Actor, director and painter, Jeffrey Vincent Parise has appeared in many films, plays and television shows. As fans of Millennium and Lance Henriksen will no doubt be aware, Jeffrey’s most recent film was a lead role in the feature film Dark Reel, a comedy/horror/thriller starring Lance Henriksen and Edward Furlong. Jeffrey holds the distinction amongst fans of Millennium of being Frank Black’s final case. As Lucas Wayne Barr, Jeffrey was to become the last antagonist to battle Frank before he, Jordan, and ultimately the show itself, drove off into the wilderness. Jeffrey recently took time from his busy schedule to speak to us and we thank him for the kindness and support he has extended to us and to fellow fans of the franchise.
BACKTOFRANKBLACK: The creative conceit behind the character of Lucas Barr is that he possesses a transplanted evil rather than an organic one. You perfectly represented that conflict in your portrayal, shifting, in some scenes, between light and dark in quick succession. When you are building a character as surreal as that, from what do you draw your influences for that portrayal?
JEFFREY VINCENT PARISE: I think that each and every one of us has the potential to change from the extreme of light and dark on the drop of a dime and that we practice our whole lives to keep that under control. We chose light, or in some cases dark and stick with it. I draw on my own capacity and conflict of conscious choice and hedonistic, instinctual choice when playing a character like Lucas Wayne Barr.
BTFB: There is a particularly poignant moment towards the close of the episode that almost serves as a resume of the whole narrative purpose of Millennium. During an exchange between your own and Lance’s character, Lucas Barr wonders if he was innately capable of such horror anyway to which Lance’s character asserts that we all are. Do you agree with what is, essentially, an assertion that Millennium sought to explore?
JVP: As I touched on in the first question, I agree that we are all capable of anything. I think that we start early on in life forming an agreement with society as to what is acceptable and what is not. What works and what doesn’t.
BTFB: I was recently interviewed on behalf of the campaign and it was put to me that a contingent of people failed to see the redemption and the light that permeated Millennium’s often bleak landscape. I know Lance expressed initial uncertainty himself when the idea was pitched to him. Do you think it was bold of the creative team to concentrate on facets of humanity that humanity may not want to confront? In this day and age when franchises are so mercilessly canceled do you think creative teams are less inclined to be bold and provocative and are afraid to write material that is not immediately accessible?
JVP: No, I do not think they were being bold by doing what they were doing. I think truly creative people are never afraid to confront these facets of humanity that the Millennium franchise chose to confront. Whether or not they are capable of this sort of confrontation is another question all together. I feel the truly creative are always confronting humanities flaws and it’s unworkability. We do so in order to permeate the light through it’s cracks and make humanity work.
BTFB: In our discussions with Lance he has commented that he believes Millennium would be enriched by an opportunity to present it as a movie, free from what he considers some of the sanitizing constraints of episodic television. Do you agree with this and would you enjoy an opportunity to create a new character within such a thing?
JVP: Absolutely. I think the birth of such shows as The Sopranos’, Carnivalle, Dexter and True Blood, we have seen an opportunity to take series television to a whole new level. I think it would have been the same for Millennium, had there been a cable station open to running and producing the series. A film would give the same kind of freedom to explore characters and a story line that these cable shows allow.
BTFB: We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of those who contributed to the show and delighted by the high regard they still retain for it. I have read that you consider films and performing in films as those things that have influenced and inspired you the most. What was it about Millennium that provided for you the required freedom of expression that you have enjoyed in other media?
JVP: Since it was a two part episode arc, I felt as if I were shooting a film I was flown to Vancouver for a little over three weeks and put up in a really nice hotel room. Because I knew no one in that town, the time was spent doing research on serial killers and learning what made Lucas Barr tick. The writing also rang with the intelligence of a feature film. It seems to me, the most frightening aspect of a serial killer is the mind and Millennium was definitely a series for mind miners.
BTFB: Fans of Lance Henriksen and Millennium are aware that you have both completed work on the forthcoming horror movie, Dark Reel. We have heard many great things about this movie and wondered what was the experience like of meeting him again and can you share some of your own insights into the movie?
JVP: I thought Lance was great then and he is even greater now. The man has not stopped growing. It only takes a conversation to know this. He is generous with his advice and inspiring in his work. I remember being very exited rehearsing the last scene in Millennium when I had the drill to the young lady’s head and was spouting on about “We are all Sheppard’s” and Lance said to me, right before we shot “Don’t forget to breath”… and he was right. I was indeed holding my breath!
BTFB: I was thrilled to discover that aside from being an actor you are an accomplished painter and writer. How long have you been painting and how would you describe your style? Did it take you a long time to establish a niche that you were comfortable with?
JVP: I have been painting now for about 15 years. 10 of which I would consider “painting seriously”. I would describe my style as modern expressionism. I paint portraits of people and artists living in Los Angeles and beyond. I have been doing an ongoing series for the past 6 years called Naked & Famous that has watched me develop into the sort of style and artist I have always longed to be.
BTFB: With so many irons in the fire, so to speak, what upcoming projects should followers of your work look forward to?
JVP: Well I am currently shooting a pilot for the WC called The Body Politic that, if picked up, I would play a recurring character by the name of Vince. I also have a guest-starring role on Party Down Coming up on the STARZ network, to air on April 17th and as far as the painting goes, I have a book coming out shortly that can be previewed and purchased on www.jeffparise.com