As a toddler, George Loomis was something of a Method actor. Appearing on the ABC soap opera “Loving,” Loomis was once in a scene in which a bank was robbed.
“I was completely traumatized,” he says. So much so that he couldn’t stop crying — a little too much of the Method.
Nevertheless, “Loving” enabled him to work with “really talented performers” and ultimately paid for him to attend New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in storytelling. So you could say Loomis cried all the way to his debut feature — the medical thriller “Unthinkable,” which Unified Pictures will release on all major video-on-demand platforms Oct. 9.
“Unthinkable” stars Christopher Cousins of “Breaking Bad’ as an American ambassador to Syria, who survives a terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Damascus that injures his wife and kills their daughter, only to find his life in new jeopardy. Back in the States, he’s hospitalized in need of a heart transplant and without the support of his wife, still grieving the loss of their daughter. Enter Jones, an idealistic medical student assigned to the ambassador’s case. He’s determined to see him through the transplant, but medical, political and psychological challenges soon make it clear that he is in way over his head. Also starring Vivica A. Fox and Missi Pyle, “Unthinkable” gave Loomis an opportunity to explore an early ambition. Growing up in Larchmont, the son of George Loomis Jr. a frequent music writer for The New York Times, and his wife, Christine, an investment banker, Loomis thought about being a doctor, like his cousin. But then there were those early years screaming his lungs out on “Loving.” Soon he was writing screenplays. As a 15-year-old at Mamaroneck High School, he boldly presented one to director David O. Russell when he came to speak to his class.
“Unthinkable” enabled Loomis to research transplants, a complex subject, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. It also gave him the opportunity to direct himself, something he was familiar with from his NYU film school days.
Many great actors — from Orson Welles to Kenneth Branagh — have directed themselves. So what’s that like?
“I don’t know if I can answer that fully as it’s so challenging,” he says. “I’m always grateful when I get emails…that say you really pulled that off in front of and behind the camera. I think of actors who direct, like Clint Eastwood and Elizabeth Banks.” For Loomis, it’s a question of balance and respect. From the extras to the stars, he says he affords them the same opportunities for discussion to ensure their comfort with their roles.
That solicitousness has made “Unthinkable” a winner at several national film festivals, including the 2019 Santa Fe Film Festival. But Loomis is hardly resting on his laurels.
“I get a lot of visions, inspirations walking my dog (Golden Retriever Bosley) at night or reading the newspaper,” Loomis says of his life in Los Feliz, the LA neighborhood where Mickey Mouse was born from the mind of Walt Disney and where Leonardo DiCaprio grew up.
With Dawn Aneada, Loomis has written “True Wellness,” a TV series about the dark side of the wellness industry that he describes as “ ‘Dexter’ meets ‘Killing Eve’.” He’s writing a political thriller “Lonely Hunter,” about an American agent who’s a former Russian spy.
Loomis would also like to revisit his efforts to make a film of Mark Mathabane’s 1986 autobiography “Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa.” When Loomis first became interested in the project, which would’ve featured an all-black cast, there was, he says, no “Black Panther” yet to demonstrate the bankability of an all-black ensemble. Now the time may be right.
But there are other challenges. Can a white man tell a black man’s story? All Loomis knows is that he’s not here to entertain, for the chills, thrills, laughs — and, of course, tears — alone.
“I want to do things that push the world forward.”