MARS CALLAHAN TALKS TO "THE BREAK" ABOUT HIS MOVIE
By: Don "Cheese" Akerlow - Publisher "The Break"
I had a chance to talk to Mars Callahan, Writer, Director and Star
of the upcoming movie Poolhall Junkies.
Cheese: "How long have you been playing pool?"
Mars: "I started playing pool when I was about 12 years old."
Cheese: "Where did you grow up?"
Mars: "I grew up in California in Los Angeles"
Cheese: "What's your favorite game?"
Mars: "Nine ball."
Cheese: "Who did you pattern your game off of?"
Mars: "Nobody. I've always been sort of a maverick. I'm a
person. This is the first time that anyone has written, directed
and starred in a movie like this. I never really patterned myself
after anybody. Somebody that I looked up to was Robert LeBlanc.
Robert LeBlanc was the house pro at the Hollywood Athletic Club
when I was shooting pool there and he had a great style. He and
I became real good friends and he was the technical advisor on
Cheese: "Would you consider yourself as a hustler?"
Mars: "Well, I always figured that the best hustle was to
tell everybody in the room that there was no way they could beat
you. The funny thing is when you are eighteen and nineteen years
old, which is how old I was when I was really playing a lot of pool,
sometimes you have a little more cockiness than brains, more balls
than brains. You walk around thinking you are the best and
challenge everybody. When you are that young everybody wants to
line up and play you. I was never the greatest pool player in the
world but I did know how to match up pretty good. So I was able to
make some decent ends up playing at the Hollywood Athletic Club for
a few years. I was kind of supporting myself doing that while I was
writing Poolhall Junkies."
Cheese: "Do you have any other hobbies other than pool?"
Mars: "Filmmaking. When I stopped being obsessed with pool I
became obsessed with filmmaking. So that's really all I do is write
and develop stories and work with that. I used to play a lot of
basketball. When I was a kid I actually at one point in time I
thought about playing overseas."
Cheese: "Do you play and have you played in any tournaments
Mars: "No, I actually was never a tournament player. It's
interesting when you're a kid -- I grew up on the other side of the
tracks. I came from a very poor family and I started shooting pool
to make money, to buy myself a slice of pizza or go to the movies or
something like that, when I was 12, 13, 14, 15 years old. I'd just
hustle, you know, not hustle but just beat. I would never be one of
those kinda guys that would lay down because I was never good enough
to lay down, but just play good enough to win. And match up with
people that you could have a chance to beat, if you played good.
So I started doing that. I never really had a father around. I
always found that - I always say that I didn't have a father. I had
fifty fathers. Chris Corso, who I wrote the film with, was like a
father to me. Robert LeBlanc was like a father to me. So people that
took me under their wing and taught me a few things here and there,
they were all kind of like father figures to me when I was growing
up in the poolroom. I was a little kid, so the fun of it was when
you're coming of age at that time in your life. If you can be your
own man that's something that's really great. The poolroom is that
way and that's what we say right at the beginning of the movie. Age
doesn't matter, race doesn't matter, color doesn't matter, how much
money you've got doesn't matter. How you carry yourself in the
poolroom, how you move, the things that you do and you kinda can
become a man. You kinda become your own person. If you can hold
your own and maybe a little bit of theirs. So, that was the fun
of it. The matching up and figuring out a way to outsmart the other
guy, which is pretty much a lot of what Poolhall Junkies is about."
Cheese: "Somebody had told me that Toupee Jay was Jay
Mars: "Well, you know ..."
Cheese: "I asked Jay about it and he said, yes."
Mars: "We definitely modeled certain characters after
certain people. We had Rags in the beginning of the movie. He was
a real guy. Of course, Jersey Red and Boston Shorty, we used some
names of people that we remembered and just to throw a little
authenticity in the mix."
Cheese: "Was there anything that happened on the set while
you were filming that was unusual or funny?"
