Tribeca Exclusive Interview: Clark Gregg Talks About ‘Trust Me’

Actor, writer, and director Clark Gregg shows now more than ever that he’s a triple threat in his latest film Trust Me. Although most moviegoers will immediately recognize him for his bit parts in Marvel franchises such as The Avengers and Thor, Gregg extends himself past the popcorn movie roles in his second directorial feature. Attributing the feeling that his age in the industry is catching up with him, Gregg has produced a tight film that sees him playing an agent, that’s less Ari Gold as he is a dedicated man dealing with the trappings of managing a hazardous child actor.

The agent is Harold, a child actor who couldn’t quite break into the business. Years later he’s still looking to land his big break in the business as an agent for bratty child actors and their momagers. You get a feeling that Harold is living a rather hapless, empty life until he meets a 13-year-old child actor, Lydia, played by the immensely talented Saxon Sharbino. As the film winds on, he slowly finds out that there’s more than what meets the eye to his latest client.

Dealing with a complex tone, which takes humorous shots at the industry before shifting to a darker “True Hollywood Story” vibe, Trust Me works best because of its authentic nature, and sharp industry dialogue. Its draw is that it never pulls back from the callous nature of the industry, and it definitely doesn’t paint the money-making goldmine of the City of Angels in the best possible light either. Smartly surrounding himself with a brilliant cast, including Amanda Peet, Felicity Huffman, and Allison Janney, Trust Me racks high on our list for its fantastic lived in feeling.

The Inquisitr’sNiki Cruz participated in a discussion about Clark Gregg’s film Trust Me.

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THE INQUISITR: Who was the young actress and how did you find her? How long did it take to find someone?

CLARK GREGG: Her name is Saxon Sharbino and I went to a couple of young actresses at first when I wrote it. For some reason their families were very protective. They didn’t feel that this was appropriate material. In a way I felt that it was kind of a blessing, because I wanted it to be someone that you couldn’t possibly anticipate anything about. I saw people for weeks and I thought I was going to have to shut down and not make the film because it doesn’t work unless you find somebody like Saxon. She had just gotten off the bus from Dallas, and she has stories of her acting school in Dallas. She went to “crying class,” which you have to pay a certain amount of money to be in. She’s remarkable. She came in to read once or twice and suddenly I was a lot better.

THE INQUISITR: How long was the process of Trust Me from inception to this moment?

GREGG: We made it last October and then in the beginning of November. Then I started editing it and begging people for more Marvel movies to help me do the wings in the film, and they came through in a big way.

THE INQUISITR: What’s a moment in the film that you anticipate a crowd reaction?

GREGG: That’s a really good question. I don’t know. My first film Choke was kind of dark. It was about a sex addicted theme park worker, and I thought, “This will be a nice fantasy. I’ll adapt it, and put in some really funny gags. I’ll do it and it won’t cost me anything emotionally.” It turned out to be massively autobiographical in ways I didn’t realize. It took 25 days to film it and I was in three scenes, and I swore to myself I would never act in another one of my movies, and I would never do anything in less than 30 days. This film we shot in 20 days. I thought I was going to write a little comedy. I was doing some movies with child actors and I thought it was funny that their agents were like minor-leaguers but really sweet, and looking for the one that could take them to the big time. That just seemed demented to me. I thought it would be funny but this draft kept pouring out of me. It turns out I have ambiguous feelings about my new home that I wasn’t aware of.

THE INQUISITR: You surround yourself with an incredible cast. What was that like working with people like Amanda Peet and Felicity Huffman?

GREGG: It was the first thing that made me feel like this wasn’t ludicrous. I went to these people I had worked with, me and Felicty Huffman and Bill Macy formed the Atlantic theater company five blocks from here, and we did a lot of theater together. Sam Rockwell and I did a play together many years ago, and he was in my first Choke. It’s not the kind of role he needs to do but he stepped up and became a producer, and made the movie happen. Molly Shannon was a classmate of mine at NYU, and Allison Janney had done a bunch of West Wing’s with me. I got this profusion of generosity. My job got a lot easier. I sat there and reacted to them and it really got me a long way.

THE INQUISITR: Did you consult other agents while you were writing the script?

GREGG: I did talk to other agents. In fact I talked to a guy who was Miley Cyrus’ agent for a while. He told me the story about working in his garage, and that every time the door would ring he would have to make up something about why the door was making so much noise and he would have to close it when the garbage trucks came by. There’s a lot of stories. “This guy found that kid” and “I’ll never forget the day I got that kid.” It’s kind of like they have baseball cards but it’s with 9-year-old girls and boys. I had a thing that I cut which is that Aldo found a software called “All Grown Up” where you can put a headshot in and it would tell you if they would be cute or not, and I said that to this guy and he said, “Well, it exists!”

THE INQUISITR: You had so many other projects while shooting this film, how did you keep the momentum going?

GREGG: I think I wrote it before The Avengers. The Avengers was such a beautiful thing that Joss did. They said, “Joss wasn’t kidding you have a really big role in The Avengers.” And I said, “This is fantastic!” and they said, “Yeah what happens to you is what brings The Avengers together.” [LAUGHS] And I thought, “Oh I better start working on Trust Me.” I did that but I had downtime stretches. There’s nothing more fun to me if it doesn’t kill you, and trying to make a movie with friends of yours where you get to work the thing, or find the tone, is my favorite thing. Everything else was my day job.

THE INQUISITR: You’re a triple threat in this film with having acted, directed and written the screenplay. Is there one that fuels you creatively more than the other?

GREGG: I don’t feel like a super control freak, but as an actor you’re a song on someone else’s mix tape, and I’m a DJay man! I like being in the game. I’m just really lucky I get to do this.

TRUST ME IS CURRENTLY PLAYING AT THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL.