Actor Cody Longo, whose television credits include “Days of Our Lives,” recently spoke with Phoenix Movie Examiner about his role in the new drama “Not Today.”
In “Not Today,” which opens Friday, April 12 at select movie theaters throughout the country, Longo plays a young man who, haunted by the images of a starving man and his daughter he refused to help while traveling through India with his friends, attempts to right his wrong only to discover that the man has been forced to sell the little girl.
Question: This is a movie with a message. Not all movies have one. Does it feel any different when a project has purpose, such as this?
Answer: This was a super passionate project for me. We sometimes do stuff where it’s just a paycheck. We put our heart into it and we learn to love the character but this one was a passion project for me from the beginning. I got the script and, for some reason, it grabbed me. For some reason, I connected with it. And during the audition process, everything – all of the dialogue – came out so truthful. It really touched me and I fought for the role nonstop until it was mine.
Q: Your character is not that likeable – at least in the beginning. He does end up redeeming himself, though. Can you tell me a bit about your character in your own words? And what is it about complex characters, such as this, that appeals to you as an actor?
A: This character was confused and not sure which way to go about life – rebelling because of some situations he was put in with his family. As actors, we beg for an arc in a movie. We beg for a transition. We love to see our character become something – whether it is going to be good or bad. I think that we are driven to substance. It makes it that much more interesting as an actor to play that role. And, obviously, it makes it that much more interesting as an audience to see somebody make that transition within a film that you may or may not expect.
Q: What did the opportunity to play this character teach you? In other words, what is your greatest takeaway when it comes to this project?
A: This film changed my life. We shot this 2 and a half years ago. It meant the world to me to be able to travel to India and shoot this film with such incredible people. It completely changed my perspective on life. It humbled me. It brought me back down to earth. It showed me that I shouldn’t just be living just for myself. I should be living for others. All of that and I was shooting a movie at the same time.
Q: Speaking of India, what was it like filming there?
A: It was crazy. It wasn’t organized at all. I mean, we did what we could and we really fought to shoot a film down there. But, at times, we were flying by the seat of our pants because of just the random stuff that happened to us. Locations all the sudden got seized on us and we had to shoot on live streets. The director Jon Van Dyke did an amazing job coping with these things. He was set on not building any sets so we shot in these slums. This was real. We had to get security to tag along with us and tell people, ‘You can walk by but just don’t look into the camera.’ It was nuts to shoot the way that we did but I think that it brought so much truth to the film.
Q: I think that it also brought a sense of urgency to the film. Would you agree?
A: It was so busy everywhere. We shot in Mumbai and were stuck in traffic for 7 hours. We shot in Hyderabad and there were not a lot of paved roads. It was just crazy to see the culture. I met so many incredible people. You can’t talk to a person down there without them bringing up their faith within 5 minutes of the conversation which I thought was just incredible. They live their lives knowing that there is a higher being. Sometimes they are not Christians but they are living not for just themselves. Their culture is incredible. And they are so caring and giving. It was such an awesome experience.
Q: Finally, I know that it was barely a blip on your career, but you briefly played Nicholas Alamain on “Days of Our Lives.” What did you take away from your time in Salem?
A: You say a blip and that really is what it was. I shot 10 episodes for them. I shot for one week or maybe even a week and a half. I had to run through so many emotions within that small time. I just think that character was all about being the rock of the family. It taught me how to be a man. It is hard to realize that you are the main supporter for a lot of people. And it kind of goes along with the film. I think that character helped me realize that you are not just living for yourself. You are living for others. Just being a good person and setting an example is incredibly important when so many people are watching you – which is the story of my life.