Weekly Feature

2017-11-08 / Local News

Actor wins Daemen’s ‘Graduate of the Last Decade’ award

by HOLLY N. LIPKA Reporter

Chadwick Hopson Chadwick Hopson Chadwick Hopson, Daemen College alumnus and star of the 2016 film, “The Last Descent,” received the “Graduate of the Last Decade” award at the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards on Nov. 3.

“I’m very grateful,” said Hopson. “I love the school. It has given me a great education, great preparation for goals ahead and more than anything, it has given me relationships with people I still work with today.”

Hopson grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona, and attended Daemen College on a soccer scholarship. He studied business and accounting with a minor in theater.

“The theater department there was just so good. I got hands-on training for three years, which is sometimes more you get at a theater school.”

After graduation, he moved to Los Angeles in 2011 to pursue acting. Hopson only knew one person in Los Angeles, who was also from Flagstaff.

“I hit the jackpot because the one person that I did know, Brian Flaccus, told me the tricks of the trade. Now he’s my business and writing partner in the production company we have.”

The production company, The Knights Young, was co-founded by Hopson and Flaccus in 2012. Together they create their own media content by writing, directing, and acting in feature and short films.

“Being an actor alone in LA makes it impossible to actually accomplish anything because it’s so hard to get a role,” Hopson said. “So we were able to find a paradigm that suited us as artists, and and it has helped our acting careers.”

So far, Hopson has appeared in several short films through his production company, a series of Domo Inc. commercials with Alec Baldwin and in the critically-acclaimed film “The Last Descent.” It was Hopson’s first major role in a nationwide theatrical release.

The film is inspired by the rescue attempt of 26-year-old John Edward Jones, a medical student who became trapped in Nutty Putty Cave in Utah.

According to the New York Times, Jones went into the cave on Nov. 24, 2009, with 10 other friends and family members. He decided to explore deeper into the cave with his brother, Josh, but became stuck in a upside down passageway.

The passageway, also known as the “Birth Canal,” is only 18 inches wide and 10 inches high. Jones entered the crevice head first, where he became stuck with his head at an angle below his feet.

Despite 28 hours of rescue efforts, Jones’ physical condition deteriorated and he died. He left behind his wife, Emily, and young daughter, Lizzie.

When Hopson found out he got the part as Jones, he said it was great, but also terrifying.

“Sometimes when you take a role in fiction, the only thing that’s at stake is a bad performance and a bad review. For this role, the memory of a good man was at stake,” he said. “It was absolutely daunting and the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but also the most important thing I’ve ever done.”

For many biographical films, an actor can research the character and prepare for the role. But for this role, Hopson could only prepare from a blog that Jones’ wife wrote and stories family members were willing to share.

“A lot of the portrayal of the character was a mixture of this research and organic choice. And I’m very grateful to the family who had the courage to reopen those wounds for me. I got to spend time with his brothers, sisters, dad and Emily; she is a dream.”

Filming took place in Utah, with exterior shots of the cave at the actual Nutty Putty Cave entrance. Other scenes were filmed in a re-created cave built in a warehouse in West Valley City.

Hopson only had two weeks to prepare for the role, having just finished another movie. He tried simulating the upside-down position at home to practice, but it wasn’t successful.

“What I learned is letting go a bit because there was no way to rehearse. Thankfully our director, Isaac Halasima, wrote and created a platform for us to perform and do our jobs. He and the crew made it easy for me to focus.”

Hopson earned his first film award for the role at the 2017 Utah Film Awards winning “Best Leading Actor in a Feature Film.”

“It was a huge moment in the sense that Isaac and John got the recognition I wanted them to have,” said Hopson. “It was nuts, but it as all worth it.”

Hopson will next appear in the film, “How We Met,” which will be released on Amazon this month.

He is currently planning production for his next feature film, which will begin filming early next year in Shanghai, China.

For more information about Hopson or his production company, visit www.knightsyoung.com.

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