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Tribeca Film Festival Interview: Monogamous with Zak Orth

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Here in New York, we all have voyeuristic tendencies, the greatest past time by far is people-watching, whether it be setting up shop in a coffee shop or glaring into the Standard Hotel from your office window. With so many people hustling by, you can seemingly go unnoticed. Brooklyn wedding photographer Theo (played by Chris Messina) takes advantage of this fact in the Tribeca Film Festival feature Monogamy. Theo's wife (played by Rashida Jones) discovers his habit of snapping shots of clients on the sly, when hired by an attractive exhibitionist, ultimately creating relationship havoc. Zak Orth plays Quinny, Theo's friend and the only married guy in a friendship trio. I'll let Zak fill you in on the rest.

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Zak Orth / Photo by: Leslie Hassler

Tell us a little bit about your character in Monogamy.

ZO: My character's name is Quinny and I am friends with Chris Messina's character Theo and Ivan Matin's character Will. We hang out at the bar that Will bartends and complain about our girlfriends or wives, I'm married, Theo's engaged and Will's divorced.

Monogamy is a strictly New York film, it was filmed at great locations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, sort of a purely locals-only setting. Is this something that drew you to the script?

ZO: I auditioned for it like I've audition for anything and there's always stuff going on in New York. It's sort of the way the whole business streamlined itself. Everyone's a local hire, you live in New York, you tend to work in New York. The days of being flown to an exotic location for months and months are well behind us. So now pretty much everything I do is a day or three on a set I can get myself to.

So many men these days are anti-monogamy, why do you think that is?

ZO: Why do you think these days? And why do you think it's men?

You're right. Humans in general, for all of existence.

ZO: Well I think there is some credibility to the notion that marriage is an institution. It meant something very different hundreds of years ago when it became the norm for people to go off and pair. Especially now in New York the statistics are reversed, the rest of the United States are sixty percent married and forty percent single, something crazy like that. Here it's the opposite. It presents a whole lot of challenges, I've heard it described to life expectancy, people only live for forty or fifty years so if you were married for twenty or twenty-five of those then that was it. Now people live for eighty years and if your married for fifty or sixty of those you start to get on each other's nerves.

There's a huge uprising right now in New York City with the art of storytelling. You preformed a story for your old State co-star Kevin Allison's podcast, Risk. Where do you see this art form going?

ZO: I don't know, I guess it has caught on. I was aware of it maybe ten years ago, another friend of mine hosted a short run of storytelling nights out in Wiliamsburg and that was the first time I performed at something like that. I think there's definitely an audience for it and it straddles the line between theater and stand-up. It's great for me because a huge percentage of my friend's are stand-up comics and I just absolutely could never do that, have never done that, but the storytelling I like; so whenever somebody asks, I'm happy to do it. As far as why it has gotten more popular is for the same reason, if you don't necessarily want to go see stand-up you can listen to someone tell a story that is essentially true. I think they're cool, I definitely enjoy doing them. It's a lot less scary to me than writing a joke to tell over and over again and hope that it's funny every time.

So we can never hope to catch you in a one-man show?

ZO: No, no. I'm not going to be doing any one man shows.

Are you doing any other collaborations with cast members from The State?

ZO: I worked with Michael Black and Michael Showalter on their show Michael and Michael Have Issues, we did some stuff on that but it ended up not getting picked up for a second season. There will be more stuff but not right now. Michael Showalter and I are literally next-door neighbors. We see quite a lot of each other.

Didn't you and Michael Showalter have a singing group?

ZO:Yes! The Doilies. It is a musical act.

You guys should come back around with that.

ZO: Yeah, absolutely, why not.

Do you have any aspirations to write or direct a film and have all of your buddies in it?

ZO: I don't know, I have sort of a pathological aversion to plans. By the time that I have made them, they have fallen through and fallen through just horribly. As far as writing or directing a film, I've worked with enough people who have done that that I know it's just a whole other level of responsibility and chaos and murder that I could not see happening. For now I'm just going to see what comes. I know what I like and what direction I have. I don't have any burgeoning screenplays waiting to get green lit.

You have done some dramatic films lately, Melinda and Melinda for one, do you particularly like the switch from comedy?

ZO: To me I don't think that there is that much of a difference. To me I think it's just more or less the same job. I like both but I definitely don't decide by, "Oh I need to do something serious" or "Oh, I need to do something that is funny or weird." I need to do something that is good, something I wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen in. Or more so something that I would like to see.

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Zak Orth / Photo by: Leslie Hassler

For screening times of Monogamy, visit: www.tribecafilm.com
For more information on Leslie Hassler visit: www.lesliehassler.com