Interview: Sean Paul Lockhart
Sean Paul Lockhart (AKA adult film star Brent Corrigan) talks about his acting and directorial debut...
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Congratulations on your new film and directorial debut, Triple Crossed. It’s quite a dark and emotionally raw film: what attracted you to the project?
I was hired to direct with the condition that I took a part in the film. We didn't know if I was going to play Chris the war vet or Andrew the grieving lover. It can be difficult casting when you have a very specific look in mind for your characters - and of course, you still need to address the skills of the actors you are considering. Jack Brockett, our lead that plays Chris Jensen, is remarkable in the film. He connects emotionally and does a stellar job showing the quiet torment that a lot of war veterans experience after returning from war. It's tough directing a newer, unseasoned actor but I think there's a lot of be appreciated of Jack's work.
How did it feel to step behind the camera and direct for the first time? Was it tough to direct the film whilst starring in it as well?
I was scared! I was cautioned against it from all of my filmmaker friends. Everyone says difficult to do a genuinely good job when your considerations are constantly being divided. I ignored their advice because I am a strong proponent of learning by doing. You have to make big mistakes to ultimately get it right in the end. And yes, it was exhausting directing and worrying about whether or not my performance was adequate for the film. In retrospect, I wish I would've spent more time in rehearsal with my other actors. There were one or two shots I would've chosen to film differently. But oddly enough what I thought would be the biggest failures of the film weren't at all. I plan on directing again while acting in the same film - but I'll be playing much smaller, more character driven parts. We saw 15-17 hour shoot days on TC. It was nearly impossible to keep up with that. I was happy to just be living out my dream of directing and filmmaking. Though I was a tired, miserable wreck!
Would you agree that it’s fair to say you’ve dealt with a fair amount of controversy throughout you career? Has that wealth of life experience shaped you as an actor?
I always say "sued for a million dollars at 19, looked at as a person of interest in a murder trial by 21 and successful as a porn producer by 23". The controversy catapulted me to a place of visibility that most adult stars never experience, even after working in the industry for many, many years. People were curious about the boy behind all of the drama. It was important to me to reveal things about myself that made me human, three dimensional. A living, breathing person with talents outside of porn, feelings that were true, and a brain that rivaled the body. When I announced three years ago (after having already taken a 1 year hiatus from porn) that I didn't intend to model in the adult industry again, people weren't really that surprised. I'd fallen in love with the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I'd found a life outside of sex and superficial celebrity that made me fulfilled. And then of course all bets were off. I decided to make life REALLY difficult and live out my first real dream: become a filmmaker and actor.
Your life has certainly been a wild ride with a huge amount of challenges and personal growth. You seem to have come out alarmingly well adjusted...
I've met actors that haven't really lived. They have so little to show for themselves. They approach the work from process and tactic. They are learned performers. While there are great merits in that - I could stand to learn a bit from that school of thought - they almost always present holes when showing depth, vulnerability and a connection with the audience. Yes, my past has helped me immensely as an actor. But it's learning to use these experiences and complicated past relationships without hurting myself that has been the true challenge. Dredge up all of the worst in your life and you can't just tuck it neatly away when you're done on set in front of the camera.
You’ve been a rare success in making the transition from adult work to mainstream filmmaking. Has it been an obstacle?
Success? I think that's a bit generous, but thank you for that! I am regularly working for sure. Mainstream work isn't paying the bills, however. I still take appearances as my alter ego and I still sell my Fleshjack toyline. The truth is, and I've always known it would be; my life is very transitional right now. I'll be considered a porn star/actor/filmmaker for years before people begin to accept that it's not new news that I've moved on in my life. Every new non-adult film has the press saying "Brent Corrigan thinks he can act now!" in some fashion or another. It's frustrating but again I chose this path knowing well and good it was the tough route. But I'm happy! I feel like I finally have an artistic outlet. Finally I am expressing myself outside of, well.. you know... [laughs].
As someone who’s bared-all on film so many times, do you ever still feel vulnerable on camera?
No, even when I am showing great emotion my job is to let go of all of the little things that make me too self aware. Listen, watch, react and let the natural response take over. So far I've only mastered playing versions of myself but I'm perfectly happy with that kind of accomplishment. I will say, strangely enough, sex scenes in non-adult films are very uncomfortable. They're rough on everyone! I often end up calling much of the shots for the love/sex scenes on the sets I work on because producer/filmmakers know I know how to set things up. I block them so they connect. I know how far we can go without being gratuitous. It's very intimidating doing love/sex scenes.
You mentioned falling in love earlier, was that the main catalyst of you leaving the adult industry?
Yes, I fell in love. Then I fell out of love. But by then I'd already started doing non-adult films. I was hooked. I knew I was getting something out of being an actor that I never got on an adult set. I also felt as though I had grown. I knew the things I wanted out of life were changing. And who knows, maybe someday I'll feel the need to return to porn. Maybe not as a model! But one thing is for certain - I never really managed to accomplish what I set out to do in the adult industry. I always wanted to produce porn while revealing the guys as whole people. This idea that we can only enjoy our porn because we don't see the models as PEOPLE with real lives is absurd. And it's offensive!
Do you regret entering the industry so young?
Do I regret even deciding to do porn before giving the mainstream work a try first? No, I don't. I did what I had to do to get by. And then when I was better off, I chose to stay in the industry because I thought I could be a good producer that treated my models with respect. We work with what we have. It's a big waste of energy to run around obsessing about what we should've done.
Is that chapter of your life over for good, or have you left the door open for a potential return?
Something might be brewing on the horizon. You'll only know if you watch my website and blog at TheNewBrentCorrigan.com - but I definitely have something exciting coming soon!
What's next for Sean Paul Lockhart?
Triple Crossed is out on DVD. It was a labor of love and I paid a great price to make it come to fruition. I'm a firm believer that we have to give a piece of ourselves to every bit of art we impart on the world. A piece of me is definitely in TC. Next I am directing a film about a kid who learns that divine forces have been meddling in his love life. It's a romantic comedy and we'll be filming it in San Diego, California, my hometown, in February. We'll surely be looking for help on getting that project off the ground. I've got a few acting gigs in the next few months as well. As of now, I've got four films that will be released in the next year.
Triple crossed is out now via TLA UK and is released on 12 November in North America via TLA US.
Words: Lee Dalloway (@Leeroydalvin) and Will Stroude (@willstroude).