NORTH HOLLYWOOD, California — Audioslave and Tool are often in burgeoning screenwriter Chumahan Bowen's stereo as he crafts his dark dramas, so imagine his surprise when he learned Brad Wilk and Maynard James Keenan were going to star in one of his scripts.
"I thought it was a joke," Bowen said.
No, the only joke on the set of Bowen's 20-minute short, "Sleeping Dogs Lie," was that Keenan decided to stay in character as a small-town sheriff's deputy and threatened to tow the writer's car.
"I think with Maynard's chops and a little bit of training, he might be able to be security — at a mall, maybe," Bowen joked back.
So how did a rookie screenwriter and two rock stars with little to no acting experience end up collaborating? Bowen has a family friend in the entertainment business, who a year after reading "Sleeping Dogs Lie" called the UCLA student and told Bowen he had a production company interested.
That company, Redrock Entertainment Development, is better known for promoting concerts, and the owners had befriended drummer Wilk and singer Keenan over the years.
"They called me up and said, 'Hey, you wanna be in a movie? And I said, 'Yeah, maybe. Send me a script," Wilk recalled. "I've always had a fantasy of being able to do this, even before I played music."
RED enlisted longtime assistant director Stuart Lessner to direct and co-produce with Nicholas Delfino and Deborah Raguse, who happen to have a connection to veteran actor Ed Asner ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Elf"). After reading the script, Asner came on board as a co-star and sort of acting mentor to Wilk and Keenan.
"It's been an absolute honor to be working with Ed Asner," Wilk said. "I think everything that I've learned so far has probably been from him."
In "Sleeping Dogs Lie," Wilk plays a Cincinnati native who believes he's stumbled upon clues to a 30-year-old murder mystery in tiny Texas town. Along the way, he's haunted by phone calls from the victim.
"That's a pretty scary situation, and it gets to the point that it's so unbearable that he has to go to Bueford, [Texas,] to try and figure what the hell is going on there, to try and get any kind of answers," Wilk explained. "I won't tell you the end."
Keenan has a small role as the town's crazy deputy, while Asner play's the formidable sheriff. "He's my Barney Fife," Asner joked of Maynard.
The producers plan to submit the short film to Sundance before deciding how it will be distributed.
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