I first used John Roselius as a swimming coach in a McDonald’s commercial. The spot was about a little kid overcoming his fear of competition. I was setting up a closeup of the little boy and glanced over at John. He was acting his ass off. I went over to him and asked what he was doing.
‘I’m helping the kid out.’
‘Where did you learn that?’
‘You know Cassavetes?’
‘Yeah. I did LOVESTREAMS with him.’
‘…with Gena Rowlands?’
Anyone who thinks they can act should watch, A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE.
From then on I worked with John at every opportunity. He elevated everything we did. He was able to build a convincing character where others just showed up. I asked him how Cassavete’s processes worked and John (Roselius) said that John (Cassavetes) had a Sunday workshop at his home. Various actors showed but Cassavetes main concern was breaking down egos. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t, but when they worked together it was astonishing. FACES, HUSBANDS, CHINESE BOOKY…
I used John in a Hancock commercial that helped win the Grand Prix at Cannes. A network news show ran the spot in telling the story of the award. John told me that his phone rang and when he answered, all he heard were two hands clapping slowly.
It was Cassavetes.
As far as Cassavetes working, a friend of mine, now a top cinematographer, early in his career and soon after his graduation from AFI, was a second or third cameraman on one of Cassavetes films. He quit because Cassavetes didn’t want the actors to worry about hitting marks and my friend felt he would be judged by his focus. Cassavetes needed the camera to record every nuance of performance and that is why he used several cameras. One would always capture the moment.
John Roselius had a lot of those special moments.