Interview with Detention of the Dead's Jacob Zachar

Jacob Zachar an Illinois native actor, is most famously known for his role as the adorable and loveable geek Rusty Cartwright on ABCFamily’s ‘Greek’. Since the end of ‘Greek’, Jacob has been working on indie films. His most recent film “Detention of the Dead” starring Jacob, Alexa Nikolas, Christa B. Allen, Jayson Blair, Justin Chon, and Max Adler premiered at the Newport Beach Film Festival. Fans of “Shaun of the Dead” will love this movie! Tonight, Friday, June 1st, “Detention of the Dead” will be released at the Dances With Films Festival at the Chinese 6 Theaters in Hollywood, CA. If you feel like you are missing some Jacob action in your life like we are, we suggest you go see “Detention of the Dead”. Jacob will even be at the showing!

Get tickets for Detention of the Dead here!

Check out the Detention of the Dead website here

How did you get involved with Detention of the Dead?

“Generally, as an actor you wait for your agent to submit you for a role on certain scripts that you read. Detention of the Dead was a movie that they sent me the script for, and I fell in love with it. We filmed it about a year ago. You read the script, you like it, you go out and audition, and then you meet the director. I got cast pretty quick on that one. The director kind of pitched the story to me as “The Breakfast Club” meets “Shaun of the Dead”. The main characters are all stuck in detention together, but they’re stuck because there are zombies running around the school. It gives everything a sense of urgency.”

Did you see the play that the movie was based off of?

“They had written that play and put on a few shows, but the play was more of a slapstick zombie piece where they were spraying blood everywhere. It was a three stooges kind of comedy. We still have that in the script, but when you’re putting a lot of money into it, you want to have more heart and story. They wrote in some deeper story lines for the characters. The tones of the script are the hardest part. When it gets really light with the physical comedy, you have to bring it back down to a real place. There’s a really interesting balance we had to discover as we were filming.”

Since Detention of the Dead is a zombie movie, do you have a favorite zombie movie?

“I really liked “Shaun of the Dead” and “28 Days Later”. “28 Days Later” was a little bit more gritty than “Shaun of the Dead”. Simon Pegg did it right. He keeps that darker comedy and it’s pretty realistic how you would react to that situation. We tried to us that for this film as well.”

Do you have a favorite co-star to work with on Detention of the Dead?

“I can’t name favorites because people reading this are going to be pissed. When you get on a set, what you end up creating is relationships with everybody around. It’s a very social environment. You get to talk to people on the crew and the cast while you’re filming, and you end up creating a piece of art that’s authentic because everyone is trying to be compatible with each other. There’s not really a favorite, but all in all this movie had a fantastic crew that worked so fast and was pretty methodical. You got to have a good sense of humor with a horror movie.”

The movie aired at the Newport Beach Film Festival, what was that like?

“It was actually kind of a disaster. The first day we walked in there, and the movie started without a picture, so the sound started, and the guy screwed up the title when he announced it. We were all nervous about it. Eventually they gave us a second screening and made it free for everybody. That screening went well. Just make sure that you hire a really good projectionist, because up to that point you are working really hard and then all of a sudden you’ve got a guy sitting at the projector who doesn’t know what’s going on.”

Are you excited for the Dances With Films Festival?

“Yeah! It’s right in Hollywood, and that’s where dreams come true you know. It’s on Hollywood Blvd at the Chinese 6 Theaters. I think it’s going to be cool. I think in the back of any actors head they want to have a movie in the bright lights of Hollywood. So we get a chance to screen that movie at a midnight showing. Hopefully everyone will get a couple drinks in them and have a good time.”

So you are kind of the nerd in Detention of the Dead and you were also the nerd on Greek. Do you enjoy playing that role?

“It’s such an odd question because you get typecast. Me, I want to consider myself like the coolest kid in the world in person, but I don’t know, maybe there’s something in my approach that makes people want to cast me as the nerd. I think that a stereotype of a nerd or geek is that you’re able to come out of that and turn into a man, so I kind of use that approach. If at the beginning of the movie, my characters pretty much about to kill himself, the risks are so high when the movie starts, and throughout the movie he grows a little bit more mature. You can kind of use that stereotype in an interesting way and kind of grow out of it and show other sides. It’s not really a bad stereotype to have to get cast as. I guess it gives you somewhere to go.”

Did you do theater in Chicago growing up?

“Yeah I did. I did theater at Drury Lane growing up. I did Big and I did On Golden Pond. Then I started doing some shows in the city more on the north side at Victory Gardens in the theater building. That’s where I started on stage and then slowly transitioned and moved out to the west coast and started shooting some indie films. I got ‘Greek’ when I was still living on couches out here. Surprising that went three and a half years. It all happened kind of fast for me.”

Speaking of ‘Greek’, do you still keep in touch with the cast?

“Yeah, yeah I do. Pretty much everybody. I’ve always been best friends with Spencer. She played my sister on the show, and always acted like she really was my big sister off set, so we’ve kept up that relationship. She is actually raising a family now, she has a kid. Ironically, I’m pretty good friends with Jake who played Evan. Him and I have plenty of adventures and late night bar crawls together.”

After the Dances with Dead Film Festival, are there going to be any more releases of the film?

“This is going to serve as our LA premiere/distributor screening. I’m kind of experiencing a crash course on how to sell indie films. It was a pretty rough process, and there is a lot of business involved in that sense. We’re going to hope it gets a good review and hopefully a distributor ends up buying it and then sells it over to theaters as maybe a limited release. Then possibly it could appear on Netflix and all those sites that have popped up. Right now it’s still up in the air.”

Do you prefer doing movies or television?

“It really doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that you have enough time with the material and can create some intimacy with your character and the time to work hard on it. There’s great television out there. You just want to have a sense of discovery with any character that you end up creating at the end of the day.”

What would your ideal indie film be?

“I like to show a sense of struggle. I just relate to that side of life. I don’t really have a specific director or writer. I think there’s just a lot of really talented people out there. I think characters that are struggling to make sense out of life are real and relatable. People who are digging themselves out of dark places,create a story that can move you as an audience member and something you remember when you leave the theater.”

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