Taking on the leading role in a film at 10 years old is no big deal for newcomer Sark Asadourian. Sure, his new film “Cecil,” available now on DVD and VOD, was his first major acting project, but having previously worked with director Spenser Fritz – whose childhood the coming-of-age-comedy is based – helped to lesson any nerves that he when he arrived on set.
We recently sat down with Asadourian to discuss sharpening his basketball skills, binging a beloved ‘90s sitcom, and why he hopes to one day fly on screen.
TrunkSpace: Your new film “Cecil” is based on the real-life experiences of writer/director Spenser Fritz. As a performer in the piece – playing the title character – did you feel a responsibility to deliver on Spenser’s personal expectations of the project when he’s seeing pieces of himself and his upbringing in the narrative you’re helping to give life to on screen?
Asadourian: I was 10 when I filmed Cecil, so I don’t think I was thinking about that at the time. I was thinking more about how my own experiences related to Cecil’s experiences.
TrunkSpace: “Cecil” is one of your first projects, and not only was it a lead role, but it was a lead TITLE role! Did you feel pressure going into production, and if so, how did you manage your nerves and focus on performance?
Asadourian: I don’t think I did have much nerves. I had acted in a bunch of smaller projects previously, so I knew how set would work. I also worked with Spenser to film the trailer for the Kickstarter campaign, so I was already comfortable with Spenser and some of the crew. From that experience I knew working with Spenser would be fun – I felt like I would be in good hands. So I was really just looking forward to the experience and I couldn’t wait to meet Abby (Christa Beth Campbell) and Martha (Sophie Harris).
TrunkSpace: What was the biggest challenge in slipping into Cecil’s skin and bringing him to life?
Asadourian: The lisp and the basketball playing. I had to put a lot of time into both. I had never really played basketball before the shoot, so we hung a net at home and I practiced every day. I also went to a speech therapist to learn to lisp realistically.
TrunkSpace: Was it helpful to have Spenser available to you at all times, especially with so much of himself in the character and story? Was he able to give you insight into Cecil’s journey that perhaps you wouldn’t have been able to receive if he wasn’t directing the film as well?
Asadourian: It was helpful. Spenser is really good at communicating what he wants in the scene, what Cecil would be feeling. We would rehearse each scene while the crew was setting up, so I was ready once it was time to shoot.
TrunkSpace: The story of “Cecil” takes place before you were born in the mid 1990s. Was it fun getting to play in a period piece and what did you enjoy most about trying to recreate that on film?
Asadourian: I thought it was fun because the costumes were clothes I wouldn’t normally wear. I grew out my hair into a bowl cut. Putting on the clothes, the different haircut, all helped me feel like Cecil. Since Jenna von Oÿ was playing my mom, I binge watched “Blossom” before the shoot. It was fun to learn about the trends of the ‘90s. Most of the crew grew up in the ‘90s, so I think that did create a feeling of nostalgia and fun on the set.
TrunkSpace: For the audience, the most enjoyable part of a movie or series is the end product, but for those involved in the project, we would imagine it is the experience. For you, what will you take away from the production of “Cecil” that will stay with you going forward?
Asadourian: The friendships. It was quite a small crew most days, so we all got really close. It’s harder to keep in touch with Christa, who played Abby, since she’s in Atlanta, but we still stay in touch. The relationships on screen are genuine except for with Zach (Hudson Pregont) and Chelsea (Avary Anderson). They weren’t really bullies. Sophie, who played Martha, is one of my sister’s best friends and her brother, Isaiah, who was in a bunch of the basketball scenes, is still one of my close friends.
TrunkSpace: In terms of performance, what are you most proud of with the film? Is there a particular scene or moment that you thought, “That’s going in my reel!”
Asadourian: One scene I’m proud of was where I was crying and upset in my bedroom because it was a hard scene for me emotionally. The other scene would be the spitball scene because it felt like an epic action scene and it was really fun to shoot.
TrunkSpace: We read that you’re also into science. Is science fiction – something about space exploration – the kind of project that would interest you moving forward? What kind of project is the dream role for you?
Asadourian: I do like science fiction. I think it would be really fun to do a film like “Ender’s Game,” something where I would get to fly. I think it would be really cool to see the finished film because it would probably be somewhat of a surprise since so much would be CGI. A dream role for me would be a role that is challenging emotionally but still has good humor. I would love to be in a film that had a chance to go to Sundance.
TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Asadourian: I wouldn’t want to go in the time machine. I want to figure out my life as it goes because that is the fun of life.
“Cecil” is available now on DVD and VOD.