Alumnus stars in film

By Abbie Neufeld

“Black Rock” featuring Jay Paulson ’96 premiered on Jan. 21 the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

This is the second film Paulson has been in that has premiered at Sundance. The film “Rolling Kansas” premiered in 2003. “Black Rock” is a thriller, directed by Kate Asselton, that tells the story of three childhood friends, played by Kate Bosworth, Lake Bell and Asselton, who visit a remote island off the coast of Maine, where they meet three men, one of whom is played by Paulson, recently discharged from the military who are on the island hunting. A struggle then ensues between the two groups.

Paulson said the character is different from the roles he is usually cast in.

“It required a lot of hard work and a lot of research and a lot of pushing myself out of my comfort zone,” Paulson said. “I really wanted to do justice to these guys who fight and serve our country. I was trying to avoid being a one note cartoon image.”

The movie’s North American distribution rights were acquired by LD distribution, and the movie will be theatrically released in at least 25 markets at an undetermined date.

“[With an independent film] there’s never a guarantee that it’s going to be distributed, so you’re always taking sort of a gamble,” Paulson said. “We worked for deferred payments in the hopes that if we sold it we would get a bigger piece, so to find out that we were picked up by a distributor was really exciting. And it also means more people will be able to see the work we put into this.”

Asselton cast Paulson in the role after seeing him in the first season of “Mad Men.”

Paulson began acting in ninth grade at Harvard-Westlake and said it is one of the biggest influences to his career.

“It literally provided the stage for me and also provided me with amazing teachers and instructors like [performing arts teacher] Ted Walch,” Paulson said. “I’ll never forget how magical it was. Harvard-Westlake was where I fell in love with theater and drama and acting and those memories and some of what I learned there are indelibly etched in every cell of my being.”

When Paulson starred in the school production of “Once in a Lifetime,” in 11th grade, he was seen by a talent manager. Seventeen years later, he is still Paulson’s manager.

Though Paulson has been acting professionally for many years, he still says he studies acting every day.

“I think you can always be improving as an artist and as a human being, and I try every day to do something to improve myself in both areas,” he said.