Blake Cooper Griffin talks bullying, Hillary Clinton, gay rights, and his latest movie 'Beerfest: Thirst for Victory'
After establishing himself in the entertainment industry, actor Blake Cooper Griffin is using his voice to support and highlight causes he believes in
Blake Cooper Griffin is taking the entertainment industry by storm. He has garnered substantial successes in the past couple of years with key roles opposite Hollywood A-listers including Helen Hunt and Cuba Gooding Jr.. He has aced different roles, in both film and television, transitioning seamlessly between mediums. These attributes are on ample dislay in his current role as the star of CW Seed's first original full-length feature film, 'Beerfest: Thirst For Victory', which is currently streaming on their digital platform.
In 'Beerfest: Thirst for Victory', a group of twenty-something working friends, struggling to recapture the rowdy glory of their college days, reunite to compete in an underground drinking competition and take down the tournament's evil CEO.
Inspired by the 2006 cult classic 'Beerfest,' it follows Scott played by Griffin, Rob, Adam, Doberman, and Melanie as they attempt to master the American competitive drinking circuit. Along the way, they rediscover their original, raucous friendships and are reminded that life happens outside of the office cubicle.
Griffin, a South Carolina native, has ample space to display his comedic chops in 'Beerfest'. But that's not all. In his conversation with Meaww, he speaks about BTS moments from the movie and also gives his own perspective of the socio-political scenario and happenings during the timeline of the shoot
Did you have fun being a part of 'Beerfest'? Was working in the movie as much fun as it looks on the screen?
I have to tell you, it was a great experience working on 'Beerfest.' With these things, it's all about who you're working with, like the cast, the producer, and the director Matt Johnson, everybody, just from the very beginning was ready to have fun, ready to jump in, and the story, along with the script, it's just pure fun. The story is all about reclaiming the great times that people had in college. It was also fun because the story is about these five friends and I really think that we all became friends and really close during the shooting process, so it was really fun for me to sort-of reconnect with what it was like to just be carefree and have a great time.
We had some early call times though. We were renting out bars all over Los Angeles, so that came with its share of time constraints because some of the bars would open later in the evening. So, as a result, we had to get up so early, that I, at times, had to get up at 2 am for the shoot, and the cameras would start rolling by 4 am. So yeah, there was early calls times and lots of coffee, but you would have never known that were shooting so early in the morning because everybody was having so much fun.
Do you and your school friends have traditions like the beer fest depicted in the movie?
I went to a drama school, so I never really got to go to a traditional college. So my conservatory that I went to was pretty full-time since I was studying at the North Carolina School of Arts. It was a pretty rigorous program, so we were in class from 8 am to 11 in the night, and we even had either classes or rehearsals on Saturdays.
So I didn't get a lot of free time, but I did have a good time when I started living in Los Angeles, and I do like to have a good time. But I didn't really get to have that college experience that they did in 'Beerfest'. So, I'd like to think that me doing the movie was a way to do that. Going to a touch school was like one of those things that I am really grateful for, but now I look back and think that I play a lot of such guys (college guys), and I remember thinking, "Man, these guys have a lot of fun!"
With regards to your role in 'LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED?' wherein you play a gay character. Was there any additional responsibility on your shoulders in playing the character because you are representing a minority community? How did you ensure you portrayed a 3-dimensional character rather than a caricature or a stereotype?
In 'Love Is All You Need', it actually is a scenario where the worlds are all flipped; where gay is straight and straight is gay. So that meant that the majority were gay characters and what that meant was to shine a light on what it would be like if you put yourself in somebody else's shoes. So, I was really grateful to be a part of that movie, and I was pretty blessed to have a director who has a really big heart and felt that she was really on a mission to help spread tolerance, equality, and compassion, really.
I think that movie was so great because we wanted to spread empathy. One of the things I really zeroed in on and felt a responsibility towards, was to help move that idea along which says that everybody has the right to be free from persecution. Everybody has the right to love who they wanna love, and be who they are without there being any harassment against them.
In the movie, I actually play the bad guy, and what was really very fulfilling for me was that when we went out on the road, a lot of people seemed to share the story of the bully, and that really touched my heart. And that is part of why I wanted to be an actor because I feel that actors have an ability to tell stories that we can relate to, whether or not those are our circumstances. I think, often stories teach us what its like to be other people. And I think that 'Love Is All You Need' is a movie like that, I am very very proud to be a part of it.
You are known for your support towards the cause of anti-bullying. Is it something close to your heart because of some memory or experience in your past?
Well I originally got involved in the organization I have been working with, because of the story that I was learning from going on the road with the movie (Love Is All You Need), and I was really touched by that. When I was younger, we moved a lot, and I was the "new kid" at school, so I definitely experienced some bullying. But luckily, I have a wonderful family who is very supportive and everything kind of worked out; so I guess I got kinda lucky there.
But there are a lot of people that face something like bullying on a daily basis. I think there is a statistic (pardon me if I didn't get it right) which says that close to 3 million kids get bullied every single day, and I feel that shouldn't happen in our society. So in any way that I can, I want to be supportive of people who need a lift, and any amount of programs, outreach, or support groups who do that for such people. So yeah, I am very proud and glad to support any anti-bullying causes that I can.
What was it like, campaigning for Hillary Clinton? Were you disappointed at her loss at the time?
