Most may know him from his work on the YA Mystery series “The Society”, but Jacques Colimon is definitely someone you should keep your eyes on in the future for a longstanding career in entertainment. An award-winning multidisciplinary artist, I’m honestly excited to see what he will do next, especially in the realm of horror. For us horror fans, we may recognize him from his role in Into The Dark’s Uncanny Annie. Now he is stepping into the horror hot seat once again with his latest role as Max in NOCTURNE, one of four films being released this month as a part of the WELCOME TO THE BLUMHOUSE series.
For the release of NOCTURNE, I got a chance to chat with Jacques Colimon, where we discussed how much music helps to inform his creative process, how his role subtly subverts gender roles, and why the horror genre continues to inspire him and pull him in.
To start things off, can you tell me a little bit about your character?
Jacques Colimon: My character is a musician. I think he serves a bit of a foil to everybody else and kind of the music academy at large because he has a much freer relationship with his musical craft. Over the course of the movie, we see siblings, played by Sydney [ Sweeney] and Madison [Iseman], who go toe-to-toe with their technical expertise and mastery whereas I think my character leans into being at peace with his own craft. And, he might not be valued the same as others inside of this very stringent environment, but he’s okay with that. Yeah. He’s okay with that. [laughs]
What I found particularly interesting, it’s also a reverse gender role situation because he gets pulled in between the two of them, the two sisters. Was that initially a draw for you? Just in terms of the gender reversal, the weird romantic triangle where you are trying to figure out what is going on between these two?
Jacques Colimon: Yeah and I’m seeing a little bit of a trend in my career where I play these sappy romantic triangles and I’m all for it. [laughs] But I think definitely. Definitely. I’m glad you bring that up because, yeah, I love feeling like we’re doing something subversive in terms of these non-conforming gender roles in the script. I think I’m kind of gaslit a little bit in dynamic and it sucks. [laughs] It sucks a lot and it was really fun to play because it’s awkward. It’s vulnerable. It’s scary, but it’s truthful. This happens to everybody. This happens to men. This happens to women. It happens to all folx that are in love. Maybe. Sometimes. Maybe more than one person at a time and I love getting to display that onscreen.
I read that to prepare for the film, a few of you guys visited academies for research. Were you one of those cast members that got to go along?
Jacques Colimon: That sounds SO cool. I was not one of those people. [laughs] However, I did have cello lessons, which I was incredibly grateful for and, whenever I play music in a film, I try and learn all of the music and the instrument, plural I guess in some cases, to the best of my ability because for one, not just my characters, but [for] me, Jacques, really love being in conversation with music and the expression of music. It also helps me really get into character to live like this person. So, having cello lessons right out of the gate was definitely very cool.
As someone with a theatrical as well as a musical background, in terms of the dynamics at play within the story sans the supernatural elements, were there any similarities between the tension and everything between what happens onscreen and stuff that you noticed within your own training? Because I think I saw somewhere you graduated from the University of Texas in Theatre…
Jacques Colimon: Definitely! Yeah! I graduated from UC Austin. I was a double major in Theatre and Dance and then a BS in Radio Television Film. So, I can definitely cop to carrying a lot of stress throughout my four-year education. It was stress I willingly put on myself, but it was certainly not easy. And it felt like a huge accomplishment coming out of it. But yeah, there were definitely elements of my own education in the arts that were mirrored in the script.
I think that one thing that shielded me from a lot of that stress was something that Donna Tucker, who was my very first fiercely loyal Black drama teacher ever, said that she wanted to put me into a lead role in one of our theatre shows for the first time and I did not think I could do it. I was overwhelmed. I was taking all of these APs. And she said, “Could you play a lead for five minutes?” I said, “Yes, Donna. I can play a lead for five minutes.” She said, “Play it for five minutes at a time then.” So, this concept of just taking something seemingly overwhelming that’s going to absolutely destroy us, but produce the most amazing, incredible artistic results, can be broken down into these bite-sized chunks, and it kind of qualms any of those fears and anxieties that swing up over the process for me. And that definitely was something that I had in my head throughout the entire time.
I think I’m a little bit like Max too in that we do our homework before we step into the fray. Everybody is expected to have our lines memorized, expected to have our background all figured out, our character relationships, all of the research all factors into things. But then, I’m able to step out of that technical realm when I’m actually creating and be present in the moment. And I think everybody has a story to tell and sometimes we get wrapped up in technical aspects of what we do so much so that it subtracts from the actual journey of the results we are intending to produce. So, yeah, I resonate with him and he is at peace with it and I’m at peace with it too. [laughs]
Going back to research and prep, what was it like working with Zu Quirke?
Jacques Colimon: Zu! Zu Zu! Yeah. Everybody would call her Zu Zu, which I thought was amazing. It was fabulous with an amazing intuition. I think that it’s, like we were talking about with this five minutes at a time thing, to me looking at directing from the outside in, it appears to be this insurmountable task when there are so many parts being juggled all at once. And we got actually to talk one on one about what it’s like to be a breakout director with Blumhouse on this huge production and I think nervousness and excitement as emotion. She would just breeze through these days like nobody’s business because she was just so excited to be and it just drips off of her like beautiful creative glitter and then she’d wrap us all up in it. Her joy and thrill of the process was infectious and I think she swept us all up in that beautiful creativity and created a vulnerable space for us to express ourselves authentically. Not everybody gets to do that.
So, you’ve done quite a bit of work in the horror and thriller genres, though I guess “The Society” is more of the mystery genre. What is it about these genres you enjoy working in and keeps bringing you in?
Jacques Colimon: I think Jordan Peele said it best. He said that horror is an outlet for dealing with social demons and I think that really resonates with me. Horror is always a space for expressing our deepest fears, our deepest anxieties, and maybe the darkness to our light. Someone said once that it was kind of like the unwanted little cousin in the corner and I was like, Oh God, that’s dark. But also makes sense because there’s always been ride or dies for horror and I’m one of those people. I grew up watching horror. The first movie I watched was The Exorcist by myself but at eight years old though. My dad was out gardening and left the TV on, you know? [laughs] So, I had a trial by fire in the genre and came out blazing. Nothing could stop me at that point. But I think there’s so much merit to maintaining and being the stewards of a space that allows us to explore things that people might think is weird or scary or dark, foreboding, gross, terrifying in the deepest sense of the word.
I think my personal voice in all of this has a lot to do with diversity but also everything to do with depiction. And so, I am excited and I’m seeing so much of that evolve within the genre itself and I think our four movies are doing that. We’re seeing female directors. We’re seeing people of color produce and tell these stories and Blumhouse is facilitating that and they’ve already been idols of mine and now this is just even way more exciting. [laughs]
To wrap things up, what would do you want people to take away from NOCTURNE?
Jacques Colimon: That you are enough as an artist. Yeah. We’re always told and anybody who tricks you into believing differently, they’re wrong. [laughs] Straight up!
I like this answer. I’m going to cross-stitch it somewhere. Give it to all my artist friends.
Jacques Colimon: Yeah because it’s a scary world that this movie depicts and it doesn’t always have to be that way and I hope that every classical movie student that watches the movie resonates with it and sort of has a check-in with themselves about where they are at with their stress levels before they do anything irrational. There are always people to call. There are always friends. There’s always family. There’s always somebody that can clear up the reality of an individual situation. You are enough.
This interview was edited for clarity and length.