Q&A: Zayne Simpson, local actor on "I Am Wrath"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

One-time Zayne Simpson thought he was done with the entertainment industry when he returned from duty in Afghanistan, but that all changed when he got a call from “I Am Wrath” casting directors. The 27-year-old military vet plans to pursue his acting career, after working alongside John Travolta and Luis De Silva on the “I Am Wrath” set. We caught up with Zayne to chat about his experience and what he hopes happens next.

The role forI Am Wrath kind of fell in my lap. My brother is an actor in Los Angeles, and he had worked with a woman who was working on the film. He mentioned me getting into the movie, sort of joking around. I didn’t think much about it, but somehow my name got passed along and I got a call from casting. I actually received four phone calls, but I didn’t answer because I wasn’t expecting to hear anything. I then received an email from the casting people telling me they had been trying to reach me. I called the number back and they asked me if I could film the next day.

I thought I was done with the entertainment industry. I was in a band for about four years, and I went to school for music and production. I’ve always liked the idea of working within the entertainment industry. I like the adrenaline rush. I’ve always wanted to be in the military and I wanted to have a backup plan, so I completely left entertainment. When I came home from Afghanistan, I didn’t get back into entertainment immediately. In my mind, I was in a bad spot and I didn’t want to be in that type of environment. It doesn’t matter what your career field is, when you come back from something like that it changes your outlook. So I planned on leaving that stuff behind and started pursuing a career in law enforcement up until I got the role in “I Am Wrath.” Everything happens for a reason, and I feel acting came back into my life for some reason. I decided to just run with it and try to make it happen.

Waiting was the worst, but I guess I’m used to it. I was so awake and ready when I arrived, but by the time I actually shot the scene I was tired. I was on set for 18 hours. We interviewed with one of the casting directors, and then we just sat and waited. They’d put you in hair and makeup and then send us on set. After our scene we’d return to the room and continue to wait. I’m used to waiting from the military. We waited for 12 hours before we started doing our scene. Before you shoot the actual part, you practice the scene like 100 times. It was 4 a.m. and everyone was just standing there exhausted. John Travolta came in, and we didn’t even realize it. He started talking to us and I realized who it was. He was a really cool and humble dude. Getting to watch the big actors do what they do was pretty cool.

I’m going to pursue it as much as I can. I started getting phone calls afterwards for other positions. The next day I got a call about filming in Kentucky in a James Franco movie. If I can become a big actor, that’d be awesome. But I’m not holding my breath. My brother has been doing this for seven years and is still working his way up. Luckily my job is pretty flexible. I’m in the process of building my own investigation company so I’ll be able to work acting jobs.

Being behind the scenes is so much different than seeing the final product. Watching the big actors work is so much different than watching them in a movie. When you see something on screen, you’ve got the background music going and all the action in the background. When you actually shoot scenes, they are shot in pieces that they put together later. So you might see the actor screaming in an empty room, and it’s really weird and out of context.

Photo by Meghan Ralston

Age: 27

Hometown: Columbus

Current neighborhood: German Village

Day job: Private investigator

Currently listening to: "All kinds of music."

Playing favorites:

Favorite movie: "Lone Survivor"

Favorite TV show: "Sons of Anarchy"

Favorite restaurant: Mitchell's Steakhouse

Favorite cocktail: Jameson and diet

Best way to spend $10: "On my son Jax."

Who is your style icon: "The lead singer of Upon A Burning Body."