Quantcast Joel David Moore interview

Joel Moore!!!
Who better to play the unlikely hero in a horror film then funny man Joel David Moore?! He's appeared in several comedies thru-out the years including DODGEBALL & GRANDMA'S BOY. And he'll next appear in James Cameron's AVATAR. But on September 7th, he'll go up against Victor Crowley in Adam Green's HATCHET. He spoke to Joel about working on HATCHET, as well as re-teaming with Adam Green on SPIRAL. Read on! - by Robg. - 9/07

Do you remember what your earliest recollections of the horror genre were? What films had an impact and scared you first?

Yeah, I think back to the Friday The 13th’s. Those were the ones that were out growing up. I also have a very vague memory of seeing HALLOWEEN. I’d watched part of it recently though and I thought “I don’t remember ANY of this!” (Laughs) But I remember being scared shitless of Michael Myers and the idea that someone can just walk into my house and follow me. While I’m trying to run as fast as I can and he’s still always 3 steps behind me the whole time. I think that’s where our dreams come from. The whole trying to run away from someone and you can’t run? I’m positive it comes from when we were 11 years old, watching these movies. (Laughs) They’d run and run and run, and then it’d cut to Jason walking. And they’d run and he’d still be right behind them, or in front of us at some point, it’s just so ridiculous. Makes no sense!
So you’re saying those films are responsible for a whole generation of common nightmares between us!

Yeah! I don’t think there were nightmares like that about not being able to run away years before all those movies. Before that, nightmares probably involved not being able to eat or depression or something.

(Laughs) So is it safe to say that you’re a horror fan though?
Yeah, I am. I am. I enjoy horror movies a lot and some of the movies in my top 20 favorite movies are horror films. So, I am a fan of the genre and I have been. I knew I wanted to do a horror movie and in the search for one, I feel that I found one that had its own notch in the pole. HATCHET was something that was different. It was funny, but also a throw-back to these old 80’s “slasher” films that I really enjoyed. I appreciate from the very beginning how Adam (Green) would say “We’re going to do this real! It’s going to be just like that old shit! We’re not using CG. All the kills will be real! We’ll use prosthetics! The monster’s going to be Kane Hodder, man! He was Jason!” Just his passion and energy towards filmmaking in general, but also his wisdom in trying to find the niche for this genre and for bringing back old-school American horror interested me. The buzz has revolved around that now.

How did you get involved in HATCHET? Did you know Adam Green before hand or did you audition for the part of Ben?

I didn’t know Adam. I just was up for the role and I really wanted to do a horror movie. The role was sort of for a guy like… umm… like a Chad Michael Murray type. That’s the best way to describe it. (Laughs) That’s nothing against Chad. He’s a beautiful man and.. I’m not so… (Laughs)

Maybe we’ll have drinks one day as one beautiful man to one ugly man. But it was sort of written for that kind of a guy. The good looking jock. But I went in for it and Adam saw me and probably thought, “Wait, this guy should be funny. And should maybe be an underdog” of sorts. Not necessarily great with the ladies. There’s a different type of energy involved if the guy’s a good looking, macho guy trying to get the girl. That is the type of guy that gets the girl. I’m not the type of guy that gets the girl. (In the movies)

Hey, you have your fans, man! Once you were cast as Ben in HATCHET, how much did you add to the part? Being that you weren’t the initial “type” for it. Was there room to improvise?

Yeah, there was a lot more awkwardness in my version of Ben, I think. And it was real cool because they put a cast of comedians around me. So I had Deon Richmond, who steals the movie. Mercedes McNab and Joleigh Fioreavanti. And then of course, your classic actors like Richard Riehle and Patrika Bardbo and Joel Murray, who are all so funny. Of course, the tour guide was played by Perry Shen – he did all those magic tricks and weird stuff like that we had never seen before. The first time we saw them was right on set that day. It was crazy to watch him do that stuff! We didn’t know that any of that was going to be in that character, so it was fun to actually respond to all of the comedy going on as it was going on.

Well, you are surrounded by a cast of very, very lovely ladies. Can you talk a little bit about working with the ladies of HATCHET?

Ummm. You want to know the behind-the-scenes love-shit, don’t ya, man?

