Icons of Fright Chats With SINISTER 2 Star James Ransone!!

sinistertwotwoOne of the many unexpected surprises from Scott Derrickson’s SINISTER was the supporting character of “Deputy So and So”, a young police officer who right up until the end, did his best to help Ethan Hawke’s character solve the mystery behind the evil that was Baghuul. The character of the deputy was easily one of the fan favorites in the film, and when Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill were writing SINISTER 2, the sequel that CITADEL director Ciaran Foy would eventually direct, they listened to fans and made the Deputy character one of the lead characters this time around. Instead of showing up here and there, James Ransone’s Deputy So and So (now Ex- Deputy So and So) would be for the most part, front and center, looking for a way to stop Baghuul and his quest for children.

We thought it would be nice to have a chat with Ransone, about SINISTER 2, not being typecasted and of all things: skateboarding. Read on! (*This chat took place a few days before the film’s release*)

A lot of actors seem to get pigeon-holed into a certain kind of role after they’re known for something, and the versatility that’s been shown in your roles has always impressed me, it shows the opposite. When looking for roles, is there anything in particular that you look for?

No. To be honest, I wish I could just lie to you and say that I’m always given a plethora of choices that I’m able to look at and choose what my next role will be, but that’s just not how it is. I’m more of an actor for hire. I mean, obviously, there are times where I do turn stuff down, but that’s pretty rare. I think what I try to do is take every role and try to do something different than I did before, mostly so I don’t get bored. Not so much these days, but earlier in my career, it was like you played Ziggy (in HBO’s THE WIRE) and that’s all people want to see. It’s not so much that I can’t do that, it’s just that I’ve already done that, and if I’m not going to have a 9-5 day job, I want to do something where I’m not bored, ya know?

Yeah, definitely. When the first SINISTER came to you, what was it that really made you want to take the film on? Was there anything about the story or the character that you latched onto?

It’s funny that you mention that. When they first sent it to me, they sent me that one scene, where there’s four or five pages of dialogue, the scene between Ethan (Hawke) and I?

Yeah, totally. 

It was just that there was a lot to do with it. I didn’t even think of it as being in a horror movie, it was just two people talking and there were so many different choices that could made with that scene, it was all dialogue. I thought, “This is cool!”, so I taped myself doing it and sent it to Scott (Derrickson), and we eventually got on Skype to talk about it. He hired me from that, and I got on a plane to New York from LA. Ransone

When SINISTER 2 was announced and it was said that your character would be returning, I was surprised, but in a good way. Do you think that there would not only be a sequel but one that your character would essentially lead?

No way, I had no idea at all. I was stoked that the audience responded so well to that character, I was just happy that they like him. So when I was told, “hey we wrote this sequel, and your character is kind of the lead character because the audience loved him, and he’s kind of the only person who survived” (laughs)  I was flattered, but also was scared. I was scared about how I would flesh out this small comedic relief part from the first one, into a fully fleshed out person in the second movie. I’m terrified that I didn’t, I’m scared that Friday’s going to come around and everybody’s going to be bummed.

No way man, I really liked it. I’m a huge fan of the first one and liked SINISTER 2 just as much. 

Oh cool, thanks man, thank you so much.

You mentioned being flattered that they brought back the character for the second film, but when sitting down to read the script, did you think that it would be THAT much of a lead role?

No, I didn’t. I was stoked that it wasn’t just bringing the character back for a lead role, but that there was still such a story to it. There was a lot between the So and So character and Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon). There was again, a lot to work with, a lot to do that didn’t have to do with the supernatural elements. Just having that there made my job a lot easier, because I didn’t have to think about it much. As far as my approach, I did approach this one a lite bit differently than the first. This is going to sound like such a weird answer, but I watched the film, CITY LIGHTS, are you familiar with that one?

Yeah, Chaplin movie, right?

Yeah, so I’m paying a homage to Chaplin in CITY LIGHTS, in SINISTER 2.

When it came to the actual filming process of it all, how different was it working with Ciaran (Foy), as opposed to Scott with the first film?

Every director, no matter who they are, is going to leave their psychic imprint on their film. They’re always going to be different, no matter how similar the film is or even people like The Wachowski’s, I doubt that even they’re even remotely similar, directing wise. The one thing that both Ciaran and Scott DO share, is how meticulous they are, technically speaking. That’s a very good trait for someone who is trying to make horror fast, that meticulous attention to detail. Even in camera movement and that kind of detail, if you’re not very aware of how important that is, it can be incredibly hard to make something scary.

Speaking on the genre itself, there are always a lot of films within horror that come off and just feel very similar. It feels like just in the last couple of years, we’ve been getting smart, story-driven films that play in the horror genre. How do you see the genre being now?

I would argue with that! (laughs). I mean, what’s the last really smart film you’ve seen like that? For me, the last film I saw in the theater that was like that was LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. Or like in the late ’70s and early ’80s, there were TONS of scary movies that were also critically accepted in a way that they’re not today. I mean, man, Friedkin made THE EXORCIST and Kubrick made THE SHINING!

Yeah, totally, I know what you mean. 

..and these were world class movies. Imagine if David Fincher made a slasher movie, how great would that be?

It would be great! The closest we’ve gotten was ZODIAC. My last question speaks on my hometown of Visalia, CA a bit…


Yeah, exactly. Back in the day, when you filmed KEN PARK in Visalia, it was a big deal to a lot of people who skateboarded around there. I’m curious, are you still close to the skateboard culture or was that film more like just another role for you?

That’s a funny question because, first of all, I’m such an avid surfer, I surf a lot. All over Southern California, the break that I go to most is Point Dume. It’s funny that you ask that question, because I’ve never really cared for street skating myself, but all of my closest friends have always been involved with professional skateboarding. Just by sheer luck.  This past year, I started skateboarding a lot, because there weren’t any waves and I wanted something to do. It’s such a weird thing to do, it’s a lot like what the kids did in the ’70s, skating pools because the waves weren’t coming in. So it’s weird to start doing that at 36 years of age. It’s the dumbest thing to do, because man, it hurts when you fall.

I’m 34 and I feel like I’m 60 most days.

(Laughs). I think skateboarding culture is important to me for a different reason that most people would imagine. It’s not the sport, it’s the fact that so many kids turn to skateboarding because they’re products of fucked up homes. It’s an easy way to get away from whatever fucked up shit is going on at home, it’s important. I’ve always just been attracted to people like that, and a lot of my friends are skateboarders. So as long as skateboarding is a home to those fucked up outcasts, those interesting shitheads out there, then yes, skateboarding is definitely an important culture to me.

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