Red Rocket: how Simon Rex slipped into the shoes of a losing porn actor

Wednesday was theatrically released Red Rocket, Jury Prize and Audience Prize at the last Deauville Independent Film Festival. We met there Simon Rex, the main actor of the film, who embodies a porn actor returning to his hometown.

Red rocket: how simon rex slipped into the shoes of a losing porn actor
OLIVIER BORDE/ BESTIMAGE

After its presentation at the Cannes Film Festival in the summer of 2021 by its director Sean Baker, Red Rocket has finally been released in theaters! AlloCiné was able to meet the main actor of the film, Simon Rex, at the Deauville American Film Festival, where the film was present in competition and won the Jury Prize and the Critics’ Prize.

AlloCiné: How did Sean Baker contact you for this project?

Simon Rex: In July [2020], a friend called me to ask me what I was doing for the next six weeks. We were in the middle of a pandemic, so I said “nothing”, and she explained to me that Sean Baker wanted me to audition for a role. She gave me her number, we called and he asked me to play scenes from the movie for him on my phone. I sent him the result and he replied “you are engaged”.

No agent, no casting director, nothing. He told me that we were shooting in Texas in three days and that I had to come by car because if I took the plane I was going to be placed in quarantine for an entire week. So I drove for three days and once we got there, we started.

Was it the script, the fact that it was the director of Tangerine or the hard-hitting dialogues that convinced you so quickly to make this film?

The three ! And the fact that it was work at a time when no one was working because of the pandemic.

Red rocket: how simon rex slipped into the shoes of a losing porn actor
Drew Daniels – 2021 Red Rocket Productions, LLC

You say that you shot three days after being hired, did you have time to rehearse with your partners, because your chemistry is palpable on screen?

We had a rehearsal day, so we were able to rehearse the first scenes, for the rest of the film we really had to keep going because we had little time and little money. I think it’s that energy, that urgency, that chaos, that creates what you’re describing and that works on screen.

It also adds to the realism of the scenes, which seem very improvised. Was that possible for you or did the shooting conditions require you to stick to the script?

Sean let us improvise as long as we did not leave a certain framework. Most of the time, we would box the script and every once in a while he would say to us: “Let’s try this one [en impro]” and he let us play. According to him, the ratio of the finished film must be 20% improv for 80% script.

Which is a lot, but sometimes the magic moments happen when you’re not playing but talking and reacting. Especially since he hires non-professional and local actors, so everything becomes more real, more authentic. The houses are real, the sets too… it makes my work easier.

Red rocket: how simon rex slipped into the shoes of a losing porn actor
Drew Daniels – 2021 Red Rocket Productions, LLC

You mention these “non-pro” actors, what has it changed in the interpretation of your character to have people face you who are discovering the fact of acting?

I helped them a lot on set with the technical aspect of filming like holding your mark on the ground, because the camera focuses on that exact spot and if you’re not there, you will be blurry. (…) Sean had a lot to do so I coached them a bit and it was fun.

You play a porn actor on the decline, you have several sex scenes in the film, how did you work with your female partners on these scenes, which are always complex to shoot?

I was trying to relax them, because these scenes are more difficult for them, they feel more vulnerable, I just wanted them to feel comfortable. (…) We covered our genitals even if on the screen one would believe us completely naked thanks to the angles of camera which are adopted. (…) And when we shot these scenes, we were already friends, it was not the first day of filming, (…) it was easier.

Red rocket: how simon rex slipped into the shoes of a losing porn actor
Drew Daniels – 2021 Red Rocket Productions, LLC

I have the feeling that your character does not behave in the same way in bed with the two women who are in his life, that you tried to establish something different for each of them.

I’m careful in the way I’m going to say this, but when a relationship is new, like that of Mikey, my character, with Strawberry (Suzanna Son, editor’s note), you’re in the “everything is “unicorns and butterflies” phase. , and it represents a new fantasy for Mikey. For his ex-wife Lexi on the other hand (played by Bree Elrod, Editor’s note), he slept with her millions of times and I wanted it to appear more “robotic” on screen “, more boring for him.

Finally, during the presentation of the film at Cannes, you described your character as a “sympathetic asshole”, how do you work as an actor from a paradox like this ?

I had so little time that I admit I did it a bit on instinct. In the script, this person is horrible, so I tried to make him sympathetic, by making him funny, charming, so that the audience would be on board and be on his side a little. However, I kept the fact that he is someone who only talks to people to get a profit. I played it like a crook (…).

Find this crook and the exciting characters of “Red Rocket” at the cinema:

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