Most recently, Jesse Camacho has been seen in Locke & Key as Doug Brazelle, which premiered on Netflix in February this year and has led to the series being nominated for a number of awards, and a second series has been confirmed for a release in the future. Other roles for Jesse have included playing Ben in award-winning film Boys vs. Girls which has been hitting film festivals around the world, Chris in We’re Still Together which saw Jesse win at the ACTRA Awards for Outstanding Performance in 2017 and working with his actor father Mark Camacho in the Netflix film Good Sam. Jesse’s first leading role was as Sheldon Blecher in TV series Less Than Kind, and he has written and starred in short drama Hey:), which he’s hoping to take to the film festival circuit. We spoke to Jesse about his role of Doug in Locke & Key, his award-winning performance as Chris in We’re Still Together and his first long-running lead character Sheldon Blecher in Less Than Kind.
This year, you appeared in new Netflix series Locke & Key as Doug Brazelle, can you tell us about your character?
Locke & Key! I’m super lucky to be a part of this show. It’s the kind of show I love to watch and being able to go to work everyday as a fan AND actual member of the cast is a dream come true. My character is Doug Brazelle, and he’s one of Kinsey Locke’s (Emilia Jones) friends at school. He’s part of the Savini Squad along with Scot (Petrice Jones), Zadie (Asha Bromfield) and Gabe (Griffin Gluck). The squad is a group of horror movie enthusiasts who idolize the great Tom Savini. Doug himself is definitely the sarcastic jokester of the group, but he’s got a good heart.
What is the series like to be part of and how is it on set of the production?
As I said before, it’s a dream come true. I was a big Lost fan in high school so getting to work with Carlton Cuse was such an exciting prospect. I was also a big admirer of Meredith Averill from her work on The Haunting of Hill House, so knowing these two were showrunning the whole thing was a pinch-me moment. Then I met the cast whom I absolutely ADORE! We’re all very close and talk several times a week. We’re in production of Series Two now and it’s been pure bliss. Netflix was amazing at setting it up so everyone is safe and we can still do some kickass work.
How did you prepare for the role and what did you know about the series before filming began?
I didn’t do a ton in terms of prep for Doug as he and I are super similar. But I did read the graphic novels by the great Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. I had heard of them before, but only read them when I was cast. Suffice to say, they are genius, truly the gold standard.
Who is your character Ben in Boys vs. Girls and how was it having the film win awards at film festivals?
Boys vs. Girls was a film I shot two summers ago just outside Windsor, Ontario. The director, Michael Stasko, teaches film at Windsor University and he wrote the script and used several of his students as crew. He was amazing and the crew was super loyal to him. It was one of the funnest shoots of my life. I met many of my closest friends on that set and, I mean come on, a couple dozen twenty year olds making a movie at a summer camp? You can imagine all the fun shenanigans that went on. It was a summer to remember. My character Ben is the sort of foul-mouthed, troublemaking, right-hand man of Eric Osborne’s character Dale. He’s the kind of kid who’s super popular at Camp but struggles in the real world. I’m excited for the world to see it and I’m thrilled it’s been getting a good reception on the festival circuit.
What was Good Sam like to film as Josh?
Wonderful. There was lot about making Good Sam that was awesome, whether it be our wonderful director Kate, the super kind author of the book Dete, or my amazing co-star Tiya Sircar, who I can’t say enough good things about. It was just a really sweet, fun experience. The coolest part however, was getting to work with my father Mark Camacho. Definitely a bucket list moment doing scenes with my dad.
Can you tell us about filming as Teddy in TV series Insomnia?
Insomnia, wow! What a crazy, otherworldly experience. Shot in Moscow with very little money, but a great director and crew. It was really an almost dystopian shoot for me. I had never shot that far from home before and I’m a real homebody, so that was tough. But I had a great time and would love to see the final product. I know it was released, but I never got a chance to find it and check it out. It was a sort of modern day version of The Hunger Games, and my character Teddy was a reluctant participant. I can’t say much more, but Teddy has it ROUGH!
You filmed a few episodes of This Life as Big Mike Alva, how was this?
Such a blast, shot in Montreal. I did a small scene in Series One and they were kind enough to invite me back for a bit more in the second series. I loved that character too, it was different for me. That cast was super solid, I had a fun time on that show. Great ensemble, great writing.
Your portrayal of Chris in We’re Still Together saw you win the Outstanding Performance Award at the ACTRA Awards, how did it feel and what was the role like to play?
We’re Still Together is one of my all-time favourite projects to be a part of. Incredible script, written by our director Jesse Klein, an amazing, devoted crew and a co-star in Joey Klein, who was electric, so brilliant. It was a super small budget and the whole movie takes place at night, so it was three weeks of night shoots, running around Montreal, bringing this lovely little story to life. Jesse Klein has an incredible gift as a director, to give his cast what feels like complete freedom while, simultaneously, maintaining his vision. Getting to work with Joey Klein was a real treat too, one of the most gifted actors out there, and a great filmmaker in his own right. We had an awesome supporting cast in that as well; Eve Harlow, Brielle Robillard, Alex Weiner (my future roommate, writing partner and close friend) and Diane Bentley.
Winning the award for that was such an incredible honour. Joey Klein won the best actor award in Toronto, so it was super cool for both of us. I have to give all the credit to Jesse and Joey Klein though, they both elevated me and the performance. It was a wonderful time!
Kids vs Monsters has a release next year in the UK, what can you tell us about the film and your character Bobby?
