Keith Bearden, director of Meet Monica Velour, a quirky comedy that premiered this week at the Tribeca Film Festival, was looking for a fat kid when he found his lanky star, Dustin Ingram. In the title role Kim Cattrall plays an anti-Samantha character as an 80's soft core porn star living in a run down trailer, all the while raising her daughter on her own. Tobe, Dustin Ingram, brings new joys to awkwardness while portraying a hilarious nerd who transports himself cross country in a wiener mobile to catch a glimpse at his sexual idol, Monica Velour. The unlikely friendship to develop between Monica and Tobe is odd and appealing. Keith Bearden and Dustin Ingram are two characters in themselves, a comedic duo cut out for a reality show that I'd be sure to tune in to.
Dustin Ingram and Keith Bearden / Photo by: Leslie Hassler
Your personalities and even your features are strikingly similar; was that intended in the casting of Meet Monica Velour?
KB: No, I wanted a fat kid. Basically nerds come in two physical sizes, tall and too skinny or overweight. We saw short kids, we saw a kid who looked like a five-foot tall Woody Allen. It was basically down to who could carry the film and was still funny. Dustin rose to the top. He's much better looking than me. He's skinny and taller than me, but much better looking.
KB: So it was just sort of a weird accident. It was originally meant for a short fat kid. I had to change some of the dialog too. When you see a short fat kid you just think, "Doesn't get out much." Whereas with Dustin he is actually kind of pretty, so his awkwardness had to be in his personality and the way his body moved, instead of just his physical persona.
DI: I remember I was in the waiting room in New York, when they flew me out to meet Kim (Cattrall) the first time, and I was sitting there thinking, "I am in a room of oddly proportioned kids."
KB: Yeah, kids with big heads. There was a kid who looked like an anime cartoon because his lips were huge and he had wicked big glasses, really weird looking kid.
What were some samples of dialog you had to change in order to cast Dustin?
KB: When Monica is drunk off her behind and Dustin carries her home she says, "You're kind of cute, like the guy in the Archie comics." That's all new, I don't even remember what the original scene was but I'm just there saying "OK Archie Jughead, tall and skinny."
DI: I remember Pop Pop's line about skinny little pain in my ass.
KB: Yeah all of that sort of thing to acknowledge the fact. It was so long ago, we went through so many drafts I kind of forget all of this stuff. Even the original versions of the script were really dirty, like everyone was naked. The last scene where Monica and Tobe kiss and break up, they were naked. They had sex and then they're breaking up naked. Which is fine but everyone looked at the script and thought, "Eh, what kind of rating do we want this do be?"
Dustin, how did you come about this role?
DI: Same old audition process. And Keith said this yesterday, which I didn't know, he said after he saw the first tape of me he hated me. He thought that I wasn't the kid, no way.
KB: Yeah I thought he's not right, he's to smug, trying to hard to be funny and my producer urged me to look at him again. I was still thinking "Nah, too Hollywood." We had a big call back and I gave him a really difficult scene and I put him through his paces and he totally blew us away, both my producer Jordan Horowitz, and me. If we had to film it right then and there I would have put it in the movie, it was just great.
DI: All I remember is talking about grilled cheese with you.
KB: You have to really meet an actor because the camera really sees inside of you, a little bit of what's real comes through what you are playing. So I had to meet Tobe.
Was Kim Cattrell your first choice for Monica Velour?
KB: I didn't have a first choice. I had a list of people who I liked but the character wasn't really right for anybody, I needed an actress who would reinvent the character. When I met Kim she was completely into it, she really understood the script and really got along great with Dustin. She was willing to go all the way.
Dustin, being a young man, did you appreciate the opportunity to make out with this blond bombshell?
DI: Well Keith and I...Oh! You mean Kim.
DI: The one thing that I remember, when they flew me out to New York to meet Kim in the oddly proportioned room, is the door cracking open slightly while I'm getting really anxious and nervous and then making eye contact with Kim and saluting her. I don't know why I saluted her. But I met her and she was a wonderful, wonderful woman. When we were in Michigan about to start filming we were rehearsing the last scene where Monica and Theo kiss and the first thing she says to me is "OK, no tongue kid."
For screening times of Meet Monica Velour visit: www.tribecafilm.com
For more information on Leslie Hassler visit: www.lesliehassler.com