Torrance Coombs goes from sword-fighting in Reign to leading a gang of bank robbers with his starring role in the dramatic film, The Last Heist. Directed by Mike Mendez, the action thriller also stars Henry Rollins as a serial killer who coincidentally happens to visit his bank on the same day Coombs and his team have planned their hold-up. The Last Heist opens in theaters, VOD, and iTunes on June 17, 2016 and in support of the film’s upcoming release, Coombs discussed what it was that drew him to the project and what sets it apart from other heist movies.
Torrance Coombs Interview:
What was your entry into Paul? What did you find fascinating about the character?
Torrance Coombs: “I guess what I found fascinating is that to be honest it’s tied into my experience when I did the first read-through with everybody. I didn’t know what I was going to do with this character exactly or what the entry point would be. But the read-through I got there and everybody…it was like a bunch of really, really big dudes. Paul is the leader of a band of bank robbers and somehow, me – I’m not small but we’re talking about being surrounded by like a bunch of MMA fighters. You know what I mean? A lot of tattoos, a lot of big guys. These guys, they could just crush me. So I was like, ‘Okay, how did he get these guys to respect him? How did he get them together?’
I think when I walked into that room I think a lot of people in that room thought I was playing a different character. [Laughing] They pictured something different and to be honest I might have pictured something a bit different. So then I had to get that out of my head and say, ‘Okay, how do I be the leader of these guys?’ And that was challenging and I was a bit nervous about it, but I think we found the right approach. It’s hard to say exactly how, but we launched right into it. I got cast and then a couple of days later we were shooting and so I didn’t have time to sit and think about it too much. It was sort of just like I just showed up on the day, I did as much work as I could and then they want you to show up and you start feeling your way through it. Everybody was feeling their way through it and I think we jelled pretty quickly as a team.”
Do you find that that’s your favorite way of working is when you don’t really have a lot of time to think about it, or do you prefer to have a few weeks to get into the character?
Torrance Coombs: “Both are fun. I think back to my college days when I was given an essay. You give me a month to write an essay and I’m still going to write it the night before it’s due. [Laughing] So in that sense I guess I don’t mind being thrown into the fire and working that way. That’s the pace of television too is that you get the script the night before. I’ve mostly worked in TV so I’m really accustomed to that pace of working. So, it was fine.”
Since you didn’t have much time before shooting to bond with the actors who are supposed to be playing your cohorts in crime, was there anything you did off the set to try and connect?
Torrance Coombs: “Nope. There was no time. We sort of met at the read-through and then a couple of days later we were shooting. It was just all day, every day. No, we only had time hanging out on set while waiting for them to light. I mean, there was a lot to laugh about. We had a lot of fun shooting this thing. It’s a fun movie. It’s fairly silly, so we just had a lot of laughs. We had fun with blood flying everywhere and guns. We just got to be little kids playing as bank robbers.”
Did you pick up on the tone right from the first read-through?
Torrance Coombs: “Yeah, I mean you sort of know what you’re in for when you sign up to do a low budget action movie, and that is to say that you aim for truth. The script is very testosterone-y. It’s got a very male energy to it. You aim to make the best movie you can with the constraints you’re given and you do whatever you can to elevate it. I suppose at the end of the day it ends up being the producer’s call. If you’ve failed at that you can in the editing room change the tone of it and make it completely silly. What I thought when I was going to watch it…I’m always nervous to see exactly what they’ve done with it and so when I saw it I was like, ‘Okay, we’ve actually achieved something where they didn’t go a complete B-movie on us.’ I think that it holds up.”
Was it kind of a release to go from Reign to something that’s the polar opposite with The Last Heist? Was that a fun way to change things up?
Torrance Coombs: “Because Reign shoots 10 months out of the year and you only have two months off, you only have time to do one thing. I’m like, ‘If I’m going to give up my time off, it’s going to be on something that is tonally completely different.’ And so when this came along I was like, ‘Oh, yes, it’s perfect.’ And then immediately I was jarred by it. I wasn’t sure I had it in me. I realized I’d become really comfortable working for a couple of years in that Reign environment. I realized how kind of gentle I’ve had it. This was immediately a very different thing. Very testosterone-y, a lot of swearing, a lot of guns, so I was actually scared by it at first. I was very intimidated by that, but then I remembered I’m an actor, you know? [Laughing] ‘Let’s just have fun.’ It’s funny how it really does start out with the feeling like you really don’t belong here and you feel bad for shooting that guy. You get over it and have some fun. But the change of pace was appealing to me but then immediately I was wondering if I’d made a mistake. And then I had a ton of fun doing it.”
The Last Heist doesn’t seem to take itself quite as seriously as most heist movies do, which is an interesting change of pace.
Torrance Coombs: “It’s the heist movie that throws in a serial killer. There’s something inherently campy about that. That is a lot of fun. It’s bank robbers versus a serial killer – I don’t know if I’ve seen that done before. The concept was a little bit different which was interesting to me.”
Speaking of serial killers, did you ever get to see Henry Rollins on the set?
Torrance Coombs: “We overlapped for about two or three days. I got to meet him and talk with him over lunch, but we actually had no scenes together. It’s strange and we didn’t really realize it until we were there that we didn’t actually work together. We were carrying completely different sides of the story. He’s picking my guys off, but I don’t ever get to see him.”