Icons of Fright Interview With TURBO KID’s MICHAEL IRONSIDE!!

Ham_TylerChances are, if you’re reading anything on Icons of Fright, Shock Till You Drop, Dread Central or any other genre site (or hell, even if you don’t typically read such sites), then you already know who Michael Ironside is. An actor that has played so many not just memorable but truly iconic roles in films such as SCANNERS, TOTAL RECALL and a personal fave of mine, PROM NIGHT II, Ironside has created a body of work that is legendary and worthy of every ounce of recognition he has gotten. Making its debut as part of this year’s Sundance Film Festival “Midnight Selection”, the RKSS-helmed TURBO KID (RKSS is the trio team of directors Anouk Whissell, François Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell) is set to give fans yet another Ironside role that is one for the books, with his villainous character Zeus. Icons of Fright talked TURBO KID with Ironside recently, and he had plenty of things to say regarding how much fun genre fans are in store for.

*Editor’s note: if you’re attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival, be sure to catch TURBO KID during its multiple screenings:

Monday, January 26, 11:59pm
Egyptian Theatre, Park City
328 Main St., Park City, UT
Tuesday, January 27, 9:30 p.m. – TURBO27RN
Redstone Cinema 1, Park City
6030 Market St.,, Park City, UT
Thursday, January 29, noon – TURBO29YD
Yarrow Hotel Theatre, Park City
1800 Park Ave., Park City, UT
Saturday, January 31, 6:00 p.m. – TURBO31WE
Tower Theatre, Salt Lake City     

876 E. 900 South, Salt Lake City, UT


A lot of information regarding TURBO KID hasn’t really been given, prior to the Sundance screenings. The synopsis and stills sound great, but there’s a bit of mystery surrounding it. What can you tell us about your character, Zeus?


Well let’s talk about TURBO KID itself to start off with.




1.) It was a chance to work with THREE directors and 2.) I got the script and read it twice. I get a lot of offers and most of the time, they want me to play versions of myself that they’ve seen in other films, so I usually just say no, but with TURBO KID, I was intrigued by the story. It was very comic book-structured storytelling. The characters were larger than life and I didn’t really know if they wanted to stay true to these characters or if they wanted them to be tongue-in-cheek. We talked on Skype and I said, “THIS is what I’d like to do with the character” and I did it a little larger than life. Do you know who Aldo Ray was?


Yeah, definitely. 


I told them, “I’d like to play this characters as if Aldo Ray played King Lear”. They kind of looked at me sand said, “uh….okaaaaaayyy” (laughs), and I said, “In my mind, that’s what it looks like”, and I did a couple of things for them and said “If you can live with that, I’m willing to do this”. They said, “ABSOLUTELY”. It’s a post-apocalyptic, 1997, after the war movie. All of the water is tainted, and my character, Zeus, is kind of this aging, bloated, self-imposed monarch who controls the water rights for this area. It’s very REPO MAN meets MAD MAX meets BUCKAROO BANZAI with NO cars, everything is on BMX bikes.




I swear to God. I was talking to my brother and he said, “Could you imagine somebody who has never seen an orange or an apple or fruit, trying to describe it?”, and I said, “Yeah”, because I don’t have a point of reference to describe this to people, it is quite unique. I was actually shocked when I first saw it, the first five minutes of it, because it was not the film I expected. I think because, as an actor, I build a structure like a building, that I put my character in.


Yeah, that’s understandable. 


So I assume that’s what’s going on with the film. Lo and behold, and I’m sure other people do the same thing, but that was not the film I saw in my head..do you know what I mean?


Yeah, I can imagine having a particular idea of what something will be and it being pretty different in reality. 


It’s very much like a comic book in the story structure and the character creation, but it’s not shot like you would in storyboard panels. It’s very unique. I’ve got to let you know too, that I don’t support things that I don’t like. Usually when I’m doing press on something, it’s weird, because I don’t know how to support it, but this one, it’s totally supportable.


You’ve been known for your method-like approach to your roles. Was it difficult or did it affect this particular film, with everything being so “larger than life”?


 Well that has nothing to do with acting really. The actual acting part, whether it’s “Big Daddy” in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, or King Lear, or even Zeus from TURBO KID, it’s all the same thing.  The “method” is in how you create them. This guy is very much like those characters. The character is very Shakespearean in its broadness, and as far as moving the story along and in the storytelling, it’s very classic theater-like. Acting is acting.


And Also, I’m at the point in my career, I’m going to be 65 next month, where I’m not going to be on this rock for very much longer. I’m not getting the willingness to attempt things that I wouldn’t have attempted 20 or 30 years ago.  They’re things I was trained to do, but for one reason or another, fear of being judged, fear of failure, for whatever reason I wouldn’t do them then. I was talking to someone earlier and was telling them that I was offered to do a TV series and they really wanted me to be this quiet, powerhouse, sitting at the end of the table kind of guy in this crime show in an alternate world they had created. They said, “Can you do something like you did in TERMINATOR: SALVATION?”. I said, “Wait a second, ” because they offered it to me, so I showed them what I wanted to do, I wanted to play this person slightly out of his mind. I wanted him to be this larger than life, Al Capone on acid kind of character. (laughs). Like he would this bomb that could off at any moment, without being threatening. They guys from the show sat there and said, “Oh my god, that would be wonderful!”, and they had a talk and then called me back a half an hour later and said, “The money is nervous, that if the network doesn’t pick this show up after four or five episodes, then we’re all out of a job”. I told them “That’s a mistake”, because it is a mistake, making decisions based on the money instead of going with something that they have a relationship with already.


Yeah, totally. It hinders creativity. 


I wanted to do something unique, and they said, “We can’t, the money won’t let us”, and I said, “Ok, go your way”. I won’t mention the name of the show because it’s production now, it’s actually started shooting. I wish them all the best of luck, but I know the dilemma they were in. Now THESE guys, on TURBO KID, aren’t doing any of that. They’re not trying to appease the studio, they’re not trying to appease money. The situation on this, and do not get me wrong because they’re not similar films story-wise, content, texture, etc whatsoever, other than absolute commitment to the story, was THE MACHINIST. Kosar and Anderson, they went around with that script for about three years and everyone said, “Yeah, we’ll do it, but can you change THIS and we need a leading lady THERE”, “If he has to be skinny, can we make him a drug addict?”, stuff like that. Those guys would always so, “NO”. Finally, this company out of Barcelona, with THE MACHINIST, said “We want to make this film, but you can’t change anything, you have to shoot the script you sent us”. That’s how we got that one made, in Barcelona. That was a horror film distribution company that did that one. They saw the darkness of it and gave the director free reign. Very rarely do you get that, and THAT is what you got with TURBO KID. The directors wrote this script and they wanted to be true to what they loved growing up, and we actors trusted them. There’s no winking at the camera, there’s no tongue-in-cheek shit going on here. We created a comic book world, as if it were real.


I LIKE the film. It kinda caught me off guard for the first five minutes, but then I realized it’s not the movie I had in my head, because I’m not the storyteller, I’m a component of the story. The film has a charm about it, I was just so taken back by it. Now, when I say charming, I mean we’re having peoples’ heads getting chopped off, throwing “F”-bombs left and right, people are riding around on BMX bikes…I mean, I disembowel a guy and pull his intestines out with a bike to get information out of him (laughs), and I just walk around with a golf club, USING it. With all of that, I STILL say it’s charming.

 To give viewers a taste of what’s in store, here is a gallery of stills, along with a video, to let you fright fanatics know just what you’re in store for, when TURBO KID makes its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26th, during its Midnight Selection.

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