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Rooks: Actor Spotlight on Justin Gatcomb

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Every week, we're featuring interviews with the cast and crew of Rooks. This final week's spotlight is on lead actor Justin Gatcomb.

Justin Gatcomb portrays Will Augustine

Justin always enjoyed acting in school, but even before that, he simply enjoyed getting to perform when he had the opportunity, always trying to tell (way too elaborate) stories playing with his action figures. This passion turned to a legitimate career goal during high school… Justin realized that if he took things seriously, and took the right chances, he could realize his lofty goals. Justin didn’t stop at training as an actor, though… “I definitely have a wishlist of characters that has been growing since I was a kid that I would jump at the chance to play. I’ve always wanted to be Robin, or an X-Man, or a Power Ranger… ultimately, I realized that martial arts could maybe help land me those kinds of parts.” He’s obsessed with martial arts. He says he has an odd relationship with traditional arts and combat sports, and has been trying to both bridge the gap and explore them separate from each other. “I’m as inclined to watch Van Damme as I am the next UFC card, I just think it’s all too interesting.” In Rooks, Justin portrays Will Augustine, the film’s protagonist. He met writer/director Robert Maynard at the wrap party for Crossing, and knew Robert wanted to make a feature length film, which he says intrigued him. When Robert pitched the premise of Rooks, Justin said it reminded him of many things he enjoys, but with a fresh take. Will is a tough character to play. He’s in almost every scene, and (without getting too far into spoiler territory) he perceives time differently than most of the other characters, so Justin faced the challenge of examining every action and line of dialogue and determining how Will would experience it. “For me, it was about figuring out the best way to remember my lines and which delivery felt honest.” Justin says his favorite location from filming was the bed that belongs to his character. “I had to film in [that bed] a few times, and it was one of the most comfortable I have been in. I just spent as much time under those covers as possible, that’s where you would find me while we were setting up for the next scene.” Independent sources have confirmed that Justin fell asleep on set constantly, even when that bed wasn’t readily available. But when Justin wasn’t sleeping on set, he loved spending time with his co-stars and crew members. He says that not seeing them almost every week is the hardest part about being wrapped. “There was just the right balance of enthusiasm and sarcasm. There were a ton of alternate takes to scenes, many many bloopers. There was also a lot of down time during the winter shoots where a circle of us in the cabin on location would just warm up by the furnace and talk while everyone else was filming. Tons of bonding opportunities in the little moments.” Justin’s very excited to see the stunt work in the film. In addition to acting, he had a hand in the fight choreography. He says there are also a handful of shots that he knows Robert put a lot of effort into, that he will avoid seeing until the movie releases in December. We asked Justin for his favorite movie and actor or director (notice that all those words are singular), and here’s what he had to say: “I’ll watch anything that has Ryan Gosling in it, but I’d also say that about Arnold Schwarzenegger. Directors? If I had to pin it down, be totally objective, it might be Edgar Wright, but I’ve seen everything by John Hughes, Sam Raimi, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, Tim Burton, and Christopher Nolan. Movies? I have a handful: Serendipity, Say Anything, Bloodsport, The Crow, T2, Endless Love, Batman ‘89, Drive, Akira, Lost Boys, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” He adds that he could probably tell you almost every line in order from the first two Spider-Man movies, and wrapped up with “Been a big nerd my whole life, I doubt I’ll ever change.” A big nerd, indeed. Luckily, most of our cast and crew are nerds, too. Outside of working on the film, Justin spends as much time as he can with his puppy Hammond, and has also been filming for another project, called A Sense of Balance, directed by Thomas Connors, described as a 60s Bond film meshed with a John Wick movie. Drama and action, and the right amount of cheese. "I was hardly expecting the opportunity of getting to play Will in Rooks, but it immediately led to more chances to act and do my own stunts… I’m honored to help bring A Sense of Balance to life."

See Justin as Will Augustine in Rooks, premiering at The Strand in Dover, NH, on December 17. On Amazon Instant Video December 23.

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