Interview: Shane Paul McGhie Talks ‘The Last Shift’, Working With Richard Jenkins & More
The Last Shift starring Shane Paul McGhie and Richard Jenkins is now available to rent and purchase on VOD!
Stanley (Richard Jenkins), an aging fast-food worker, plans to call it quits after 38 years on the graveyard shift at Oscar’s Chicken and Fish. His last weekend takes a turn while training his replacement, Jevon (Shane Paul McGhie), a talented but stalled young writer whose provocative politics keep landing him in trouble.
I had the chance to sit down with McGhie to talk about his role in the film. We also talked about what it was like working with Richard Jenkins and Andrew Cohen. We also talked about how timely this movie is given the current situation in the world and more specifically, America.
Check out the interview with Shane Paul McGhie below:
So for the few of our fans who haven’t seen the movie yet, can you just talk about the character you play and a little bit about what this movie is about?
Shane Paul McGhie: He is a young father, a writer, and he just came out of jail and is actually on parole. He has to kind of get his life together. And the movie is about these two characters whose paths intersect at a fast food restaurant. Stanley’s been working there for 38 years, and Stanley’s about to go down to Florida and take care of his mom. But before he leaves, he has to train the new replacement, Jevon, my character. And so they’re both in this small town of Albion, Michigan, and they’re from different worlds; even though they’re a small town and it’s just a story about their intersection.
Speaking of Stanley, can you just talk about what it was like working with Richard Jenkins? Because I thought yall’s chemistry was amazing.
McGhie: Richard is a legend. I mean you couldn’t ask for a better scene partner. You know, from day one, when we were rehearsing and from day one, when we actually met each other. He’s just the nicest guy; so down to earth. And when we were rehearsing, he was just so open to just exploring his character and exploring, you know, giving me the space to explore mine and he is amazing. He had so many scenes where I was just in awe, watching him work right in front of me. And, man, it was awesome! But also, I just remember, like, trying to hold it together because he is a comedic genius.
This is also Andrew Cohen’s feature debut. What was it like working with him?
McGhie: Andrew came from doing documentaries and it was interesting because I had never worked with somebody who came from that world. But it was so cool, because he can spot you know, what’s fake in an instant. And he’s so used to being around people, and their stories. So he brought that to his debut. Also the writing itself is one of the main reasons why I joined the project. The writing is just so natural, and really awesome. But Andrew was just willing to just give us a space to play with my character, and to just say, like, “what do you think about this?” And I think that’s what makes this so fun. It’s so you know, ratifying when artists get together and allow other artists to like collaborating. I really like respect, Andrew, and I’m so grateful to him for that.
I feel like it’s really timely because with the pandemic and everything going on right now, it’s really been showing how much of a gap there is in wages between races, and I feel like that this movie reflects that as well. So can you just talk about how timely it is now with this movie coming out on digital now versus when it would like made its debut at Sundance?
McGhie: Yeah, of course. It’s incredibly timely. Since we released the film. There are a lot of things that have happened in our country racially. And you know, my character is scripted that he went to jail for defacing the public monuments, which for Javan was most likely a confederate monument. But also, you know, these people are very overlooked in society. And so it’s a movie about people who often get brushed to the side, especially during this, you know, pandemic, there are a lot of people, there are a lot of families who feel brushed to the side. They system has failed a lot of people of color and i feel like this movie shows that perfectly.
Can you talk about how you got into that mindset of framing this character, especially being a young black man yourself?
McGhie: I first wanted to just understand a little bit more about the world. So I talked to Tom and Richard as well, because they kind of grew up in this in this world, they knew people like this. And then in terms of Javan, I feel like I have gone to school with at least one or two Javan’s. In terms of prep for that, I’m sure we all have been in a point in our lives, where we felt stuck at some point. But then feeling, you know, failed by a system or feeling. sometimes overlooked by a system is something that I feel like I can at times myself and a lot of people of color and a lot of black men and relate to. And its so unfortunate, you don’t really have to dig deep for that. And it is prevalent. But in terms of being in the space, we had a week in the actual fast food space to rehearse, on our feet, which I thought was very helpful. And just being being on our feet and just kind of seeing what that would be like to be. That was my first time in the kitchen of a fast food restaurant. I’ve never done that before.
Then going back to the hotel at the end of the day and smelling like grease and having it kind of in this wondering like, what would that feel like? I mean, I know for Richard, he was exploring for his character. What would that to like have to do with yours? Which is why he developed his arms to lengthen the way he was breathing. But also, for me, what would that feel like? You know, see Being stuck in life and feeling like this is my own adaption. This is the best outcome of what I’ve got right now. I’m in just that mindset.
Besides this movie because I feel like I your career is just a good reflection of somebody who’s slowly just starting to build and build and build as a young black man finding his way through Hollywood. Do you have any advice or things you’ve learned along the way thus far that you would pass back to younger kids?
McGhie: Thank you for saying that. I will first say God is good. And I’m very grateful, very, very grateful. And I’ve had people along my life, I call them angels who just took the time out to either mentor me or give me a shot or casting directors who said you know, and I look around and I’m like, you be like you believe in me. And that’s really what that is the product of so it takes a village but also I would say that there’s no there is no one way of how this there is no formula you know, everybody’s kind of got to chart their path for themselves.
But you have to be plugged in to your Why of why you do this because at the end of the day when you get rejections when you’re up late doing self tapes, when it becomes very difficult you’ve got it you’ve got to know why you’re doing it you’re doing it because if you’re doing it because you want to tell stories if you want to you want to change the world through using you know your God given gift then then that’s amazing but if you’re doing it because you want to be famous its going to be a tough road.
Last question! What do you get on your burger?
McGhie: That’s a good question. I’ve had some great toppings on my burger. One has like some pineapple with teriyaki sauce. I have to go with the California burger – just like you know guac, cheese and even throw some fries on there [laughs]!