Family & Companions
Blank, boyish and brooding, James Duval has been put forward as a symbol of the sometimes amiable anomie of 'Generation X' in a series of ultra low-budget indie features by guerrilla auteur Gregg Araki. Dark, handsome and ethnically indeterminate (an intriguing blend of Vietnamese, French, Italian and Native American), the young actor bears more than a passing resemblance to Keanu Reeves whose laid-back So-Cal delivery style he also shares. Duval's characters have tended to be sympathetic and sensitive if none-too-bright. His collaboration with Araki has encompassed the would-be Godardian gay teen flick "Totally F***ed Up" (1994), the eccentric but relatively upscale (nearly $1 million) "lovers on the run" road movie "The Doom Generation" (1995) and the "anti-'Beverly Hills, 90210'" teen comedy-drama "Nowhere" (1997). Duval has even branched out to appear in the decidedly mainstream sci-fi blockbuster "Independence Day" (1996) but his heart seems to remain independent.
Duval has avoided the standard publicity game, offering almost no information about his past. He was born in Detroit, MI and raised in California. In his late teens, Duval was playing music in a band when he decided to quit and move to Hollywood to try to make it as an actor. With no money or a clue about how to break in, he hung out at a local cafe where writer-director-editor Araki happened to do his writing. The filmmaker liked his looks and offered him a script that turned out to be "Totally F***ed Up." Duval's character, Andy, was sweet but fragile and "totally bummed." Having enjoyed his screen debut, Duval resurfaced the next year, playing a biker named Smack in another oddball teenpic "Mod Fuck Explosion" (1994). He landed a job as a waiter to pay the rent as he played the naive suburbanite virgin who learns some bizarre life lessons on the road with his teen-aged girlfriend (Rose McGowan) and a mysterious drifter (Johnathon Schaech) in Araki's apocalyptic road comedy "The Doom Generation." Duval won some positive notices but he did not give up his day job.
Fate stepped in when transplanted German genre filmmaker Roland Emmerich dropped by the restaurant where Duval waited tables. Having seen and enjoyed "Totally F***ed Up," Emmerich offered the waiter a most generous tip--a role in his sci-fi epic "Independence Day" as Miguel, the responsible son of a drunken cropduster pilot Dad (Randy Quaid). The success of this feature allowed Duval to concentrate on acting full-time. Rather than going Hollywood, he reteamed with Araki for "Nowhere" and played a supporting role in the AIDS-related drama "River Made to Drown In" (1997).
Cast (Feature Film)
Made his acting debut in Araki's "Totally F***ed Up," his first collaboration with writer-director-actor Araki.
Starred as Stoner Steve in the indie comedy "Standing Still."
Co-starred in the independent film, "Mad Cowgirl."
Appeared in the crime thriller "Sushi Girl."