Josh Pais has been in dozens of films playing many roles, including Raphael — not the painter, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Rurtle. But for most of his career he has been a sought-after character actor in independent films.
Pais’s current effort is Lynn Shelton’s “Touchy Feely,” co-starring Rosemarie DeWitt, Ellen Page and Allison Janey. Pais and DeWitt are Paul, a dentist with a declining practice, and his sister Abby, a massage therapist with more bookings than she can handle.
But something happens. Paul suddenly finds the ability to heal Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) and his practice becomes bountiful; meanwhile, Abby can’t stand touching anyone’s skin.
Pais talked to The Arty Semite about how he learned to be invisible, the difference between independent and studio films, and his Dutch father who spent World War II working for the underground and hiding in Amsterdam.
Curt Schleier: There are two Pauls. One seems insecure and the other is confident and positive. Which one describes the real Josh Pais?
John Pais: At this point, I’m more the “after” dentist. I would say I’m quite happy in my life the majority of the time. Earlier in my life I was more questioning, overly trying to figure things out. I like this way much better. I think success is tied to it. I always worked pretty steadily. But maybe out of some kind of fear I put the brakes on letting myself be as successful as I’d like to be. More and more I’ve taken the brakes off and let whatever happens happen.
What part of yourself did you question?