Jake Allyn has done things few actors have done, including coming close to throwing down against comedian/actor George Lopez.
Of course, this was all for the sake of a serious, tense scene in “No Man’s Land,” which was recently shot in a Mexican desert. But still, it was one of many great moments for the actor who has been looking to expand his range beyond “the football guy” in BET’s “The Quad.” (For the record, he’s great in the role of QB BoJohn Folsom, an anchor of this successful show.)
In “No Man’s Land,” Jake is joined by an all-star cast featuring not just Lopez but Andie McDowell and Frank Grillo. Plus, his brother Conor Allyn was the director and Jake also shared writing duties.
He recently sat down and shared some of his experiences on the production.
How do you feel the pandemic has impacted the entertainment industry and have you learned any life lessons from this experience? Frankly, there’s just been so many fewer projects shooting. So on the acting side of things, the opportunities are simply few and far between right now. I think most actors of the 21st century, including myself, are pretty spoiled with constant new streamers popping up.
This period I imagine is at least somewhat what it was like for actors in the 80’s and 90’s when there were just only so many shows and networks creating content. This pandemic has taught me, and hopefully a lot of other younger actors, just to be grateful and to take full advantage of every single opportunity that comes our way. It’s a blessing to get to act for a living, so I’ll definitely be coming out of all this with a higher level of appreciation and respect for every single opportunity that comes my way.
Congrats on your film “No Man’s Land”! What was the experience like working alongside your brother, Connor, who directed the film? I loved it. Aside from his pure talent and work ethic as a director, I’m very used to booking acting jobs from Los Angeles and then getting shipped all by myself across the country to a place I’ve never been to before and to work with a bunch of people I’ve never met before. It can be a lonely thing, so to go through the entirety of this project, a seven-year endeavor for me, with my brother/best friend by my side every step of the way was a dream come true for me. Conor also knows how to challenge me, which I personally really need as an actor.
How did working alongside Frank Grillo, Andie MacDowell, and George Lopez add to your experience? One of the best parts about acting is it’s a job that provides you the opportunity to work with your idols. I don’t know that most professions truly provide that kind of chance. Frank was someone I’ve admired for years. I grew up playing sports and played football in college, so I somewhat questioned if I was truly a fit for acting. But to see Frank, an avid athlete and boxer, be such an absolutely acting pro was incredibly inspiring to me both before working together and while shooting No Man’s Land. And Andie and George have been household names for decades, so to have them saying words I wrote and acting across from them was amazing. I remember one day, George and I had a scene where we had this epic standoff in the middle of a desert in Mexico. While we were rehearsing, I remember needing to step away and just say to myself, “holy shit dude, you’re about to have a standoff with George Lopez!”
You mentioned that the film is authentic as possible from both sides of the border, was it difficult to juggle authenticity throughout the film? Actually, I think the hardest part of that came during development and film pre-production. While my brother and I had been to Mexico many times growing up, finding an all Mexican crew and the cast was a daunting tasking. We really had to immerse ourselves in Mexican movies, cast, and crew members. Mexico honestly has some of the best artists in the world, so we found great creatives. So once the crew and cast were in place, the shooting was actually quite smooth because there was so much trust amongst everyone. I often felt like our DP, Juan Pablo Ramirez, was like a “Mexican Cultural Director” on set.
What have been some of the most valuable moments you have had on set? As I said above, I work best when being challenged. On day 2 of No Man’s Land, I watched another actor, Jorge A. Jimenez, doing a big emotional scene. It was the first scene he shot on the movie and he absolutely blew me away. He was so good it was scary. So scary that I literally left set to go home and work more. It really set the tone for the movie and was incredibly valuable to keep challenging myself every day of a pretty grueling shoot.
The definition of Contrast is ‘to be strikingly different.’ What makes you strikingly different? Let’s face it, most actors think they’re also writers, and plenty of writers are wanna-be actors. And let’s face it, neither is usually true. I work twice as hard in my career because I consider myself both. I’m not a 50/50 actor-writer, I’m a 100% writer and a 100% actor. And obviously, by that math, you see that 0% percent of me is good at math. No Man’s Land was the first time I was able able to merge those two roads all at once. I’d say that’s pretty striking.
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