Kids vs Monsters, what a weird, fun, crazy ride that movie was. It’s a darker and, if possible, wackier take on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It tells the story of six spoiled kids who are sent to a mysterious house filled with crazy monsters as punishment by their, shall we say odd, parents. My character Bobby is a junk food-loving brat. It was a different role for me and really enjoyable to explore.
It was my first time shooting in LA which was super cool. I got along really well my amazing castmates; Bridger Zadina, Sydney Endicott, Francesca Eastwood, Taylor Stammon and Daniel Stewart. Was a really fun group. Laurie and Sarah, who wrote the screenplay, are extremely creative and fun people to work with. Our director Sultan was super kind and very generous in letting us improv and have some fun. It’s a weird movie, but I think a blast to watch!
You were cast as lead character Sheldon Blecher in Less Than Kind, what was it like booking your first long-running TV show and can you tell us about the character and the series?
Less Than Kind is definitely the project that shaped me the most as a human being and actor. Playing Sheldon Blecher with that cast, crew and creatives is the highlight of my career and the experience that’s nearest and dearest to me (although Locke & Key is up there too). That show went through the ringer behind the scenes, we were renewed for a second series before we aired (thank God for that because our ratings in Series One were horrible), we changed networks after our second series was shelved by Citytv (thank you HBO Canada), our lead actor and on-set leader Maury Chaykin passed away right before we started shooting our third series and before our final series, one of our key cast members Mike O’Brien was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He passed away, but was able to complete the series.
Having said all that, it was the best time of my life. I still keep in touch with all those people because they are literally my family. The show revolved around the Blechers, a Jewish family running a driving school in Winnipeg. I played Sheldon, the only sane member of the family, a kid with all the brains, stuck in a morbidly obese body, in Winnipeg, with a crazy family. Super fun show with a ton of heart. The first series is available on Amazon Prime, subsequent series are harder to find, but I HIGHLY recommend it.
Was there anything that drew you to the series and what do you miss most about filming it?
The writing and people involved in the series is definitely what drew me to the show. It was the best writing I’d seen in a long time and I was big fan of the showrunner, Mark McKinney. I remember when I got the audition, I was so blown away by the character of Sheldon. He was ME! I never considered myself a “leading man” type, still don’t, but here was this character that I just understood so thoroughly when I read the sides.
What I miss the most is the people and the process of working with that ensemble both in front of and behind the camera. I’m so lucky and better to have had that experience and learn from that group. I honestly get emotional thinking about it. It was the greatest gift.
What are some of your favourite memories from filming 12 and Holding?
12 and Holding was my first major role in a film. It was super exciting as it was shot in New York and New Jersey. For a thirteen year old, it was a dream come true. Working with Michael Cuesta, our director, was a real pleasure. Michael is super committed to his work and so dedicated to bringing out the best in his performers. It was a great learning experience. That movie also featured an up-and-coming Jeremy Renner, who was super kind and generous to us kids. I’m thrilled for all his success. Marcia DeBonis, who played my mother, was a wonderfully kind, nurturing woman too, we’ve lost touch over the years but I adore her.
The biggest takeaway from 12 and Holding though, was getting to work with Zoe Weizenbaum. She doesn’t act anymore as far as I know, and that’s a massive loss. She’s probably the most naturally gifted person I’ve worked with. I’m sure she’ll be happy and successful with whatever path she chooses, but I feel we were robbed of a showstopping actress. Like next Meryl Streep quality good.
Can you tell us about some of the other shows and films you’ve been part of?
I’ve been super fortunate to be a part of a lot of projects that I had a blast working on. I recently did a web series with my buddy Rebekah Mishkin called Night Owl, that was super fun. I did a slasher called Lost After Dark, which was sort of a straight-faced parody of the horror genre, and is a really fun watch. I did a great movie in Montreal a few years ago called The Trotsky starring Jay Baruchel and written and directed by Jacob Tierney (co-creator, director, star of the Canadian series Letterkenny), that was a cool experience with a lot of talented up-and-comers.
Had you always wanted to be an actor and how did you start?
Both my parents are actors (Mark Camacho and Pauline Little), so I grew up watching them and visiting them on sets. I always felt drawn to it. I love performing and as soon as I could speak, I started begging my parents to let me try. They were hesitant at first as there is SOOO much rejection, but they eventually relented when I was eight and have been super supportive ever since. They’ve taught me to always be kind, grateful and not to take jobs for granted. Keep your head down and do good work, eventually success will come.
How do you spend your time away from acting and what are some of your favourite TV shows and films to watch?
I’m definitely an avid film and TV watcher. Professional couch potato as I like to call it. My favourite shows are: Lost, Survivor, Friends, The Office, Stranger Things, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, 24, Game of Thrones, Cheers, Frasier etc. The list goes on and on. When I’m not obsessing over film and TV, I think I’m like the rest of the world, I just love being around friends and socialising. That’s why quarantine has been tricky for me, but I’m following the rules! I’m also super lucky to be shooting Series Two of Locke & Key, so I get to see those guys and have some fun with them. We get tested three times a week, but are still super cautious.
We understand you have written and starred in short film Hey:), can you tell us about this?
Thanks so much for asking about this. Writing is my other passion. I’m actually currently developing a series called Heavy with one of the co-creators of Less Than Kind, Chris Sheasgreen. It shares a lot of similarities with Hey:), they both revolve around characters struggling with anxiety and morbid obesity. In Hey:), it revolves around a man, who suffers from those conditions, dipping his toes into the online dating world for the first time, but it takes a wacky left turn from there. We’re trying to get into some festivals, hopefully we’ll be able to show it to the world soon!
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