Finestkind Star Aaron Stanford Talks Jenna Ortega Scenes & Challenges on Set (Exclusive)

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Jenna Ortega from Finestkind on Paramount+

Aaron Stanford, one of the leading stars of Paramount+’s Finestkind, talked about the challenges on set of the movie and working with Jenna Ortega

Finestkind centers around the world of commercial fishing in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The story follows Toby Wallace’s Charlie, who comes into town to spend time with his brother, Ben Foster’s Tom, and join his fishing crew for the summer.

While everything starts out smoothly, the group starts to incur dangerous debts, leading to their world spinning violently out of control.

The streaming project also stars Aaron Stanford, Jenna Ortega, Tommy Lee Jones, Ismael Cruz Cordova, and more.

Aaron Stanford on Paramount+'s Finestkind

Aaron Stanford and Jenna Ortega in Finestkind

In an exclusive interview with The Direct’s Russ Milheim, Finestkind star Aaron Stanford, who plays Skeemo in the Paramount+ film, revealed a deleted scene with Jenna Ortega spoke about the challenges on set while.

When asked about deleted scenes, the actor shared “there’s a ton of stuff” due to how collaborative the director was, which resulted in “a lot of improvised dialogue” and “moments:”

“There's a ton of stuff. Because Brian, he's very collaborative. There are some directors that really want to maintain very rigid, tight control over everything. And he's not like that. He's very clear in his vision. He knows what he wants, but he very much wants to work with you and allow you to bring whatever you want to bring to it. That's why you're there. So there were loads and loads of scenes with just a lot of improvised dialogue, improvised moments.”

Stanford revealed there was actually “an entire sequence” cut involving “a pickup basketball game with Toby Wallace and Jenna Ortega:"

“There was like an entire sequence where Toby [Wallace] was like playing like a pickup basketball game with Jenna [Ortega]. So Toby's like six foot something, and Jenna's like five-foot-nothing. So that was pretty amusing scene and it was me and Scotty Tovar on the sidelines providing all sorts of heckling and harassment. So there were a lot of pretty funny moments in that would make good outtakes, I think.”

The latest Paramount+ movie is all about the commercial fishing industry in New Bedford, Massachusetts. As such, there’s a ton of fishing in the project—but how much prep did Stanford have to do?

The actor first clarified how it “was very important” to director Brian Helgeland to get this world right since it was a world he came from:

“Oh, well, yeah, it was very important to Brian Helgeland, who was the writer [and] director. He really wanted us to get this right. It's his world. This is a world that he grew up in. And he comes from, I believe two generations of commercial fishermen in New Bedford. And he was a commercial fisherman himself before he spun off into into Hollywood and started screenwriting. So he knows the world very well.”

Helgeland got the cast together for an “opportunity to go along with these fisherman on a week-long fishing trip out to sea:”

“And he wanted us to know the world very well. So he called in favors with some old family friends that he had in New Bedford. And he got myself and several cast members the opportunity to go along with these fishermen on a week fishing trip out to sea. We went out on a scallop boat. And in April weather, which was pretty brutal at the time. I saw how these guys live and work, and it was a lesson, man… It's an incredibly difficult job in every possible way. And it takes incredible fortitude and skill to do it. And we were out there learning with the absolute best of them.”

With this experience, did Stanford become as good at shucking as his character, Skeemo, in the film?

“I never got good at it,” the actor admitted, also revealing he’s one of those rare “people who doesn't get sea legs:”

“I never got good at it. My experience on the boat was very humbling, to say the least. I get very seasick. And I was really hoping that at some point, I would get my sea legs, and I just happened to be one of that very small percentage of people who doesn't get sea legs. It just doesn't happen…I was sick and throwing up for almost a full week. So, I didn't manage to really master a lot of the finer skills. I can shuck a scallop for you. I wouldn't say that I'm any kind of crack shot at it or anything.”

While filming, the entire production was “actually in New Bedford” where they partook in fishing on “a real boat called the Sondra Jane:”

“It was all on location. You know, we were actually in New Bedford, and we took out a real boat called the Sondra Jane. And we went out in the harbor, and we went on a winter a couple of actual fishing runs and brought up a real scallops. So, everything that you see in the movie that's it's 100% authentic.”

Stanford shared that one of “the wonderful perk[s]:” on the ship, despite his jumpy stomach, was “getting to taste seafood seconds after it’s caught:”

“And we got the wonderful perk of getting to taste seafood seconds after it's caught after it's pulled out of the ocean. Like the freshest you will ever taste in your life. Literally, they would drag up the scallops… We would shuck it and cut out the scallop and give it to [Ismail Cordova Cruz] and he ran straight to the kitchen and made some ceviche out of it for everybody, with a little bit of lemon and salt and whatever like magic ingredients he had, brought it back out, and it's the best scallop I've ever had in my life for sure.”

But for Stanford, what was the most challenging part of playing Skeemo? The actor expressed how the tricky part was figuring out “Who is this guy when he’s not entertaining and using everybody:”

“I don't know if it's the most challenging part, but the challenge was just sort of to figure out who this guy was… He's the life of the party and very quick with a joke. And that's the side of him that you see the most. But obviously, there's a flip side to Skeemo. So exploring that was important. Who is this guy when he's not entertaining and amusing everybody? Who is he on the inside? What is his subtext as a person? So that was something that was interesting to explore and figure out.”

Warning - The rest of the article contains spoilers for Finestkind.

Those who have seen the film will know toward the last act of the film, it's revealed that Skeemo is an addict who screwed over all of his close friends. So, what would be next for the character after the credits role?

“Hopefully rehab,” Stanford offered, adding that he “hope[s] Skeemo find his way out of that:”

“[Laughs] I mean, hopefully, rehab... That's a very important aspect of Skeemo's character is that he's an addict, and you know, what happens in the movie, he ends up doing things that he wouldn't ordinarily do. He's not in the driver's seat anymore. There's something else that's making the decisions for him. So obviously, I hope Skeemo finds his way out of that.”

The full interview can be seen below:

Finestkind is now streaming on Paramount+.

- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.