gonna be all right. It only gets better. Oh yeah and save and invest your money!
Self-conscious and totally insecure about my looks and my ethnic background. I was the only bi-racial kid in a huge all-white school. I hated my curly hair (I could NOT do that Flock of Seagulls look, I was pissed). The only thing that kept me focused was the arts and my desire to escape the Midwest.
My favorite comfort food is:
Mac-n-cheese - no, cheese burgers - no, my Noni’s spaghetti and meat balls.
When I was growing up, I never missed a television episode of:
Today I never miss a television episode of:
Game of Thrones, Chelsea Lately, Californication and I've watched every episode of Entourage.
The very first record album that I purchased with my own money was:
Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall.
Three of my favorite movies are:
Fame (the original), Singin' in the Rain and La Vie en Rose.
If I could have anyone in the world – living or dead – be a guest at my dinner party, I would invite the following three people:
Oprah, George Clooney and Kristen Wiig.
What’s next for Sebastian La Cause?
I think what’s next for me is more writing, producing and directing. I will continue to act but now that I have a taste of what it’s like to helm a project and have creative control, I want more of that please.
Thank you, Sebastian, for getting Deeper with us here on the Dish. To learn more about Hustling and watch the first season, go to www.hustling.tv. You can also become a fan of the series on Facebook and follow Mr. La Cause on Twitter.