You're not in Kansas anymore: American actor James Longshore compares Romania to the Land of Oz
James Longshore is an American actor and dialogue coach who fell in love with a Romanian woman, moved to Romania and promptly fell in love with the country as well. After already appearing in a Romanian film, he's keen to get more involved in the local film industry and ultimately produce films. In an interview for Romania-insider.com, he talks about his life in Romania and his plans to start a film school.
By Irina Popescu
James Longshore is a 34-year old New York-born actor, who is passionate about film making and has found a home in Romania - only the second European country he's had the chance to see. After visiting Paris, he now lives in what he calls ‘the little Paris’, where he wants to get more involved in the film industry. He already had his first role in a Romanian movie, 'Diaz - don’t clean up this blood', an Audience Award Winner at the 2012 Berlinale, in which he played the role of Charles.
James plans to establish a film school where he will try to teach the Romanian actors “how to market themselves, and perform - act in English, speak in English, think in English, for all the American productions that are coming here”, and also make some changes in the film industry here, which he finds “still independent”.
He has been an actor for almost all his life, as he started acting when he was 6, when he was cast in a Shakespeare play. “It’s one of those clichés - I didn’t choose acting, acting chose me. I don’t know what else I would do. I can’t think of doing anything else. But if you ask me what practical job I would probably have, I would easily say lawyer. You have to be able to manipulate an audience, generate emotion and understand why people are doing what they are doing,” he says. “But that is practical. I also would like to just be a waiter on cruise ship. You meet lots of different people, and you travel all over the world,” Longshore adds.
When it comes to Romanians, he finds them very proud and passionate and a little bit combative, but at the end of the day, generous and intelligent. “They seem to have a defeatist attitude I find, and I wish that could change and that Romanians could be more appreciative of what they do have here and preserve it," he says. "I don’t know if that is because Romania has a bad reputation in some places, but Romania is not like they see it. Romania is doing fine for the size of the country and for the resources it has,” he goes on. That is why he would advise the foreigners who plan to come to Romania to keep an open mind because, he thinks, it is the best way to experience everything Romania has to offer.
For this particular American actor, coming to Romania has been something of a ‘Wizard of Oz’ experience. First of all, it starts "with somebody that lived in a completely different place - Kansas, so let’s say that America is Kansas for me,” James Longshore says. Like Judy Garland's character Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Romania has given James opportunities to say "You're not in Kansas anymore." He draws a parallel between the 'other-worldliness' Dorothy finds in the Wizard of Oz and his own experience of coming to Romania. "She meets people that she doesn’t necessarily understand but she learns what their soul is. And then, we all know that there is some corruption and stuff like that going on here, so I can also easily see the political parallel between not just the wicked witch but also the fact that the Oz guy tricks everybody,” he adds.
(photo source: James Longshore)