After a storied career in music, theater, television and film, Valencia actor Jason Downs is choosing to challenge himself again with his upcoming role in in David Sessions’ play, “Two Fisted Love.”
“When you take a role in a play, it’s very different than getting a role in a TV show. They’re vastly different. You take a role in a play not necessarily to further your career, you take a role in a play to further your skills and to challenge yourself,” Down said. “With plays, I would say this is the most difficult role I’ve ever had… because I have to go somewhere I’ve never gone before as an actor.”
The dark comedy set in Silicon Valley in 2008 tells the story of a modern family in a state of moral crisis as the family’s matriarch deals with Multiple Sclerosis and descends into an uncertain future, while attempting to navigate her relationships with her ultra-conservative husband and her defiant daughter.
In “Two Fisted Love” Downs plays Andy, an offbeat and amoral computer programmer who Downs describes as “the worst kind of human being you could ever imagine on the planet.”
“It [the role] scares me to death so I took it because it would push me in the places that I’m scared to go and challenge me in ways that I avoid in real life, but that’s the beauty of this art,” Downs said. “That’s the beauty of being to step into someone else’s shoes and live it for a couple months.”
This is not the first time Downs has pushed himself out of his comfort zone. Recently, he starred as Lenny in “The Homecoming” at Pacific Resident Theatre where his character was equally as dark and pernicious.
“The character was essentially a pimp and it took place in the 1960s in north London… he was an extremely cruel and despicable person by normal standards, but the character I’m playing in this piece is even worse,” Downs said. “Now that I’ve done that, this is a step farther from the last one.”
When Downs read the role in “Two Fisted Love” a year and a half ago, he began picturing himself in the role and preparing for his future internal conflict in immersing himself in such a dark character on stage.
“These are places that none of us go in real life even in our minds because it’s uncomfortable,” he said. “I think it’s one of those things that requires a leap and you’ve just got to make the plunge. I honestly believe what the audience will see as a result is the same thing.”
Lessons from the Role
As Andy, Downs plays, what he calls, the epitome of a man in a male-dominated society. His character answers to no one, follows no rules and believes in no consequences for his actions.
“For my character it’s all about morality and this idea that men, especially white men in this culture, can do whatever they want,” Downs said. “Do they get away with it? I don’t think any of them do. Ultimately everyone pays, but I just think it’s very topical to what’s going on in the world right now.”
As a character, Andy benefits from “the way things are” and destroys what is beautiful along his way. He is the example of what happens when someone believes they are intrinsically better than another and deserve to hold power over another, according to Downs.
“I want people to walk away thinking about how far this mindset really can go, this mindset of men who don’t have to answer to anyone or just take what they want because they can,” Downs said. “My character is a cautionary tale and a reminder of what this kind of thinking and this kind of society breeds or can breed at its worst.”
As an actor and singer, Downs has already experienced a successful career on stage and on the screen for more than 30 years.
He’s traveled Europe as a recording artist, held guest starring roles in popular television shows, performed on stage in musicals and plays, and traveled with theatrical productions.
Now, as he enters a new chapter of his life, Downs’ solitary career goal is to continue making money and supporting himself by doing what he loves.
“I have a great career which is not something most people can say. What I have going on is amazing and I’m grateful,” Downs said. “My goals are to be good at what I do, I want people to see this, to be affected by it. I want it to provoke thought and provoke emotion and be acknowledged at the end of the day for doing a good job.”
See Jason Downs in his role as Andy in “Two Fisted Love” at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. The play runs from Feb. 3 to March 11 with performances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
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