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You might not know the name James Preston Rogers but you likely recognize his face. It seems that he is everywhere lately. He appeared in the second season of “Frontier” on Netflix as The Siberian, nemesis to Jason Momoa’s character (who appears as Aquaman in DC’s Justice League). He can be seen along household comedy names like Rob Corddry, Cheri Oteri, Bob Saget, Kevin Pollak, and others in Benjamin (as Ulf the Russian hockey player), and there’s talk of him possibly being involved in a major comic book based franchise. Rogers has that gift for physicality, humor, and emotional depth that has become the DNA of male actors in the current market. It’s the reason that director/writer/actor Jake Hunter reached out to James to portray Carlos in “Face Off.” Hunter reveals, “There’s a magnetic quality to James for certain. From the moment our team saw him on ‘Frontier’ we knew that he was perfect for the role of Carlos. It’s not just because he is big and able to perform very physical roles, although this was definitely something we wanted him to do, but it was because it’s hard to take your eyes off of him. He’s very charismatic, he possesses that natural leader quality that makes you believe he can do whatever he decides to do. That’s a great attribute for an actor. He also has the goods. He delivered a monologue in the film that gave everyone on set the chills.”

James appears as Carlos, a mean, short fused, tough, & intelligent business opportunist. His one enterprise is illegal bareknuckle street fighting to the death. Carlos makes this venture a reality by preying on younger, naïve, & innocent athletes. One of these is James (played by Jake Hunter), a young naturally talented boxer. James is on a mission to save his mother who is battling cancer while his father seeks solace in a bottle. Carlos matches James up against Ray who is seeking a better life with his love Ashley. When James’ manager (Greg/Micahel L Henderson) sets up a break out Vegas fight, it looks as if James will get his mom the care she desperately needs. Fate twists the plans as the story sees both couples in desperate circumstances. As a looming presence, Carlos is direct, aggressive, and opportunistic when the situation presents itself. He doesn’t see himself as dangerous or nefarious but rather simply as self-reliant, even when that calls for the sacrifice of others. He has no governor or boundary between good and bad, he sees only what needs to be done to achieve the outcome he desires. This perspective coupled with the towering size of Rogers makes him an intimidating and frightening persona in the film, which is precisely what Director Nino Aldi desired. The filmmaker comments, “James is the real deal. He’s a fantastic charismatic actor and a true joy to be around on and off set. He’s so pleasant to be around, which makes it all the more impressive when you see him flip the switch and become Carlos in the film. When a director gets to work with an actor and it’s as if you are vibrating at the same frequency, the experience is so positive for everyone. That’s what it was like for me to work with James and I look forward to getting that opportunity again!”

James was perfect in a number of ways for “Face Off.” His ability to so convincingly play such a menacing character in the production was not his sole contribution. Rogers starred in the film The Masked Saint (available on Netflix) and served as wrestling technical advisor and also as fight coordinator for Rent-a-Goalie. He put these choreography skills to work aiding his fellow actors in “Face Off.” Fight scenes are essentially telling a story without dialogue. James spent time with each of the actors to ascertain their individual strengths and what would “play” best for the camera and scene. He describes, “Brando's character (Ray) was more aggressive a little more from the street. His fighting style was more like the heel (bad guy) style. He would keep it clean until Justin's character (James) would get the upper hand and then Brando's character would not be opposed to using a head-butt or low-blow to try to regain control. Justin's character (James) was more of a golden gloves type, very technical in his striking. He placed shots very well, often out punching Brando's character leaving him frustrated and resorting to other tactics. That sounds very easy but the choreography is basically a dance. You repeat the dance until you get it right, covering it with different camera angles to make sure we capture the moments that we are trying to transition through the movie screen to the audience. This production moved like a well-oiled machine. The fighters were young, in shape, and skilled. Everybody maintain a level head and knew what was needed of them. It’s not always easy but the cast was very committed and a pleasure to work with.”

While his contributions in terms of fighting choreography were immense, both cast and crew profess that one of the film’s most impressive highlights is the monologue which James delivers before the climactic fight at the end of the film. The speech he delivers is full of gravitas. James recalls an early experience from his career which he tapped into for this performance. He reveals, “One of my first films was Outlander. I was doing a scene with Jim Caviezel and Aidan Devine when the director called ‘action’ and Aidan seemed to exude a type of energy that engulfed the entire set. It was early in my career and I hadn’t experienced that sort of ‘flip switching’ that came out of nowhere and took everything to another level. I realized that there was an energy that you could exude while being present on set. To be able to actually manifest energy that the camera could pick up on and magnify your presence in the scene…I made that my focus for the next several years. As Aidan eluded to so many years ago, with enough practice anything is possible. It was great to have the cast and crew mirror those feelings about it as I had felt so many years earlier with Aidan. Of course, the incredible writing and performances of everyone else makes it easier to achieve this and I have to thank them for that.”

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