Known for Jimmy Olsen in “Superman Returns,” Josh Levison in “Being Human” and Eric in “Fanboys,” Sam Huntington is among the busiest actors in Hollywood. In “Second Nature,” Huntington is Bret Johnson, a guy who runs for mayor against Amanda Maxwell (Collette Wolfe) when the world around them magically redefines their gender roles.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview. What drew you to this quirky comedy-fantasy?
SH: It was really the role. I’m not typically cast to play these anti-heroes, the misogynistic pig who has to learn a lesson. But this was a chance to explore that kind of guy and showcase Bret’s journey.
Did you audition for the role?
SH: No. This was an offer. It was this wonderful incoming phone call that’s so rare. As soon as I found out Collette (Wolfe) was part of it, I leaped at the opportunity. And it was filmed in the state of Washington, which I liked.
Do you favor these comedic everyman roles or do you sometimes think you’d like to play an action hero, punching guys out?
SH: I’m a pretty light-hearted guy so those are the roles I generally gravitate toward. I’m typecast as a comedian and humorous guy. And that’s really what I enjoy doing.
Gender role-reversal films aren’t new. What do you think separates “Second Nature” from the rest?
SH: It’s not a traditional role reversal film. They don’t switch roles as much as the world kind of flips the roles for them. They have to explore what the world looks like from the other’s perspective in a non-traditional sense. So in that way, it’s a new spin on the role reversal film. The way Bret is treated in the film is not how all women are treated in the world but a good deal of them are. Being objectified is uncomfortable for him. On the other side, Amanda is treated as a man with all the privileges that come along with that. But it’s uncomfortable for both of them.
Reacting to the many idiosyncrasies of how females are treated in our society had to be a challenge. What did you draw from to portray that?
SH: Although Bret didn’t really switch, he does get a taste of what it’s like to be a woman. For me, it was really the idea of playing confusion and coming to understand how difficult it is for other people.
What do you see as the underlying message in “Second Nature”?
SH: We wanted to generalize the way men are—the pig-headedness and misogyny that a lot of men possess. Not all men, of course. For me, it’s more of the idea that you have to embrace who you are and who others are and to treat everyone as equals. Love is the only thing that matters. Everyone is different but everyone deserves to be loved.
What was your favorite scene?
SH: Anytime I got to play around with Collette, I had a good time. She and I had that natural banter, so any scene where she and I go back and forth was fun. She’s hysterical and talented. A lot came from just being on set with her. I like the stuff in the real-estate office because I get to be a complete asshole.
The chemistry was great between you and Collette. Did you guys do some improving back and forth?
SH: A little bit. It was pretty loose. Director Michael Cross, who is this very generous wonderful man, really allowed us to explore the material as we saw fit. And Collette is so talented. She takes what you give her and really rolls with it.
How are you like Bret Johnson and how are you different?
SH: I like to think that I’m a lot more open-minded. Bret is a misogynist in the truest sense of the word. He believes that men and women are not created equal, and that’s something I fundamentally don’t believe. In terms of similarities, I come from a small town with very insulated ideas of society. And I think Bret is a product of that.
What were you like in high school? Nerd? Class president?
SH: My high school was a pretty traditional public high school. I kind of rolled with everybody. I didn’t really belong to a group. I had my best friends and we were partyers and idiots. If I had to belong to a group, I would say it was the party group. We didn’t discriminate who we partied with.
What’s next for you?
SH: It’s been a huge year. I’ve got a couple of episodic things coming up. I’m on a new NBC show called “Kevin Probably Saves the World.” I did a couple of things on USA’s “Psyche” movie. I’m also involved in a big festival film next year. I’ve been lucky. This year’s been really busy. Of course, I’ve got two little kids so I never really stop moving.
“Second Nature” is currently available on disc and streaming.