With his striking good looks and dynamic range, Cam Gigandet quickly established himself as one of Hollywood’s brightest young stars. His assent began by honing his skills on television shows like “Jack & Bobby” and the wildly popular series, “The O.C.” It wasn’t long before the powers that be took notice and cast him in even larger roles. It was his role in a little movie called “Twilight” that helped to rocket him to a new level of stardom. It wasn’t long before he found himself starring opposite of many of the silver screen’s biggest names! His latest endeavor is Joel Schumacher’s new thriller, “Trespass,” which pairs him with the legendary Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman.
The film focuses on a private, wealthy community, where priority is placed on security and no exception is made for the Miller family’s estate. Behind their pristine walls and manicured gardens, Kyle (Nicolas Cage), a fast-talking businessman, has entrusted the mansion’s renovation to his stunning wife, Sarah (Nicole Kidman). But between making those big decisions and keeping tabs on their defiant teenage daughter (Liana Liberato), Sarah often finds herself distracted by a young, handsome worker (Cam Gigandet) at their home. Nothing is what it seems, and it will take a group of cold-blooded criminals led by Elias (Ben Mendelsohn), who have been planning a vicious home invasion for months, to bring the Miller family together. When they storm the manor, everyone is tangled up in betrayal, deception, temptation and scheming. Kyle, Sarah and Avery will take the ultimate risk to make it out with their lives – and their family – intact.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Cam Gigandet to discuss how he got his start in the entertainment industry, his influences, what he learned from working alongside Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman and the challenges involved with making “Trespass.”
What drove you to pursue a career in the entertainment industry instead of some other creative avenue?
I didn’t have the talent for anything else! [laughs]
Come on now! You do great work!
Thank you! But seriously, I just kinda fell into it. I moved down to Los Angeles for no real reason other to be where I grew up and then I fell into an acting class. Maybe it was just my upbringing. I played sports growing up, so acting and that creative lifestyle had never really entered my mind because I hadn’t grown up with it. When I walked into that acting class, it was just so eye opening, so new, different and exciting that I just knew that this was what I wanted to do! Once I made the decision — if you are going to make the decision to become an actor, it kinda has to be “all in and whatever it takes!” I never really had a backup plan, I never really had anything else! It had to be this, one way or another, this had to be the way I made a living. I have been fortunate enough lately to make a living from it
You are doing great so far! Who would you cite as your biggest professional influence at this point in your career and why?
I can honestly say that I would not be sitting here today, talking with you, if it wasn’t for my acting coach and dear friend, who I have worked with for 10 years now. Her name is Leigh Kilton Smith. She has really shown me the way and mentored me since I was very new, since I was on the “O.C.” even. She has really given me what I needed and the tools to make it in this career.
Your latest project is “Trespass.” What was it about the script or the character in particular that drew you to the role?
He is a character that has this belief that what he was doing was the right thing and it needed to be done. He is someone who, with his obsessive kind of nature, narcissistic even, has such strong beliefs that he was saving someone and doing the right thing. He thought that he was the one to do this, that he was the savior. That is kind of a scary notion, to think of someone who has that utter belief and there is a certain danger when you come across those types of people. That seemed so interesting to me and the fact that people like Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman and Joel Schumacher were involved. To be a part of something that they were all a part of was something that you can’t really pass up.
What was your process for bringing the character from the script to the screen? Was there a certain mindset you had to be in or do some research for?
For this one Joel and I had talked and there was a little bit of research because it wasn’t just an emotional journey that this guy went on, he had more medical types of issues! So, there was this obsessive narcissism that I had to research. It was always a process of asking why that he does the things that he does. If I could come up with answers that were interesting and use my imagination to justify what he does, it all began to fall into place after that. We were fortunate enough to have a few weeks of rehearsals before we started shooting, which is great because you get to try a lot of things out and throw ideas back and forth to see what sticks. There was so much playing around that we all sort of fell into our characters during that rehearsal process. If something didn’t work, we just left it alone.
It is an awesome opportunity for a young actor like yourself to be able to watch Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman in these rehearsals and on set. Did you learn a lot from your time with them?
Of course! They are both such pros! Both of their processes are so different but both so valid. You can really pick and choose what you want to learn from each. Nicole is a pro 100% of the time. To watch her work through a scene is amazing. She does it with such grace and she is stunning, so it is easy to pay attention! [laughs] She always seems to understand what she is doing, there are no wasted movements, there is always a purpose. That is a trait that I wish I could possess! Nic is more free-spirited, quirky, just kinda different and just kinda lets it go and figures it out along the way. He isn’t afraid to try this, throw this and say, “How about this?” So, it was really interesting to watch the dynamic between the two of them. They are both so valid, so you just kinda have to find what you enjoy but there is always something to learn from people like that.
Joel Schumacher is an amazing director with many years of experience under his belt. What was it like working with him and what do you think he brought to the table on a project like this?
Ya know, I don’t know how he did it! He had always said that the biggest moment on a movie for a director is hiring the cast. He really meant that and I always thought that once the director had his cast he is going to tell them this or tell them that but Joel gave us so much freedom as actors to explore and create these characters. For a director to give up that type of control can be one of the hardest things for a director to do, I can imagine. The fact that he could give us that freedom just shows the trust and faith that he has in us and us to him. We always knew that we were in good hands and that he was never going to let us go in the wrong direction, he would always lead us back. He does that with such ease and calm that you never feel that there is any amount of pressure. That is when you really get to explore and have fun, when you don’t have that pressure that can sit over you when you feel that the director doesn’t like something. Joel takes everything with a grain of salt and he is just so calm and easy that we were never really worried. Joel was great and I loved working with him on the film.
Looking back on the experience from an acting standpoint, what was the biggest challenge in making this film?
One of the more obvious challenges that not only I faced but all of the bad-group-of-people faced was wearing these masks for an extended period of time. It has been done before but wearing the masks and having to focus everything through the eyes and gestures is very different! That was definitely a new experience for me and I think it was definitely a challenge that we all enjoyed playing on this project. Other than that, there were no challenges other than having to stay at the level of Nicole and Nic! [laughs] Rising up to that challenge was very welcomed!
Looking back on your career so far, how do you think you have evolved in your craft since starting out?
It doesn’t matter if I watch “The O.C.” or even “Trespass,” I always feel that every time that I watch something that I have done, I wish that I could change it or do something differently or I am like, “What were you thinking there?” It always kinda goes through your head. But overall? I don’t know. I think that it is all a learning process. I feel like if I keep getting more comfortable and if I keep taking more risks and trying new things and exploring, I will be OK! I don’t want to sit and judge what I do too much because then I will become obsessed with it and I will lose any confidence that I had! [laughs] Once things are over, I will try to let them be in the past!
You have played many diverse roles. What other projects should we be on the lookout for in the short term?
Hopefully this will all work out but I am shooting a pilot in a few weeks for TNT called “Gateway.” It is a western! Hopefully, if everything goes according to plan, that should air sometime next year!
That is great and it sounds like a great project for you! We will be here to spread the word! Is there anything you want to say to your fans before I let you go?
Yeah! Just that I love them all and to keep going to see anything that I am in! [laughs]
As a fan, I certainly will! All the best to you, Cam! I am sure we will be talking again soon!
Sounds good! Thank you!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.