Launching today, by Amazon Studios in a limited theatrical release, The Tender Bar stars emerging actor Ivan Leung as Jimmy, friend and confidant to J.R. Moehringer, the main character played by Tye Sheridan (READY PLAYER ONE). The film, which will be released in a wider expansion on December 22nd prior to being on the streaming service on January 7th, was directed by George Clooney and features Lily Rabe (American Horror Story), Christopher Lloyd (BACK TO THE FUTURE), Max Martini (SAVING PRIVATE RYAN) and Ben Affleck who shared scenes with Ivan.

The movie follows the story of a young boy who bonds with his uncle and patrons at a bar while seeking an emotional replacement for his estranged father and is based off the memoir of the same name, The Tender Bar: A Memoir by J. R. Moehringer. 

Take a look below at our convo with actor Ivan on his role, career, and future plans!

Tell us where you got your love and passion for performing and entertaining. Do you recall if there was a moment you wanted to be part of the entertainment industry?

My parents worked in the restaurant business 10am to 10pm everyday, 7 days a week. Having the tv on kept me company. I would just turn on the tv on when I got home from school so I wouldn’t be as lonely. I think I really found the love of performing and entertaining because I would love to be that person entertaining them during their lonely times.

What is your most memorable moment in this industry to date? 

Oh geez, If I want to give a funny memorable moment..looking back, it would be my first network audition. I didn’t know what I was doing at all. The casting director asked me how my day was going. I answered, “Great! I just had fried chicken” (Which was a lie). The Casting director looked at me, furrowed his brows and said “fried chicken”, then kept on looking at me and said “fried chicken” again. He seemed really flustered. After the audition was done, I walked out and said “This is my first audition!” And the CD responded, “wow, cant tell”. I don’t recall ever going back into that office. Every time I think of that moment, I laugh. I’m much better now.

Tell us about your character in the upcoming film THE TENDER BAR and the premise of the movie. How did you enjoy working on the film?

Jimmy is one of JR’s ( Tye Sheridan ) Best friend and roommate. He’s sort of the comedic relief out of the three guys. I would say, Jimmy is a pure naive boy that’s experiencing life for the first time outside of his sheltered privileged life in upstate New York. Everything is exciting and interesting for Jimmy. The three roommates definitely each have their own unique fish out of water moment.

How was it working with such a strong cast? Any behind the scenes stories you can share?

At first, I thought I would be intimidated by working with such a strong cast. But from day one – each and every cast and crew member were so welcoming and genuine that I must say, made it one of the easiest filming experience I’ve had on set. George would tell us stories that kept us entertained and while filming..he really knew how to speak with actors. All his notes and directions were easy to grasp and playable, which made our job really easy. I hope to have this experience moving forward with future projects.

Who would be your dream costar? Or who would you like to work with?

There are so many actors I would love to work with. I’d love to work with Jason Ritter or Seth Rogen on one of his projects someday. They both seem so uniquely themselves and it’s really fun seeing how free their work is and seeing the Jason- isms/ Seth-isms that no one else can do.

As an actor, what do you hope to accomplish the most?

I want to make people laugh, I wanna lift people’s mood and make their day a little bit better. It would make me really happy if I could comfort people with my acting, that’s my biggest goal.

Currently, what were some of your favorite shows/movies, and why?

What We Do in the Shadows is so funny. They really go for the jokes and their improv is hilarious. The upcoming movie – Being the Ricardos was amazing and Nicole Kidman gave a standout performance. I also watch a lot of Asian dramas. I love watching Asian cinema. They really focus on character development a lot.. so as an actor, you can really watch and see how their thought process changes from moment to moment.

What is a hidden talent of yours or something viewers may not know about you?

I collect kitchen appliances…very weird but I love new gadgets that I can use to cook and share for my friends and people that are close to me. It’s my type of bonding. A good amount of my favorite moments revolve around the dinner table.  I’m very proud of my rice cooker, bread maker, and my brand new vitamix. Anyone that’s close to me would definitely gain a pound or 5.

When you’re not busy working, what do you like to do in your free time? 

When I’m not busy, I try to hike everyday. I use it as time to memorize and work on my lines or use that time as a walking meditation to clear my mind. I listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks lately. It’s like TV for the brain.

If you could trade places with someone for the week (dead or alive), who would you pick and why?

Fun Question! If I could trade places with someone for a week it would be my teenage self. I would tell my parents to invest in a few hundred bitcoins and forget it till now. How great would life be if that could happen and I can take care of my parents with no worries now.

What kind of show/movie do you hope to tackle next?

What We Do In The Shadows, Future Man…Something offbeat and fun with a distinct tone. I’d love to work on an AAPI heavy show/movie.. If we want to make a change, I believe it starts with representation in entertainment. It makes things a lot easier to start conversations or provoke new and fresh thoughts.

It has the potential to expand people’s minds.

Photos by Tommy Flanagan