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Tim Joyce sets aside comedy to play tragic relief in new film

Actor Tim Joyce is a character actor, through and through. If you’ve seen him on stage with Subversive Theatre Collective, Shakespeare in Delaware Park, or virtually any other company, or if you’ve caught his stand-up comedy act, you know his type: dry, acerbic, bitter, sour.

Joyce spoils assumptions, though, revealing the humor in our darkest pain, the still-beating heart in our most distracting denial. He’s the actor you always recognize but can’t remember where from; the actor you love, playing the character you hate.

Joyce’s list of theater and stand-up credits is long and fabled, and so, too, is his work on screen. Joyce appears in the independent movie “Love Meet Hope,” a romantic fantasy co-starring Ed Asner.

The film, which recently won Best Drama at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, will play the Buffalo Niagara International Film Festival on April 15. Joyce recently shared some thoughts on his varied career, and what audiences can expect from his new role.

Question: You’re known locally for your acerbic delivery and dark humor. What would audiences be surprised to know about you out of character?

Answer: I’m very often the antipodal example of funny. That’s not to say that I’m not fun to be around or that I don’t laugh a lot and joke around a lot or that my life is some Greek tragedy; far from it. I have a very nice life with great family and friends.

It just (isn’t) always funny to be around me. People who love me often know that, when I’m at my side-splittingly funniest in real life, that I’m hiding a lot of pain.

Q: What do you like and dislike about acting on screen?

A: I love the concentration and full-body commitment that film demands, and how it demands that your emotions be expressed deeply but very subtly upon your face. What is hard about film is that you may sit around a set for 14 hours and only spend 35 seconds of that day actually working in front of a microphone or camera.

Q: Tell us about your character in this film. How is he different from your typical character roles?

A: The role I play, Junior, is a sad and defeated man in his 50s who has become an alcoholic. The fact is, in this film, I am truly the tragic relief. I’m the one character whose story arc is the least uplifting or optimistic.

I think the people who’ve seen my stand-up and comedy roles would be surprised to see that I am actually, at heart, a very serious human being, and that as a performer, my best work is deep, emotional and dramatic. I’m so proud audiences will get to see that aspect of me on screen in “Love Meet Hope.”

Q: What did you learn from working with Ed Asner?

A: The phrase “consummate professional” is so trite, but when you are in one’s presence it humbles you. Ed was silly, profane, sweet, bawdy and even grouchy between takes. But the second the director yelled “action!” he was 100 percent on. He brought his best effort to every take, even the rehearsal takes, because he knows something that only a career as spectacular as his can teach you: that making a good living as an artist is a huge privilege.

He knows the secret: It isn’t your status or your past achievement that defines you as an artist; it is the work you are doing right now. It makes you aspire to match that commitment and pride in your work.

Q: What do you want people to know about Tim Joyce, the artist?

A: As an artist, I want them to know that they may not like a particular performance I’ve done on a particular night, but I want them to go home knowing I left it all out there, effort-wise.

PREVIEW

What: “Love Meets Hope” as part of the Buffalo Niagara International Film Festival

When: 8 p.m. April 15

Where: Tonawanda Castle, 69 Delaware St., Tonawanda

Cost: $10 general, $8 seniors, students and veterans. Festival passes are also available.

Info: thebnff.com

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