• Interviews

Sam Quartin on “Body Brokers”

Actress-musician Sam Quartin stars in and executive produces Body Brokers, an American crime thriller, written and directed by John Swab. The story follows Utah (Jack Kilmer) and Opal (Alice Englert) two junkies living on the streets of rural Ohio until they encounter Wood (Michael Kenneth Williams) who brings them to LA for treatment. Utah soon learns that the rehab center is actually a cover for a multi-billion-dollar fraud operation that enlists addicts to recruit other addicts. Sam plays Tina, a young mom who is determined to stay sober for her two children. The film also stars Golden Globe and Oscar-winning actress Melissa Leo, as well as Frank Grillo, Jessica Rothe and Owen Campbell.  

Quartin is concurrently starring in the pandemic thriller Tyger Tyger opposite Dylan Sprouse. She plays Blake, who robs a pharmacy for life-saving medication while awaiting her test results during a pandemic.

On the music front, Sam is the frontwoman of the garage rock band The Bobby Lees. They released their critically acclaimed album, “Skin Suit” in July 2020.

Raised between New York City and Upstate New York, Quartin landed her first acting role in Let Me Make You A Martyr (2017) in which she starred opposite Marilyn Manson and Mark Boone Junior. She went on to form her band The Bobby Lees in 2018 and spent two years touring. It was during that time that she was cast in the Woodstock Film Festival award-winning film Run with the Hunted (2019) opposite Michael Pitt, Ron Perlman, and Dree Hemingway. The film is currently available on Showtime.

Let’s start with Body Brokers. You’re not only in the movie but you’re an executive producer – tell me a bit about that.

I got the script in early 2019 and I fell in love with it. I’ve worked with John Swab a couple of times; I had done his previous film Run with the Hunted and I loved it. I wasn’t even planning to be in it at all, I just wanted to help in some way and there were some investors that I knew that loved that kind of material, so I rang them up and secured some funding.  And then John just wanted to throw me in, so he wrote Tina for me.

You’re playing an alcoholic mom of two kids. I read that you’ve been sober for six years. Was it a concern at all that it may trigger any past habits?

No, it wasn’t a concern, I was excited. I don’t have kids, so I met with a couple of women that I know who were active alcoholics and drug addicts while they were raising their children. That was really, really helpful so I felt like I was just trying to channel their experience with the Tina role.

You are also a musician. Can you talk about where you are at with The Bobby Lees at the moment?

We are doing socially distanced shows. We also recorded a new record and so we are just prepping that and making videos for that and we are going to wait to put it out when the world resumes.

Are you a musician who acts or the other way around?

I don’t know! I really love whatever allows me to do the work I love. I like to go wherever the universe seems to be taking me, so whenever a part comes up that I like, I’ll do that, and then whenever there’s a music opportunity I also like to take that. So right now, the music is hard, we are writing and recording it, but you can’t play much. So, I’m really grateful for any kind of acting stuff that comes up right now.

Can you talk about how your career started? Are your parents in the business?

No not at all, my parents know nothing about this stuff. To be completely honest, I had a psychotic break a few years back, it was right before I started acting. I didn’t think I had anything to offer in the arts, and then I had this breakdown that lasted about nine months when I went completely nuts. And after that period of time, I got sober and I decided to start doing anything that frightened me. I don’t know why the thought of an audition just scared the shit out of me and then somebody told me about Backstage, and I went on there and auditioned and I ended up booking the first few things. Then it just went from there and I was like, okay, I guess that was supposed to happen. 

Your first film was starring opposite Marilyn Manson. What was that experience like?

I had a great time working with him. I know there’s been some recent stuff [about him], but my experience was great. I was so excited to do that film and it was another drug addict I was playing (laughs) but it was very raw. It was also the director’s experience getting sober.  And Mark Boone Junior played my father and I had gotten to work with him on a smaller project right before. The whole experience was great.

So, you started in acting rather than music.

Yes. I had always wanted to play in a band, but I was too scared to sing in front of anybody, so it’s hard to get a band together if you can’t do it in front of people. (laughter) And then after that experience, I thought, ‘Alright, screw it.’ So, I started going to some open mikes. then I read The Artist’s Way, which is like a 12-step program on creativity. As soon as I finished that book, I got my band together. So that book changed my life.

So, had you not had your breakdown, you wouldn’t be where you are. 

Definitely not. 

Your parents must be very proud of you.

They are. Yes, they are very proud. My mom cries if any little thing happens, she is just so happy about everything. 

Can you tell me a bit about Tyger, Tyger, I know that you rob a pharmacy for life-saving medication? Is that related to COVID?

Well, when we started it, the director was inspired by the 90s AIDS epidemic, but in the film that’s not what it is. He wanted there to be some mystery to it. There is a virus that can be caught. It can be sexually transmitted or through blood or through the air and it was just a concept of no one wanting to get sick. So, it was pretty bizarre, because I had to wear a mask in a few of the opening scenes and I remember it just felt so foreign. Who would have known a year or two later it would just be the way we are living at the moment? But yeah, it wasn’t COVID because we had shot it right before that.


It’s admirable that you pulled yourself out of your situation.  What advice would you give someone that might be struggling? 

That’s a tough one. When I was in that place, initially I didn’t do anything and then it kind of felt like I got some kind of divine help and a miracle happened. But I was open about what was going on, so my only suggestion would be to be honest about exactly where you are at and not hide it. If you are feeling suicidal, talk about it, because most of it, a lot of it, is bigger when it’s kept a secret. If you talk about it, there is help. You don’t have to do it alone and the same goes with addiction. I wouldn’t be able to stay sober all of this time if I didn’t have help and couldn’t talk to other people about it. So just staying connected. Don’t face it alone.