No, I just want an excuse to say they’re all hot, just in case they’re reading this. (Laughs)

They are all hot. Not only are they beautiful, they’re fantastic actors. Tamara Feldman, who plays the lead Marybeth and my love interest in the movie is just perfect for this part. She’s very innocent, yet she’s on a journey and she has to “man-up” and really get into the fight and try to find her brother and her dad, although she knows something is going on and something is wrong. She still plays it in such an innocent, vulnerable way, and still deals with me hitting on her the whole time even though we’re being chased by a monster. On and off set!
One of my favorite stories that Adam Green always tells is one night when Robert Englund was talking to Kane Hodder about his Victor Crowley make-up and Adam was just standing in between them thinking, “Holy shit. I’m in between Freddy and Jason on my own movie!” You grew up on a lot of the films those guys did, what was it like to work with them?

Well, it was part of what gave me security in climbing into the project, because I knew he had talked to Tony Todd, and I knew that Robert Englund was getting signed on. And of course, Kane was already attached as Victor Crowley, so bringing the horror trifecta of horror icons to the movie was a good business move, and I knew it was going to draw in a new audience, as well as an audience that has wanted something like this for a while. There was something that was really special about that, and just being able to work with these guys, or even do Q and A’s with these guys is CRAZY. Because I’m a nobody in that world! You’ve got people in the audience asking about specific, tiny little scenes from movies 20 years ago and I just sit and listen.

Those guys are rock stars at the conventions!

Oh totally. And they make a lot of money doing them to be honest! (Laughs) I want to be a horror icon. (Laughs)

Well, you’re almost there. (Laughs) Kane Hodder is notorious for getting very into his roles. How intimidating was he when he was Victor Crowley?

He was… That guy is a scary dude. (Laughs) I’m a tall guy. I’m not afraid! I’m not afraid of dudes. But that guy is 200 and some odd pounds of scary. (Laughs) But it was great because, when he was in his prosthetics, he’d hide it. No one could see him as Victor Crowley, so there was this great advantage that he had on the rest of the cast to get them real scared. Him and Adam talked about this from the very beginning. Kane said he didn’t want anyone seeing him as Victor Crowley. He was also the stunt-coordinator, so the guy basically does everything.
When he coordinated, he’d come out, put on a huge trench coat and hoodie on to cover himself up completely. Coordinate the stunt, then walk behind a tree to take all his stuff off and come out and scare the shit out of everybody. It was fun to see the difference in what he was having to do. Playing the profession guy, making sure everything was safe and taking all the precautions, and then literally chasing us to our deaths. Throwing hatchets and ripping people in half. (Laughs)

There’s a bit of a story that ties into the T-Shirt that your character Ben wears in HATCHET, which will tie into the premiere in Boston on the 4th. Can you tell us the significance of Ben’s shirt?

Yeah, it’s the shirt for Newbury Comics which is this place in Boston, and Adam was a fan of theirs and he knows the guys that work there. And told them, “Look, I want you in this movie in some way. I want to represent Boston.” He told them they’d be in there somewhere but little did they know that they’re actually basically in every frame of the movie. (Laughs) Implanted on my T-shirt. It’s ironic too, because this weird looking smiley face is represented in every shot while people are headed towards their bloody deaths. (Laughs)

Speaking of those bloody deaths – This is pretty old-school hardcore stuff! Anytime Adam shows any clips at a convention, it always gets a standing ovation. How much of a thrill was it to be there to see it get executed on set, but then seeing it on the big screen later with an audience and hearing their reactions to seeing practical FX in a horror movie again?

I really think this is what drove the movie to have a theatrical release. It was the audience, it was the people that came to Tribeca, it was the people that supported the screenings Adam had. They’ve done a number of festivals and people from all around the world have come out to support. They were all very excited and obviously fulfilled, because everybody who sees the movie tells a friend “You HAVE to go see this!” The buzz behind it is crazy for a shoe-string budget independent movie. And I think that’s ultimately what’s going to drive people to the theaters and be able to give HATCHET the success that it needs to go down in history as trying to be an honest throw-back to a lost genre. I guess it’s making its way back, but we’re the front runners on that.

