Having played beloved DC character Ronnie Raymond on CW’s “The Flash,” and then a whole new character in the legacy series “The X Files,” Robbie Amell knows a thing or two about pressure and inheriting a big property.
In “Nine Lives,” he plays David Brand, the son of Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey), who’s under a ton of pressure as he tries to keep his dad’s business afloat when Tom falls into a coma (and secretly a cat’s body). The film also stars Jennifer Garner and Christopher Walken.
amNewYork spoke with Amell about acting opposite Kevin Spacey in the comedy “Nine Lives.”
Is that intimidating to have Kevin Spacey potentially green light you for a job?
It’s kind of weird, but it’s just another roadblock between you and the job. I was kind of hoping that Kevin would agree with [director] Barry [Sonnenfeld,] or Barry would fight hard for it to be me. There are so many reasons why you don’t get a job in this business, so when you do, it feels like you get the ones you’re supposed to get.
Kevin Spacey has such a huge range of work. How was it to share some scenes with him?
I just picked his brain a bunch. He’s so smart and he’s been doing this for so long so successfully that I just wanted to learn as much as I could. I just asked him questions and picked his brain for three weeks. Luckily we got along great and we had some nice dinners. He had a ping pong table that he brought with him so we played close to 100 games of ping pong, and I got to absorb as much information as I could.
Your character David has big shoes to fill in his father’s place. How do you balance that kind of potential turmoil in a family film?
I said that to Barry. I said, “I’m in kind of a different movie than everyone else.” I’m in this odd drama while everyone else is in this family comedy. I tried to not take things too seriously or dark, but its tough because of the situation my character was going through. I just relied on Barry to steer me in the right direction and to find that fine line of drama and family comedy.
Having played Ronnie Raymond, is it a different kind of pressure when you’re playing a famous DC character?
Yeah. The nice thing was that I was the first person to play him live action, so I got to make it my own. I just did my research and pick out the things that should be strong characteristics of Ronnie Raymond. Luckily the writers on “The Flash” are so good, that they make the job pretty easier for us.
As far as dealing with Internet reception and the rabid fanbase that DC has, did you reach out to your cousin, “Arrow” star Stephen Amell, for advice in the beginning?
We talk it out. I got to watch him shoot for a couple of seasons while I was doing “The Tomorrow People.” You just kind of do the best job that you think you can do and do it in a way that you’re proud of. I do what I think people will respond to, and luckily it worked out. If you stray too far from the original character they’ll bury you. You definitely have to keep some authenticity to what you’re given.
“Nine Lives” was not screened for critics.