First of all, I would like to say that campaigning for Hillary was one of the greatest experiences and honors of my life. I think she is so impressive and such an amazing public servant, that I feel that I owe her a great deal of gratitude for all the service that she has done for the United States of America. And campaigning for her was, you know, like any other campaign trail is! Now I'm an actor, I'm not a politician, but then I'm also a citizen, and I think that citizens should make their voices heard.
So, I got on the campaign trail for her, and I made speeches in the battleground states because I really felt and believed that she was the right person to be president. And it was great, and a great deal of fun! It was very different than going to work on a set, but I felt really passionately about it.
And of course, I was very disappointed when she didn't win the elections. It was tough, and every day, I think to myself what an amazing president she would have been. Thankfully, we still have her voice speaking out and doing things that she cares about. So yeah, it was a great honor to be able to campain for her.
You were shooting for 'Beerfest' during a time when America was gearing up for elections. What was going on in your head during the shoot?
So, this is a great story, and I don't think I have ever told this one before. First of all, let me tell you, Beerfest (the show) is total fun. We were shooting during the elections, and I think we were in the middle of shooting at the time. I went home that night (election night) from the set, and I was tired I remember. It was a tiring day with a very early call time. So I was going home, and I was going to memorize my lines, after which I was gonna go to a friend's house to watch the returns. And it turned out that the traffic in Los Angeles, as you know, is just crazy. And on especially election day, it was totally insane, like you couldn't get anywhere.
So I thought to myself, "I'm just gonna go home, and hang out and watch returns, learn my lines." I turned on the television at about 5 o'clock LA time and at that moment, it looked a lot closer than I think we thought it was going to be. And obviously, I got pretty nervous.
I think that this is something everyone can relate to, no matter who they voted for: anyone that you feel passionate about, when you're sitting there and you're watching, and suddenly you start to realize, "Oh, this may not go the way that we thought it would", all these emotions start looming on you and take control all of a sudden. So I decided to turn off the television and stop watching. I instead, chose to focus on my lines and went to bed, and the next morning, when I woke up, I was just praying that something had changed over the night. But it hadn't, and that was a real sobering moment for me.
I was driving to the set, listening to NPR, and I just recall thinking, "I just hope I can remember my lines today!" I was in a zone where I kept hoping that someone would come up to me (about the election results) and say, "Hey, just kidding! You know, Hillary won!" But no one did, and I reached the set where I saw a friend of mine who I'd known before she started working on the project. So the two of us went inside a room and gave each other a hug, and said to each other that "We've gotta make (through) this day. We still have a job to do."
And you know, that's the thing about acting: at the end of the day, we were here to tell a story. I have to say that I was so proud of the entire cast and crew that day: they were so nice and so cheerful, and they kept doing their work. The whole 'being in a comedy' that day came as a blessing to me, and also being able to be around people that are funny and creative and artists who support each other and want to have a good time, because I was really sad that day.
As an activist, how do you think celebrities can get the public involved in politics? Which is the one big issue you would wish Americans would come together to solve/eradicate?
You know, I think that I am an actor, I'm not a politician, but I am a citizen. And I believe that it is important for all citizens to be involved. And I have been supportive of causes that I absolutely believed in ever since I was a kid. That was something that I have always believed. Like, I was the guy running for the student council in school, and I think I even became the vice-president of my class.
I can't speak for anybody else, nor do I want to, but I do wanna speak. And when I speak for myself, I'd say, I want the world to be a better place for everybody. And I'm going to continue to use my voice, whether its supporting anti-bullying causes, or campaigning for the people I believe in, or even being a part of any story that 'Love Is All You Need', so as to challenge some people to think about certain things differently. I'm hoping that hopefully by doing all of this, I'm adding to the conversation and helping to make the world a better place, and more so, having some fun while doing all of this.
Also, I feel very passionately about people voting. You know, one of the things I have really gotten involved with lately is getting people registered for votes. Because no matter your belief, part of our civic duty, I think, is to vote. Democracy works only when everyone shows up (to vote). So I am very passionate about getting people registered to vote, and make their voices heard.
Most of your recent movies have been comic in nature. What are some of the other genres you would like to explore as an actor? Do you aspire to pursue other avenues such as directing or producing?
Right now, I'm loving that I'm a part of the comedy sector, because 'Beerfest' was so much fun, and the couple of movies that I have done lately have been comedic. But 'Love Is All You Need' had me playing a very serious and intense role, and then I also got to be a part of the recent season of 'Preacher', which was more like a comic book theory sort of thing. I've even done romantic comedies before, so there's that too.
One thing that I like about acting, which is also something I hope that I can keep doing, is the trans-dimensional element of it. I hope that I can get to be in different genres and do something new every couple of months because that's really the joy of it for me. The greatest thing about my job, I feel, is that I get to learn something new every single day. I get to learn about different people's lives, things that I never knew about, and I think that's really rewarding.
I think that directing or producing would be an amazing opportunity, and I would be definitely interested in that. I also dabble in writing, and one of the things that I am currently working on is some content with a friend as well as an actress that I worked in the past, Kim Shaw. So the two of us are developing this new content together, through whch we hope to tell the stories that we want the world to know. Can't say too much about it at this moment, but yea, I am excited to be a part of every aspect of the entertainment industry.