Thesp makes fest debut with performance as Beltway sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

Who: Tequan Richmond, actor
What:Blue Caprice
Where: Public screening at the Library at 11:30 a.m.

Tequan Richmond has been acting for more than a decade but his career is due is for a boost once Sundance auds check out his performance as Beltway sniper Lee Boyd Malvo opposite Isaiah Washington’s John Allen Muhammad in “Blue Caprice.”

“I was looking at a couple scripts and when they showed me that one, I leapt at the chance. I wanted to prove I could do it,” said Richmond, whose first job was a guest spot on “ER” alongside George Clooney. He later played a young Ray Charles in “Ray” before becoming a series regular on the hit show “Everybody Loves Chris.”

Richmond auditioned for director Alexandre Moors over Skype and once it was decided he could handle the challenging part, he flew straight to New York, where he stayed across the hall from Washington. “We had fun getting to know each other. We had wrestling training and gun training together, and he became like a mentor to me by the end of the film,” Richmond said of his co-star, whose performance is also getting strong buzz.

Richmond is a newcomer to Sundance and is excited to see “Blue Caprice” for the first time at the festival, unaware of which scenes made the final cut. Many arthouse distribs are expected to attend the first screening, though Richmond believes the film is “pretty mainstream.”

Richmond may only be 20 years old, but he still remembers the Beltway Sniper attacks. “I remember a lot of people were scared to get gas because they thought they were going to get shot. Never did I think I would end up playing that part,” said Richmond, who wasn’t apprehensive about playing a mass murderer.

“Blue Caprice” is expected to be a hot topic of conversation in Park City in the wake of the tragic Newtown shootings. “There are a lot of gun control issues going on right now in America and I think that’s why there is so much buzz around it right now, because there’s a kid killing people in the movie and those things go hand-in-hand.”

While “Blue Caprice” deals with violent subject matter, it’s hardly a violent film. “I think that all has to do with Alexander, who shot it in a more artistic way. We could’ve had blood and gore, but he likes to shoot things in a more subtle way,” said Richmond. Also subtle was the transition Richmond’s character undergoes over the course of the film. “There were a lot of little things, like his accent, which fades by the end of the film, and how he starts eating American food. All of those things were in the script so I just wanted to apply them to every scene. It was very planned out, because Alex has a thick French accent so we had to go over things a lot in order to understand what we’d be doing.”

Richmond won’t have much free time at Sundance due to press obligations but said he’d like to see Michael B. Jordan starrer “Fruitvale” if he has a chance. The young thesp looks up to stars such as Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio and Emile Hirsch because they make good choices. “I would like to be a select actor and make smart choices. I’m trying to mold that kind of career and Sundance is definitely helping me. This is a big deal for me, especially being so young,” said Richmond, who’s also holding out hope for his first Daytime Emmy nomination for his work on “General Hospital.”

Richmond, who is repped by Coast to Coast Talent and manager Leonard Torgan, credited his mother with getting him into the business. “My mom was an actress so I got with her boutique agency back in 2001 and started booking a few commercials. She’s like my co-manager. She has put in a lot of hard work and doesn’t want to miss this for anything.”

“Blue Caprice” screens as part of the NEXT lineup on Saturday (9:00 p.m. at Tower Theater in Salt Lake City), Monday (11:30 p.m. at Prospector Square), Wednesday (6:00 p.m. at the Sundance Resort) and Thursday (Noon at the Yarrow Hotel).

One in a series of profiles on filmmakers and talent from the Sundance Film Festival 2013.

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