White Rabbit follows the story of troubled teen Harlon, a bullied high school student who starts having visions of a rabbit he killed as a kid, putting him in a mental state where his imagination causes him to commit violent acts. His portrayer Nick Krause explains the character, what it was like to play such an emotional role and what he hopes the audience can take away from this film.
“Harlon is very quiet, very introverted — he doesn’t really fit in anywhere, so he finds this wonderful escape from reality through comic books,” says Krause. “He also harbors a lot of guilt — when people come and bully him, it turns into his fault. There are certain events from his past that he just can’t get over, so he starts to suffer from schizoaffective disorder — a mental illness — and suddenly the characters in his comic books become ever more real. There are all of these different conflicting voices in his head. A lot of his struggle is to overcome these voices but also not to be so alone. No matter how forceful and violent the voices are, they keep him company,” he says.
Krause says the level of difficulty involved with sinking his teeth into Harlon attracted him to the role.
“When I saw the script I absolutely loved the story,” says Krause. “I fell in love immediately, because I just thought that Harlon’s role could be one of the hardest things that I can do. The bigger the challenge you take the more you grow as a person.”
Because the role is so emotionally troubling, Krause says he would often ask himself what it would take to get into that mental place. He prepared to take on this role by what he describes as “giving himself the interview from hell.” Not only did technically breaking down the script and scenes serve as preparation, but he also wanted to put himself directly into the mind of Harlon. “I started constructing all of these thought experiences, inner scenarios, to test myself on how lonely I would be for imaginary friends to become real, or how mad I would have to be to really hurt someone else who had hurt me — really sitting alone in a room and beating my own brain up, in a way.”
The story of bullying is so current in today’s world where it has become a major issue among people, especially teenagers. Krause says he hopes audiences will recognize just how damaging bullying can be to one’s psyche.
“What I hope the most is that people will see the humanity in these kinds of people; people who are classified as these narcissistic, violent monsters. I wanted to work to show through the character that none of the violence, none of the terrible things in the film really had to happen, but by the end they were inevitable, so I hope that audiences walk away with a better understanding of the human aspect of someone like Harlon, just to see how powerful issues like bullying and mental illness and the way he was raised can be on any person, the nurture versus nature of it.”
White Rabbit made its world premiere at Zurich Film Festival and saw its North American premiere at the 2014 Catalina Film Festival, where it won Best Feature Film. The film also won Best Cinematography at Chelsea Film Festival and Best Actor (Krause), Best Supporting Actor (Sam Trammell) and Best Supporting Actress (Britt Robertson) at the Boston Film Festival. The film is now in select theaters and available on demand as well.
Krause says he is thrilled to see the magnitude of audiences impacted by the film.
“It’s really cool. I don’t think there is this expectation that it is going to be seen in front of this large audience, you always really hope that it does, that someone is going to watch it and love it and be affected by it,” he says.
When Krause isn’t busy acting, he loves playing the guitar.
“My love for music started when I was 11 years old,” he says. “I told my parents it would be really cool to learn some kind of instrument, especially the guitar. I was in middle school and I thought that I would get all the girls,” Krause laughs. “I picked up the guitar and fell in love immediately. Guitar is just an endless world of possibility and every time I pick one up, it’s just joy.”
Krause says if he could have a jam session with any person it would be James Brown. “If he were still around, I would love to see what kind of electricity would come out of playing with him.”
Besides acting and music, Krause has some other hobbies. “This is going to sound super nerdy but I make websites in my spare time and I also like to study up and stay current,” Krause says.
You can see more of Nick Krause in his upcoming film Darwin, a film set in an oppressive future where everyone’s only contact is with their computer.
White Rabbit will be in select theaters and video on-demand beginning February 13. For more information check your local theater and on-demand listings.