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‘TRI’ movie goes the distance

Colette Greenstein
Colette Greenstein has been a contributing arts & entertainment writer for the Banner since 2009. VIEW BIO
‘TRI’ movie goes the distance
Jensen Jacobs stars in “TRI.”

Set against the backdrop of The Nation’s Triathlon in Washington, D.C., the film “TRI” is a testament to the human spirit triumphing over adversity.

Jensen Jacobs stars as ‘Natalie,’ a medical technician, who has a history of not finishing things. All of that changes one day when inspired by a cancer patient, she signs up for her first Triathlon. Joining a support group of triathletes, Natalie not only learns the ins and outs of training for a triathlon, but most importantly she discovers her own strength and the ability to push forward and through life’s challenges.

Jacobs — who was in Boston for the screening of the drama at the Boston International Film Festival on April 16 — spoke to the Banner about tackling the role of Natalie, training for the film, and why she’s inspired by The Rock.

What made you want to take on the role of Natalie and be in this film?

Jensen Jacobs: When I first heard about somebody casting the movie about triathletes, I was really interested in it as an actress because I’m also pretty athletic. The way I actually got hooked up getting called into the casting office was an actor friend of mine saw pictures of me doing a race on Facebook and recommended me to the casting office.

The story itself as you know is really, really inspiring. It’s about Natalie [is] the character that I play. She never finishes anything. She never completely gets to her goal. She always talks herself out of it, so I was really interested in the fact that this was about her finishing it, and finishing it with the help of a team around her. I also really love that it was about a woman going out and doing this too. That was really interesting to me.

Did you find any similarities between you and the character Natalie?

JJ: Yes. Actually, I’ve had a similar experience with my career. I guess. I’ve been too afraid to pursue it full-time until recently so I kind of related to her in that aspect because I talk myself out of things, and stuff like that. So, I know what that feels like.

Was there anything that you learned about yourself that kind of surprised you in taking on this role?

JJ: Yes. Just even the experience of being on the set with everybody and learning from the other triathletes. I think one of the main messages of this movie is not only about believing in yourself but seeing how you can get that encouragement from the others around you. So that was an interesting experience for me, because the storyline also focuses on a bunch of other characters and their reasons for doing the race. I kind of learned to look to the people around me, and on a film set it’s a team effort too. I think I just learned to look to the people around me to help boost me up and to inspire myself.

I noticed on your Twitter page that you’re a huge fan of The Rock. There was something that you said on your page that you looked to him as your hero for inspiration. What is it about him that you find inspirational?

JJ: I think more than anything it’s his attitude about everything. He just seems like such a nice guy and he’s so grateful and he works really hard. He seems very generous and very humble at the same time, and I love someone that works that hard, is that driven to get things done, but can also be so humble. He’s a hero of mine.

How did you prepare for the role? You actually filmed at the race. Was that done over a few days or one continuous filming?

JJ: We filmed certain scenes that were supposed to be in the race on different days but there was one main day where we filmed in D.C. at The Nation’s Triathlon. We were in with the other racers and it was a beautiful thing to see all that happen, but it was also really high pressure because we’re in there with this whole crew and there are all these people that have worked so hard to be in the race. So, we were very cautious not to get in their way too.

As far as preparing for it, I have run already. So, I was comfortable with that. I was a fairly strong swimmer. But, strangely enough it was the biking. I had never ridden a bike with the pedal clips before. I never even thought of that as a thing that would be hard. It was very hard to learn, like I fell a lot. [Laughs].

What do you hope that audiences take away from seeing this movie?

JJ: I hope that people take away that they’re capable of anything and that you don’t have to do anything by yourself; that there are people around you that will help you get there, and help boost you up. I hope people are also inspired by the fact that everybody has their own story and their own goals and reasons why they do things. I just hope people are inspired to try something new that they haven’t tried before and believe in themselves.