Interview: Jason Biggs
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TNS chats to Jason Biggs about American politics, his latest film, Nandos obsessions ...and narrowly avoids a game of Spin the Bottle. Part way through TNS’s interview with Jason Biggs, outside the hotel window, the sun goes behind a cloud. “The lights are dimmed,” says the man most famous for doing unwholesome things to an apple pie. “Shall we play Spin the Bottle?” Slightly earlier, picking up his glass of water from the table: “Is this vodka?” Based on this introduction, you might be surprised to discover that Biggs’s latest film is a political underdog story following the true events of the Seattle City Council elections in 2001. It could hardly be more different from the role he is most famous for. In Grassroots, Biggs plays Phil Campbell, a fairly useless 20-something, who takes on the role of managing the political campaign of his friend Grant Cogswell. Cogswell’s ambition is to be elected to the City Council in order to realise his dream of creating a monorail to empower the low income residents of Seattle. What attracted Biggs to the film? “I loved the David vs. Goliath aspect,” he says, “and all the political stuff. But for me it really felt like it was sort of an underdog story and it was incredibly well written. “For me I knew it was a role that would just be different from what I’ve done recently and what I’m most well known for certainly, and to exercise the muscles that I hadn’t exercised in a while. I was starting to get flabby in that area.” Although essentially a positive film, events throughout Grassroots are marred by failure. What does Biggs think about this? “One of the things you could say is what would be your definition of failure or success?” he says. “What he (Grant) gains is much more important really. There are a lot of things going on in the movie and there are a lot of things at stake for people who are considering running for office. Just do it, because it doesn’t really matter if you win or not. First of all it’s a great personal experience. “I was saying to some students yesterday, how do you think you’re going to get a job and get out of school? “It’s worse in the United States I think than it is here. They might get a job if they raise their hand very nervously. And I just say, run for office – because that work is always available, and you might win, and then you’ll have a job. But more than that just... running for it is going to both add to your resume massively and add to who you are as a person, so I think just jumping in and doing it. You’ve got to keep saying to everyone just do it, just run for office. And the film seems to have that effect on people, which is really great, which is to just ignite their spirit.”
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