Interview with Rob Belushi, Star of THE BLACKOUT

Rob Belushi prefers drama.

That’s not what I expected to hear from any Belushi, let alone the family’s prince. But the son of Jim and nephew of John has done his part in breaking into the industry without relying on his inherent legacy. Though he graduated from Chicago’s famed Second City improv academy – the alma mater of his uncle and several other A-list comedians – Belushi‘s experiences branch out far beyond comedy. His Gatorade commercials alongside the Manning brothers and other NFL stars were a big hit. He’s the host of a game show. And he’s even written a festival thriller.

His latest comes from Gravitas Ventures’ The BlackoutDaniela De Carlo‘s claustrophobic drama centered around Hurricane Sandy. The “storm of the century” washes over the Eastern seaboard the night of Zoey’s (Leah Henoch) last Halloween party in her Manhattan apartment. Stuck with her tense roommates (Hillary Anne MatthewsTess Paras), a group of friends, and a pair of brothers she’d met earlier that morning, the mood of Zoey’s spooky bash quickly deflates. The power goes out. A funeral is held for everyone’s cell phones. And left without the distractions of everyday life, the party games are quickly swapped for intensive share circles.

Film Inquiry had a quick chat with Belushi about his experiences working on the film as well as his overall career, including the benefits of confined drama and the necessity of confidence.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Luke Parker for Film Inquiry: Why don’t you start off by telling me how you were introduced and what attracted you to this project?

Rob Belushi: I got to meet Daniella – she did her auditions in a kind of unconventional way. She just walked around Echo Park Lake with actors that she was meeting with and talked to them. You know, I’ve heard her say she wanted to be able to connect and see if the actors had the capabilities of surprising her, and she was able to figure that out just through an hour walk – which I thought was really cool. It really bespeaks to her confidence as a director to say, “I can connect with this person and get them to where I need them to be,” as opposed to having to see it done perfectly in an audition to feel confident in the choice.

Interview with Rob Belushi, Star of THE BLACKOUT
source: Gravitas Ventures

That was interesting and exciting for me, especially for a project like The Blackout that was going to be depending somewhat on improvisation and flexibility between a large ensemble cast. It gave me a lot of confidence in working with her and we had a lot of fun.

How did improv play a role in this film, because I honestly didn’t pick up on it.

Rob Belushi: All of the scenes are improvised.


Rob Belushi: Yeah, all of the scenes are improvised. She would have kind of a sketch of what she wanted to happen, more or less, and how we got there was up to us.

I know you’ve done theater work in the past and like a lot of stage productions, The Blackout is largely set in one environment. What aspects of a confined drama do you find most exciting as a performer?

Rob Belushi: I think the act of being confined creates tension just in and of itself, so I think that’s always interesting. It forces people to deal with each other or the situation, the given circumstances. There’s no real escape, which I think makes confined drama always at least interesting. And it’s definitely a fun thing to be a part of.

Plus, when you’re confined with a bunch of people without a script, in this particular case, we were able to go on a journey together and explore what that meant moment to moment.

And I think just drama in general, we like it because there’s usually revelation – like we get to go deeper into somebody or something and find out deeper layers of truth. Whether that’s literally the truth of the mystery being unraveled in a thriller or a mystery, or how circumstances continue to pressure characters for different behaviors and reactions.

Interview with Rob Belushi, Star of THE BLACKOUT
source: Gravitas Ventures

I love drama. That’s more of what I watch than I comedy, that’s more of what I read. I love comedy. I love to laugh, but I definitely love comedies where I believe those people are real and not just telling jokes. And I think I get that more in drama.

With that said, working in such a limited space, are there any challenges in developing character? You made it sound like it’s actually easier for you.

Rob Belushi: In this case, I honestly just tried to bring a version of myself to the role that was believable. And I tried to find my place within a large group. So that’s kind of the big challenge. It’s not about me per se, but sometimes I am the focus of attention, you know? And finding the opportunity in that is, I guess, a balancing act, but also an opportunity. I didn’t really have any of the heavy lifting in this movie. I kind of just come in and make people feel better, and hopefully bring a little charm. I’m comfortable in that role so it felt like a loose veil.

There’s an actress character in The Blackout who talks about her self-doubt at one point, saying she’s in a profession where she has to believe she’s “more than enough.” Would you describe yourself as a confident person? Is it necessary for the profession?

Rob Belushi: I guess I would. I think the more confident you are, oftentimes, the better equipped you are to deal with the profession.

Film Inquiry thanks Rob Belushi for his time.

The Blackout is available on VOD now.

Does content like this matter to you?

Become a Member and support film journalism. Unlock access to all of Film Inquiry`s great articles. Join a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about cinema – get access to our private members Network, give back to independent filmmakers, and more.

Join now!

Similar Posts