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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



Ronnie Kroell plays the Ghost of Christmas Past in new film
by Jorjet Harper

This article shared 3658 times since Tue Nov 27, 2012
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Model-turned-actor Ronnie Kroell plays The Ghost of Christmas Past in Scrooge & Marley, the new film based on Dicken's classic A Christmas Carol. Scrooge & Marley, an independent film made in Chicago, is a contemporary take on the beloved holiday story—one told with a gay sensibility.

Kroell has been interested in theater since his days at Niles North High School in Skokie, Illinois, and has been out of the closet since he was 15. He appeared on the first season of Bravo network's Make Me a Supermodel, where he engaged in an onscreen bromance with another contestant. He came in second in the competition, but scored top marks as the show's Fan Favorite. Since then, Kroell has done modeling for a number of prominent fashion designers, and has appeared on the covers of several magazines—including his infamous nude feature for Playgirl magazine. In the last few years he has taken his first forays into acting and filmmaking.

In Scrooge & Marley, Kroell plays two roles. In the spirit realm of the film, he's the Ghost of Christmas Past, who attends Scrooge that fateful Christmas Eve, and in the everyday world, he's a buff bartender on his boss Scrooge's meager payroll.

"Of course, you know, in Charles Dickens, the Ghost of Christmas Past is actually the first ghost who visits Scrooge after Marley, and takes him back in time to show him what a jerk he was," said Kroll. "And to give him a new perspective on who he was, who he is now, and hopefully give him an idea of who he can become—and that it's not too late. And then by day I'm also Randy, the bartender, who Scrooge actually abuses. He's kind of a jerk to all of us, the staff."

Kroell got involved in the Scrooge and Marley project through his friend Peter Neville, the film's co-director and editor. "He and I have worked together for years. I'm a Chicagoan and so's Peter. We worked on a modeling gig for Ragstock—several different commercial spots for Ragstock—and we've been in touch. He knows about my work and how I've grown from a model to an actor, and I auditioned, and here I am today."

Where we are today is in the cheerful back room of T's Bar Restaurant on Clark Street in Chicago's Andersonville neighborhood. The bar has been turned into a temporary hub—dining room, makeup room, wardrobe, conference area—for the film's cast and crew, since this afternoon, scenes are being shot just steps away from T's, at Man's Country. Man's Country itself has been transformed into a 1970s disco club set for the movie.

"If I were to compare and contrast the Dickens' version to the Scrooge & Marley version that we're filming here today," said Kroell, "the same theme is there. Everyone loves a good Christmas story. lt's just a modern, hip version told today and with a little gay twist," he said, smiling.

"This isn't just a gay film or an LGBT film," he added. "I really believe in this project because the storyline has a little something in it for everyone. And I think it's going to be one of those films that a member of the LGBT community can identify with, but they can also bring home to their families. It's not gratuitous in any way, it's just a beautiful story. And they're going to be able to share that with their family and friends."

Kroell has done quite a lot of gay awareness work—with such groups as Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Human Rights Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the It Gets Better project—and he's well aware of the potential positive impact of a film like Scrooge & Marley. "If you think about the LGBT movement and equality in marriage," he said, "I think it's an important step forward that we have a film like this, telling these stories in such a positive way. In a way that's palatable for all people to watch and enjoy. So I really think that people are going to walk away from this film having maybe a different perception of the LGBT community, and maybe embrace and welcome them in a different way."

Kroell spoke to me during a break in filming. He was wearing a lot of cake makeup and had his hair slicked back for his role as the Ghost, but he was speaking with the clearly real sincerity and charm that made him such an audience favorite on Make Me a Supermodel.

Getting to play two characters is kind of a fun thing for me because I was going through the script and asking myself questions about the character and I was trying to figure out, what are the small nuances that are going to differentiate Randy from the Ghost of Christmas Past? For Randy's character, I wanted him to be kind of fun and playful, and just kind of more laid back, which allowed me to take the Ghost of Christmas Past a notch above and be a bit more flamboyant. I tried to channel a little bit of Johnny Depp—Pirates of the Caribbean, you know, or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So I just wanted to have those moments where I could add a little bit more flair and have more fun with it."

Transitioning, so to speak, from model to actor, has been a fascinating experience for Kroell so far. "I think there are a lot of misperceptions out there that actors have it really easy, and that they're celebrities walking around enjoying the food and their private trailer. But we've been working 15 to 19 hour days. It's been an incredible cast and crew, and it's all going really well. We have such talent on the set," said Kroell.

Kroell was also glad to be back in his hometown, he said, "filming this very special film. I was born and raised in Chicago, so to get to come back here and to be around Chicagoan energy, and to be a part of this incredible film, it's an honor. And it's part of my growth process as an actor as well, because my last two films have all been stepping stones to where I want to go." Kroell added that he was "learning so much on set, and to be under the direction and leadership of this team, it's incredible. I really am truly proud to be a part of this project."

This article shared 3658 times since Tue Nov 27, 2012
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