Licensed Practical Nurse by day, actor by night. It sounds a bit like the premise of a new superhero movie, and while the day/night schedule juggling is not exactly accurate to his story, it’s a log line that happens to be pretty close to the life of Joshua Pak. The Calgary, Alberta native can be seen in the recently released Charlize Theron film “Tully” and is set to appear in the most recent update of “Freaky Friday” premiering on the Disney Channel this summer. And yes, he is also a Licensed Practical Nurse.
Give this man a cape!
We recently sat down with Pak to discuss being present in a scene, the best advice he received from director Jason Reitman, and why he’s leaving the time traveling adventures to Marty McFly.
TrunkSpace: You appear in the new film “Tully” opposite Charlize Theron. They say that work begets work in this business. Are you hopeful that the film will be a game changer for your career and open up additional doors?
Pak: Since being cast and having it appear on my resume, it has definitely led more casting directors to have me come in and audition. It has also been a conversation piece at times whenever I’m in a director or producer session. However, breakout star when the film premieres? Likely not. More opportunities? Absolutely. No matter where I am in my career, I’m always going to have to work for it.
TrunkSpace: Within your performance, what are you most proud of? Where do you feel that you were stretched the most in inhabiting Dallas?
Pak: Charlize and Jason (Reitman) believe being present lends to moments that you can’t plan for. We would do a general blocking of the scenes and run the dialogue very flat. But everything was done on “Action!” On most of the projects I have worked on in the past, there would usually be a very thorough rehearsal before we shoot, that’s what I’m used to. In this instance, I was challenged to trust my instincts, which is an ongoing battle as an actor since it is something we question all the time. I’m proud of the fact that I was able to throw away everything I had prepared and really just be present.
TrunkSpace: As you mentioned, the film is directed by Jason Reitman, but it is also written by Diablo Cody. As far as creative teams are concerned, we would be hard-pressed to find one that carries quite as much industry cred as that. Did you view your time on “Tully” just as much of an education as you did a job?
Pak: Absolutely. Every set is different and I always learn something new. This is the first time I have worked on a project with multiple A-list creatives and talent attached. Oscar-nominated director, Oscar-winning writer, and an Oscar-winning actress who is my scene partner for two days. It was an absolute masters class! Whenever I was in the green room, I couldn’t help but peek out and watch these geniuses work. Believe me, I took a lot of mental notes.
TrunkSpace: Was there a piece of advice or direction that Jason passed on to you while in production that you’ll take with you throughout the rest of your career?
Pak: Jason told me not to worry about performing and to focus on finding truth in the dialogue. He said it’s just as important to listen as it is to talk and that acting is just as much about how you hear things as it is about how you say things.
TrunkSpace: You’re also set to appear in the Disney Channel update of “Freaky Friday,” which will premiere on the network this summer. Is there something kind of nice about working on a project that has an established fan base/interest level, because, to an extent, you know that people are going to tune in and see your work?
Pak: Disney has made different versions of movies and TV shows and they have extremely dedicated fans because they are able to reach all generations – so it’s incredibly thrilling to be part of a story that people are familiar with. This version of “Freaky Friday” will be a lot of fun as it’s a music-driven movie.
TrunkSpace: “Tully” is a comedy. “Freaky Friday” is not exactly heavy drama. Is comedy the direction you see your career heading or are you eager to also dive into more dramatic roles and other genres?
Pak: I love comedy. Because in life, comedy exists even during the most “dramatic” circumstances. It is something I want to continue doing, however; I do want to explore many genres of film and television so I can express myself and be seen playing different characters. At the end of the day, I always want to be able to reinvent myself.
TrunkSpace: The first audition you ever had was for the film “Superbad.” You read for the part of McLovin’, which was more CHARACTER than character. That’s a big first audition to tackle. What did you take away from that experience and what did it teach you about the auditioning process?
Pak: Oh my god. I was so new and really had no clue what I was walking into. During the audition, the casting director was laughing and laughing very hard. I found out later from my agent that she was laughing at the fact that I was delivering the dialogue like a theater performance: to the reader, to the camera operator, to the casting director, to the walls. She told my agent that I had potential but I needed to take audition classes. I followed their advice and learned very quickly that auditions are a completely different animal than scene study or a film set. Let me say it, auditions are HARD! There is nothing easy about them but it is an integral part of the process and a skill that needs to be worked on consistently.
TrunkSpace: You’re a Licensed Practical Nurse. Within that profession, you must experience a lot of human emotion as an outside observer. In a way, has it helped you with your acting, almost from a character study standpoint?
Pak: Very much so. I get to care for people in some of the most difficult and frightening times of their lives. Working in healthcare has not only aided my craftsmanship as an actor but also as a human being.
TrunkSpace: Is acting the career path you always saw yourself taking, or was it a detour from the path you were paving as a Licensed Practical Nurse?
Pak: The interesting thing about actors is that we take on many different jobs to support our craft. I always saw myself pursuing acting, but I was at a point in my life where I needed stability and flexibility. The entertainment industry is very unpredictable so I took a bit of a hiatus to go back to school because I wanted something more concrete behind me to support this path of mine.
TrunkSpace: We read that you love yourself some “Back to the Future,” so we have to ask… if someone claiming to be a “Doc” came to you with a time-traveling car and offered you a chance to catch a glimpse of your career 10 years into the future, would you take it?
Pak: As tempting as it would be, no! I love those movies but those adventures were meant for Marty McFly, not me! I’m a huge believer that everything happens for a reason.
TrunkSpace: And as an extension of the previous question… neon-colored hoverboards, how badly did you want one as a kid?
Pak: I wanted one so bad! As a kid, I thought that by now we would have flying cars and hoverboards – maybe in another lifetime.
“Tully” is in theaters now and will be available on DVD and VOD in August.
“Freak Friday” premieres this summer on the Disney Channel.