'Welcome to the Men's Group' star Mackenzie Astin reveals the underlying social messages the film is trying to convey

Mackenzie Astin plays an important role in the indie film 'Welcome to the Men’s Group' and talks to us about his experience in the film and its underlying social messages.


                            'Welcome to the Men's Group' star Mackenzie Astin reveals the underlying social messages the film is trying to convey

Mackenzie Astin from 'Homeland' and 'The Magicians' is not a new name in the industry. Being one among the sons of famous actors Patty Duke and John Astin and half-brother of actor Sean Astin, Mackenzie has set a name for himself in the industry as well. Mackenzie is best remembered for his role as Andy Moffett over four seasons from 1985 to 1988 on the sitcom 'The Facts of Life'. He has also appeared in motion pictures like 'Iron Will', 'Wyatt Earp' with Kevin Costner, 'The Evening Star' with Shirley MacLaine, and Whit Stillman's 'The Last Days of Disco'. He also played Noah Baker on TV’s 'Scandal', and Carrie Mathison's brother-in-law Bill Dunn on “Homeland”.

Recently playing an important role in the indie film 'Welcome to the Men’s Group' Mackenzie talks to Meaww about his experience in the film and its underlying social messages. 'Welcome to the Men's Group' is a comedy-drama by Joseph Culp and Scott Ben-Yashar that showcases what happens in a men’s group where people are no longer agreeing to hide behind the social norms set by people. 

Timothy Bottoms, Phil Abrams, Mackenzie Astin, David Clennon, Joseph Culp, Terence J. Rotolo, Stephen Tobolowsky, and Ali Saam in Welcome to the Men's Group (2016) (IMDb)
Timothy Bottoms, Phil Abrams, Mackenzie Astin, David Clennon, Joseph Culp, Terence J. Rotolo, Stephen Tobolowsky, and Ali Saam in Welcome to the Men's Group (2016) (IMDb)

Starting off Mackenzie revealed that a lot of issues explored within the movie are from a man's perspective. "I mean it's right there in the title. So I think it's important especially right now in this day and age to recognize that it has evolved and as forward as the movie hopes to be, it's still a male perspective. So I think we should all be very cautious about mansplaining and manspreading. That said, some of the issues that the film touches on with respect to a man are supposed to be in the current day and age. It can be very valuable for building toward a future where men are more capable of listening not only to other men but to women around as well," he said. 

Talking about the basic framework that the film tries to represent, the 45-year-old said, "I think the basic framework of the film tries to present the idea that listening to other people can be of tremendous value. In fact, I feel like if there was more listening in the world, personally, we might be a little bit better off now individually for the characters. There's a lot of different issues that get touched upon, some of which are rather delicate and some of which are sort of on the surface, but, which I think, can represent something much deeper." Continuing to talk about the delicate issues that the movie showcases, Mackenzie takes his character, Tom, a stay-at-home dad, as an example. And according to him, personally, he finds it amazing. "Tom's dealing with the idea that his identity might be in trouble as a man because he's a stay-at-home dad. Now as for me, Mackenzie, personally I think that's a fantastic thing. And in this day and age, we see plenty more stay-at-home dads who I think are doing wonderful work both for their children and for their family. On the whole, the idea of a man being the provider is completely outdated," he adds. 

Welcome to the Men's Group (IMDb)
Welcome to the Men's Group (IMDb)

Following that he compared his character to real life saying, "So while the character in the film feels as though he's not enough of a man because he's not the provider, I think in a lot of ways men should recognize that being a parent is oftentimes a lot more work than going out and clubbing saber tooth tigers or making money in this day and age. I know that my mom works very hard to raise us the way that she did and that's not to say my father didn't work hard either but I don't think people who care for children are given enough credit in today's day and age and I'm not sure that the film touched on that in the way that I, Mackenzie, personally would look at. But it does touch on the idea that a man might feel less of a man if he's not out clubbing that saber tooth type." 

Explaining about the other underlying social issues in the film, Mackenzie says, "There are other issues that are touched upon in the film that is very sensitive. Such as in terms of addiction to drugs and to sex, in terms of infidelity and in terms of trying to figure out relationships between men and women." He revealed that 'Welcome to the Men's Group' is not like other films and that people here sit and talk about feelings and experiences. Mackenzie says that this might not be some people's cup of tea. "Some people want to see movies with more car crashes with more gratuitous violence with more gratuitous sex and stuff like that. And, you know, unfortunately, that has a marketplace out there. But my opinion is if people can find appeal in a film where people are talking about feelings then they might be more likely to talk about their feelings in their own lives and that might make for a better plan," he added. 

 

Actress Patty Duke (left) and her son Mackenzie Astin attend the 2nd Annual TV Land Awards at The Hollywood Palladium, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Actress Patty Duke (left) and her son Mackenzie Astin attend the 2nd Annual TV Land Awards at The Hollywood Palladium, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

When asked what attracted him toward the script. Mackenzie said, "The script was appealing, to begin with. I thought it was funny you know any time you get a bunch of men together to talk about their feelings it's going to be awkward. And that's the inherent comedy within the film. I like that the script took a lot of chances in that it allowed these men to expose themselves both emotionally and physically. And I thought that was brave and that it would be something appealing to participate in as an attempt  to create something we haven't seen before." Apart from that, he did reveal that there were some risks also involved within the script because of the nudity it contained. 

"Obviously there was some risk involved because the guys are naked there for a little bit. But that's in this country in the United States we still hang on to a kind of a puritanical view of the human body and sexuality. In other countries around the world, people are a little more evolved about the fact that we all have genitalia. And it's not as big a deal in other countries. And so I felt that looking at this opportunity with a more evolved perspective about it not really being a big deal that would be a healthier attitude to how I should be careful. Of course, when I use the expression not a big deal it is because it's easy to make a joke that way," he continued.