This Hawai‘i Production Assistant Went From Making Costco Runs to Starring Alongside Ben Affleck and Oscar Isaac
In real life, Louis Jeovanny was running errands and grabbing dry cleaning. In Netflix’s Triple Frontier, he’s helping Special Forces operatives steal millions of dollars in drug money. Here’s how he got the role.
Whether you’re an aspiring actor or not, most people know the cliché about suddenly being “discovered” and randomly selected for a starring role in a Hollywood blockbuster. (You might have better odds of winning the lottery or getting struck by lightning.)
But for University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa graduate Louis Jeovanny, that dream of working on a major feature film recently became a reality. He went from working as an assistant at the Paramount Pictures production office in Honolulu in 2017 to joining the principal cast of Netflix’s Triple Frontier, alongside big-name actors Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam and Pedro Pascal.
“I had never acted before,” Jeovanny says. “But I figured I’d give this a shot.”
Five years ago, Jeovanny moved to Hawai‘i from California for college. He graduated from UH’s Academy of Creative Media in 2016 and asked his former professor, Gerard Elmore, about job opportunities. Elmore secured Jeovanny an internship, which led to a job with local producer Darrin Kaneshiro as a production assistant on commercial sets. Then he heard about an opportunity at Paramount.
Jeovanny became the guy that made coffee, picked up the dry cleaning, and went on Costco runs for snacks and supplies. “One day, I was helping the casting director unload her minivan when I jokingly asked her if she needed any extras. She looked at me and said maybe, you never know.”
A few weeks later, Jeovanny began noticing an influx of guys coming in to read for auditions, many of whom were a similar to him in height and build. Outside the casting office, he could hear the casting director asking the actors if they could speak Spanish but nearly none of them could. Another afternoon, Jeovanny overheard a production meeting where the film’s director, J.C. Chandor, said that they might have to return to Los Angeles to find additional talent.
“Later that day, I’m building a chair for J.C. and the casting director comes up to me and asks if I speak Spanish. I told her that I could speak a little bit. She asked me what I meant by ‘a little bit’ and I tell her that both my parents speak Spanish and I’ve spoken it my whole life but I might be rusty because I lived in Hawai‘i for six years,” says Jeovanny. “Then she says, ‘Next time someone asks if you speak Spanish, just say you speak it well.’ I said ‘OK, I speak it well.’”
The casting director gave Jeovanny a script with a single line of dialogue and told him to study it. Jeovanny went home, studied the line and watched Narcos to try to get into character. The next day, she filmed an audition tape of Jeovanny saying the line. He didn’t think anything was going to come of it.
A few days later, the casting director told Jeovanny that the director wanted him to audition live. “So I go into the audition and there’s J.C., the casting director, and two producers behind a table. They all recognized me as the guy who served them coffee and they asked if I had ever acted. I said no. They said, ‘Don’t worry about it,’” Jeovanny says. He says his line, everyone tells him he did great and the casting director advised him not to cut his hair.
“For the next few weeks, that’s all I hear: Don’t cut your hair. But no news on whether I got the part until the next year. Suddenly, it’s March 2018 and the casting director calls me to say I’m in and they’re starting shooting,” says Jeovanny. A week into production, the film gets canceled. Two months later, Netflix picks up the rights and Jeovanny gets called back in. Then the film gets canceled again.
Jeovanny later learned that Triple Frontier (or Sleeping Dogs, as the movie was titled for a time) had been languishing in development hell for more than a decade, with a revolving door of directors and actors previously attached to the project, including Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, Will Smith, Channing Tatum, Tom Hardy and Mark Wahlberg.
By January 2018, Triple Frontier was back on and Jeovanny was invited to return. “I didn’t know if it was all legit until I went in on the first day and I’ve got my own trailer and my contract’s sitting there,” says Jeovanny.
Production on Triple Frontier began in Honolulu before traveling to Colombia.
In the final version of the film, Jeovanny’s lines were cut but his character is essentially the lynchpin to everything that happens. And Jeovanny is in scenes with all the main actors. “In one scene, Ben Affleck is yelling at me. It’s crazy,” says Jeovanny.
Being on set was surreal for the 24-year-old actor, who found himself hanging out with the rest of the cast between takes. “I felt like the high school freshman trying to be cool next to the seniors,” says Jeovanny. “Ben Affleck’s nice but he’s quiet. If you talk to him though, he’ll chat with you. Oscar [Isaac] and Pedro [Pascal] are constantly speaking Spanish to each other. Charlie Hunnam’s hilarious. They’ll be cracking jokes up until the camera starts rolling, then when the director calls for action, they snap into it. They’re professionals, but me, I’m still giggling so I gotta be more on that.”
Since production wrapped in May 2018, Jeovanny had been eagerly waiting for Triple Frontier to debut, which it finally did in March at select movie theaters across the country and streaming through Netflix. His goal now is to keep the momentum going and try for more film and television roles. He wants to act full time.
“Triple Frontier was an amazing opportunity and I’d like to eventually get an agent and go for more roles. But the casting people warned me to take it slow, be patient and not try to dig my way into another project. It’s one day at a time,” says Jeovanny. “All the actors in the movie were really humble and nice and easy to talk to, which is how I’m going to approach this, too. That and fingers crossed.”