Actress Romy Teperson is ecstatic about her role and involvement in Next Door to the Velinsky’s. The Australian actress has been in her fare share of TV and film productions. Whether it’s her comedic role as Sally Enfield on the comedy hit Swift and Shift Couriers (currently airing in the US on Netflix), as the pivotal female character in Unforgivable Sin, or any of her other lauded roles, Teperson brings an energy that has elevated her to being one of the most highly sought after actresses in her homeland. Not only is she proud of her performance as Doctor Jay in Next Door to the Velinsky’s but she is also proud of the film’s selection as an Official Screening at the Cannes Film Festival. She states, “It’s extremely exciting. To have your film be a part of the history of that festival and reach that level of accolade is definetely a humbling accomplishment. Lots of films get sent to a lot of different festivals throughout the world but Cannes is on a whole other level.” The recognition of Next Door to the Velinsky’s was not limited to this alone as it also received the Award of Excellence from the IndieFEST Film Awards and premiered at the New York International Film Festival. While Teperson is widely known in Australia, the film’s international visibility gave her talent a higher vantage point for fans and critics alike.
Some of the tag lines for Next Door to the Velinsky’s include: “How far would you run to escape your past? What if the only way to survive is denial? Some secrets should never be told.” These all hint at the hidden storyline of the film. It is a psychological thriller about a young man [James Marshall] who meets up with his childhood friend [Ruby Taylor], a girl who is crazy and deluded after having lost her memory in a car accident. James has to help Ruby remember who she is as well as forcing her to face the traumatic dark secrets of her past that she has worked so long to forget. As Dr. Jay in the film, Romy is the medical advisor to a legal panel trying to build a case against the lead character Ruby Taylor. Dr. Jay is a prominent surgeon who is all business. She is quick to shut down the run around attempted to be laid upon her, by the smooth talking marketing firm quick to try use her as an expert witness/testimonial for their legal case. While the role of Dr. Jay required Romy to play a character whose profession and age are different from hers, she found it easy to relate to her. Teperson notes, “I feel like in most cases at least you are able to find one or more qualities of the character that you can grab onto and identify with personally. This at least gives you some insight and an understanding as to how they operate and see things; how they work. If you at least have the similarities, you can focus on those to identify with the character. Achieving these means that the differences don’t become as much of a hindrance. I was fortunate with Dr. Jay; her no nonsense love of telling it how it is and going after the bigger picture are all qualities I can definitely relate to. There were for sure more similarities than differences.”
All of those award acceptance speeches at the Oscars, Golden Globes, etc. are truthful when the winners state that a recognized film and performance is the result of a group effort. Even more than the presentations at these awards shows, the greatest benefit to doing exemplary work is that you are remembered and asked to work again on other films. It was a combination of peers and fans that brought Romy to play Dr. Jay in this production. Writer and Producer of the Next Door to the Velinsky’s, Chloe Traicos, had been a fan of Romy’s work and requested that she appear in the film as Dr. Jay. Traicos wrote the part for Teperson. Since the making of this film, Chloe Traicos (Writer/Lead actor), Jon Cohen (Director/Producer), Chris McHardy (Cinematographer), and Romy have worked on five projects together, giving credence to the mutually beneficial working environment of this ensemble. Having worked with several of the other actors on a variety of productions created a familiar and comfortable environment for Romy to step into the character of Dr. Jay. She remarks, “The rapport (between cast members and the director) was there so we were able to perform within the safe confines of this. It almost felt like being at drama camp. Getting to act with a group of people you admire and also happen to be your friends, that’s a very satisfying professional experience.” Speaking of Teperson’s work, Jon Cohen declares, “As a director that has been on a plethora of film and television sets, I have seen a lot of talented performers but Romy stands out as an extremely talented actress who brought her own unique style and vision to each role. Her commitment and dedication to her roles in my films were some of the best character studies I’ve seen in all my years working in the entertainment business.”
Romy’s travel experience is something she put to use for her portrayal of Dr. Jay in Next Door to the Velinsky’s. Teperson’s love of the US emerged in the tone of her character as she states, “I like to say I’m an Australian by nationality, but a New Yorker by build. I identify with the tough, brash, no nonsense humor that NYC is known for. So for me, even though the Dr. Jay isn’t a ‘New Yorker’, she still possesses all those same qualities; ones which felt very comfortable for me to play. I have filmed mostly in Australia. However, if I was going to shoot more anywhere else, it would be within the US. Specifically, more studio work in Los Angeles and more location shooting in New York. I would love the experience of shooting a series in front of a live studio audience. For location shooting, couldn’t think of anywhere more exhilarating and exciting to shoot live than around the streets of New York.”