"I used much of my background, the relationships in my past, and the way I feel about certain people to arrive at a genuine performance when making Caleb a real, whole person on camera."
by Gregg Shapiro
Gregg Shapiro is both a literary figure and a music and literary critic. As an entertainment journalist, his work appears on ChicagoPride.com and is syndicated nationally.
Truth (Left of Center Entertainment and Border 2 Border Entertainment), written, directed by and co-starring Rob Moretti, is a romantic thriller full of its fair share of twists and turns. In the lead role of Caleb, Sean Paul Lockhart (who may be recognizable to some viewers from his porn career as Brent Corrigan) brings the right amount of naïve and not-quite-right to the character. When the film opens, Caleb is in jail being questioned by psychiatrist Barbara (Blanche Baker of Sixteen Candles fame), and as the story progresses we learn that a murder has been committed. Whether or not it was the trusting Caleb, who became involved with the older Jeremy (Moretti) only to discover that his new lover hasn't been completely honest with him, will keep you guessing until the end. I spoke with Sean about the movie and his career in October 2013. (Truth is screening as part of the Reeling Film Festival on Nov. 8 at The Logan Theater.)
GS: (Gregg Shapiro) Sean, what was it about the character of Caleb in Truth that made you want to play him?
SPL: (Sean Paul Lockhart) Caleb is tormented by many things. Not meaning to, at one point, he just lets it all hang out. He's not a confused kid; even after everything everyone around him has put him through. But more than anything I was attracted to the trajectory that Caleb experiences as the film progresses. He's not just one person from beginning to end. There's a very clear and present arc presented to the viewer.
GS: Horses were Caleb's childhood fantasy and Caleb's childhood fantasy comes true when Jeremy adopts the horse Nero Fiddles for him. What were your childhood fantasies and how do you feel about horses?
SPL: I think we have all kinds of dreams. What we want to be when we grow up, what we want for ourselves, and the things we want to be surrounded by. Horses have always been a part of that for me, personally. (Writer/director) Rob (Moretti) wrote that into Truth, a gift for me. I think he saw how deeply rooted my love and fondness for horses was and he wanted to incorporate that into Caleb. It made Caleb real. Bias aside, I think it was a solid artistic choice made by Rob. While I love horses and I've been obsessed going back to my first memories in life - I've never been able to really get as close as I wanted. Then again, I could've grown up on a horse farm with 100 head of equine and I'd still be sitting here saying the very same thing. They're the most majestic, regal and attractive things on this Earth. The way we've bred them to wholly encompass our needs and our dreams of what a perfect specimen should be. We stopped raising them for food and began breeding them for their domestic capabilities about 3,000 years ago. I love acting, I love making films, but if I could drop all of it to go live and work on a horse farm somewhere I'd be in heaven. For me true happiness, true bliss, is being surrounded by these creatures.
GS: Caleb has a pet tarantula. How do you feel about spiders?
SPL: I think I have a healthy fear of the ones I should be afraid of. I didn't handle Hermie on set. Personally, I don't really care to palm a big, ugly, hairy spider. Like anything else in our world they serve an important purpose. If I find one in my home I catch it as best I can and set it free outside. They don't bother me, so I don't bother them.
GS: Do you have any pets, unusual or otherwise?
SPL: I had two Jackson chameleons. After about two years they both fell ill and both died within months of each other. They are very sensitive creatures. They need really fresh, pure air to live and I think having the windows of my flat open all the time was not good for them. I live downtown San Diego so lots of soot and heavy dust comes through my windows. Someday I want a pet Wallaby and zebras grazing on my front lawn. It's actually a lot easier to acquire a captive bred zebra than one might think. It's the ones that are trained to be ridden that are way more costly.
GS: Having spent most of his life in foster care, Caleb talks about finding his real mother to get closure. If you were in a similar situation, would you do the same thing?
