Film Scouts Interviews

Jon Seda on "Selena"

by Henri Béhar

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Jon Seda is an intriguing animal. Compact, strong, energetic, at times angry. But with a sweetness, a vulnerability and a sense of humor that make him the right actor to play Chris, Selena's husband and guitar player. Despite a strong cameo in Terry Gilliam's "Twelve Monkeys", despite his starring roles in Darnell Martin's "I Like It Like That" and Michael Cimino's "Sunchaser" (with Woody Harrelson), he is not a jaded veteran of press gatherings. He is open, frank, and when it comes to emotions, there is not much self-censorship. And that's refreshing. -- HB


JON SEDA: Chris and I got really close. For the four months of shooting, the whole time I was down there in Texas, I lived with him in the house that they lived together and he would stay with me in San Antonio. It was back and forth, you know. We're still close now.

See, when I met Chris, it was all after the fact. The Chris that I met had already been dealing with the loss and the pain. Getting to know him and being with him a lot, I saw what Selena fell in love with. His joking around. His comical side. His happy side and his down side.

He's a tremendous guitarist. He can play everything. He can play Bach. He can play anything Santana can play. He's right now working with a band and actually I'm trying to work with them. He's a beautiful person. Really innocent, a child at heart. A fun person to be around.

FILM SCOUTS: Did he get along with the family now that Selena is gone?

JS: He does. They keep an eye on him, making sure he's always okay and helping him. But Chris is very unique. He doesn't go out after you. If you don't come to him to help or if you don't go to him, he'll never reach out. He never lets himself get so involved with anyone... except with me.

FS: What does he do when one of Selena's songs come on the radio?

JS: He doesn't have a radio in the car. He says that he's waiting for it to get fixed. Right. And I realized it's because she's always there. One day, he and I walked into a grocery store and BOOM on the radio there goes a Selena song. He just looked at me and went "Hph.." Like that. Like laughed. But what is going on inside? I can only imagine.

FS: Is her presence still felt in the house? Did he exorcise all that?

JS: He's moved out. He has a new house now that Suzette, Selena's sister, helped him get and furnished. In the old house, there were lots of things that were still there that weren't touched.

She used to like to collect all sorts of eggs. She liked eggs. Anything shaped like an egg. Gold eggs. Diamond... She had this huge glass cabinets, with about 500 eggs.
All kinds. Beautiful eggs.

And in her room there were shoes in boxes.

In the bathroom, next to the sink I saw 2 stickers that Selena had put. One said, "Chris and Selena forever." The other said, "I love you, Chris." So imagine, he'd go to the bathroom everyday and see that.

When I saw that, I had a whole new vision of why I was doing this movie. It just hit me. The reason why I got to see that in the bathroom. The reason why I was in that bathroom. I wish I didn't have to. I wish I never saw that. I wish I wasn't in that bathroom. I wish she was still here. I wish the film didn't have to be made, you know?

FS: How much time did he spend with you on the set?

JS: He didn't. He always said he was going to come, and he would never show up. I knew he wouldn't. He'd be sleeping in my hotel room, he'd come pick me up and take me to the set, I'd call from the make-up chair on the phone and say, "Chris... you coming down?" He'd go, "Yeah, I'll be right down." Hang up the phone. Well, he's not. See, I knew. He would never come.

Wait, he did. One time. When you first see him in the movie and I'm playing the guitar and doing this live solo. They wanted me to just learn in like a day. Overnight. No way! Months of practice wouldn't have been enough.

So when you see those hands in close-up, that's Chris' hands.

FS: At what point did you feel you were switching from vampire to friend?

JS: That actually happened pretty quickly. Going into this, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I thought, "This movie is being made. I got this part. I'll do my research. All the characters I've played before were made-up characters. This is different. This is a new level. I have to see if I can actually be like someone."
So that was a challenge for me, and that's how I went into it.

But then, when right away Chris started telling me certain things, I said to myself "Oh my gosh. What am I getting into?" I even thought about not doing it. "I don't know if I'll be able to deal with a lot of the differences that maybe they had when they were with the family."

And then there was his pain. I feared myself to actually feel what he feels. I feared what was happening to myself because I would take it to heart.

I told him, "I'll be watching you. I'll be asking you questions. I'll be in your face a lot. If I cross the line, tell me STOP. I'll understand. You want to kick me out? Kick me out. Anything. Whatever."

But he opened up to me and accepted me and shared things with me without even asking.

Everyday I'd be watching him. How he moves. How he talks. How he dresses. That, I picked that up surprisingly quickly.

What happened was, we connected music-wise. I'm musically inclined, I play drums and keyboards. We started to play music. That became our focal point. We'd stay up at night. Late at night, two days straight sometimes. Three days straight. No sleep. Just up playing music, writing songs.

About a month into it, of us hanging and doing that, I turned around. It was no longer research. That was done. I was set already on my character. We were friends.
One night, I was writing some words to a song and he was playing guitar. He turns to me and says: "Hey, man. I hope it doesn't end with the film. I hope we stay friends afterwards. I know how it is. You do films, you go and meet people, then you move on and forget. But I hope we stay friends, you know?"

And I said, "Yeah, man. No doubt. You're my friend. You're going to stay my friend for life."

He reached over and he hugged me. We hugged. That was the moment where everything changed. It was no longer a film. It was no longer about making the film. It was about me having a new found brother.

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