Stars, Director, Author Apply ‘Choke’- Hold to Press

Graig Agop

“Let’s talk about dirty stuff,” stated excited first-time director Clark , as he walked into a intimate room lit only be sunlight at the Beverly Hilton he joined author and “Fight Club” ring-leader Chuck Palahniuk, and actors Sam Rockwell, Brad William Henke and Angelica Huston, to promote the provocative novel- turned-movie “Choke,” on it’s Los Angeles press day Sept. 13.

“Choke” tells the story of choking scam artist and unfit-sex-demented-Colonial theme park performer Victor Mancini, played by Rockwell, who gets choked up at high-end eateries in order to be saved by the “heroes,” and he’s not talking Hayden Panettiere.

These so-called heroes and their generous pockets feed his financial thirst to prolong his mother’s life and he reciprocates the favor by showing immense gratification, which quenches these alleged saviors’ dire need for self-validation.

Stuck on the fourth step at sex addicts anonymous, Victor looks at this oh-so-serious program as an opportunity for afternoon sex-scapades. Unfortunately, he sees the insane asylum where his dying mother stays in the same way.

Mancini finds himself in a bind, yearning to crack into his mother’s disturbed mind in order to find his father, and yet fight his sexual urges all at once. Throughout the film, Mancini is left in various choke holds, trying to make some sort of sense out of one phenomenon after another.

Written by Palahniuk, this twisted novel was embraced by scriptwriter, director, and actor Gregg and turned into a light and playful, inappropriately hilarious, adults-only brunch of perversion in the park that won’t have you taking small bites in fear of being unable to digest.

At the conference, the comical Gregg took a seat in his sharp black suit next to the bright-eyed and reserved Palahniuk, wearing olive green, who said, “Young people feel their only access to power is looking good because they don’t have wealth, education and contacts.

“So if someone can present a narrative that shows someone losing all of that [attractive] power and still transcending and moving forward, that’s a narrative young people will really respond to because your worst fear is losing that one form of power: looking good,” said Palahniuk, describing the account of the main character Victor.

Victor’s (Rockwell’s) nightmare is losing his sex addict wingman Denny (Henke) to a healthy relationship.

“It’s the endless cycle of American culture. We want to see someone rise up out of the masses by their own valuation and willpower, then we want to see them get f*****g destroyed. Face our worst fear, live it for us, and show us we will get past it as well,” said a direct Palahniuk.

When asked about the dramatic change in moods from movie to book, Palahniuk said, “It has to be light.”

We were then joined by the lead and supporting actor, Rockwell and Henke. After comparing facial hair – Rockwell, sporting a new mustache – and Henke sarcastically expressed their unfortunate loss.

“They cut it [our sex scene]. We wanted it, we filmed it during our private time during rehearsal,” they said jokingly, finishing each other’s sentences. Acting is like first nature to Rockwell.

They credit their entertaining on and off-screen chemistry to allowing themselves to be loose and open said the laidback Rockwell, with his arms stretched over his head though out much
of the interview.

Rockwell and Henke prepared for their parts by listening to “Choke” on audio book and attending real sex addicts’ anonymous meetings. They both developed compassion for members and found the situation depressing.

The lively, dazzling, and genuinely sweet Huston then lit up the room. She walked in with layers of jewelry; colors of earth and autumn shimmered – gracefully dangling around her neck and wrists as she spoke passionately with her hands.

Huston plays Ida, Victor’s mother, who spends her last days in an insane asylum. Her acting brought credibility, not only to her role, but also the credibility this film needed so that “Choke” wouldn’t be taken as a joke.

Although she usually plays the role of a villain, Huston doesn’t judge her characters but rather learns why they are the way they are. In this situation, she feels her character acted the way she did because she may have lost a child.

“She’s not a normal mother, but what is a normal mother?” said Huston, “All of us are delusional. We all chose what we want to remember, we all choose what we choose to ignore, even though we might not admit it ourselves. So we are all beings of our own making ultimately.”

“Choke” is now playing in theaters nationwide and is pleasurably suffocating, but in case of asphyxiation, try the Palahniuk maneuver – apparently it seems to work.