Home #Hwoodtimes Darren Weiss cues up a winner with Break, a film by Will...

Darren Weiss cues up a winner with Break, a film by Will Wernick about the world of Detroit pocket billiards

By: Valerie Milano

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 5/11/2024 – Pocket billiards, or pool as it is more commonly known, is no stranger to the Silver Screen. A quick search with our friend Google yielded a dozen titles, with the granddaddy of them all at the top being: The Hustler, staring Paul Newman as “Fast Eddie” Felson and Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats.

Twenty-five years later, Newman reprised his role as pool shark Felson in The Color of Money, taking on up-and-coming player Vincent Lauria, played by Tom Cruise.

Now, in 2024, we can add Darren Weiss’ name to the list of actors who have rolled balls across the green felt. Weiss stars in Break, a film from director Will Wernick (Follow Me, Escape Room, Safer at Home) that uses the game as the setting for a powerful drama about a young man’s coming of age in Detroit’s inner city.

Break had its Los Angeles premiere on April 24th at the Harmony Gold Theater, ahead of its nationwide release two days later. The film centers on the life of Eli (Weiss), a young man in his early twenties grappling with the pressures of supporting his family and navigating his own personal challenges.

Eli’s life takes a turn when he delves into the world of Detroit pool halls, uncovering his father’s legacy as a legend of the game. This revelation propels him into a journey of self-discovery, confronting the intricacies of the game and his own identity.

Weiss sat down recently with The Hollywood Times for an exclusive interview about the film, where he talked about how the film came to be. You might say Break is a “COVID Baby.”

Click below to see our exclusive interview:

“Originally, I came up with this idea during COVID,” said Weiss, whose other film credits include Inside Man, Tin Soldier, and The Runner.

“I just wanted to have an opportunity to play a character a lot of people can relate to,” he said. “I wanted to figure out a way we could see the story arc with the struggles of this character Eli, and how could I incorporate a world where he gets help from a place that you would least expect?”

The story’s writers – Dikega Hadnot, Spencer Mandel, and Wernick – suggested the story be set in a pool hall in Detroit’s inner city, Weiss said.

“I called it a place of Misfit Toys, a lot of characters who come from different walks of life that I think people can relate to. Everyone can relate to a different character in this movie,” Weiss said

For Weiss, it was his character, Eli, to whom the young actor could relate.

“It was about this kid finding comfort in the most unexpected place to find comfort,” Weiss said of the pool hall. “And it wasn’t until he came upon this pool hall, through these characters he learned he could be who he is, and he felt comfortable in his own skin, something he has never really felt before.”

Indeed, the pool hall – The Loving Touch Pocket Billiards – offered Eli a look at his own roots as his father was a Detroit pool legend, Tommy King, with a dark legacy that Eli eventually sets out to erase.

Weiss grew up with a pool table in his home and took three months of lessons from a professional billiards player prior to filming. “It was three-hour -a-day, three-days-a-week,” Weiss said. The work definitely paid off as Weiss’ performance comes off as a player with years of experience. Weiss also mentioned the director Will Wernick drew on his own billiards history, growing up around pool halls having a father who is a pool aficionado even working in one during his college days.

“I think he hit on some things from his own history, his experiences. Will did a really great job … all the writers did, depicting that (pool hall environment). And yes, at the same time, it is a film about pool, but really, it’s about a bigger story than pool. And how (Wernick) brought that together in such a beautiful way was really a fun thing to shoot and bring to life.”

Break also stars Victor Rasuk (Reasonable Doubt, Netflix’s The Baker and The Beauty); Jeff Kober (The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy); and Caleb Emery (Good Girls). The film also features Patricia Belcher, Braedyn Bruner, Uriah Shelton, Wendy Braun, Suzen Baraka, and newcomer Petra C. Matheson.