Alex Moreland chats with Kevin James and Zulay Henao about True Memoirs of an International Assassin…
So, I watched the movie earlier today, and I really enjoyed it, well done, it’s great.
Kevin James: Great! That’s wonderful, thanks.
Yeah, I thought you were both great. When I was watching it, I thought it’s not really just a comedy, is it? It’s got a bit of everything.
KJ: Well, it’s a different type of comedy; there’s comedy moments for sure, lots of them, but there are action moments, and you feel the intensity of the scenes, and drives through the movie – which is a little different for me, and I was excited to play a character that can do that.
Yeah, did you guys both enjoy the stunts? What was the experience of making the movie like?
KJ: Well, I know I enjoyed a lot of them, but Zulay, Zulay she was the one who got to go crazy in that movie.
Zulay Henao: Yeah, I was going home with some nice bruises to show my family. No, honestly, that was my favourite part of the movie, and watching it tonight I was thinking, “man, I can really do this”. It was really a lot of fun, and I think the physicality of it was the most fun aspect for me.
KJ: Yeah, we had a great stunt team to do this with, so there was a lot of stuff we were able to do, and it was really a fun unique experience for me.
That’s great. So how did you guys find yourself attached to this movie? I know it was on the Blac List for several years, but did you pick it out yourselves, or…? How did you become aware of it?
ZH: Kevin did, I didn’t.
KJ: Jeff Wadlow, the director, had given the movie … but they said this was a really cool movie that wasn’t made, and they wanted me to read it, so I looked into it and it was a bit of a departure from what I normally do. So I sat down with Jeff, and we just hit it off, and we thought it’d be a great adventure, and it turned out to be true. I loved it, and I can’t wait to work with him again.
ZH: For me it was just a regular audition process, but unbeknownst to me Kevin and his wife –
KJ: Yeah, my wife actually picked out Zulay.
ZH: Yeah, Kevin’s wife is the lady I have to thank when they were casting this. There was an article that was going around in a magazine in Atlanta, before they started shooting, and so I got called in to audition, and I had an opportunity to speak to Kevin and to Jeff on facetime, and they gave me a lot of notes, which was great and very sweet and gracious of you guys. And I auditioned later in the afternoon, then on the Monday I was on my way to Atlanta, so it was a really great audition process for me.
KJ: Yeah, she really crushed it, she was great, so we got her on board and then we just started training. There was a lot of training for this movie, a lot of work. I don’t usually work this hard for my movies.
It’s definitely paid off on screen, it all looks great. So, the movie’s being distributed by Netflix – did you find that, when you were making it, you had more freedom than you might normally because of this?
KJ: Absolutely, I’ve got to say. I’ve enjoyed working with them so much, it was such a great experience. They gave notes on stuff, but they were really great notes, and they were really collaborative; it just felt like you had really chill partners for the whole movie making process of it all, and they just let you do your thing, you know?
That’s really what was great about this for me, and it was a bit of a departure from what I normally do, and there’s moments in here where a lot is different. And that was exciting for me, and they really embraced that – like I said, they were great partners, and they really made you feel better.
I know you’ve both worked in television and in movies – Kevin, you’ve got Kevin Can Wait coming up, and Zulay you’ve got If Loving You is Wrong – how do you find the mediums different, and which do you prefer creatively?
ZH: Well, for me I find that when you go to work on a television set, and Kevin can attest to this because he’s been doing it for so long, I feel like you become a family; you’re doing a nine to five job, and you work with the same people, kind of in a routine. When you work on a film set, there’s locations involved, there’s a whole new team of people, there’s new actors that you get to grow with and learn with.
So as much as I love television and I love being on my show, being able to do this film and travel to the locations we got to travel to, and get to work with Kevin and the other actors in the film – for me it’s such a great way to learn and to work and to evolve, because you get the opportunity to work with people who have been doing this a lot longer.
So that’s why it’s great for me, and you know, it’s just fun; it’s not a routine, it’s just fun, and that’s what I love about making a movie. And the story also has a beginning a middle and an end – it’s kinda like you live through the story, as opposed to television, where you’re waiting to see what the writers come up with next.
KJ: Yeah, that’s a good point. I love both, I mean I love doing both, they’re different in their timing of things. Stand up is like, that’s just me and an audience, so it’s unique in that way; film there is no audience, there’s a whole team and everybody, and TV is somewhere in the middle. You have a live audience, and you’re putting on a live play each week.
I do get a certain drive from that audience, but being able to do movies like Zulay just said, being able to do a whole story, and live on location, and really surround yourself with all the people that are working on this movie – there’s nothing that can replace that. It’s really just a fantastic experience.
And so since you’ve both got this filmography, your career, do you ever watch things that you’ve been in? Your old television shows, or Zulay, you said earlier that you’d seen this movie – how does it feel, watching yourself?
ZH: Well, I’m getting better at it, I must admit. There’s stuff that I still haven’t seen, because it’s just really hard to watch yourself, but I think that will change as I evolve, when I grow, and when I’m more confident I guess, just to be completely honest.
But watching this movie, I will say that I smiled, and I laughed, and I was happy with a lot of my stuff in it, which is usually not the case! So, it’s hard, but it’s also really invigorating to see it where you have a live audience, but I’m getting better at it. That’s a really good question.
KJ: Yeah I mean I think as far as seeing yourself, like being in on the editing process and doing everything, and being hands on, you look at it and you have to. There’s gonna be stuff that you see and you love, and putting it together in that editing room is great – and then there’s things that you see and you go “oh, I wish we could have done better with that”.
And then it’s the challenge of trying to make the scenes work together, and sometimes you don’t need it all, or you pull things out, getting your rhythm of a movie or a TV show, that I enjoy. I really enjoy the editing room, I really do. I really believe it’s where a movie can be made or broken.
And so, finally, if someone watched this movie, and they thought that you were an international assassin, how do you think you’d cope with that then?
KJ: How would I cope with that? I think because in the movie I deny it, and then I kinda give in because they don’t believe me… I think I would wear a shirt that says ‘I’m not an assassin’. It’d be much harder not giving in to that, and letting them know that it’s not true.
ZH: I’d definitely tell people, yes!
Massive thanks to both Kevin and Zulay for taking part in this interview and being so nice, as well as to Netflix for arranging it. True Memoirs of an International Assassin will be available to watch on Netflix from the 11th November. You can read our review of the movie here.