Mars: "So many things. Christopher Walken made that time
shot - you know, where he shoots the eight-ball and it slides over
and bank kicks it back in. It was in the party scene where he and I
played at the boss'. Well, we were sitting around. We showed him the
shot and Christopher Walken is a pretty decent pool player but he's
still not like you or me, not like a pool player, pool player, but
he's a decent pool player for a citizen. We showed him the shot and
I said, 'Why don't you practice it a few times and then we'll do a
take' and he said, 'No, no, no, no ... let's just shoot the rehearsal,
maybe we'll get lucky.' BOOM! He makes it the first chance. First
time out he drilled it perfectly and we tried to do a couple more
for safety and he never wound up making it again, just on his very
What was funny was - he made it and everybody was - it was supposed
to be rehearsal. He made it and fortunately we all stayed in
character and we just kept on going along with the scene, like he
was supposed to make it."
Cheese: "I know, because when I saw your face just as he made
it, you looked surprised. And it went so well with the movie it was
like - Woah, he knew what he was doing. It was excellent.
Mars: "That was a little movie magic. Then of course, it was
my turn to do it one handed and of course, I missed the first one.
I missed the second one and the crew, my crew, my camera man and
the lighting guy and everybody all started taking bets on how many
times it would take me to make it. But I didn't let them down, I
made it on the fifth try."
Cheese: "I know, people when you say you can do something
that's when usually you end up not being able to do it, when you
Mars: "That's right. That's a tough shot anyway you slice
Cheese: "It's not a nine out of ten."
Mars: "No, no and one handed with the cameras rolling ..."
Cheese: "... little more pressure."
Mars: "...gets a little tougher."
Cheese: "The movie got delayed time after time at least
from the first release that we had gotten. It made a lot of people
on the Pacific coast and Northwest a little anxious as to when it
was coming out."
Mars: "Oh, good."
Cheese: "Can you shed any light on that? Why it took so long or
what was the delay?"
Mars: "When you're putting all the final pieces together,
you want to make it right. As every pool player in the world knows,
timing is everything. So, when you come out with a movie like this
you don't want to come out when it's coming up against a big James
Bond movie and you don't want it coming up against The Lord of the
Rings movie. You want to release it at a time when everybody wants
to go see Poolhall Junkies. Plus, there is a little bit of ... they
draw it out a little bit for anticipation purposes too, sometimes.
It's good. It's good that people are anxious to see it. The most
important thing for this movie is that everybody goes to see it
opening weekend. That's the most important thing. They shouldn't
wait for the second or third week. The studios often determine
how long a movie plays in theaters. It depends on what it does in
its opening weekend. So if you want to put in The Break there
somewhere that it's important that everybody rallies and goes to
support this movie the opening weekend. Then, it will be in the
movie theaters for a long time to come. It will be in there for
Cheese: "Now I know on this next question, it depends of
course on how well the movie is received and what it does at the
box office as far as the studios go, but is there a sequel in the
Mars: "They'll be more pool movies to come from this movie.
When people get out there to see it opening weekend. If the movie
does good box office ... There's a reason why Rocky made Rocky II,
III, IV and V."
Cheese: "I had heard that Alison Eastwood is on the cover of
Mars: "She is?"
Cheese: "I hadn't seen the issue yet."
Mars: "You know what, neither have I actually, but I heard
that she is and she's such a pretty girl, I can't imagine why
they wouldn't want her on the cover."
Cheese: "I'd also found out that you are also involved
with opening pool halls, with the name of course Poolhall Junkies
Mars: "Yes, absolutely."
Cheese: "What gave you the idea for that?"
Mars: "I always wanted to have my own pool hall and with a
movie like this, with a national campaign behind it and millions of
dollars in advertising, I figured it was a great business move. If
anybody wants a Poolhall Junkies Pool Hall franchise in their
hometown, all they have to do is call and we can set up a meeting
about that. So if any of your readers, in your local towns, wants
a franchise, including yourself if you're interested. What better,
when people open up a new restaurant or a new pool hall they've got
to do all kinds of advertising. Spend a lot of money, so all that
money's being spent, millions, millions of dollars, much more than
they could ever dream of spending, creating. So it's a good business
venture for anybody."
