Actor Alex Roe recently starred in “The 5th Wave” (2016) and “Rings” (2017), but his latest film is a distinct departure from science fiction and horror. In “Forever My Girl”, he plays Liam Page, a country music superstar who returns to his hometown in Louisiana and reconnects with his ex-fiancée, Josie (Jessica Rothe). Alex stopped by Phoenix on Jan. 11 and 12 and graciously sat down to chat with the Phoenix Film Festival about his new movie and the surprising fact that he never sang in public before playing Liam! Wow!
“Forever My Girl” is rated PG, and it arrives in theatres on Friday, Jan. 19.
PFF: Alex, you never sang in public before, but you seem like a natural country music performer on the big screen. Did you take singing lessons as a kid?
AR: We had drama and singing clubs at school, so I got to act and sing, a little bit as a kid. I always just (sang) in the shower or when people were out of the house. I’d go through phases of singing in my room, so I was a bit of a closeted singer, I guess.
(Also), my mom bought me a guitar when I was about 12, so I picked it up and taught myself, now and then. I was obsessed with Elvis Presley when I was a kid, so when this script came along, (I thought) the possibility of playing a country star was really cool.
PFF: That’s terrific, and you traveled to Nashville for the film as well.
AR: Yes, we went to Nashville to experience the country-scene and met quite a few singers. We saw Luke Bryan and Little Big Town. I was lucky to get (some insight) about how it feels to perform in front of 50,000 people and then try to come back to your trailer or just (go) home. So, that helped me understand where Liam was coming from, and how he got sucked into this world of fame.
PFF: When Liam moved away, he was having personal issues early in his career. Was it because of his new celebrity-status, the heartbreak of leaving Josie or a mix of the two?
AR: [SPOILER] I think that it’s a mix. He also lost his mom just before he left town, so I think that he was dealing with the pain of that, or “not dealing” with (it). He left the love of his life and dealt with the regret of that, and I think that fame for him became this temporary fix, a way to forget about those issues. He’s running away, basically. It’s not until he comes back home and reconnects with his family, his hometown and his roots that is he really able to come to terms with (his troubles).
PFF: Now, when Liam left Josie, she was hurt but not necessarily hardened. Since Josie emotionally picked herself up after Liam left, do you think that was an important ingredient for the two to possibly reconnect?
AR: [SPOILER] Yea, because Josie moved on with her life. She had a (daughter), Billy (Abby Ryder Fortson), and by anyone’s standards, they are a happy, successful family. It takes a village to raise a child, and I think that was definitely the case. They were fine without Liam. When he comes back into their lives, there’s this undeniable feeling that he was the missing piece to the puzzle in some way. If Josie and the family hadn’t been okay, the romance (would) be less (likely) to develop. Forgiveness is allowed to happen.
PFF: Liam says, “Sometimes you got to let go, walk on the wild side, and everything will be okay.” Do think that applies to you, by playing a country western star? Did you say to yourself that you’d walk on the wild side and give it a shot?
AR: Let’s have a go! Yea. Definitely. I think it’s really interesting that you bring that up too, as far as the missing piece. Liam brings a little bit of that into Josie’s and Billy’s lives, this carefree attitude, and especially for Billy. (For example, Billy) doesn’t want to take her rabbit out of the cage, because she thinks it’s going to bite her. She doesn’t want to get into a convertible, because of the statistics of surviving an accident are really low. I think that’s where the missing piece of the puzzle comes in. Liam does walk on the wild side a little bit and encourages that, because it’s necessary in life to do both. To be cautious, but also to be carefree. They are both important.
PFF: So, Liam carries around this old cell phone. It’s eight years old and held together with duct tape. How old is your phone?
AR: My phone is a year and a half old. By (current) standards and upgrades, I think it’s pretty good. Actually, I broke it, and I had one of those (older) cell phones (for a while). It was really nice to just text and have phone calls and not be available on email 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It was really refreshing! So, I am jealous of Liam for that.
Jeff – a member of the Phoenix Critics Circle – has penned film reviews since 2008 and graduated from ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. Follow Jeff and the Phoenix Film Festival on Twitter @MitchFilmCritic and @PhoenixFilmFest, respectively.