In Marc Jacobs’ world, sporting a pair of bad dad jeans is more shocking to his staff than a sequin bra. But in Disconnect, Jacobs’ film and acting debut, the famed designer was at the disposal of the costume team and the story.
Jacobs told EW: “I was going to a cabaret inspired Halloween party. I did it as one of the cabaret girls with shorts and a sequin beaded bra and dance shoes and stockings and a top hat and all this glitter, and I came out in that in my fitting room among my design team and no one thought anything of me in a bra and a panty with glitter on the crotch. But then when they had the fittings for the movie, when they saw me, my design team was all in hysterics. I had these really tacky suburban disco shirts with crucifixes embroidered on them, and the worst fitting dad jeans – I never wear jeans anyway – but these were just bad and acid washed with flannel zip jackets sewn to the side. And they put big silver rings on my fingers and earrings. So they just couldn’t stop laughing.”
“Nobody would have recognized me at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Yonkers in my acid washed jean jacket with a hoodie attached and my dad jeans,” he added.
The costumes might be fun to joke about, but the film is gravely serious. Out in theaters April 12, the Henry Alex Rubin (Murderball)-directed Disconnect addresses many of our worst online nightmares – from general deception to online child pornography. And Jacobs has taken on one of the more controversial roles in the film.
“My character is Harvey and I run a house for minor [in age] Internet porn. It’s all virtual. People go online and they talk to these kids about their fantasies or whatever. I’m the sort of father of them in the house – the Fagan of all these wayward kids who come stay in this house,” Jacobs explained. “In the end, I’m really not a bad character. I’m actually the one who is protecting them in a way. I’ve taken them off the streets, and they don’t get harmed. They’re doing something that is virtual, though they are talking about sex. But you can look at it two ways. Harvey isn’t a pimp, having them meet up like street hookers or giving them drugs. He provided a home for the kids. But it is sleazy.”
In the photo above, Jacobs’ character Harvey has just gotten into a fight with the seedy and exploitative journalist Nina (Andrea Riseborough) and is getting pulled away by Kyle (Max Thieriot). “That was my big stunt act. I had to get trained by a stunt coach to push down this body double of Andrea Riseborough. I had to learn how to cup your hand and not really make contact. You just sort of touch her on the face, but you have to look like you’re putting your whole body into it,” Jacobs said. “There’s all this coaching and it’s going on outside in Yonkers in below-zero weather. It was freezing. I was strapped with all these heating pads in my sneakers and on my legs, everywhere. We filmed from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m.”
But Marc Jacobs, movie star, isn’t exactly what the legendary designer has in mind. “I felt grateful to have the experience, and the cast and the crew were amazing, but it was like going into another world,” Jacobs said. “I enjoy new experiences. And it was funny to have a trailer to go to, but I didn’t enjoy the actual tedious acting experience. There were long nights and long days, and it was freezing cold outside. And you know you stand around and wait and you eat a lot of junk food because that’s what there is around – coffee and donuts. So those are not things that are good for me. I don’t really enjoy spending my time that way. I enjoyed saying I did it and I enjoyed parts of doing it, but you know, it’s not ever been my dream to act or anything like that. It’s probably the last time I’ll ever do it.”
So the actual making of movies isn’t exactly glamorous, but Jacobs is quick to remind that neither is fashion. Both art forms require months and years of tedious manual labor.
“When you see a fashion show you see those seven minutes of what was six months of tedious work of you know, going up an inch and down an inch, changing it from one shade of red to another shade of red. So it’s the same as any creative process,” Jacobs said. “The result is what we see, but the process is really labor intensive and work.”
Though he might not be rushing back to do any live-action acting anytime soon, Jacobs has appeared - at least in form – in South Park as Muscle Man Marc, one of Cartman’s toys – voiced by Cartman. Jacobs said: “If they asked me, I would do anything for the South Park guys.”