Interview conducted in 2010 with Animal Kingdom’s newcomer actor James Frecheville.
Lillian: You’ve done acting classes from a young age. What was it that made you decide acting was what you wanted to pursue a career in?
James Frecheville: As a career, I suppose, the realisation that to make money and be successful in something when you’re an adult you’ve got to be good at it. I think when I was maybe like, I dunno, 10 or 13; I just sat down and thought well what am I good at? And I’ll keep doing that and to see if I could get a job out of it.
I don’t ever recall being too good at sports, academics, mathematics, or anything like that. I mean it felt kind of natural. I’ve never really wanted to do anything else.
Lillian: You won the role over 500 or so other hopefuls who auditioned for the part of J. What was the feeling on New Years Eve of 2008 when you found out that you got the role?
James Frecheville: Well, it was really good for one, but I just knew the night would be even better because it was New Years Eve, so I was planning on having a bit to drink anyway. That was an incredible way to find out.
Lillian: When you found out you got the role, did you know which fellow actors you would be playing alongside?
James Frecheville: Yeah.
Lillian: Animal Kingdom features an amazing ensemble cast of talented Australian actors. Was it intimidating to work with these actors, or where they friendly and helpful?
James Frecheville: Yes and no. I wasn’t babied through the film. Like, I didn’t have anyone to kind of hold my hand. For me it was really a lot of “baptism by fire.” I was expected to pick up the ropes quite quickly without getting in the way too much. But, everyone was really nice and supportive. Ben Mendelsohn hazed me a little bit for the first couple of weeks; he called me the wrong name, and would not be in the same room as with me, just wouldn’t engage with me.
Lillian: Kind of like how his character, Pope is in the film?
James Frecheville: Yeah, totally just how to aide the relationship between those uncles. But everyone was quite good.
Lillian: How did you prepare yourself for the role?
James Frecheville: We did, I think two or three weeks of pre-production and rehearsals which you don’t really get to do, you don’t really do a table read where the whole cast sits down at the table and reads the whole script in one go. But I did spend a lot of time with David (Michod, the director) kind of breaking down each scene and developing the character’s mannerisms.
Lillian: Is there any particular person that you based the distraught character of J on?
James Frecheville: No, not at all. I didn’t draw inspiration from anyone or thing. I just knew that because the character was so emotionally repressed that I just had to shut everything down and make it minimal.
Lillian: Is there any particular film that’s important to you, that may have inspired you to want to act?
James Frecheville: Not to my recollection, I mean I always find it hard to pinpoint my favourite films because I like so many of them.
Lillian: Have you got any upcoming plans for films?
James Frecheville: I don’t really talk about what I’ve auditioned for because there’s always 70 or 80 other people who have auditioned for the part. It’s not really my place to comment on. I heard stories about this kid, a young actor in Hollywood that said he was in the running for Spiderman four months before Spiderman was announced and he just got hailed down by shit from people.
Lillian: Are you currently working on any films?
James Frecheville: I’m auditioning for a lot of things but because they’re not official, they’re not for me to comment on really.