In anticipation of the premiere of Old Dogs & New Tricks, Queer Me Up had the chance to interview the stars of this comedic web series, which focuses on four middle-aged gay friends living in youth-obsessed West Hollywood. Leon Acord, Curt Bonnem, Jeffrey Patrick Olson, and David Pevsner are the actors behind the main characters in the series.
The first season of Old Dogs & New Tricks will begin with a two-part episode! Part 1 debuts Sunday Jan 8, and concludes Tuesday Jan 10!
Leon Acord is not only one of the star in Old Dogs & New Tricks, he’s also the creator/writer/co-executive producer. Leon is perhaps best known for his portrayal of “Quentin Crisp” in Jeffrey Hartgraves’ after-life comedy Carved in Stone, which enjoyed successful runs in San Francisco in 2002 and Los Angeles in 2009 at Theatre Asylum. Other recent LA stage credits include “Jacob Marley’s Ghost” and “Uncle Tim” in gay apparel:A CHRISTMAS CAROL; “Simon” in Salsa Saved the Girls at Eclectic Co. Theatre; multiple lightning-strike victim “Harry” in Victims at Company of Angels; and “Harlequin” in The Scheme of Things at the El Portal.
He’s appeared in over 20 stage productions and 30 films, including starring roles in the features Final Remains and Some Prefer Cake, and in film-fest favorites Foucault WHO?, Deer Season, and Divorce: American Style. He most recently played “Helmholtz” in Leonard Manchiari’s Brave New World-inspired mix of live action and animation The Cave, and noble AIDS survivor “Marcus” in Patrick Dawn’s drama aWake. Originally a Hoosier, he attended Indiana University.
In Old Dogs & New Tricks Leon Acord plays “Nathan Adler” a successful talent agent, Nathan is approaching his 50th birthday secure with being alone — until the advances of an amorous 25-year-old underwear model knock him for a loop.
In this exclusive interview Leon Acord talks about his work in Old Dogs & New Tricks and he even drops a few hints on what’s coming next in the premiere episode.
Where did “Old Dogs & New Tricks” come from? How long has this been gestating in your head, and what’s it about?
I’ve wanted, for the longest time, to do (or even just watch!) a show where gay men were permitted to speak and act like gay men I know. I really don’t think it’s been done on network TV. And as I’ve gotten older in LA, it became important to me to address issues around all that. But it wasn’t until Summer of 2010, when I sat down and started fleshing out the characters, that the show and its themes really came to me. And then, it was like a dam bursting. The show just exploded in my head, and I wrote 15 episodes in about two months.
Are any of the storylines based on your real life experiences?
I have to be very careful how I answer that question! I will say that many of the situations in the show are inspired by real-life events, but I always take that little nugget of inspiration and expand it into something bigger and funnier. Which specific storylines are inspired from my life? That, I don’t dare answer!
How hard was it to fund this web series?
It wasn’t a cinch, but it wasn’t too terribly hard. We used IndieGoGo and there are a lot of people out there who really believe in the value of what we’re doing, who were very generous. Alas, we can’t ask them again—so a second season will depend on finding sponsors or other ways of funding. We hope to raise a slightly bigger budget for another season—while the first season looks like a million dollars, we really had to bust our asses to get the biggest bang for our buck.
Why was it decided that a web series was the best format to tell the story of these guys? Is internet now the best medium for gay themed original content?
Primarily because it would be next to impossible to sell this show to network TV and have it be the same show. We were afraid that, in the time that it would take to try, someone else would beat us to the punch with a similar type of show. We really wanted to be the first!
But it’s also important because, other than nudity, there’s really nowhere we can’t go, in terms of story or dialogue. There’s no network or studio telling us what is and isn’t acceptable. It’s very important to me that the show not be watered down and censored.
It’s also good because every network show with gay characters is often expected to represent the entirety of the gay experience, which is absolutely impossible. There are several gay web TV shows that cover different aspects of gay life. Husbands The Series is camp humor. In Between Men, out of New York, is more romantic drama. We’re a character comedy based in reality—we really don’t want to go camp. Eventually there’ll be enough gay shows on line to cover just about every taste, every aspect of gay life. You’d never see this much gay programming on network or even cable.
Queer Me Up asked the following questions to the fourth main actors in the cast, Here are Leon Acord’s answers:
What’s going to happen at Nathan’s 50 birthday party?
After the whirlwind of the Pilot, we give the boys a chance to sit down, catch their breath and get caught up in Part 1. Nathan gets some pretty inappropriate birthday gifts and a sex-in-middle-age lecture from Brad. Then, in Part 2, the birthday cake hits the fan: Muscles gets a new boyfriend (Thom Beirdz), Ross has a mini-nervous breakdown, and Nathan gets a blast from his past before bumping into someone who’ll play a big role in his future (Ryland Shelton).
Are there any deleted scenes in “Old Dogs & New Tricks” and if so, what do they reveal?
A lot of lines end up on the cutting room floor, simply because we try to squeeze so much dialogue into each episode. And we had to trim a sex scene in the premiere episode (which will show up in its entirety on the Season 1 DVD) because YouTube would probably flag it. As it is, it’s still pretty outrageous! But there haven’t been any scenes that were shot then cut. We try to get our scripts lean and mean before we shoot them. Our director, Arvin Bautista, has been very helpful in that regard, apart from being a great director.
With working in web what are the biggest differences from your TV or film (or theatre) work?
There’s really no difference in shooting a web series than there is shooting a film—except that the pace of shooting is a lot more frantic. You try to squeeze as many scenes and locations into each shooting day, so it’s not uncommon to have two or even three company moves in one day. But from an acting standpoint, it’s exactly the same, except that you don’t dare take as many ‘beats.’
It’s a totally different animal from theatre, though. Apples and oranges.
What kind of relationship did you develop with each other? Did you hang out off-set during filming?
I have a thing about talented, dedicated actors, and these actors are the absolute best. I love them. And we do hang out on set, though I don’t get to hang out as much as the other three guys because I’m usually running around signing SAG paperwork, greeting guest stars arriving and saying goodbye to those leaving, conferring with our director and producers, and a thousand other details.
And our actors are very prolific theatre artists as well, so we’re always seeing each other when we go to support each others’ work.
We shot a prolonged scene with the four of us together for the premiere episode, and that really was a bonding experience. That scene took forever to shoot: a master, then shoot these two guys, then those two guys, then close-ups of each of the four, then inserts. We just stayed there on that couch when they were setting up angles, just laughing and shooting the shit. They are a great group of guys to work with, very funny! I can’t wait to do it again!
Do you have any funny anecdotes from the filming you want to share?
You know, Gus, we have such a good time on set, I can’t think of any one particular moment. It’s always fun, and we eat quite well. We have an amazingly competent crew, so all we have to do is show up and play. And our director, Arvin Bautista, always creates a stress-free environment; it’s really important to him that the actors always have an atmosphere that encourages playfulness. He’s really great; we owe a huge amount of the show’s success to him. Even though he’s a 27 year old straight boy, I think he’s the perfect guy to direct this show.
Watch Old Dogs & New Tricks Season Premiere Teaser
Visit OLD DOGS AND NEW TRICKS WEBSITE for more info.
Check out LEON ACORD WEBSITE