If you haven’t yet heard of the movie “Escape From Tomorrow,” you will soon. Shot without permission in Disneyland and Disney World, Randy Moore’s surreal drama about one father’s descent into madness is bound to stir up some litigation from Disney. It may still be a small world in “Escape,” but it is far from the happiest place on earth. And actor Roy Abramsohn is the man at the center of it all, losing his sanity during a family vacation in gritty black and white. Abramsohn spoke to Backstage about the film—and how he’s prepared for his performance to be lost in legal hell.
What’s more stressful: filming in Disneyland without permission or attending Sundance?
Sundance! Sundance is more stressful. That was a breeze compared to this!
Did the stress of doing the movie guerilla-style affect you? Was it a struggle to perform?
I’ve been thinking about that a lot, and it’s almost akin to hiding in plain sight. When you see a big film crew around and you drive by, even in L.A., everyone cranes their neck to look. When I see one as I drive by, my first selfish thought is, Why am I not in that movie, goddammit! And here, the cameras were at a distance filming us and they looked like regular hand cameras. Or on a ride they might be behind you or in front of you. Everyone has cameras at Disneyland and Disneyworld.
The hard part was coughing up a hairball, because they were made out of corn silk and soaked in molasses and I had to keep those in my mouth. So I was constantly gagging for half an hour. I’ve been an extra in a show where I said one line for six months, and this was the most dues I’ve ever paid. I’ve now paid every due. I think I’m done!
That thrill of doing everything under the noses of the guards must have kept things exciting.
Yeah, this was fun. The parks are fun. I had no regrets and nothing but admiration for Randy taking the risk. Like he said in an interview recently, this was a story all wrapped up in his childhood going there and it’s a story he had to tell and it’s the only place he could tell it. So it’s really a middle-aged father’s descent into madness and the backdrop is this corporate place that tells you it’s supposed to be the happiest place on earth. And I don’t know if you’ve been there, but it’s not always the happiest place on earth!
Did you have to modulate your performance at all since you were surrounded by tourists?
Really none at all. We were just speaking at our normal tone and anytime there was a fight, 30 percent of it was done with green screen in studios. I really didn’t have to adjust. It’s almost easier because you have to act more naturally when you have a scene in public. Actors can overact and I like that a lot of comments about the movie have been it’s so real. We rehearsed the script in the room before we went into the park and we basically stuck to the script.
There have been rumblings in the press about how Disney will react to this. It’s Martin Luther King Day, so you probably have a few more hours of peace, but are you concerned at all that your performance may never be seen again?
I knew it when I took it. I’ve been in L.A. for a while and Steven Spielberg, as far as I know, has not been to my house offering me the lead in a movie.