Interview with Keye Chen from Avery & Pete: Superseeds

Keye Chen Avery & Pete Superseeds feature

We had the chance to chat with Keye Chen, one of the stars for the upcoming nerdy movie, Avery & Pete: Superseeds. The movie follows two friends as they discover a weird drug that gives them superpowers. The problem? They also sold the drugs to others. Now it’s up to them to put a stop to the carnage they have unleashed.

SUPERSEEDS – Nano-Budget Crowdfunded Feature Film – Fantasy/Comedy from Camp Comet on Vimeo.

John “Spartan” Nguyen (Nerd Reactor): So you’re in Superseeds. You play a stoner, and you get super powers.

Keye Chen: Yes, I do.

Nerd Reactor: You know what this reminds me of? It reminds me of a Harold and Kumar-type of movie. There’s an Asian guy, and he’s a stoner but now he has super powers, which is completely different.

Keye Chen: Yeah. So basically, Avery and Pete – Pete is played by me, and Avery is played by Ricky Faust – the talented Ricky Faust. We are two buddies, 20-somethings who don’t really have a direction in life. Avery works at a call center, Pete works at a weed dispensary. Pretty much, Pete is the main stoner. All he does is get high. They live paycheck to paycheck. Then they end up losing their jobs, and Pete comes up with this wild ideas to sell weed from the dispensary to make money. They come across these pills, and of course, when you are stealing weed and come across pills, what’s the next possible thing to do? You take it. And so they take them, but along with a couple other people that I shouldn’t reveal because I might just tell you the whole plot.

Nerd Reactor: Yeah. You have to have some secrets.

Keye Chen: We’ve got to keep you on your toes, right? And so we take these pills, and then we end up discovering the next morning, that we have super powers. So they’re all different for the different people who have them.

Nerd Reactor: Some of the other character’s powers are pretty clear. I’m not sure what your power is, judging from the poster and trailer. You have a Power Glove, and I have no idea what you can do with those Power Gloves.

Keye Chen: Right, well, I think the Power Glove mostly gives me the power to look awesome. Pete is a very random character. He is, I guess a good word is whimsical. Pete doesn’t really need the Power Glove. Or does he? But the Power Glove doesn’t really do anything. He is given the power of telekinesis. He’s kind of like a Jedi, using Force Push and stuff like that.

Nerd Reactor: I hear that you aren’t really a stoner in real life.

Keye Chen: I am not.

Nerd Reactor: So how did you prepare for the role?

Keye Chen: You know what? What was really helpful was the writing. I felt like the writing really spoke a lot about the characters. The dialogue is so character-driven, and I felt that the words take on their own character.

Nerd Reactor: How did you get into the project in the first place?

Keye Chen: I actually auditioned for it. See, Kholi, the director, writer, editor, every kind of thing that he does – he auditioned me. Everyone else that auditioned couldn’t fit in their schedule, so Kholi said, “We’ll use this guy. We’ll settle for Keye.” And I’m very glad he did. It was a blast.

keye chen avery and pete superseeds

Nerd Reactor: What’s the most memorable moment you had on set?

Keye Chen: Most memorable moment. It’s so funny, because when you asked that, I can think back and a memorable moment could have been years ago. I believe we started in September of 2010. The last scene that we shot might have been six months ago. I will say it was a good experience for me. Everyone that I was working with, we all had such good times with each other. I just had a blast eating and snacking on craft services.

Nerd Reactor: Those are always good.

Keye Chen: It was so good. We did a lot of craft services.

Nerd Reactor: Let’s dig a little deeper into the mind of Keye Chen. How did you get into acting?

Keye Chen: Since middle school, I was always performing. In middle school and high school, I was in a band. As far as dancing, a little bit in high school. That transitioned into college. College, I started dancing more. I was in some dance teams. Then I was in the UCLA marching band, so I was still performing. Then somewhere in the fuzzy lines of summer, 2006, amidst many Coors Lights and Entourage episodes, I was like, “What else can I perform? What other avenues can I go down?” So I thought, “Why not try acting?” Going into that year, I joined a sketch comedy group including an Asian-American theater group on the UCLA campus.

Nerd Reactor: So have you done America’s Best Dance Group?

Keye Chen: I didn’t. At the time, my team and I were just all right. They’re really good now, but I’m not good enough on a professional level. Now I just do it as a hobby and get my bones moving.

Nerd Reactor: And get the ladies?

Keye Chen: Yeah, yeah, the ladies. No, not really.

