By DaVette See
It may be cliché to say “magic was in the air,” but at Estrella in Hollywood on Wednesday evening, viewing an advanced screening of the spellbinding movie, Sleight, it’s apropos. The film is about a young man named Bo who struggles to provide for himself and his little sister by performing magic on the street of LA for tips. First-time director and co-writer JD Dillard pulls off his own sleight of hand by deftly mingling reality, illusion, and magic in this contemporary thriller.
We caught up with JD, and a few Sleight cast and crew, at the reception following the screening and chatted about the film over munchies and wine. Here are 8 interesting facts we were able to find out:
- JD is a geek. A self-professed Star Wars fan, he chatted excitedly about being on set during the filming of Star Wars: The Force: Awakens watching his favorite director, JJ Abrams direct his favorite movie franchise, and how it inspired him to make his own film! So, how big a geek is he on a scale of one to ten? “A recovering ten. I mean, I have a Star Wars tattoo, so…”
- JD and his writing partner Alex Theurer wrote Sleight in FIVE days (!), filmed it in SIXTEEN days (!!), and completed it within a YEAR of his return to the US from England! Over-achievers, much???
- JD and Alex work so well together, they have also co-written two other films: the thriller, Stray, due out later this year, and the horror-thriller Sweetheart currently in pre-production. Dream team!
- The young star of the film, Jacob Latimore (Bo), doesn’t think he’s much of a nerd. “Maybe a seven”, he said, smiling, but then hurriedly revised that to “maybe a five” when Sheldon Cooper was presented as the “Perfect Nerd Ten”. So science isn’t so much his thing, but he does love reading, mostly non-fiction such as Outliers and Good to Great. Sounds nerdy to us!
- Jacob told us he didn’t go through “intense acting training” before he started but, instead, learned a great deal by watching quality TV shows like “The Cosby Show” when he was little. By the time he started auditioning for roles, he said, “I never really thought much about how to [act], I just did it.” Maybe that’s one reason why he always comes across so real and natural on screen, particularly in Sleight. He’s a natural!
- Dulé Hill (Angelo) makes his “bad guy” debut in the film. You can’t help but look at that handsome, boyish face and think of his good guy roles on The West Wing (Charlie Young) or Psych (Gus). And he is so friendly and easy-going when you meet him, you might think he’d shy away from a role as a drug dealer. But Hill says he jumped at the chance to play a bad guy because he says he never gets offered those roles. “You want to stretch as an actor, so when I read the script, I was in.” Take our word for it, he was definitely up to the challenge!
- Dulé likes to shoot hoops to relax, but recently learned the hard way that Kobe Bryant just made it look easy. While playing with friends, he came down hard after a jump shot and tore his Achilles tendon, so he was sporting a boot at the screening. OUCH!
- If you’ve seen a trailer, you might think you know what Sleight is about, but prepare to be surprised. We’re not to going to reveal any spoilers; you can’t make us. But we will say that this compelling thriller blurs the lines between what is real and what is illusion.
Sleight is rated R and hits theaters April 28th, 2017
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Originally from the Midwest, DaVette lives in Inglewood, CA and can’t name a single sports team. She’s a sci-fi fan, a movie geek, a drama freak, a Trekkie, and a Browncoat. She has a BA in English and Theater, as well as a Law degree, but don’t hold that against her. She acted and directed for the stage for many years, but really loves filmmaking and writing. She owns Running Lady Studios and she is the producer/star of the web-based talk show, Afro Bites! She is wife to Rob, daughter to Martha, and mom to seven (yes seven) cats. When not covered in fur, she’s a West Coast correspondent and occasional movie reviewer for BGN. Follow DaVette on Twitter and IG @mariavah.