The new independent film, “Finding Joy,” is a charming, offbeat comedy starring Josh Cooke (who recently played Louis on “Dexter”), Liane Balaban (“Supernatural”), Barry Bostwick (“Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Spin City”), and Lainie Kazan (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Desperate Housewives”). Written by Shona Tuckman and directed by Carlo De Rosa, the movie begins as Cooke’s character, Kyle, a struggling writer, finds his life falling apart.
Out on the street, Kyle returns to his family’s home to discover that his estranged, widowed father (played by Bostwick) is living with a new girlfriend (played by Kazan) and has turned Kyle’s bedroom into a tacky bathroom. Kyle soon finds love with their neighbor, Joy (played by Balaban), who believes she is going to die very soon and wants him to write her obituary. What transpires is anything but predictable.
I’m a longtime fan of both Barry Bostwick and Lainie Kazan. In separate interviews, I had a lot of fun chatting with them about their roles in “Finding Joy.”
“I like doing quirky things,” Bostwick told me. “That’s probably why I did it because I do a lot of television, and I’ll do lawyers and doctors and all those sort of husbandy kind of parts. So, I’m always attracted to the odd and interesting and well-written material and characters that I wouldn’t necessarily play on television unless I was in ‘Arrested Development.’ And I didn’t get in it, so therefore, I have to do these little independent movies that give me the opportunity to play these sort of well thought-out, flawed, quirky characters.”
He also likes the energy of indie filmmakers. “I love working with these people. They’re enthusiastic, they usually have a fresh point of view on any kind of story ideas, and they gather around them people who just still love film, whether they’re gaffers or cinematographers or actors,” he said. “There’s some heat behind what they do. They’re hungry for doing something a little odd.”
For Kazan, the “Finding Joy” script and the cast were the main draws. “I read the script, and I thought, ‘How cute!’ It was very clever, and I actually was going to be singing down there at that time [Fort Lauderdale, where the film was shot]. So, I thought, ‘Why not?’ And the cast is just delicious – Josh Cooke and Liane Balaban and Barry Bostwick, who I adore.”
Kazan wears a blonde wig in the film and plays a very over the top character who is based on a real woman living in Florida. “I play this ex-stripper who is just inappropriate and out of the box. Then, I met the real person, and she was just like I imagined and just how I played her. She’s a real character, just so larger than life and very out there.”
Bostwick is also starring in a new web comedy series called “Research” that began airing this week. He plays a wacky genius in a research facility. “It’s very funny, and there’s some musical numbers in it,” he said. (Watch the first episode.)
“Talk about quirky – now, that series is really quirky,” he said. “We shot the entire series in two weekends. It was intense, and you had one take and you moved on. And you trusted your improvisational chops.” He enjoyed the improvisation, which, he said, is rare in mainstream show business, where they rarely give you that kind of freedom.
Besides a movie he shot for the Sci Fi Network called “Blast Vegas,” Bostwick told me that his son is graduating from high school this year, and his daughter just went to her first prom. He’s also a potter and recently set up a booth at the high school to sell his wares to benefit a Darfur charity that the school supports.
Kazan, who studied acting with Lee Strasberg of the famed Actors Studio and understudied Barbra Streisand in “Funny Girl” on Broadway, is singing and teaching a great deal these days. “I started putting together some [night club] shows that I’ll be doing,” she said. “And I’m teaching at UCLA. I love it, love it, love it. I’m teaching acting for the singer, and I’ve just been made a professor, which is very exciting. I’m concentrating on giving back to the young generation … so I think my major goal is to pass on my information.”
“Finding Joy” opens on DVD and in theaters on Friday, June 7, 2013.