From Gridiron To Big Screen – Simeon Rice directs feature film “UNSULLIED”

Opening across the nation this week is the action-thriller “Unsullied,” which tells the story of a young woman who finds herself the target of a pair of sociopathic “hunters” bent on claiming her as their latest trophy. The film is the latest offering from writer/director Simeon Rice. Rice is a former NFL all-pro defensive end and super bowl champion who made waves with his successful 2011 short  film “When I was King,” a comedy about personal discovery. This time around Mr. Rice takes us on a dark ride thru the backroads of a sleepy Gulf Coast town which leads to a secluded cabin where the most primal of human instincts are allowed to come out and play. The film stars Rusty Joiner and James Gaudioso as a pair of apex predator business men whose lust for power leads them from the boardroom to the backwoods of Florida in search of their latest victims. The unsuspecting target, Reagan, an emotionally troubled track star who thought she was just passing thru. Reagan is portrayed by newcomer Murray Gray who turns in a terrific multi-layered performance. We here at EU were lucky enough to catch up with Mr. Rice to discuss the film.

IMG_7058“Unsullied” is your first full-length feature film, what did you find was your biggest challenge in making the leap from short films to feature films? The biggest challenge is just the day to day problem solving. Each day of filming brings about new obstacles and you have to be able to adjust. You see there is experience and then there is on the job training and you can learn by studying your craft  but there is nothing like on the job training.

Rusty-James-DogsEarly on in the film, Noah (Joiner) and Mason (Gaudioso) discuss what it is that makes them feel the most alive, and Noah insists that it is power and control that are at the root of what drives man. Is this quest for dominance the prevailing theme of the movie? That conversation sets the tone for the whole film…it is about the hunt, you have these business men who love the feel of the hunt, man versus man, man versus himself and what better way for these guys to actualize that mentality than by engaging in this hunt.

What was it like working with Rusty Joiner a veteran actor who has appeared in numerous television series like “The Closer,” “Bones,” “Close To Home,” “CSI: Miami,” “ER,” and “Spin City” along with roles in the films “Resident Evil: Extinction” and the Vince Vaughn  comedy  “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”? Wow, Rusty was just nominated for best actor in this move called Voiceless and he is just a real pro. He wants direction he wants to get it right and give his best performance. He is passionate about his art and a joy to work with.

Murray2The other star of your film is first time leading lady Murray Gray who plays Reagan, what can you say about your experience working with her? I believe she is going to be a breakout star in this business. She turns in a brilliant performance, her drive, her preparation; her understanding of the character all played a big factor in the success of the film.

Last Question, having had such success in two fields what advice can you give people who are trying to make just one big dream come true for themselves? I will say this, define yourself, build yourself, keep your support system intact but don’t ever put yourself in a box, believe without a doubt you can be who you want to be. Confront yourself and your fears and don’t let your fears limit your heights or your reach. So that said, you can live your dreams.                                                                                                                                                                                       The film opens nationwide Friday, August 28 locally at AMC Regency, AMC Orange Park and Tinseltown theatres.

About Woody Powell