For a man so famously pale, Jim Gaffigan has certainly gone dark. The comedian leads two films in this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, American Dreamer and You Can Choose Your Family, both of which see him delving into far less wholesome parts of his persona than food-and-family stand-up or his 2014 book, Food: A Love Story. In director Derrick Borte‘s thriller American Dreamer, Gaffigan plays Cam, an erratic, down-on-his-luck driver who decides to get out of a financial bind by kidnapping a drug dealer’s child. You Can Choose Your Family isn’t quite as dark—Miranda Bailey‘s feature-directing debut is a comedy—but Gaffigan still plays against image as Frank, a man struggling to hide the fact that he has two separate families.
Gaffigan joined us in the Collider studio to discuss both films, as well as acting against his family man image, how he relates to dark characters, getting into an intimidating mindset, how he found father/son chemistry with You Can Choose Your Family co-star Logan Miller, what most men have in common with serial killers, and a lot more.
Check out what Gaffigan had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about.
- What it means at this point in his career to not only be the lead in two films, but also have them be such different stories.
- What drew him to playing darker characters.
- Whether he’s always been aware that he could play intimidating roles.
- What he relates to in his child-kidnapping character.
- How he found that unique father/son chemistry with Logan Miller.
- How much his image as a family man contributed to his portrayal of a man betraying his family.
- What he was up to in 1992, and whether he envisioned his career going in the direction it did.
- What it is about family that will always be ripe for both comedy and drama.
Here is the synopsis for American Dreamer, which has its world premiere at LAFF on September 27:
After suffering an emotional breakdown and the subsequent loss of his job and family, Cam is a shell of the man he used to be. Struggling to catch up with late child support payments, he makes extra cash chauffeuring Mazz, a low-level drug dealer. As Cam’s situation deteriorates into a serious financial bind, he decides to kidnap Mazz’s child in hopes of collecting a ransom, only to have Mazz enlist his service as a driver to search the city for his missing son.
And here is the synopsis for You Can Choose Your Family:
It’s 1992, the year Grunge music becomes mainstream hitting middle American teenagers directly in their angst. Phillip longs to leave his small town for music school in The Big Apple. His dreams are dashed when his overbearing father, Frank, played by Jim Gaffigan, forbids it. In retaliation to his father’s dictatorial parenting, he sneaks away for a wild spring break. However, when he crosses state lines he instead finds a charming lake community where he spots his father with another woman. Turns out, his father lives in this town and has an entire other family. With this new heartbreaking information Philip realizes he can wallow in his father’s deceit or take matters into his own hands.