I know you’ve told this story before at convention appearances, but there’s an infamous HATCHET story involving you and vomit. Can you elaborate? And explain how dedicated you were to Adam Green and HATCHET?
First of all, it’s still acting even though its comedy and horror, and I read the script and said, “Are we doing this throw-up moment? Am I actually vomiting?” And he said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s going to be cool. We’ll get you some stuff to spit out.” And I said, “Nah, fuck that. I don’t want anything. I actually want to vomit.” So we had made the decision before we even started shooting that I was going to do it. So, when the time came, granted everything is so frantic and there’s so little hours to shoot at night. Adam said, “Hey, it’s totally cool if you want to fake it.” And I said, “No way!” I’m not going to go down as that guy that fakes throwing up in this kind of a movie.

When everything’s supposed to be real and there’s no CG or anything. I’m doing it. So, I sat and I literally drank 6 or 7 bottles of water, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re doing that within a 10 minute span, it’s both the grossest thing and the hardest thing to do. I greased the pipe with a pinky, he called action and I ran around that corner and just… projectile vomited! So, then after that, I told him “Ok, we got the master. Let’s get a close-up”.

Now that was the hard one. Because when you get everything out of your system, you’re kinda done. You’re system is like “Ok we got it! It’s done!” But I wanted it to look good! I wanted Ben actually throwing up and to see the way Tamara reacts to it. Adam was of course stoked but thinking “Are you serious? You want to do that again?” It was a process to get me there. I drank more water. My stomach’s already turned from throwing up already. I got back into it and was having a little trouble the 2nd time around. I was greasing it, throwing the pinky back there, it didn’t work. And uh… (Laughs) the special FX guys came over and said, “Ok, we’re going to hand you something.
And I guarantee this will make you throw up”. They came back a few minutes later and put something in front of me. And literally, I looked at it, smelled it, and all I had to do was let it touch my lips and I just had the taste of it in my mouth and I was ready! They called action, and I projectile vomited! Literally, so hard and so far that it hit the cameraman’s feet. It was all over his legs, and this particular cameraman, BJ McDonnell always wore shorts, even though it was freezing cold in the middle of the night. He was always hot because he’d always have to carry this 100 pound rig. So, it just drenched his legs. It was disgusting! (Laughs)

Any idea what they put in that concoction for you?!

The special FX guys came up to me after and told me it was half OJ and half clam-chowder. But the FX guy said, “It didn’t really matter what it was, because once I told you that whatever you were about to put in your mouth was going to make you throw up, I knew that was going to push you overboard”. When he started to bring it over, I was already gagging.

Wow. Unbelievable.

Totally disgusting. Whenever you’re out for the night, you should try half OJ half clam-chowder and see how it feels.

I’ll consider it. (Laughs) Next time I’m out with Adam Green perhaps.

I’ll make up a name for it. Put a little vodka in there and you can sell it as a drink. “HATCHET on the beach”?

(Laughs) So, you went on to work with Adam Green again shortly after HATCHET on SPIRAL. What was it about your relationship with Adam that made you want to work with him again?

I think it was the collaboration. Adam takes charge and is so structured in everything that he’s doing. He does his homework. He’s so passionate, but he also involves other people in that passion and he allows people to create and have their own life and tell their own story. People are able to throw in their own ideas with him. We had talked about working together again anyways. I had written a short story that me and my producing partner Jeremy Boreing wrote the feature script to. He took that and actually got it funded. So, I talked to Adam and said, “Look, do you want to co-direct this with me?” I co-wrote it, co-directed, produced it and played the lead, so there was a lot that I had in front of me. And I knew that Adam and I were a great collaboration in creativity. So, I asked him to be a part of it. We brought on him and Cory Neal, who produced it. We were walking into another very hard shoot, but it was a good experience because it’s such a beautiful film and we’re very proud of it. Its 180 degrees from anything I’ve ever done before. I’ve done predominantly comedies all the way up until this. This is about a neurotic, out of touch painter who become infatuated with his subjects and who may or may not kill them. That’s for the audience to go figure out. It’s very Hitchcock-ian and character driven and that’s what we set out to do. And I believe we accomplished that.

