Jack Plotnick. If you don’t recognize the name, you definitely know his face. He’s that guy that you totally know because he’s been in, like, everything. He’s acted in countless commercials, movies such as Gods and Monsters and numerous TV shows, such as The Mentalist, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Lovespring International (opposite Jane Lynch) and, our personal favorite, the “Ass Bandit” on Nip Tuck. And don’t forget the cult-hit Girls Will Be Girls. Normally he would qualify as a famous character actor, but he has recently blossomed into much more: a writer-director. Jack’s indie film Space Station 76 created such buzz at SXSW that it was promptly gobbled up by Sony. Starring Matt Bomer, Liv Tyler and Patrick Wilson, the film portrays Plotnick’s 1970s vision of what the future would be like. But, what at first appears to be a potential camp classic like Galaxy Quest that gently pokes fun at science fiction and the 1970s, the film is actually a much darker story with a gay twist you were not expecting. Queerty caught up with Jack to discuss the film, working with Matt Bomer and whats next.
What inspired you to make the leap from acting to directing?
Well I’ve always kind of been directing stuff. I mean, like, various plays and sketch shows I was in over the years. Space Station 76 actually started as a play I came up with that was written through improvisational exercises with these incredible actors I knew. We would record these improv sessions, and then mold and rework the scenes until it told the story we wanted to tell.
I didn’t feel like I had a choice, really. I had to make this movie. It was a real passion project for me, and I was absolutely driven to make it. That’s probably the reason why, against all odds, it got made — because I wasn’t taking no for an answer from anybody. [Laughs.] People who know me, my apartment looks like a space ship from the ’70s. So not only am I nostalgic for that era…but for a future we never had. We thought we were gonna live on moon colonies and perhaps our dreams weren’t realized. So this film really explores the concept of unfulfilled dreams and the darker side of the ’70s where we were very alone in the suburbs. I suppose the reason why my producers were onboard for me to direct it was that the script had such a specific and unexpected tone.
Tell me about the film. This isn’t a screwball comedy poking fun at the ’70s, is it?
Not at all. It’s definitely a dramedy. I wanted it to reflect life, which is horrible and funny and heartbreakingly hilarious at the same time. It’s more like The Ice Storm set in space. If anything it’s paying homage to the genius films I grew up with like 2001, Silent Running and Logan’s Run.
Can we talk about Matt Bomer? Basically tell me everything.
Matt created this character that is so charming and sweet, but underneath it so wounded and lost. And yet, he always finds the humor and keeps his character a real person with faults and imperfections. While his character is probably the most moral on the ship, he still has fallibility like a normal human. He’s not perfect, but you so understand what he’s going through. He captures what I saw as a kid growing up, his performance is so heart breaking but adorable.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on bringing my musical, Disaster!, to Broadway! Disaster! is a 1970s disaster movie (but a) musical. It takes place in NYC on the opening night of a floating casino/disco on the Hudson River, and every disaster from the films of that era hits these poor people on the boat (tidal wave, earthquake, inferno, killer bees, rats, sharks…) The show also features over 30 hit songs from the era, of every musical style, rock, pop and disco. I wrote it along with my dear friend, and long-time comedy partner, Seth Rudetsky, and I directed it Off-Broadway. It got the kind of reviews you dream about, which helped us attach a couple of incredible Broadway producers.