Film still: Mike as Leonard.
The main character Leonard is a pretty complex guy. Building a house to save your wife's life/ as a means to avoid the inevitable while looking toward God for serious answers in between shifts at the hardware store isn't really an easy part to play. When Brent was trying to figure out who would be Leonard he knew he wanted to use a musician because he wasn't used to the actorly direction that most stage/screen actors employ. He knew he could express the character in more literary or musical terms "more like Bob Dylan," "more like Vonnegut," "more like a young Tom Waits." After thinking and re-thinking we were lucky enough to have the well-read musician Mike McGinley pop into our heads!
Mike in his band The Bitter Tears
Mike lives and works, part time as a chef (and thank goodness for his culinary education sponsoring some delicious meals during film shoots) and full time as a musician (more on that below) in Chicago where he was born and raised in the suburbs of. Playing a multitude of instruments him, and friend Alan Scalpone, lead the band The Bitter Tears http://thebittertears.com/. Their burlesque style live shows infuriate some and amuse many around the world (they recently returned from a European tour opening for Magnolia Electric Co. and are headed back to Europe in the Spring as headliners) and their music though hard to describe (I keep wanting to say it is like Nina Simone on heroin during a big band/hard rock phase but that's not even close! http://thebittertears.com/mp3/bts_Slay.mp3) is consistently wonderful. Mike has been a great addition to the film and his stop motion acting has come a long way from its initial "I look like I'm walking like a turtle" phase! And, as Brent likes to point out, "he is handsome while missing teeth."