In Wildflower, a young woman has a reoccurring nightmare, which may actually be a memory she’s forced out of her mind. When she searches for answers, she discovers that she may be able to bring a killer to justice if she can uncover the truth. Here, Cody Longo stars as Josh, a young man who has his own issues to work through, but who may be able to help. A week before the film arrives on DVD, Christian Cinema caught up with the up-and-coming star (and musician) to discuss his roles and life of faith.
Longo started performing early, sneaking in time with his guitar in between sports practices. After a chat with his mother following high school graduation, he set for Los Angeles.
“I didn’t know anyone there, and I sat my mom down and asked, ‘Do you think I can do this?’ He remembered. “She said ‘definitely!’ So I moved to California, and just kept studying my craft. It’s such a crowded lane and it requires hard work. Once you have some success, you risk your privacy – it’s kind of a double-edged sword.”
Now, the world has opened up for Longo, with opportunities in different areas and projects of different sorts. Audiences may have first encountered him in the proactive humanitarian film, Not Today (2013), where he played a pampered college student who sees a world he never expected through the homeless of India.
“Not Today changed my life,” Longo admitted. “God called and told me I was going to India. The story line and subject were intense. I wasn’t aware of all of the things going on.”
“The director and writers were really hands on and threw me into it. So I saw some intense things, but it helped me be as real as possible to portray this as truthful as possible. I interviewed girls who were rescued. The director John Van Dyke was all about not building sets so we shot in the dumps, the slums. There was no middle class. So we’re staying in these high class hotels, and there are kids sleeping outside on the ground. It was just heartbreaking. This was what the world was like outside. It touched my heart and made me want to make a change.”
Along the way, Longo has rubbed shoulders with well-loved and experienced actors, and tried to learn from them. “I ended up in Medium with Patricia Arquette, which was one of the number one shows then, in 2008, and the momentum started flowing. I booked my first studio lead in Fame and High School with Adrien Brody and Michael Chiklis.”
“I really just tried to pull from the great actors I worked with, bugging them. ‘Okay, I want to be in your position, so tell me how to get there.’ I tell younger actors not to lose focus; yes, it can be fun, but focus now and have fun later.”
“Now, I can pick things I’m passionate about — you have the artistic direction.“
Currently, Longo is set to appear as Lieutenant Todd Walker, a young military guy who is up to no good in fifth episode of Shonda Rimes’ The Catch. “I can’t divulge anything because I’d get in so much trouble,” he said, laughing. “With Shonda’s projects, they wouldn’t give me the script until the day of. I got exclusively from ABC. If I say one thing, I will get in big trouble! What a blessing to be part of the show. Shonda has created some best shows out there.”
In the meantime, Longo’s portrayal of Josh in Wildflower allows him to blend the theatrical and the musical. He wrote the song, “Change,” that Christian artist Shane Selby performs as part of the soundtrack for the film that releases on Tuesday on DVD and airs on Lifetime in June. There was a comfort level for the young artist with the role of Josh because he knew what those emotions and situations felt like.
“I knew I could do Josh justice. I had been going through a tough time, trying to figure out what my place in the world was as a young man. I set my standards really high, and I felt like I wasn’t sharing my light as strongly as I could have been because I was bogged down by some issues.”
“In this story, Josh thinks he has his whole story figured out, but he has to start at the bottom and work his way through this event. At the beginning, he’s playing this ‘woe is me’ card, and I’ve been there. When he starts to find his faith, it almost took a distraction – avoiding his own stuff and not thinking about himself so much, to help someone else.”
“I related to it and I needed it emotionally.”
When asked who helped him overcome his own period of searching and struggle, Longo was quick to point to the women in his life. “My mom and my sister have always been those people in my life who’ve said ‘you’re getting too big of a head,’ or who see right through me,” he shared. “Whatever the case may be, they’ve always been sort of my rocks, to grab me by the shirt and remind me where I came from. My older sister has been my best friend my whole life. She and my mom actually came out from Colorado for the weekend, and sat me down and we worked through it.”
“A little bit later, my wife became one of those people for me. She is just the most incredible person to ever come into my life. She just brings such light into the world.”
Now, Longo hopes that Wildflower will be a film that inspires through the faith within the story.
“We were pumped that Lifetime picked it up,” he said. “There’s definitely faith involved but we wanted to reach a secular audience as well. Faith is a strong factor but we’re not overloading the film with the Lord because it’s really about human issues.”
“In the film, faith inspires people to overcome the issues. To reach the secular audience and say, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize I could turn to faith or that community and others would provide me that route through this.’’”
“I think we struck a strong chord to make the difference.”