SPL: I don't know my biological father. My stepfather raised me and as far back as I can remember he has always been there. He stepped up to the plate in a way that most men wouldn't. Even when my mother and father separated he was there supporting all four of us even though only two were of his blood. I don't feel I'm missing anything within me to be compelled to find my blood father. What a lot of people might miss the first time they watch "Truth" is that Caleb seeks out his mother in desperation - if you piece the film together (there are 3 different linear stories that are told of Caleb throughout the film) it's very telling why Caleb visits his mother after being adopted.
GS: When Jeremy tracks down Caleb's mother, Caleb is upset. How would you have personally reacted in such a situation?
SPL: I don't have the connections to my mother or my family the way Caleb does. His reaction is understandable. We're meant to sympathize with him. As an actor my instincts told me more than anything he was embarrassed. This turns to rage when someone very important to him begins chipping away at the perfectly poised exterior that Caleb has set in place to protect himself.
GS: As it turns out, Jeremy wasn't being completely honest with Caleb and when Caleb discovers the truth, he exacts his revenge on Jeremy. Do you think what Caleb did to Jeremy was appropriate?
SPL: Morally I don't think that either party is in the right. However, I don't think it's fair to judge both parties on equal ground. We have to take into account the background of abuse Caleb suffered at the hands of nearly every adult figure in his life. Those entrusted with Caleb's health have prescribed all kinds of tranquilizers and sedatives to quell his volatility without addressing the root of the problem. It makes Caleb a ticking time bomb. He's the sort of poor soul that just can't catch a break. And then someone comes along that presents himself as some sort of savior –but it's all a sham. What more could you really expect from someone in Caleb's frame of mind?
GS: Truth and honesty play a central role in the movie. In addition to being the title of the film, the word "truth" is tattooed on Caleb's bicep. Do you have any tats? If so, where are they?
SPL: I've gone back and forth about getting more tattoos. I love ink - I especially love men with well thought out, meaningful artwork on their body. However, in today's age you're almost more original for not having any tattoos. I have one blue star on my left butt cheek. Someday I may get a seahorse on my left delt but I'm torn. I already have the art chosen I just need to take the plunge.
GS: Caleb tells Jeremy that what he went through in his life made him who he is today. Would you say that the same is true for you?
SPL: Absolutely. I am fortunate to have lived through some rather harrowing experiences. I turn 27 on Halloween (2013). I used much of my background, the relationships in my past, and the way I feel about certain people to arrive at a genuine performance when making Caleb a real, whole person on camera. Without these experiences I know without a doubt that Caleb wouldn't be as well-crafted a person up there on the big screen.
GS: Sean, as an actor who has appeared in comedies and dramas, do you have a preference for one over the other?
SPL: I love them both! But for now I need to lighten up and take on a bit more comedy. Between Truth, my first directed film Triple Crossed (out now at TLAreleasing.com) and my forthcoming The Dark Place (a film by the same guys that did Judas Kiss), I just need to laugh a little. Drama can really weigh you down. This is especially true when you take the method approach to your performance. I dredged up all kinds of things in my past that were needed while doing Truth. Right now I am finishing Common Cupid. It's a screenplay I am writing about a kid that uses the magic of divine deities to shape the love lives of his friends around him. He gets himself into all kinds of trouble and at the end everyone learns that love has to happen at free-will or what's the point?
GS: This interview is taking place a few days before your Oct. 31 birthday. Because it is also Halloween, do you do anything special to celebrate?
SPL: I'm certainly celebrating Truth. I am so very proud of it. There's always one or two things at any given moment in my life that I like to refer to as "my crowning achievements." It's that one thing that I am supremely fond of having put my personal touch to. Being a producer of Truth and having it also stand as my first ever top-billed role in a film means I'm heavily invested in it. It was a physical, emotional, and personal investment for me that required every last bit of everything I have to offer today as a person. Rob Moretti and I are a strong partnership; we complement each other well. I'm very fortunate to have him in my life today and I look forward to do many more pictures with him.