The Haircut's Ken Clement on Borscht, Sideburns, and Acting

The Haircut, for many in attendance, was a delightful treat at last month's Borscht Film Festival. Clocking in at a little over five minutes, the short was filled with wonderful twists and turns.

If you recall, a man saunters into a barbershop at night feeling insecure about his haircut. He's fresh off a date that didn't end so well and figures a little grooming couldn't hurt. Once inside, he's greeted by a dark and leering coiffeur played by local theater veteran Ken Clement who is more than eager to give the young lad a fresh cut. As our bright-eyed seminal studly virgin looks through a magazine for possible hair cut styles, things turn strange when every picture is a portrait of Matt LeBlanc. Whoa! Wait, that's Joey from Blossom. Joey from Friends didn't have a catchphrase. Anyway, both tension and humor build over the last couple of minutes of The Haircut, ending in a bizarre climactic encounter in a closet that sort of lingers in one's memory, even one month later.

New Times caught up with the Carbonell winning actor Ken Clement. The jolly thespian gave us a little behind the scenes insight into the film and acting in general.

New Times: So, was this character based on Sweeny Todd or what?

Ken Clement: Ha. I was just trying to do a used car salesman. Kinda sleezy. Kinda creepy...

Kinda sweaty?

Well that was easy because it was hot as hell in there. They had to turn the air conditioner off, plus with all the lights. It was a fun little shoot tho.

Your sideburns were pretty intense.

I was playing Mr. Bumble in 'Oliver!' the musical at Actor's Playhouse in the Gables. He's the guy that sells Oliver at the beginning. Anything for a part. At the moment, I'm bald.

Your sideburns didn't look real.

Oh, no. They were real. It's a lot easier than taking off skin with glue every night.

Where did you guys shoot?

The Haircut was shot at the Razzledazzle Barber Shop, in the Mary Brickell Village. It was all done up like Christmas. It was a little intense. The place was a tad over the top.

Like that weird trippy Narnia closet in the back?

That closet was actually just a little storage room. It wasn't like what you saw in the final cut of the movie. In reality, it was like okay, stand back there in the dark until you think it's time to come out. They would say action and I'd count to four or five and then GO. They shot what you saw on the inside (the cult for Matt LeBlanc) from another location.

How do you feel about Matt LeBlanc?

Loved him in Lost in Space.

Did you get to see The Haircut at Borscht?

I've heard good things about it, but I can't. I don't watch myself. Not because I'm like Johnny Depp and don't need to. I'm terribly afraid I'm going to censor myself. Look at me. I'm huge. I'm fat. I'm ugly. What the hell am I talking about? I can't even understand myself. I don't wanna go there, so if I can help it I tend not to watch my stuff.

How long did this film take to shoot?

We shot all night. Literally until the sun came up. Luckily, I was able to sit down in the barber chair and take a nap, which was easy to do

Did this character even have a name?

I think he was just called The Barber. I didn't give him a name. I was having too much fun trying to give him some strange physical thing. Like he sort of didn't walk right. Something was a little bit off with him. How he spoke. How he moved. It was fun.

Any weird anecdotes from the set. Behind the scenes stuff.

There was no restroom at the barbershop. We had to use the bathroom at this hoity toity spot across the street. It was a venue where the men and women use the same bathroom. It was very strange. Very odd. Have you seen this yet? You go into a stall with clear glass and it fogs up and becomes opaque. Everybody at some point went across the street to check it out because it was the weirdest damn thing we ever saw. But the restaurant people were totally nice. They kept bringing us over drinks throughout the night because it was so hot in there.

Talk about the transition between live stage and film or television.

It's two completely different arts altogether. The only thing you retain is how to remember lines. On stage you're doing a lot. There's an immediate fulfillment because there's an audience there. On film it's different. There's a camera man, director, editor. They do more of the work than you do for your performance. And there's also a collective sense of group approval. Was that good? Was that okay? When you're on stage, it's either good or bad. The reaction is right away.

Do you prefer film or theater?

Ultimately I prefer the theater, but you have to pay the bills. If I do a commercial or two, or a movie or a television show, it allows me to do all the theater I want.

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