James Maslow Interview: "Big Time Rush" Star Focusing on Film Career, No Marriage Plans for the Moment
Image attributed to James Maslow
James Maslow is best known for his role as James Diamond on Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush (2009-2013) and as a vocalist in the band of the same name, with Kendall Schmidt, Carlos Pena, Jr., and Logan Henderson. Maslow is releasing a solo album in 2017.
Television, film and web roles include Big Time Movie, See Dad Run, Sequestered, The Penguins of Madagascar and Seeds of Yesterday. In 2014, Maslow competed on the 18th season of Dancing with the Stars and reached fourth place.
"I feel very lucky that I get to follow my dreams every day, and I’ve found a way to make a living doing that. Like I said, I feel bad for people who only dream while they’re sleeping."
Maslow makes his feature film acting debut in 48 Hours to Live, a story about the glamorous and fast-paced Hollywood dance underworld. The film, also featuring Tommy Flanagan, Danielle Savre and Cody Longo, opens in theaters and Video on Demand, January 13, 2017.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): James, it has been about three years since we last spoke!
James Maslow: If I had been working on projects like this, I would've had something interesting to talk to you about (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): True (laughs). You were in the last season of Big Time Rush when I interviewed you back in 2013. Was it just time for you guys to begin individual careers?
James Maslow: Well, there’s a combination of a lot of things that went into it. But, to be frank, at that point, this is entirely up to the network, though we had voiced our opinions about what we wanted to do.
We were already one of the longest running live-action shows they’d ever had. So, it was just a good time to move on, and I’ve got to be honest, I was very much ready to, and this year I was able to accomplish individually the things I wanted to for the past couple of years. It has been exciting!
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Congratulations on your feature film debut in 48 Hours to Live!
James Maslow: Thank you.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How did that come about?
James Maslow: There have been opportunities when I’ve been handed scripts and handed offers, but to be frank, most of them were not the types of roles I wanted to take. This one was actually an audition just like anyone else would’ve gone into the room, like I did in the beginning of Big Time Rush and auditioned. I did it on tape, then Benny Boom, the director, picked me from a tape actually several months later and said, “Hey! I saw your tape. You killed it. I know of you, but that’s not why I cast you. I cast you because I saw what you can do, and I want you to be the lead in the film.”
It was a really complimentary thing, but it was very cool that he was able to see through some of the stuff I did in the past when I was younger and was able to envision me in this dark role.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): During the first day on set, were you nervous or excited?
James Maslow: I always have nerves for things that I care about, so most films, concerts and almost every aspect of my life, there’s definitely a little bit of that. But, honestly, excited. I went into this as an opportunity to start to play the type of role I want to continue to play.
I believe we started production about a week after I finished filming another movie called Seeds of Yesterday, so I went into this one really well versed and prepared. I had just come from Seeds of Yesterday and went straight into 48 Hours to Live. The two couldn’t be more different. But, it was really good timing because I had two months of work previous to it that really had me in the right mindset.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Tell me about the film and your character.
James Maslow: My character is Wyatt Wells. It’s a very unique film. Nobody’s really ever taken what has dance aspects in it, and then tried to make a real gritty, dark film along with it. Even though it's written by people from Step Up, Greg Anderson is a wonderful person and great writer, but it really isn’t like a Step Up. I don’t want people to really expect that going in. This storyline is much darker and much more exciting.
Wyatt is involved in the dance underworld of selling drugs and ends up getting into trouble, kind of takes the fall for his sister, goes to jail and goes to rehab. The movie starts with him in rehab getting a phone call from his sister and hearing her get shot. He hears her get murdered, and then the rest of the film, you see him coming back into that world that he basically escaped at this point and tried to figure out who did it. It’s a pretty wild ride.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did you do all of the dance stunts?
James Maslow: I did a lot of it. I actually learned a lot of really cool things for the movie. But, I had a double for some of the more intricate, unique styles of dance that I had just have never done. I can’t do a windmill, for example. So, a bit of both there.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I assumed you gained experience from Dancing with the Stars?
James Maslow: Yeah. Even though they’re very different styles, the more you do anything, the more your body gets used to moving in general. But, it was cool. Beau Casper, the choreographer, was super cool to work with and definitely helped me out with a lot of the hip-hop stuff.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You also wrote a song for the film?
James Maslow: Yeah. Bennie approached me and said, “We want to do something kind of Kavinsky-like." I said, “Let me take a shot of it.” I went into the studio with my boy Damon Sharpe, and we came up with this track called “Coming for You,” that ended up being kind of the title track. So, at the end of the movie, I believe you’ll see a little music video we shot, which was really cool. It was a lot of fun to do.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How long have you been working on your solo record?
James Maslow: It has been about three years since I’ve been off of Big Time Rush (laughs). Look, for the first two and a half years, I was writing and I was working on it, but none of the music was quite right. I think it was a combination of me seeking out what I wanted to say and me having to live a little bit of life, too, on my own.
The past six months, I met with my main producing and writing partner, Doug Makuta, and we have written and produced this whole album. I couldn’t be more proud of it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What was the inspiration for the album?
James Maslow: The album is far more about the last two or three years of my life, my personal development story, than it is about my life as a whole. Having said that, being a single guy touring and traveling the world on my own, vacationing sometimes, then working on films and this music, I’ve had a lot of different relationships.
