Betrayal and its Consequences
BY GARY M. KRAMER | The engaging gay thriller “Truth” charts the relationship between Caleb (Sean Paul Lockhart) and Jeremy (screenwriter and director Rob Moretti) who first meet online. After some hot sex, the men must overcome a slight bump in their budding relationship. They soon become more intimate, until someone feels betrayed and takes drastic action.
It would spoil the film to reveal more about what happens, but it can be told that both characters end up in handcuffs at different points in “Truth.”
Director Rob Moretti motivated by co-star Sean Paul Lockhart in writing “Truth”
In separate interviews, Gay City News spoke with Moretti and Lockhart, who has done adult film work as Brent Corrigan, to discuss the issue of trust that dominates this sexy drama.
GARY M. KRAMER: Rob, you dedicate the film to Sean, who “helped [you] find [your] truth.” How did your co-star help you?
ROB MORETTI: This film came about when I was in a dark place. I got sick with vestibular labyrinthitis, a balance disorder that gave me permanent nerve damage. While recovering from surgery, I was reading a lot of Sean’s journal entries and blogs and I realized we had similar backgrounds. I had not met anyone who’d gone through similar circumstances. I wrote this film with him in mind. His coming aboard helped me. I thought my career was over and that I would not act again, so he pushed for this to happen and got me out of that.
GMK: Sean, this may be your most accomplished screen performance to date. How did this film, which has you acting charming, confused, and enraged — sometimes in a single scene — help you grow as an actor?
SEAN PAUL LOCKHART: It was important for me to arrive at an honest, layered performance. I hurt myself doing it. When you go to create a scene you use your own life experiences, emotions, and relationships. I took things from my background and dredged them up. I spent some months in a tailspin afterwards trying to push them back down. Every dark role is hard to come out of.
GMK: What do you think Caleb sees in Jeremy, and what does Jeremy sees in Caleb?
RM: Caleb sees in Jeremy someone who actually pays attention to him, cares for him, and is genuine. Jeremy sees someone who is adorable. He wants to protect and takes care of him.
SPL: Jeremy sees Caleb as a safe goodlooking kid, but he takes steps back when Jeremy sees Caleb has problems. He questions if Caleb is safe — emotionally, physically, and in other ways. Caleb is a beacon of freedom and expression.
GMK: Jeremy says the one thing he truly hates is a nasty hairy spider. What was shooting the spider scene like?
RM: Oh my God. I really don’t like spiders. Part of me was petrified, but if actors can lose weight for a role I can do a scene with a spider. We purchased a taxidermied spider, a Singapore Blue. But when they shipped the real one and I saw it move, I thought there is no way they are putting that on me! It was venomous. So what you see is green screen. I refused.
SPL: I think insurance wouldn’t allow for that. I don’t think we would have put a spider on Rob.
GMK: What can each of you say about being handcuffed for a portion of the film?
SPL: My handcuffs were on my feet and on my wrists in front of me. The visceral nature for me was the jail cell and the jumpsuit. I could have been there. I didn’t like being on that jail set for two days. When we came out of there, it was uplifting. That space had a much more profound effect on me than the shackles.
RM: Being cuffed for ten hours a day was torture in every sense of the word.
GMK: What about the sex scenes and the nudity? Sean goes full frontal in the first ten minutes, but Rob, you film yourself quite discreetly. Were you intimidated to be naked with Sean?
RM: No. Sean actually has made me feel comfortable in my body. I had no problem spending 10 to 12 hours a days in my Andrew Christian underwear. It was so liberating. I wanted to get naked, but Sean said no — there’s only one penis in the film. I would have gladly done it. I have no issue whatsoever.
SPL: I was giving him shit! I have the power to say no. I don’t get naked because people expect it. But I also know that as an actor with an adult background, I’m adept at doing certain things in front of the camera, and I’d be a fool not to do that.
GMK: The characters talk about their secrets and shame, from Jeremy discussing his alcoholism and his mother’s to Caleb wrestling with demons throughout his life. How do you feel the characters deal with and work through the difficult issues in their relationship?
RM: I am a sober man, and I do find that when you have a tough life that it does rub off and reflect your relationships. You can fall head over heels for somebody but the moral of it is that you can’t fix anyone. You have to work on yourself and fix yourself.
SPL: It’s subtly referenced in the film that Caleb suffers from fetal-alcohol syndrome. There’s something that happens to him as a result, and it creates this abrasive, volatile, and very manic type personality. The therapists don’t know how to deal with him. They medicate him so he doesn’t fly off the handle. We look at someone who appears to have the world at his fingertips, but there is so much going on under the surface. He’s living alone and any time he opens up and becomes accessible to someone, it ends in the worst way.
GMK: What about romantic gestures? What is something that melts your heart?
RM: Maybe because of my age, but I think it’s sweet to bring flowers on a first date. It shows you care and it’s romance. I’d love it if someone did that for me. There’s no writing love letters anymore. Now it’s texting.
SPL: I ride horses. I can have the worst day and if I can have a riding lesson and I can still come off that horse, I feel like the luckiest person in the world.
Rob wrote the scene of Jeremy getting a horse for Caleb for me. I’ve been riding since I was five. What I do is considered English equitation. I’ve competed on the Hunter/ Jumper show circuit in San Diego in recent years. I’ve always wanted to do a film with horses. I’d love to do a western with tons of horses. A period piece would be a dream.
TRUTH | Directed by Rob Moretti | Left of Center Entertainment | Opens Jan. 10 | Quad Cinema, 34 W. 13th St. | quadcinema.com