If you ask a male model what he plans to do after the campaigns and editorials stop coming, he’ll most likely tell you he wants to be an actor. The ranks of those who have successfully made the transition, however, are quite thin. But Leebo Freeman can now count himself among them. Despite having started modeling less than a year ago, Freeman spent this summer shuttling between New York and Los Angeles, filming a supporting role opposite Danny Glover in the upcoming Mentryville, due out next year. He spoke with MDC from Los Angeles recently about his flying leap into Hollywood.
MDC: How did you get involved in Mentryville?
Leebo: I was out in London doing some work there and I got a random e-mail on Facebook from my current talent agent here saying he had been doing some casting and they hadn’t found a character for a role they had been looking at for a movie called The Mortal Instruments. He said as far as my look was concerned I was perfect for it and that he wanted to see if I could act. He sent me the sides and some of the script and I recorded it on Photo Booth and sent it over and he worked with me a few times on it. Then eventually with that, it got to the point where they flew me out to Los Angeles. I got to go to Fox Studios and go on tape legitimately. I got past that and met with the producer and everyone from Screen Gems and then worked with Lily Collins and the director on set doing a live audition which ended up putting me as one out of two that they were considering for the lead, which was way cool. They ended up choosing someone else, but for my first step into this world it was pretty cool and a great experience. That’s sort of how the doors opened up into all this. After that they were like, “Ok we are going to keep pushing you for other stuff,” and I got booked direct actually without anyone looking at a reel of mine; just from what they had heard. I spoke to the director on the phone and he booked me for a small flick that I’m going to be working on here in the next week and a half. So, that’s the news in Hollywood.
MDC: What can you tell me about Mentryville?
Leebo: All I can say at this point is that I’m going to be working with Danny Glover, which will be cool for me because I love, obviously, all the Lethal Weapon flicks. And Taylor Handley who was on The OC. It’s about a spore outbreak, sort of a global crisis. There’s a group of mates that haven’t seen each other in a long time and now they are trying to keep it in quarantine and survive this deadly outbreak. It should be a pretty interesting story, and I have a wide range of emotions that I portray within my role and everything that I’m doing for it.
MDC: How did you prepare for this role?
Leebo: I actually am right now just working with my acting coach out here, going over the sides and lines and everything like that and just getting the feel and the emotion of the character. But as far as practice goes for any of the acting, there’s really not any practice you can do outside of a specific role that you are working on. It’s not something that I was going to classes for or anything. Pretty much the only practice that I’ve had is working on a script or sides that have to do with what I’m working on right now.
MDC: Is there anything from your experience modeling that you think is going to be helpful to you in terms of working as an actor?
Leebo: Yeah, definitely. Being in front of the camera and being in front of people in general who are looking at you and judging everything you are doing while you are doing it has definitely helped a good bit, because a film set is pretty similar to a photoshoot. You have the crew, and it’s obviously a little bit different and there is a lot more stuff you have to watch about doing in front of the camera. It definitely helps having been in front of the lens so much modeling because I know how to use my angles and how I look on camera, so the comfort level is probably a lot better than it would if I were just jumping into this from never doing anything in the media industry before.
MDC: Is acting something you always wanted to do?
Leebo: Yes, in the beginning I sort of had an idea of it and wanted to eventually get into it, but I obviously didn’t expect it to land in my lap the way it did. So now that it is here, I’m going to see where it goes.
MDC: Is acting something you think you will want to continue to pursue more in the future?
Leebo: Yes, it has a bit more longevity than modeling but modeling is definitely something that I want to do as long as I can because I truly love doing it. They kind of work hand in hand with each other so I’m going to ride them both out and would eventually like to make the acting a full-on career, if that’s what I’m able to do.