Actor Ray Nicholson (“Out of the Blue,” “Licorice Pizza”) has been staying extremely busy, with multiple projects on the release horizon, including the buzzy comedic thriller “Borderline,” from writer/director Jimmy Warden, which is being shopped at AFM by Radiant Films, in conjunction with CAA. Nicholson stars as a helplessly romantic sociopath that escapes from a mental institution and invades the home of a ‘90s pop superstar, played by Samara Weaving (“Ready or Not”). Nicholson spoke with Variety about the project and his burgeoning career.
What can you say about “Borderline”?
When I read the script, I said to myself — what a cute love story! I loved it immediately, and I was fortunate enough to meet with Jimmy Warden, and we hit it off and nerded-out over movies, and from that point he really trusted me.
What drew you to the material?
Most of what I’m looking for is the classic anti-hero character, and I think we’re losing our grip on that type of character who is both flawed and yet likable, so the script was appealing in that sense. Right now, there’s a tendency to seek out this idea of moral perfection in characters that doesn’t really exist, and I like playing people who you may not like, but that you love. I’m always looking for material that I can connect to on a personal level.
How was it working with the team at Radiant Films?
All of the people on that team rocked, and I loved working with them. We laughed together so much and genuinely enjoyed being around each other, which you can’t say all the time.
Are you ready to have a large number of films get released in quick succession?
I feel prepared for where the future is taking me, and I’m certainly not cowering under the covers. I want people to like the work, and I love the process of making films. I’m in love with the camp and circus environment that it creates and the relationships that are formed.
How emotionally attached do you get to a project?
Finding material that you really love is rare, and a lot of the difficulty of the profession is riding the highs and the lows. I’ve tried not to get attached to things too closely, so that I don’t get devastated and heartbroken, which has happened in the past. But when you get the thing that you really love, you end up having a different problem of actually having to do the job. But that’s a great problem to have.
Do you have any interest in writing or directing?
I’m very focused on acting. When I was younger, I wanted to be a writer and a director and a producer and an actor, but over the years I’ve seen how much goes into each area of the process. If I ever did branch out into anything else, it would be writing, so that I could have some control over the stories I want to make. And maybe that’s the next movement — more people creating their own content.
Is there a genre you’ve not stepped into that you’re interested in testing out?
(Laughs.) There’s a part of me that wants to do the anti-biopic biopic, like the absolute most mundane day in the life of some random person who is having problems at home and all that normal stuff. It’s all about great material, and whatever comes my way and whatever the adventure becomes. I’m a deeply fearful person by nature, but when I take my first step into something creative, I just want to keep going.