Simon Rex: Oscar Contender?

Posted December 12, 2021 by with 6 comments

It’s early and it’s unlikely (he’ll have to beat out Will Smith in King Richard and Denzel Washington in Macbeth), but there’s a surprising amount of Oscar buzz surrounding dark horse contender Simon Rex for his work in Red Rocket, the indie film about a washed-up porn star returning to the small Texas town where he was raised. In real life, of course, most know that twunk turned hunk Rex actually did begin his career as a porn star, appearing as “Sebastian” in amateur jerk off videos for Brad Posey’s now defunct Club 1821 studio. (The stills of Rex above are from the “Young, Hard & Solo” series.) IndieWire has a nice feature on how the now 47-year-old Rex became an Oscar contender, and here’s an excerpt:

On October 23, 2020, the former MTV VJ heard from Sean Baker, a director he did not know, who wanted Rex to send in an iPhone audition for the lead role in his upcoming movie. Baker was ready to shoot “Red Rocket,” his follow-up to “The Florida Project” (which landed a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Willem Dafoe), and wanted Rex to read for down-on-his-luck porn star Mikey Saber.

Less than a year later, “Red Rocket” was invited to the official competition in Cannes. It’s a two-hour-and-eight-minute movie, and Rex commands the screen for two hours and five minutes, carrying the film on his shoulders from the opening sequence, when Mikey arrives in town with only the shirt on his back and somehow cajoles his resistant ex, Lexi (Bree Elrod), to let him stay with her and her mom (Brenda Deiss) in rural Texas.


While Rex did do some notorious, NSFW solo videos early in his career that prevented him from getting work at family-friendly outlets like Disney, he said he didn’t use that experience to play Mikey Saber. “Everything that happened led me to this now in my life,” he said. “This was 30 years ago that this happened. I was just a kid. I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about it. It’s not like it was my career for years, and that’s what I did. It was just something that happened. It’s not about Mikey’s career, it’s more about the type of person that he is. It’s not just about what he does for a living. So there’s nothing that I pulled from my life that I applied to Mikey. There really isn’t a connection truly in my life.”

If anything, he’d like “Red Rocket” to open up a discussion about sex in movies. “Hollywood needs something like this,” he said, “a little bit gritty, uncomfortable, sexual, dirty, something that just maybe can open up the conversation in America, which is so sexually wound up compared to other parts of the world. But it feels like in our culture and our society, there’s a lot of shame around sex, and around nudity, and all these things. And it’s like, who cares? Especially after the last year and a half. What’s important anymore? What are we talking about? So I hope that this movie can make people chill out a little bit and laugh and have fun and relax about these things that are so taboo. Because it’s like, we got to grow up.”

[IndieWire: Simon Rex Charts His Journey from Hollywood Pariah to ‘Red Rocket’ Oscar Contender]

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