Interview with Tax Collector star Bobby Soto
by Bobby Blakey
I love the gritty world that director David Ayer has created in films like End of Watch, Sabotage, Street Kings and Harsh Times. His latest film The Tax Collector features a return to this type of filmmaking and features a great cast including Bobby Soto, Shia LaBeouf, and George Lopez. I had the pleasure to sit down with star Bobby Soto to discuss his work on the film and his career.
(Since we are both named Bobby decided tost his responses under his last name.)
Bobby: How did you get involved with The Tax Collector?
Soto: I met David Ayer at that dojo that’s in the movie. That sensei is Richard Mesquita and they have been friends since they were teenagers. About four years ago I walked into the dojo wanting to train and met David there. We became buddies and I didn’t know who he was or anything and then one day we were talking about what we did for a living and he told me he was a writer director. I didn’t know who he was and then started telling me his credentials and then I was like “What? I’ve known you like a year already and you are that guy?” Finally he asked me if I wanted to make a movie and I said yeah and we went out and did it.
Bobby: I know you have already done a lot of stuff, but did this originally come along earlier in your career or were you already heavily in the business by that point?
Soto: I was already on a career path, but before I met him I was just doing my thing and we were buddies. After we go to talking about it he invited me into his world to play. It’s like every actors dream. It was cool too because we both grew up in West LA so we had similar friends, but just had never met. Its wild and we just hit it off.
Bobby: Before getting more into the film itself was that element of the Jujitsu training and connection always part of the film or something that was brought in as more of a connection to your real life connection as well?
Soto: I think it was to pay homage to the whole relationship and how we met. Putting it in the film I think was brilliant because of the truth behind it. It was part of the process as well. We would be in that dojo for months with the whole cast just sparring each other. We would test each other out to see how far we could go with each other and it created a real intimate relationship.
Bobby: Yeah the whole martial arts mentality is something special. Being able to beat the snot out of each other and then hug it out takes a special bond.
Bobby: There is so much here with the emotions and action and layers in a film like this. How do you prepare for the role?
Soto: I feel like every person goes through these trials and tribulations in their life and there are these moments that test your faith. God puts the strongest soldiers in the toughest battles. Everyone goes through these things and how do they define who you are? They say trust the process and inevitably which is life. So you just have to trust and believe in yourself because everyone knows that life will come at you in ways you never expected. Every character in this movie is going through something, looking for something or wanting something. So the process is just accepting life and fighting forward.
Bobby: Being an actor that has to essentially carry this movie yourself as the central character, but you are doing it alongside co-star such as Shia LaBeouf and George Lopez. Does it help you to step your game up to deliver an even stronger performance and change how you approach the part?
Soto: Yeah man definitely. Regardless of who anyone gets to work with or get directed by everyone is going to give you a different shift of energy. If I walk into any place right now and the person has an attitude with me and I just want to order a coffee, that’s going to shift the way I behave. These guys are of course at the top of their game so it shifts the energy. I love feeding off of those moments where life throws you a curve ball. I look at them and feel like if I am working with these heavyweights there is a reason I am here. You observe that, acknowledge that and then just bring your shit and then never think of it again. If I let that get to me then I will always feel less than and fuck that. Shia, I love that guy he’s like my brother and George is a really amazing person. To have these guys around me who were open hearted and loving genuinely down to Earth caring people was amazing. Shia and I opened up a theater school called the Slauson R.C. Theater School out of the love that he and I that we have for each other and the art.
Bobby: That’s awesome. I had read an article about him running a theater company, but didn’t see who it was with that is so cool.
Soto: Yeah man, we’ve been running for the last two and half years and see each other every single day since the movie wrapped.
Bobby: That is too cool. Man I thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I loved the movie.
Soto: Thanks man I appreciate it.
Be sure to check out The Tax Collector in select theaters and On Demand now from RLJE Films.
For more information on The Slauson R.C. Theater School head over to https://www.slausonrec.com/