I met a lot of different women, and it’s a much more mature look at things. Some of the songs are about past relationships, some of them are about one-night stands, and some of them are about girls that I barely saw for more than five minutes, but haven’t left my head. To be honest, people might listen to a song thinking it’s about one of those, and it could be about my parents.
There are a couple of things that are much deeper in there, but I guess you’d have to talk about each song individually for me to really explain to you which is which because it’s so personal to me. The first song I’m going to release is called “Cry,” which I’m releasing later this month internationally. We’re actually not going to be releasing stuff in the US and Canada for a little while. But, that kind of set the tone for the rest of the album.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is there a release date set for the album?
James Maslow: There is a release date, but I can’t say anything right now (laughs). You know know it goes. Like I said, I’m starting this musical process internationally first, and that’s why my first tour is in Europe. But, I don’t know when it’s going to come out in the States. It will be coming out just about everywhere else pretty soon. I don’t mean to piss off any fans in the US and Canada at all. It’s just part of the strategy of the label. Actually, it makes a lot of sense.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): So, no dates yet for a US tour after the European tour?
James Maslow: I’m going to tour every country there is before I hit the States (laughs). Maybe not that big, but gosh, I have no idea when I’m going to play the States. Realistically, I’ll probably go to Latin America after Europe. But, you know what? Just let me get through this first damn tour first (laughs).
I’m so excited, but there’s a lot that’s gone into it. Once I get that one off the ground, it’ll be so much more feasible to play anywhere and everywhere else. But, I’ve got to start somewhere.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Any plans for new music or a reunion tour with Big Time Rush?
James Maslow: I’ve got to be honest. I’m kind of surprised that people keep asking that question right now. I haven’t even released my own first record! I’ve got multiple films coming out this year finally and a record finally coming out, and I’m going to start touring. Look, is it a possibility? I’m not going to be so negative as to say it’s never going to happen, but the possibility is very slim for the near future. I’ve got to finally do what I’ve been working for years and years towards first.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I had to ask because the fans want to know (laughs).
James Maslow: Of course. I love the guys. They love me. It has nothing to do with that. It’s just not the right time for it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You have the film Bachelor Lions being released later this year?
James Maslow: Hopefully, that’s going to come out at some point. That might even go to TV series. There’s a lot of talk about that, but I actually have another movie premiere that’s coming Saturday (January 14). It’s a little smaller because it’s not going to theaters. It’s probably going to be VOD, but it’s called It Happened One Valentine’s.
It’s a romantic comedy that I did that I’m excited about. It was really a lot of fun. I filmed that right before I filmed Bachelor Lions, and they turned it around pretty darn quickly. So, I imagine it will come out sometime before this Valentine’s.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What other projects this year?
James Maslow: I’m in conversations about a couple of other films, but just impossible to say which and when will happen. The cool thing about music is I’m finally putting that out, so both worlds are finally coming to fruition where I’m the lead in films or in films I’m excited about, and I’m putting out music that I’m excited about. I’m just grateful to be here, and I want to keep both those worlds going.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You’ve now acted in a drama, a comedy and romance. Which do you prefer?
James Maslow: I’ve got to say that Wyatt Wells in 48 Hours was one of my most favorite roles. Working on Bachelor Lions reminded me just how fun it is to work on a comedy. If I had to choose one to do for the rest of my life, I’d rather be laughing everyday than crying. I appreciate all the different work, but I actually would really like to continue to pursue the comedic side a little bit more, especially with music coming out that’s sort of a darker side of my life. I kind of like being on set and joking around. So, I hope that something does go further with Bachelor Lions because that was so much fun to do.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What actor would you most like to work with?
James Maslow: That’s tough. I’ve got to say that one of my favorite comedic actors is Ryan Reynolds, do I’d love to do something with him at some point.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You tweeted, “I feel bad for people who only dream when they’re sleeping.” Do you dream about your aspirations in the entertainment field exclusively or perhaps dream about having other careers as well?
James Maslow: My aspirations are a combination of all of that, but in order for me to pursue my more business side such as real estate and all of the things I keep adding to my portfolio, I need to be really good at one thing, and for me, that’s entertainment. I guess that would be two things really, singing and acting. But, that’s my focus.
I want to continue to do film, keep putting out music and continue to tour. There’s a lot of work that goes into that first that I need to continue to pursue in order to do a lot of things. I guess that was my point. I feel very lucky that I get to follow my dreams every day, and I’ve found a way to make a living doing that. Like I said, I feel bad for people who only dream while they’re sleeping.
I mean that if you’ve got something you want to do, don’t just throw it away by saying it’s a pipe dream and not possible or feasible. If I believed that, I’d never be where I am now. So, I’m just encouraging people to actually get out there and pursue what they really want to do, what they love and find a way to make a living doing that, versus being in a job that you just don’t like.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): In 2013, you told me that you didn’t plan on getting married and having kids until you were closer to 30. Any progress in that area?
James Maslow: Oh, that sure hasn’t changed (laughs). The idea of it sounds great at some point, but closer to 30 might end up being somewhere in my mid-30s. You can’t plan on that. All I can say is that my career, my work, is the entirety of my focus at this point.
It would be unfair to a girl and to me if I were to try and jump into something serious at this point in my life. Who knows if that’s going to change in two years or ten, but I hope there comes a time where I have enough under my belt where I can take a little more time for myself and for someone else. But, right now, I can’t even think about it.
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