In new indie comedy “Price Check," currently available on VOD and iTunes, Eric Mabius plays a grocery store employee who is teetering on the edge of an existential crisis after abandoning his dreams of working in the music business for the comforts of a steady paycheck. Enter a dynamic new boss, played to the hilt by Parker Posey, who opens his eyes to the possibilities of his job… pricing groceries. What sounds strange and dull on paper is actually an eye-opening, very funny look at the complexities of modern food shopping and a fresh examination of the age-old question of what happens if you settle.
We spoke to Mabius about his work on the film, what the economy means in terms of auditioning, and the hindsight he has achieved with age.
How did “Price Check” first come to your attention?
Eric Mabius: I worked with [producer] Dolly Hall many years ago on an Eric Schaeffer film years ago, and I’ve always loved her. I just think there’s no one who’s a bigger champion of indie film; she just makes things happen. And having started at the very beginning with indie film, it’s just nice to revisit that from time to time. And obviously, Parker being involved was instrumental. We had done quite a few Sundances together with quite a few films, but I’d never had a chance to work with her. And she’s kind of the engine for this project.
The two of you seemed like you were having a good time in the movie.
Mabius: The entire cast was brilliant. It was fun, and we’ve heard it over and over again but you have to have fun because there’s not much else going on. It’s crazy locations, it’s insane shoot days and struggling and sacrifice and hopefully for a good reason.
This project came as an offer. Are you past the auditioning stage now?
Mabius: It’s a case by case situation, to be certain. [With this], there were extenuating circumstances. I was out of town; I’d worked with Dolly; Kerry [Braden, the casting director] and I had a long working relationship, and there were a lot of elements in my favor.
In the economy, you’ll find some of the biggest names in the business sliding over to small parts. The people who wouldn’t read are getting shafted aside. All the rules have been rewritten, which is a direct reflection of the economy but risks can’t be taken as they used to be because there’s not as much expendable income. So everyone gets shoved down the totem pole in some ways. But some people are forced to reinvent themselves.
That’s pretty much the topic of “Price Check,” too, the need to reinvent yourself after the economy takes a downturn. Except in the movie, it’s about selling groceries instead of working in the music industry.
Mabius: I went to Sarah Lawrence and I had art friends who were into promoting bands in the East Village and where are they now? I felt like, for one reason or another, I wanted to revisit that and the things we trade to get what we do get. This character gives up some dreams and trades them for a nine-to-five job with steady pay and a house in the suburbs. And I remember our 20s were about shunning all of the things about suburbia and entrenching ourselves in metropolis. As I get older and older, I find that less appealing and more asphyxiating. I wanted to explore the things we sacrifice for what we think we want. Now that I’m not a kid I look at how I want to define myself. With acting, I thought there could be no nobler pursuit when I was in the middle of it, but life will show you how self-serving that was.