Portrait of an Actor
Meet the handsome and talented Zach Booth. Also known as the man taking the indie circuit by storm.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 | Yale Breslin
Zach Booth is an enigmatic actor with some serious skills under his belt. Most recently the Damages star (he plays Glenn Close's son), showed off a deeper and darker side in Keep The Lights On, a story about love, addiction, recovery, and regret, based on the poignant best selling true story Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man by acclaimed literary agent Bill Clegg. The film debuted to global fanfare last winter at Sundance and is wrapping up its run in small movie houses across the country. With two new films (Never by Brett Allen Smith and Big Words by Neil Drumming) on the brink of entering next year's festival circuit, we get better acquainted with an actor on the ascent.
You’ve been insanely busy these days — from a TV show to a play to a movie. How do you relax?
I love watching movies. Recently I've been catching up on classics that I've never seen. You know, the movies you always nod and pretend you saw when people bring them up because they are so well known. I love to cook for myself and I find that very relaxing. I also have season tickets to the Yankees. I take my dad, we sit in the last row, and we solve the world’s problems.
Tell us a little bit about Keep the Lights On.
It's a love story about two men living in New York. Over ten years these men struggle with sexuality, drug addiction, sex addiction and the film chronicles their journey together. It was written and directed by Ira Sachs and it gives a unique look inside of a relationship that refuses to quit.
The film seems so intense and demanding. How did you physically prepare for the role?
I spent a lot of time in the gym with my trainer Peretz Scheinerman. Whenever you have to take your clothes off on camera it can drive you a little crazy. I tried to put on a little muscle both to satisfy my ego and also to give [my character] Paul a more mature look. The story takes place over ten years so the characters age quite a bit. In the past I've played a lot of "boyish" characters so I wanted to make sure Paul looked physically older and more developed. I started eating a few more calories every day and going a little heavier on the weights. There was also the challenge of shooting the scenes which occurred in the middle of his crack binges. There is a joke about the "crackhead diet". For this scene I wanted to lose a little weight and appear a bit more gaunt. I did a lot of research and found a very healthy juice diet from Organic Avenue. Between the juice, extra cardio and some time in the sauna, I was able to drop a couple of pounds right before the day and I think the effect really worked.
Did starring in a story about addiction make you think differently about your own health?
Physically, no. Not really. I did think a lot about emotional health. How important it is to take care of the mind as well as the body, to nurture the spirit. Through meditation and yoga practice I try to seek the same type of serenity that was so important to Paul in his sobriety.
Did you see this role as a big risk in your career?
I don't. I see this role as an opportunity to show that I'm not afraid to take risks. The actors I admire in the world, Glenn Close being one of them, do not shy away from challenging roles. I don't want fear to dictate my choices in any aspect of my life, certainly not in my professional life.
What were you like growing up? Was acting something you always wanted to do?
I was an angel. Who knows! I was probably loud and obnoxious but I have always been intensely loving. I know I get that from my dad, he is the most empathetic man I've ever met. Acting for me was always a hobby. It wasn't until I took my first acting class at Carnegie Mellon during a summer study (at my dads urging) that I realized it was something I could work on and create a career out of.