Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, Apr 23rd, 2013

We talk with Actor Roy Abramsohn about starring in Escape from Tomorrow

Escape-From-TomorrowAudiences at The 2013 Sundance Film Festival buzzed over the surreal, gorgeously black and white, very dark comedy Escape from Tomorrow, surreptitiously shot in forty-five days at Disneyworld, Disneyland, and less secretively on green screen. The depiction of the Disney theme park franchise as hell on earth is something many a parent can relate to, and serving as the everyman of this enterprise, Roy Abramsohn nailed his first starring feature role.

So this was your first feature lead as Jim, the father of two children, married to a rather demanding wife, and fired from his job at the start of the film. What can you tell us about the role, and the film itself?

When I auditioned for it I never thought it would be – I never thought it would see light of day, but there it was at Sundance. I always had faith in Randy Moore, the director…you can tell he’s the real thing. It was a story that came out of his childhood. He used to go to Disneyworld with his father, who was divorced, and he said he had a story to tell and this was the only place he could tell it. It’s an unsettling film…a lot of humor in it, but the director wanted it to be creepy and unsettling. There’s a lot of themes in the film – the power of women over men, the power of escape, the power of the corporate world, telling you how to be happy. What do you do if you’re an unhappy middle- aged man and you can’t be happy?

This guy escapes from his life, from his tomorrow, in a very unusual way. Willing himself into or letting himself go to another reality…it’s his mid-life crisis…the film has a strong sense of longing or loss…and my character, he’s not all bad, he’s not a jerk-off, he loves his daughter, he tolerates his wife and his son, although his son has something weird going on, something really off about him.

Spoiler alert. The ending was somewhat ambiguous. Jim’s in his fantasy world, or maybe he’s not. What do you think the ending represents?

Personally speaking, I believe Jim’s dead, or living in his imagination, in another reality…maybe it’s a better one, a purer or more innocent world. There’s a scene in the film that always strikes me with each viewing, when Jim’s on a park bench and he’s watching his kids playing…just kids running in the circle playing tag, they’re not in costumes or doing something they think they must do or maybe have been brainwashed to want to do, they’re just innocent, playing tag. It’s that purity, sweetness, open-eyed wonder that’s missing from Jim’s life.

So what’s next for you ? Has this film opened some doors?

I’m leaving for an audition for a children’s show in an hour…I think the film is opening doors, but I can’t get a copy to share with anyone at the moment. Due to the fact that it was shot without Disney’s permission, it’s in the hands of the film’s legal team at the moment. We’ve been accepted to the Locarno festival in Switzerland, the third oldest film festival in the world, so that’s a good thing. And Roger Ebert wants it as part of the Ebert Fest in Chicago.

So what attracted you to this role?

I loved the concept and the variety the part offered. The film is very metaphorical, and not just a weird dark comedy. When Jim’s son shuts the door on him, when Jim says help me, I’m sick, he’s not just sick physically, but in his head, his soul. That elevates it, makes it an art film I think. When you’re slugging away in commercials or plays, it’s just great to play a feature lead with so many dimensions. I do a lot of theater. I just came back from doing a play at the Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs, a two person show called Souvenir. I’m also a pianist and I play piano in the play. I’ve kind of made a career of being the actor who plays multiple roles and also plays piano. In Dirty Blonde, at the Portland Center Stage, I played seven parts…so I was eager to take on a multi-faceted film role like Jim. In general, directors aren’t coming to my door asking me to star in a movie, they’re going to Bryan Cranston’s door…so this was a gem.

Speaking of Mr. Cranston, you’ve worked with him, have you not?

We were at Theater Theater on Cahuenga in North Hollywood, doing Improv years ago. He’s an actor’s actor, very versatile. Versatility is something I really admire and enjoy.

What was the hardest part about the shoot, how covert it was, filming in the Disney parks without permission?

Honestly, the hardest scene was the one where I get the cat flu. My prop was corn-silk filled with molasses, and I was holding it in my mouth, almost gagging for an hour. It was also difficult shooting the night scenes with the fireworks. We had to wait until the fireworks were actually going off, so for eight or nine nights, I’m running through the park in the dark, hard to be aware of where the camera even was.

Did anyone ever try to stop you from filming?

In Disneyland, park security called me aside. They asked me why did you enter the park twice in seven minutes? I said I had to put on sun-screen, best acting I did that day. They said wait here, and I went to bathroom, took off my sound gear, we just kind of snuck out, had to shoot on green screen instead…For the most part we were kind of hiding in plain sight, everyone’s there filming, people are just standing there taking pictures and shooting anyway…no one was looking for it.

The film leaves you wondering, what exactly is real, what isn’t, and is the theme park an escape from reality in a very real sense. So I have to ask, if there was a sequel to this film, where would you see this going?

Wow, that’s quite a question. I think Jim would be continuing in his new life, whether it’s imagined or in a different dimension. But he had such a love for his daughter, that I think he would try to come back and see her, get her, he’d miss her a lot.

About the Author

- Genie Davis is a multi-published novelist and produced screen and television writer. New books include the romantic suspense of Executive Impulse (Crimson); more romance and mystery with Between the Sheets (Entangled), co-written with Linda Marr; and the mystery thriller Marathon (Five Star/Cenage). Her previous titles include the award winning romantic suspense of The Model Man and Five O’Clock Shadow (Kensington); the literary fiction of Dreamtown (FictionWorks), and the erotic novella Rodeo Man (as Nikki Alton) in The Cowboy anthology (Aphrodisia). In film, her work spans a variety of genres from supernatural thriller to romantic drama, family, teen, and comedy with an emphasis on independent film. A member of the Writer’s Guild of America, she’s written on staff for ABC-TV’s Port Charles; written, produced, and directed reality programming and documentaries for TLC, Lifetime, PBS, and HGTV, as well as numerous television commercials and corporate videos. She’s also written hundreds of articles on travel, love, the arts, writing, tech, food, parenting, and more.

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We talk with Actor Roy Abramsohn about starring in Escape from Tomorrow