EXCLUSIVE: An Interview with Win Win Star Alex Shaffer

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Win Win is Alex Shaffer's first movie, but you can't tell.  He's as professional as any veteran Hollywood actor and he knows what he wants in life.  Movie Fanatic had a chance to sit down with the young wrestler turned actor to talk about his first acting gig - a starring role no less.

Shaffer plays Kyle, a young athlete who ends up at the Flaherty house while down on his luck.  The family takes him in and realizes he is a star athelete, so Mike Flaherty, a wrestling coach, takes the troubled teen under his wing and trains him.

Check out the rest of the interview with Alex below.

Paul Giamatti and Alex Shaffer in Win Win

Tell me a bit about you character.

I play Kyle, he has bleach blonde hair and he’s really just this kind of hard-ass, badass tough kid, but when you start to get to know him, you find out how sensitive he is and how he’s kind of just lost and he doesn’t have a home.  You don’t know what his life’s like, how many times he comes home and his mom’s not there, how much time he comes home and they got kicked out of their apartment.  You don’t know how his life is and I just figured that he had a lot of struggling and he never really had a home in life and he kind of finally finds one.  He is a wrestler as well.

How did you get this role?  No acting experience and now in a major motion picture  - that is quite the story and doesn’t happen everyday.

It all kind of came along pretty crazy, there was an article in the newspaper for all wrestlers from this side to this side to come in and audition for this role and my friend texted me and said, ‘hey you should audition for this’ and my initial response was no because it was wrestling season and I was wrestling.   Then he texted me again and was like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and that’s when I kind of really thought about it and thought, yeah it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I might never get this opportunity again, so I came and auditioned for it and finally got the role.

What did you do to prepare for the role once you found out you got it?

On the acting side, Tom [McCarthy] set me up with an acting coach and that helped a lot at first and then he gave me a movie to watch – Ordinary People.  In my own way, I just listened to a lot of screamo music and related my life to Eminem’s.

I read somewhere that the last time you acted was in sixth grade in Pirates of Penzance.  So what’s this experience been like compared to that one?

It was my only acting experience as funny as it is.  They were both great experiences.  I made a lot of friends during Pirates of Penzance and I had a lot of fun.  And I did the same on set – I made a lot of friends and I had a lot of fun.

What was it like working with two veteran actors?  Did they give you any tips?

I learned a lot, just from watching them.  I mean Paul never specifically told me anything and neither did Amy, but just from watching them, they’re just such fantastic actors, it’s crazy.

Before you starting filming this movie, you won the New Jersey state title for wrestling.  Any similarities between the preparing for a wrestling state championship and preparing for an acting role?

Preparing for it wise, they are two completely different things.  I was a whole nother person during that time compared to what I was doing for acting, but in comparison, they’re very similar in the sense of discipline and just the hard work.  Tom told me before I came on set that it was going to be hard.  I was like, okay Tom, and I just kind of blew him off like, I wrestled, this is not going to be hard.  A week afterwards, I just remember being so tired from it.

Did you do all your own wrestling in the film?  I assume you did?

That is true, I did do all of my own stunts as you could say.

What do your parents think of all this?  Are they supportive of you acting?

My parents are really cool.  They’re very supportive of it.  Right now I’m on my way to an acting lesson, so they’re very supportive of it.

 What’s next?  More acting?  Wrestling?

I definitely got hit by the acting bug, I love it, it’s so much fun.  I really want to start focusing on acting.  This year I was going to wrestle and I was still in high school and I had a back injury this summer, so I couldn’t.  I’m going to start focusing on acting, so I’m doing online classes.  And I’m really just focusing on becoming a better actor.  I’m taking acting classes and I just want to become better.  I’m going to finish out the rest of high school and then get into the acting.

What’s the story with the bleach blonde hair?  You don’t have it now.

My hair was bleached before the movie.  Our wrestling team to psyche out the seniors we were going to wrestle, we all bleached out hair and then I came to audition with this bleached hair and I remember sitting next to kids, they all had shaved heads and their varsity jackets on and I was sitting there with like bleached blonde hair, purple flannel, and pajama pants.  I was like wow, I’m not looking like Kyle whatsoever.

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