Comisery is an Asian-American Science Fiction Screwball Comedy that Quentin Lee and I created and made over eight weeks during the lockdown. It stars Bee Vang, Harrison Xu, Amy Hill, Jennifer Field, Nat Ho, Sheetal Sheth, Richard Anderson, and Verton Banks. It was a screwball comedy response to the pandemic and living under lockdown. It premieres on September 1st on Quentin's streaming service AsianAmericanMovies.com and Amazon Video.
Full disclosure: when I'm not working on screenplays and film work, I'm a correspondent for Bleeding Cool. In the week leading up to the premiere, the editors of Bleeding Cool have let me run a series of interviews with the cast and crew to talk about what it was like to make a movie during the lockdown, shot on zoom, without leaving home. It's a new form of narrative filmmaking that the industry is still coming to terms with.
Today we talk to Singaporean actor and singer Nat Ho, who plays Nate in Comisery. Nat Ho is a Singer, Actor, and Model. His first foray into the Entertainment industry was as a Top 30 contestant in the inaugural Singapore Idol in 2004. Since then, he has appeared in many lead roles across Mediacorp Channel 5, Channel 8, as well as regional television. As a singer and performer, he has performed in numerous televised live shows and performances in Singapore and Taiwan, where he was previously signed as an artist. He is also frequently on magazine covers and fashion spreads and has even had the opportunity to walk in the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Russia. His work as a Model and Brand Ambassador spans across multiple industries, having worked with major brands from the telecommunications, fashion, beauty, lifestyle, tech, and automobile industries.
In Comisery, Nat plays perhaps the oddest character in the story. Nate is a Singaporean DJ living in Los Angeles with a secret side gig of being a hitman… except he hasn't actually killed anyone yet. His story and outlook were already strange and off-kilter even before lockdown and an alien virus invasion. The latter doesn't really through him off by much. He just rolls with it, to the bewilderment of everyone else.
You've had a career in music and TV in Singapore. How did you come to LA?
I left Singapore at a point where I was incredibly burnt out and needed the time away to recharge creatively and to learn and grow. So I thought coming to LA to learn Music Production was a great way to get my fix. It's been a pretty fulfilling year, and I have no regrets.
What did Quentin pitch you about Comisery and your role in it?
Honestly, Quentin didn't need to pitch it to me. I had gotten to know Quentin through another producer friend of mine, and he seemed like a really sincere person based on our interactions up till that point. So the moment he asked if I would be part of the project, I just said yes anyway. The fact that it could be done via Zoom, from the comfort of my home, was pretty cool too, and since I was still working on my school projects at that time, it wouldn't have required too much commitment, so it was something I felt I could manage and deliver on.
When you came on, you immediately improvised details about the character where he was very much into spiritualism and New Age-type thinking, which Quentin and I loved. How did you see the character of Nate, who might actually be the strangest character in the story?
I liked the fact that he was kinda "out there." Nate comes from money and is basically a well-intentioned lost soul searching for meaning in life. How he came to find that meaning in becoming a hitman-for-hire, I honestly have no idea. So it absolutely made sense that he would embody all the common LA tropes of spiritualism and New Age-type thinking because ultimately, we are all trying to find meaning in life, so who are we to judge?
The initial idea about Nate is that he was a DJ who wanted to be a successful hitman, yet he never got a chance to kill anybody. That was us making fun of all those cool fantasy hitmen from the movies. Quentin at first thought the character was an airhead, but your performance made me rethink that to make Nate much more enigmatic. I started to lean in on the surreal contradiction where Nate is very calm, Zen, and spiritual, yet at the same time, he wants to be a contract killer. What do you really think of him?
I think Nate might actually be on to something. He strikes me as someone who is very in-tune with his personal truth and the search for meaning, without being overly-attached to expectations and societal norms. In that respect, he is not bound by morals, which is fascinating – since the concept of morals is often used to manipulate people and control them. Nate seems to have risen above all this bullshit, maybe because he truly is in alignment with the Universal Source. At the same time, though, I feel this quality to him is also what makes him potentially dangerous and sinister because he is such a wild card.
Nate is actually very well-read. How do you think he sees the world?
He definitely looks at it in a very different way than other people, and I feel his quest for personal truth supersedes everything else. Take religion, for example; I think he's the kind of person who will borrow various bits from different religions and cobble together his own religious belief.
Do you think he might know something about life and the cosmos that nobody else does?
Yes. People are too preoccupied with finding the meaning of life. But ultimately, the reality is that life is meaningless, and it's meaningless by design. It's meant to be a blank canvas that we get to create our own meaning out of.
Would you be interested in continuing Nate's journey if we manage to swing a sequel?
Sure, why not? I think there's so many more things to be explored with this character.