By Lisa Morgan
Avarice (a-ve-res), by definition, is an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than one needs or deserves. The movie features an extremely strong cast: Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, Andromeda), Tinsel Korey (New Moon, Eclipse), Brad Dourif (The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers), Natassia Malthe (Elektra), Ray Par (X-Men, Star Wars, GI Joe) and Patricia Richardson (Home Improvement) and Jason London (Man in the Moon, Dazed and Confused).
I had the chance to talk to Jason about Avarice and his career leading up to this. “Avarice basically asks the question, if people were to come in contact with Pandora’s Box, would they be responsible with it or irresponsible with it? If there truly were some sort of device that would give a person whatever their deepest desire was, would that actually be a good thing?” In the film, a mysterious box from space lands in the desert; it holds the power to grant anyone’s desires, but at a deadly cost. When a group of strangers are brought together by their greed, they unwittingly release the evil darkness lurking inside. “Each person’s journey to get there and how they come across it is completely different,” shared London. “It’s a collection of stories of interesting people and the exploration of all the different possible human reactions.” London’s character (Jason) had always wanted to be an astronaut, but epilepsy kept him from this dream and many other desires. At 35, still living with his parents, he feels the quality of his life no longer warrants living. Having met a like-minded girl on the internet, he makes a pact with her to meet somewhere in the middle of the desert, where they will end it together. Unbeknownst to them, the destination they chose to meet happens to be the place where the stories of many others and the box all collide. In the story, some people’s lives are changed for the better and some for the worst, but in the end, everyone is changed. Avarice will be screened at the AMFM Festival this weekend in Cathedral City. Jason will be present and available to meet and greet.
London’s first role, and amazingly, his first audition ever, was for the part of Court, adjacent Reese Witherspoon, in The Man in the Moon. The movie, based on the true story of young love and that came to a tragic end with the death of Court, a 17 year old farm boy, was based on a true story and filmed in the very town in which the events took place. London, also 17 at the time, actually went to see the grave of the character he played. “It was very bizarre,” he shared, as he stared at the headstone of the boy whose character he was portraying. On a lighter note, Jason added, “My grandmother almost killed me. I didn’t tell anyone about the movie. I just wanted them to go see it and enjoy it. She gave me a nice, hard shot to the arm when she saw how it ended. I learned on that first movie, always tell grandma.”
Jason London is a twin to brother and fellow actor, Jeremy London. I was curious how it was that Jason was cast in the roll and not his twin. “I didn’t want to go to the audition. I told myself it wasn’t important, but more likely I was terrified. What happened was, I had a car and my brother didn’t. He asked if he could borrow my car and I said, ‘Screw you! I’ll drive you, but you better make it quick.’ We went to this huge warehouse in Dallas. There were around 500 people there auditioning for three different parts. I told my brother, ‘You’re a farm kid, be a farm kid. You can do this.’ We watched about 100 auditions, none of which were that great, I thought. Jeremy went and he was just nervous and didn’t quite deliver well. At that point, I was thinking, ‘Well I’m here. I should go ahead and give it a try.’ I think because, at that point, I didn’t have any expectations at all, might be why I got the part. Some universal, supernatural thing happened for me right there, and I’m not going to question it. Jeremy wasn’t upset. He said he knew he didn’t give it his all, and he told me that if both he and I didn’t get it, then how was he going to break into the business?”
The Man in the Moon was the last movie Robert Mulligan, who also directed To Kill a Mockingbird, ever directed. “I got to witness what it was like to be part of movie making the way they used to do it, back before there digital equipment and monitors with the real old school style of directing,” Jason shared gratefully. “Mulligan got down and worked with his actors. There was no such thing as putting on earphones and looking into a monitor.” London shared that he hasn’t done a movie like that since. “They don’t exist anymore. The closest I came to that experience was when I did Dazed and Confused. They really made it feel like we were in the 70s. It was filmed on actual film and not on digital. When I see a top loaded film mag, 35mm camera, I almost cry. I was really blessed to have gotten to be a part of that era of film making.”
AMFM Festival will be doing a special 20th anniversary screening of Dazed and Confused, the movie Jason is probably most widely known for. Jason played the infamous character “Pink” along with a large cast, many of whom went on to have lucrative careers (i.e. Matthew McConaughey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Cole Hauser, Parker Posey, Adam Goldberg, Joey Lauren Adams, Nicky Katt, and Rory Cochrane). The plot follows various groups of teenagers during the last day of school in the summer of 1976. The film grossed less than $8 million at the U.S. box office but later achieved cult film status. Quentin Tarantino included it on his list of the 10 greatest films of all time in a 2002 Sight and Sound poll. It also ranked third on Entertainment Weekly magazine’s list of the 50 Best High School Movies and ranked it 10th on their list of Funniest Movies of the Past 25 Years. “Dazed and Confused is 20 years old – how old do you feel?” I asked Jason. He quipped back immediately, “I have a daughter graduating high school in a couple of days! How old do you think I feel?” he chuckled. “I think it’s amazing that everybody looks the same if not better. To have watched the way that the careers of some of my fellow cast members have blown up is such a joy. “
Jason was also blessed with a great relationship with the late Dennis Hopper. Jason starred with him in Jason and the Argonauts. “We were the token Americans among this brilliant British cast. Hopper was the tyrant king. We both had hilarious hair! We would take off the hair and golf together afterward,” Jason laughed as he reminisced. “Whenever he talked to the press, instead of talking about himself, he would always talk about my golf swing. He was always helping me look good. Dennis would almost always take time to hold acting classes at some of the acting schools wherever he went. He was grateful to be alive and wanted to give back. That’s what he did. That’s who he was. He was the kind of guy you could immediately feel comfortable around.”
For more information on the movie Avarice, go to http://www.avaricethefilm.com/. To purchase tickets to the AMFM Festival and to check out the schedule, got to http://amfmfest.com/.