Kentucky native and St. Xavier High School graduate Joey Kern is in a good career place, appearing in two Hollywood releases in less than a month. In the recent boys-on-the-road comedy Grind, he plays the movie’s skateboarding Lothario, Sweet Lou. He shifts from laughs to scares in the horror movie Cabin Fever (opening Friday), about a killer virus that strikes isolated campers.
Kern has been on the road for several weeks promoting Grind, and it just so happens that he finds himself making a pit stop at his old stomping grounds on the film’s opening day. The publicity days are long and the questions never-ending, but he happily lets the makeup artist touch up his game face before we sit down at the Cricket Lounge at the Cincinnatian Hotel for a mid-morning chat.
I know Kern is currently focused on Grind, but Cabin Fever is the film amassing positive online buzz. I’m looking forward to that one myself, but I understand if Kern wants to talk up Grind. So I press “play” and slide my tape recorder between us.
CityBeat: You know I don’t have any real questions.
Joey Kern: Good, I probably don’t have any real answers either.
With our first comments on the record, Kern and I settle in for a conversation on the publicity game we’re playing, one he’s learning in these daily marathon sessions. He appears to be a quick study but is quick to note how it can wear on the nerves.
JK: As long as you don’t ask me if I really skateboard in the movie, I’m fine. I wish they had put that like first thing in the press kit: “These are actors, and we have great skaters in the movie.” Every time someone asks that question, my shoulders slump. I liked the movie and hope they make some money, but I’m done talking about it.
Instead, we talk about the initial encouragement he received in the theater program at St. X, his formal acting training at New York University and six years as a professional actor. In his words, he aims to “stand out without being a scene-stealer.” For the most part, he seems to enjoy reminiscing about seeing Reservoir Dogs “down at some old beat-up theater I’m sure is gone now.”
He flashes forward to a recent festival screening of Cabin Fever where Quentin Tarantino happens to be in the audience and joins in the Q&A session. The good fortune and awe factor of the situation definitely isn’t lost on Kern, who proves to be a thoughtful guy who simply wants to entertain. He shares his pride in driving along the Norwood Lateral and seeing Grind on the Showcase marquee.
After concluding the interview, I appreciate the few moments with a working actor from Cincinnati who takes his responsibilities seriously. It’s easy to lament the drain of young talent from here, but at least in Kern’s case we can be proud to have someone like him representing us, no matter how much of a grind the process might be. (tt clinkscales)