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My First Movie: The Driver

On November 26th, my world will forever change. I will be in a movie.

It's likely that people whom I've never met and have never even been in the same room with will remember me as "Joe" from "The Driver." Regardless of what they take back with them after seeing this film, I know that I've learned and grown from this amazing experience.

Working on set with director Wych Kaosayananda (Ballistic: Ecks vs Server), Mark Dacascos (John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum), and his family was truly eye-opening. From my first time firing a gun on set, to my first up-close experience with with live pyrotechnics, it was a joyful adventure everyday to show up on set and tell a story together.

Mark Dacascos with Wych Kaosayanada and Jeremy Stutes on the set of The Driver

Mark Dacascos was particularly supportive as a scene partner. He modeled the importance of being fully connected, even when you're not on camera, in order to give your partner whatever they need to channel authentic emotions. He also pushed me to continue to grow as an actor. We got into a great discussion about Shakespeare that led me to eventually take a Shakespearian monologue class in New York with Patsy Rodenburg last winter, and I had an opportunity to play the role of Sebastian in a local production of Twelfth Night this year.

One of the most difficult parts for me about working on The Driver was the pace, and wanting to "get it right". I've worked on set with David Fincher before where we literally spent all day shooting one short scene. Because of the budget, that wasn't an option. We had just a few chances to get it right, and then we had to move on. Of course, you always come up with great ideas or things you'd want to do differently after the scene has been set or shot and the crew has already moved on. Mark told me about his experience working on John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum with Anjellica Huston and how even she shared in this same experience. It's just a part of the process.

Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons I've learned from this experience is to let it go, keep growing, and keep moving forward. I viewed a screening of The Driver recently with the cast and crew. It's been nearly a year since we shot the film, and it looks great (kudos to Director Wych Kaosyananda and the camera crew), but I was definitely struck by how much I've grown as an actor since then and how I would have approached the role differently were I to have an opportunity to do it again today. And then, I thought: "Let it go."

What's captured in The Driver is my best performance I could give, and I am proud of the work I did, knowing that I want to keep growing and doing better work in the future. I hope that this movie will lead to more opportunities and that I will continue to grow as an actor.

Most of all, I hope that the stories I tell and the characters I portray make a meaningful impact on those people whom I've never met, because they are why I do what I do.

The Driver (2019) will be released on DVD, Digital, and On Demand on November 26th from Lionsgate.

Starring legendary martial arts actor and television personality Mark Dacascos, the film also stars Dacascos’s real-life wife Julie Condra and daughter Noelani Dacascos. The Driver DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $19.98.

Rated R for violence and some language.

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