Nick Stahl is back with a new movie, a drama about a serious subject matter premiering on VOD Tuesday. In Away from Here, Stahl plays James, a man returning from a six year prison sentence for statutory rape. He’d had an affair with one of his high school students. When he returns, he gets a job at a diner and begins a new relationship with a waitress (Alicia Witt), but his old secrets still threaten to come out. We got to speak with Stahl by phone for the new movie, his first since a difficult period in which he entered and left rehab a number of times. Stahl was very contemplative in our interview and took his time answering questions, and we were happy to listen.
Crave Online: Was avoiding self-pity a challenge with this role? Because I was impressed that you did.
Nick Stahl: It’s an interesting question. I guess I hadn’t really considered that in a way so maybe that’s a good thing that it didn’t come across. I guess I didn’t consider it. Maybe that’s sort of how the character came across naturally, but I think when he gets out of prison, I think he is grateful to be out. I can only imagine coming out of a situation like that, there’s a lot of gratitude that you now have a life first and foremost, that you have freedom. That probably takes precedence. I think the gratitude is pretty evident in he doesn’t care if he gets any kind of job, a menial job, a modest place, few possessions. I think this is all great for this guy. So that’s how to me it naturally read on the page.
What sort of character work or rehearsal were you able to do on Away From Here?
There wasn’t a whole lot of time. A lot of times with independent films like this, you really don’t have a ton of time in rehearsals. You’ve got to work with what you’re given, but that’s kind of the beauty sometimes of these movies as well because a lot of it’s kind of organic and there’s something natural that just comes out of that kind of style of moviemaking. Something really cool can happen.
Is it a real treat when you can just do scenes with one other actor?
Yeah, that’s what I like to do most I would say. The scenes that are just face to face, two person scenes, you really get to play off somebody and react to somebody. That’s just kind of what it’s all about to me, so that’s my favorite stuff to do.
Was the theme of forgiveness important to you to explore?
All of those themes in this movie were I think what were so interesting and really powerful about this story. Ultimately, it’s self-forgiveness because whether or not these people that surrounded these two characters were forgiving, for me, for James I think there was something in him that he was carrying shame. Like you said, although he was trying to move on with his life, while he wasn’t necessarily pitying himself, he was carrying some demons. When he returned home, this was all reignited. So I very much understood and related to all of it. I think it’s a real universal theme that was touched on in the script.
Your fans are very happy to see you back in a movie. Is Away From Here a comeback movie for you?
I don’t know, I hope people get a chance to see it. It’s cool that it’s getting a chance to come out in this way, but for me I’m not doing a lot of work right now. I’m sort of focusing on life stuff and things are going good, so I’m not really looking a lot into the future at the moment. That’s sort of what’s necessary for me, so a lot of what I’m focusing on really is my daughter, my family and things like that. If that’s the case, that’s awesome. I love films and acting. That’s what I’ve always done. It’s really all that I know how to do, so that would be fantastic and I’d love to do it in the future. Hopefully, yes.