Zack Ward on TRADE

Recently I got to speak with the talented Zack Ward about his upcoming film “TRADE”. The film made a big impression at Sundance and Zack was kind enough to take some time to talk about the film with us.

The subject matter for this film is very disturbing, yet a sad part of life. What did you learn about the subject matter during your prep work for the film and while filming?

Zack: One of the strangest moments was actually traveling back into the States from Mexico. I stopped and talked to some of the customs officers. I told them about the movie I was working on and they told me some stories. The creepiest is “the pale tourist”. They said that when a 40 year old guy comes back from Mexico alone and his passport says he’s been gone a month and he’s bone white, they can tell he was there for the child sex. Unfortunately, without evidence, they can’t do anything, even though it screams at them daily. Sad.

What can you tell readers about your character?

Zack: I play Alex Green, a southern boy smuggler, shipping the kidnapped children across country from the Rio Grande to New Jersey, keeping them in line with drugs and pain. Alex is the uncaring capitalist scum-bag, a white slaver without a speck of remorse in his soul.

The film is getting rave reviews. Did you get a chance to spend much time with Kevin Kline and what if anything did you learn from him?

Zack: I learned that Kevin is a painter and that he worries about his scenes just like I do. That in itself was a HUGE process to learn you share with an Oscar winner. Kevin and I have no scenes together but had time to chat on set and discuss the arc and flavor of the film. It’s always good to know that one of your heroes puts their pants on the same way you do.

What do you hope that audiences will take with them after viewing the film, as it is a very powerful film.
Zack: I don’t expect the film to change the world, that’s too arrogant. I just hope someone sees it who is racist or thinks the border issue is simplistic or has never traveled and gets the opportunity to be moved by some one else’s plight, to walk a mile in their moccasins. Maybe it’ll boost the adoption rate, that would be good.

What attracted you to the film and what did you do to prepare for the film in light of it’s subject matter?

Zack: I liked the script and the director, Marco Kreuzpainter, said he wanted to develop the character around me. As a writer, it’s always exciting when you’re involved in the creative process. I look for opportunities where I can contribute as much as possible. It scratches my artistic “itch”. I prepared for the film by deciding how to play the character, what his background would be, how he should speak and what he should look like.

I originally was going to play him as a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, but thought that would be too stereotypical and would belittle the danger, as if only skin-headed Nazis can come steal your kids, not the nice man next door.

After meeting the man who played Vadim, the Russian slaver, I decided not to go the way of a cracked out meth-head, but instead keep Alex an everyman that might check out your daughter at the mall. I grew my hair, my beard and did pro-hormones to jack my weight up from 155lbs to 178 in 5 weeks. I figured that Alex needed to be more physically intimidating so I got big. Emotionally, I let the actions and words speak for the character and kept it simple.

Injecting the 9-year-old Thai boy with heroin was the hardest scene I’ve ever done. As terrifyingly emotional less as it comes off on screen, I had to walk outside and cry for half an hour afterwards. I have no idea how someone can really hurt a child. Just faking it makes my heart ache.