Close-up: An Interview with Gian Keys

GIAN KEYS starred as Griff in Anna Biller’s highly-acclaimed film The Love Witch.

In a wide ranging interview, Prestridge² spoke to the actor about being cast as Griff, his Air Force background, working with Samantha Robinson, and more.

Q: You play one of the lead roles in Anna Biller’s The Love Witch. Can you tell us about the casting process and how you got involved in the film?

A: THANK you James for considering me for an interview. The audition process was fairly basic. My manager got me the audition and I felt good about it. As with most we never heard anything.

After about nine months I sent the director, Anna Biller, an email enquiring about the project. She told me she was getting ready to conduct a second audition. She called me in and I eventually got the job. It feels wonderful to book a role through the audition process.

Q: You have a background in the US Air Force and as a bodybuilder. What attracted you to acting and at what point in your life did you decide to take up acting?

A: YES, I spent four years in the Air Force working as an air traffic controller. I began competitive bodybuilding while there and competed in 13 competitions over ten years.

I moved to LA in 2002, but did not really start figuring out the entertainment industry until 2012. I was referred to an acting coach named Joe Palese and that has made all the difference. I had no theatre background and was never really drawn to acting. I was looking for a challenge and decided to give it a shot.

Q: How was your experience working for someone as visionary and eccentric as Anna Biller?

A: I REALLY enjoyed working with Anna. She had a clear idea of what she wanted so I did my best to understand what that was and deliver the goods. I simply hung on and enjoyed the ride because it is impossible to know when the next ride will come along.

Q: You worked alongside the wonderful Samantha Robinson in the film. Did you enjoy working with her? What impressed you about her performance?

A: SAMANTHA was a blast to work with. Some of my more memorable scenes are with her and I think we both had a lot of fun with the project. As the main character she had a lot of work to do and the most pressure to carry the film which I believe she did extremely well.

Q: Many people love – and will always remember – the wedding scene from The Love Witch. Is there a scene that sticks out for you personally? If so, why?

A: THE wedding sequence was a lot of fun. I was stripped of my clothes and then dressed as a KING. What is better than that?

The bar fight was memorable because it was my first of any kind. I was also stepped on by one of the horses and so I will never forget that!


Elaine (Samantha Robinson) and Griff (Gian Keys) in The Love Witch


Q: How would you describe yourself as an actor? Is there anyone you look up to inside or outside of the industry?

A: I DESCRIBE myself as someone who wants to be good at what he does. I respect the arts and the industry and all of those who train hard and put themselves out there and risk falling on their face.

My wonderful parents, who adopted me soon after birth, have always been influential in my life. Without them I have no idea where I would be. I have never met him but Arnold Schwarzenegger was a big influence in my early 20’s. He has a strong work ethic and I relate to that.

My sports coaches throughout high school and my military instructors also forced me to be responsible and accountable for my actions – good or bad.

Q: What are your ambitions for the future? Are there any actors or directors you would love to work with?

A: I AM enjoying living in southern California. I have seen much of the state but there are a few places I would still like to check out. I have my ongoing learning process with Joe Palese. We both think it is a good idea to push me as an actor and as a human being.

I really admire so many actors and directors. I would love to work with Michael Keaton, Denzel Washington and Alejandro Inarritu. Two of my favourite movies are BIRDMAN and THE REVENANT.

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