Movie actor Jack Kesy has been cast in Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s new TV series, “The Strain.” It’s a thriller about a mysterious viral outbreak of vampirism. A head doctor and his team at the Center for Disease Control in New York City are called in to investigate.
Kesy plays Gabriel Bolivar in the series and he’s already being compared to Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale. Examiner Dorri Olds landed an exclusive interview with him.
Dorri Olds: Can you describe your character in “The Strain”?
Jack Kesy: He’s a rock star. It’s set in New York and he’s an icon figure of a shock rocker, like a Marilyn Manson or Iggy Pop. He’s a spoiled brat prince of darkness rock star; you know how they are. He turns into a vampire and slowly but surely becomes the master of the vampires.
What did you mean when you said earlier that you were a street kid?
I grew up all over. Queens and Brooklyn mostly. I hopped around from Greenpoint to Coney Island to Corona to Bushwick. Everywhere.
Did you get into trouble?
Like what? Stealing cars?
We stole one car. When I was 15, five of us stole a Lincoln Town Car to take my friend Rob to court. We drove it on the BQE. My friend Edgy was hitting the gas pedal and said, “Yo, Jack, I think the gas pedal is giving out.” The car slowly stopped in the left lane in the middle of the afternoon and lit on fire. First we ran out through the smoke to get up on the sides of the BQE then watched as the thing burst into flames. So, that’s the only time we stole a car. [Grins]
What else happened?
I lost a lot of good friends. My best friend got shot and murdered. Other friends got locked up forever or deported. I’m the only one who survived. Finding an outlet is what saved my life.
You mean acting?
Yeah. When I was 24 I had a spiritual awakening. I watched the movie, “Scent of a Woman” with Al Pacino. I don’t know what it was but that movie grabbed me by the heart. I fell in love with Al Pacino’s character, this bitter cynical man who was also this anarchistic beautiful spirit that was stifled. I related to that. Watching this guy who was misunderstood and didn’t belong anywhere, I didn’t feel so alone.
Was your youth like Jim Carroll’s story in, “Basketball Diaries”?
Those guys got all messed up on heroin, so, yeah, I knew a lot of guys like that. It comes hand in hand with living out on the street. It was just violent. A lot of gangs. Fighting, stabbings, jail, robbery, drug dealing.
Were you in jail?
Yeah. It was a wild life.
It’s hard to picture you like that.
I know, me either. I can’t believe it.
What kind of parents did you have?
Crazy parents but, you know what? I don’t think I want to attribute my bad behavior to my parents. I know guys that had worse parents and they’re fine. It’s just the road I took. Did I grow up picture perfect? No, I did not. I could tell you some funky stories. When I was a kid my father used to make me steal sneakers. He’d leave the car running and tell me to run in and get the shoes and he’d watch out for security. He said to run out and hop in the car. Eventually we got caught. I had to take mugshots holding the sneakers. Now, I guess I kind of like telling these stories.
They’re great stories.
My mother always had beautiful taste. She was into the arts. She always tried her best but had a lot on her plate. Do we have the best relationship? No. But that’s the way life goes. It’s like that movie with Harvey Keitel. He said, “Some raindrops fall on mansion’s fountains and some fall on mud.”
Everyone is going to want to know, do you have a woman in your life?
Are you attracted to a certain type of woman?
I like freckles, and a gap between her teeth. Maybe Mediterranean with olive skin. She’d be independent and she likes what she does. And when we see each other it’s all love. [Grins]
“The Strain” premieres on July 13, 2014 at 10 p.m. on FX.