Jim Anderson always had a dream of being an actor.
And even though he dabbled a few years ago as a special extra in some big-budget movies and earned the opportunity to get his Screen Actors Guild card, outside forces in his life always made him feel like it was something that he never would be able to do.
But when he walks down the red carpet at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah next month – an actor in a short called “American Paradise” that examines human behavior in a post-Trump world – Anderson, better known locally as the singing and dancing Elvis tribute artist who coaches football at Sierra High School, will be doing so having achieved one of his dreams.
“It’s still unbelievable to me that I was able do that and the movie ended up getting this prestigious honor,” said Anderson – who will spend this weekend shooting a national commercial for Ford. “I knew that when I started working on this movie that these people are all well-respected in the movie business and they’ve done a lot of great things, but I didn’t think that it would end up leading me to Sundance.
“When I tell them that it still feels like a dream and they tell me that it’ll seem more real when you get your welcome packet, it just makes me think that it’s going to feel like it’s even more of a dream then. Walking the Red Carpet at an event like that is something that I can’t totally wrap my head around at the moment.”
Anderson, a former law enforcement officer who had to retire due to bad knees, play a police officer in the Joe Talbot-directed film described in literature announcing its selection as a film about “a desperate man in Trump’s America trying to shift his luck with the perfect crime in this story inspired by true events.” As the police officer that hunts the man, Anderson said that it’s the most time that he’s ever played on screen in anything that he has done, and the entire experience has opened his eyes to the world of moviemaking.
And unlike before when he appeared on the silver screen, Anderson is now a fully-fledged actor.
While somebody in his life suggested a few years ago that he abandon his hopes of acting in a film and even his music career wowing people with his high-energy Elvis-inspired shows, Anderson said that his recent successes – the critical acclaim of the film and the release of his second album – are a testament to what happens when you never give up hope.
“My high school sweetheart, Lisa Payan, told me that I had been in law enforcement for a long time and I was always doing things for other people so it would be okay to do something that I wanted to do,” he said. “Somebody had told me that I shouldn’t worry about my dreams – they called it a hobby – and should instead focus on real life and the things that I needed to do and that got me to put all of this off for such a long time.
“If it wasn’t for her support in this, I don’t think I ever would have gotten around to getting that SAG card and I wouldn’t know how exciting it was to get the word that the movie got accepted to Sundance.”
Depending on how the movie does before the judges at the international festival that serves as a launching point for independently produced films and often leads to wide distribution deals with major studios, Anderson might also be making a trip to the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, the Cannes Film Festival in France and the Montreal Film Festival in Canada – as well as more local and regional events.
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