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, in our final interview, we talk to Verton R. Banks, who plays Danny, Skylar's (Bee Vang) boyfriend, who dies from the virus before the movie even begins. That's a bit of a spoiler, yes, but he still plays a major part in the story.
Verton is best known as the diligent medical intern Vernon on the HBO comedy Getting On starring Laurie Metcalf, Niecy Nash, and Alex Borstein. Other notable tv appearances include the new Hulu show Dollface starring Kat Dennings produced by Margot Robbie, FX's Snowfall, and the final season of the Eastsiders on Netflix. He is a graduate of UCLA and Yale School of Drama and is a screenwriter in his own right.
How has lockdown been treating you? It must be crazy-making for actors to be stuck at home all the time.
This lockdown was, of course, a shock to the system. It's like it all changed overnight. Thankfully I have been able to adapt to this new situation of life.
Your character was actually a late addition to the story. The start of the story actually set up the promise that Bobby would appear later. How did Quentin approach you about the role?
Quentin and I have known each other for several years. I am a fan of his work. Quentin and I developed a series based upon his and Justin Lin's movie Shopping for Fangs. Quentin just messaged me about the role. I was already familiar with the project from his social media post. I simply adore Amy Hill, and the prospect of playing Bee Vang's boyfriend made it a no brainer. I immediately said, "yes!"
Quentin and I were adamant about diversity and LGBTQ representation in the story, and he wanted Danny to appear. He really wanted you for the role, and I remembered you from GETTING ON, so I was all for it. How did you approach the character, given his unique state of being, and I don't mean the LGBTQ part but the Science Fiction part?
With most of the characters I portray, I try to develop as much backstory as possible. I wrote out the history of Danny. I even re-enacted Danny's death and the moment Danny gains consciousness in this new form. I then took away the emotions related to his death. What remains is Danny's profound love for Skylar and the euphoria that it brings.
Your performance had a certain beatific layer to it. Was there a particular feel or tone you wanted Bobby to have?
Thank you. Yes, I wanted Danny to be the best, most optimistic version of himself. An almost idealized version of Danny. His story is so sad. Whenever someone young dies, it is a tragedy. But he loves Skylar so much that he removes that sadness. Also, Danny, in this new form, is kind of omniscient and can see the whole picture. The grand scheme of life, or so he believes. And when you know the future, there is no fear and no sadness.
If we make a sequel, would you be interested in coming back?
Yes, I would definitely return. Everyone in this project is wonderful, and that is rare. I feel there is so much more to explore with Danny. I feel for Danny; the end is only the beginning.