Nerd Reactor: Chicks did the dancers!

Keye Chen: I’m not going to lie. I do a little booty popping here and there. It doesn’t ever work, but that doesn’t stop me from doing it.

Nerd Reactor: Oh yeah.

Keye Chen: I get weird looks, but that’s about all I get.

Nerd Reactor: That’s why when you test out for the role in Step Up Part 5 or 6 or whatever, get the main lead.

Keye Chen: If it’s just Step Up 7: The Booty Pop, I am so there.

Nerd Reactor: Now that you’re doing acting, what do you have planned for the future after?

Keye Chen: I actually wrote a screenplay a couple years ago and right now I’m trying to see if I can get it made on my own. It’s a very daunting task, but it’s what I’m working on right now. I’m working on a business plan right now. I’ve made a mock schedule and mock budget. So hopefully I can create my own work, but other than that, just waiting for some stuff to come out.

keye chen avery pete superseeds

Nerd Reactor: Yeah. You’re an Asian actor, and I know that Asians are the minority in Hollywood films. So do you have any opinions on the state of Asian-American actors right now?

Keye Chen: Yeah, I think it’s a completely different beast for Asian-American actors. There are fewer roles to audition for. I don’t know what a lot of the public thinks, but I actually think all of that I audition for, that I see, the roles are not bad. They’re pretty good, actually. They’re not always stereotypical roles. I was just talking to someone about this, and this is in regards to making my own screenplay come to life. He was saying that since there’s so little market for it, there’s not much money that will be returned or made from an Asian-American film. Keeping that in mind, you have to budget accordingly. There’s no real audience for it. It’s kind of disheartening, but the numbers don’t lie.

Nerd Reactor: I don’t know. What about the time when Jackie Chan came over? Then again a lot of people love martial arts.

Keye Chen: Yeah, I mean that’s true. Unless it’s some martial arts or something, or some kind of Harold and Kumar thing, which rarely happens, it’s kind of hard. You can go to any Asian American film festival, you’re not going to see most of them playing at a regular theater.

Nerd Reactor: I think the closest one I can think of that probably went to many theaters would be Better Luck Tomorrow.

Keye Chen: Yeah. That one. Joy Luck Club was also a good Asian-American film.

Nerd Reactor: Oh yeah, Joy Luck Club, there, that’s a big one.

Keye Chen: Yeah! And so now, it’s really cool for Asians to see other Asians playing non-Asian roles. Like Fast and the Furious, you have Sung Kang playing a normal dude, pretty much. John Cho playing a normal dude [in Harold and Kumar].

Nerd Reactor: And there’s another TV show that you have, Grimm. You have Reggie Lee who is playing a cop.

Keye Chen: Mmhmm.

Nerd Reactor: And so that’s pretty good for Asian-Americans. So the roles are getting better now than they have been before.

Keye Chen: Yeah, it’s hard. Recently – I didn’t get to see it because it wasn’t even in theaters that long, but Justin Chon was the lead role in 21 & Over.

Nerd Reactor: After Superseeds, what’s the next immediate project that you have in mind?

Keye Chen: I actually shot a pilot. It’s a co-star role, and it’s called Gang-Related. It’s a network pilot. I don’t know if it’s going to get picked up or not, but if it does, it should air in the fall. It actually stars Sung Kang. He’s in it with RZA, and Jay Hernandez is in it. It’s actually a really cool pilot, written by the Fast and the Furious writer. I read the pilot, and it’s really cool. So hopefully it gets picked up, and we’ll see what happens.

Nerd Reactor: And then you get bigger roles in the future if it does get picked up?

Keye Chen: You know what? I can’t ever get my hopes up too high, because being in this business, you can’t. But everyone on set was like, “Your character doesn’t die” and I’m like, “I know, don’t say that to me!”

Nerd Reactor: For those Asian-American actors out there who want to get into acting, do you have any tips for them?

Keye Chen: Speaking generally, for any actor, you have to have mental toughness. It’s going to be really rough, and if you’re Asian-American, I think the best way is to really, really create your own work. For any actor, you should create your own work and keep yourself busy. But Asian-Americans should really create your own work. Especially because Asians are the #1 consumers of YouTube and online social media, right?

Nerd Reactor: Oh yeah, Asians are popping up on YouTube.

Keye Chen: Yeah, there are so many channels with Asians on them. It’s working. If you can’t book roles on your own, why not make your own work? It satisfies yourself creatively and it helps you to build up your own mental stability.

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