Cheese: "You already have the one open in Salt Lake and plans
are for Vegas, Phoenix and LA?"
Mars: "Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Atlanta, we have a lot of
people all over the country. The phones are ringing off the hooks.
You can call 800-994-2936, ask to speak to Dimitrius Deslis. He's my
business partner and he will send out a package of information. We
have a video, some of the photos from the movie, the marketing
paraphanelia to give out to some people. And in the Pool Halls we've
got all the big Black & White still shots of the movie, behind the
scenes camera footage and we've got the movie playing on the big
screen TV mounted up by the ceiling."
Cheese: "How would you compare the movie to The Hustler
or The Color of Money?"
Mars: "The Hustler is such a great movie, it's a
classic. It's one of the all time greatest movies ever made. I
can't ... how can you compare yourself to Martin Scorscesi doing
The Color of Money and Paul Newman again bringing back the
roll and Tom Cruise are such great actors but I don't really compare
myself to either of the movies. I just try to make a good movie, a
decent movie that people could enjoy and have fun watching it."
Cheese: "Some of the pool players who reviewed the movie
considered Poolhall Junkies better than both of the movies, and
most of them considered it to be as good as The Hustler and
better than The Color of Money."
Mars: "That's very flattering. I'm glad that people liked it,
but I try not to draw comparisons because so much of what is art is
artistic interpretation. What I might like might not be what
somebody else might like and so I don't try to compare myself
with anybody. I just try to do the best job that I can."
Cheese: "I heard there are going to be Poolhall Junkies
Mars: "Oh yeah, there's actually going to be a shot for a
Cheese: "The same shot that was on the bank eight?"
Mars: "I don't know exactly what the shot's going to be but
I know that they are putting it all together now."
Cheese: "The last hustle shot is a more makable shot."
Mars: "Oh, yeah."
Cheese: "What's your next film about?"
Mars: "I haven't decided which film I want to do next but
there's a good chance that ... there's a heist movie that I've written
that seems to be getting a little bit of attention right now. It's
sort of like an Oceans Eleven type thing."
Cheese: "There is one other question. You know there's a lot
of players that are in leagues whether its APA, BCA, TAP or VNEA
and their leagues got a big boost after The Color of Money. Do you
think this will further pool playing on the average level, the bar
Mars: "I know what The Color of Money did for the
billiard industry after it came out and I know what the response
from the public has been to screenings of this movie. Everybody
wants to go play pool after they see Poolhall Junkies. I can't
imagine that it wouldn't be a benefit all around for pool in general
every which way you slice it."
Cheese: "We received a copy of your movie Poolhall Junkies
back in October and reviewed it with some of the pool players in
the Northwest. Have you seen a copy of The Break."
Mars: "Yes, I got a copy of the December issue."
Cheese: "The January issue is out. We have the room owners
reviews in it. It's also on our website."
Mars: "I have your website address, www.onthebreaknews.com"
Cheese: "Where did you pick up a copy of the December issue?"
Mars: "I just had been doing some work out in the valley and went
down to a pool hall that I hadn't been to before ... Billiard
Cheese: "You can always find a copy there. So what did you
think since you read the copy of The Break?"
Mars: "I thought it was great. I thought it was wonderful.
I loved the comments. It's always nice to hear flattering comments
about your work. I thought the story was great and the paper looked
Cheese: "Is there anything else you would like to add?"
Mars: "This is for February's issue?"
Mars: "Yeah, if you want to lead with the big headline
saying 'See it opening weekend.' That's the main push."
Cheese: "Thank you Mars for taking your time and I hope the
movie is a huge success."
Mars: "Your welcome, Cheese. Keep up the good work with The
Photos courtesy of Gold Circle Films Copyright 2000 All photos by
For more information about the movie click on
Click to read the reviews
of Poolhall Junkies
Return to Home Page
Copyright 2003 On The Break
All right reserved. No part of this
site may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any
information storage and retrieval system, without the written
permission of the Publisher.