Talking about the character – I’ve seen you in a few other films, I’ve seen you in comedies, but this is such a different part to see you play. Where’d Mason come from? Where’d the inspiration for this very textured character, who paints and listens to jazz come from?

I don’t know? I think I’m kind of insane? (Laughs) I think that I was just pulling from little things that I had in my life. Part of the character development is pulled from different insanities that I’ve dealt with or had. And part of it was from when we were writing it. The jazz and the painting and all that came from literally what was in my home. We had paintings on the wall and we were drinking wine and listening to jazz while trying to create this script, trying to create this character.
And I thought why don’t we take these things? This is good. This guy is a fan of jazz. It can be his thing, his safety net. As well as painting. We gave depth to a character by developing the character first and working on the overall story around that. We had an idea for how this was going to end, and it’s a very specific ending. It’s a journey and transition into this crazy ending. We knew how it was going to end, so we had to develop everything in between, which was a process. I think a lot of that came on the page, and a lot of it came in from casting. Zachary Levi and Amber Tamblyn are great actors and that helped a lot. Made mine and Adam’s job as directors easier.
Because we were able to let them do what they do. We brought over the DP from HATCHET, Adam’s life-long friend Will Barrett. He’s such a fantastic DP and he shot HATCHET beautifully and shot SPIRAL with such style and technique. People who see it I think will recognize that the camera plays a role in the movie too. I set out to make this feel a certain way, and I think we did that. It’s a dark and beautiful artsy film.

Will did an amazing job with the style. The thing I liked about SPIRAL was its a lot slower paced then the average movie today. There are not many actors in it, but the ones that are in it are all fantastic. I liked how intimate it was – we got to really experience the development between the relationship of your character and Amber’s character. Was it always a conscious effort to make this different? It seems like you specifically aimed to make a slow-paced, old-school, character-driven film.

Yeah. That’s exactly what we were going for. It’s why some people who have viewed it have issues with it, because your general audiences these days can’t take the time to let something develop. They got to have quick MTV style editing. And fast-paced moving images. And this is not a fast paced story. It’s about this guy who is neurotic and crazy, and he meets a girl – we call it SPIRAL because obviously he’s spiraling out of control, but it’s actually because for a lot of the movie, he’s spiraling into control.
He spends the 2nd act of the movie actually gaining some stability in his life. This new girl that comes into his life actually teaches him stability. And for the first time, he’s able to let his guard down and tell her things that he has never told anyone before. That takes a while. That takes a little less conflict then normal. You’re getting to know two people, and getting to know two people getting to know each other. But it’s why the film delivers so well on the end.
A lot like HATCHET, in the sense that HATCHET sets up these characters for a half hour and then kills them off and you care about them! You cheer but you care about who’s dying. I think SPIRAL does the same thing, where we take the 2nd act to set up the main characters. Because of that, it makes watching the ending… hard! Yet exhilarating. Because you’ve been on this journey with them for an hour.
Is it true that you did a short film in between HATCHET and SPIRAL?

I did, yeah. It’s sort of what made me more confident in creating SPIRAL. I did a film that my co-writer Jeremy wrote. It was called MILES FROM HOME. I played the lead and directed it. It got accepted into South By Southwest. So from the success of that, we were able to go right into SPIRAL. And we knew we were capable in our filmmaking abilities to take on a bigger project. We didn’t go from a short film to a $20 million dollar movie. We went to a very small, art house suspense movie. We weren’t getting in over our heads, but I think people can see from the outcome of SPIRAL that it’s a beautiful film and we’ve very happy with the way that it came out. Hopefully many more will come from these crazy brains of ours.
I hope so, man. Last question – HATCHET opens September 7th, 2007. What do you hope audiences get out of it when they go to see it in theaters?

I hope that audiences get out of it what the audiences that have seen it so far have gotten out of it, which is just a fun, exhilarating ride following these characters and going thru some craziness. This is a call-back to what people traditionally like about horror and the horror genre, which has been lost in many ways over the past few years. This really brings everything back around and calls attention to what has been lacking in horror. I hope this is the start of something new and something fresh. Oh, and it’s very funny.

HATCHET trailer

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