Johnathon Schaech Talks Poker and Horror
Even though writer/actor Johnathon Schaech may have initially hit the Hollywood scene in 1995 with his performance in That Thing You Do!, it’s his latest string of performances and writing contributions in the horror field that demonstrates he has what it takes to keep himself working consistently.
In fact, this week alone Schaech is featured in two different horror releases. In the first film, Laid to Rest (review), Schaech is featured in a supporting role where his character suffers one of the more creative knife-induced kills at the hands of serial killer ChromeSkull. The second movie, Sony Pictures The Poker Club (review), Schaech both starred in the film as well as penned the screenplay adaptation of the Ed Gorman novel.
Schaech explained, “The Poker Club is basically a story about a group of guys who regularly get together for their poker nights. One night, a burglar breaks in during a game and the group physically attacks the burglar to the point where he dies. They panic and decide to dump the body but from there, things unravel. The poker buddies soon realize that the burglar wasn’t alone and from there, it’s a game to see who can metaphorically keep their poker face on the longest between them.”
Schaech equally enjoys writing and acting these days as he feels that doing both is beneficial to each side of his career. “Because of my writing, I know that I become a stronger actor.”
“I started writing because of a discussion I had with Jessica Lange,” Schaech added. “She said it would help me break down scenes and have a more artistic approach to acting if I learned to write and express myself through crafting words artistically. I love that both of these things, writing and acting, allow me to be a storyteller, but just in different ways. It reflects how making films is a collaborative effort for everyone.”
Schaech himself is a huge horror fan and it definitely shows through his recent resume of work, which includes Prom Night, Quarantine, Organizm, and the Masters of Horrors episode “The Washingtonians” (which he also worked on the script). Even though Schaech works in horror, he still comes into these types of projects as a fan.
Schaech said, “Obviously, there are various degrees of horror. I think psychologically playing around inside the human brain can be interesting but I also think gore is a lot of fun too. Although, when gore is taken seriously, like in torture films, it just doesn’t work for me as a viewer.”
“What I like about Rob’s work is that he’s a huge contributor to this fun gore movement in horror,” Schaech added.
The “Rob” that Schaech is referring to is Laid to Rest director Robert Hall whose film delivers in helping to revive the long-stale modern slasher movement of recent genre flicks.
“Rob is talented and smart and why we work so well together is that we both love the same things about horror,” said Schaech. “I told Rob when he was putting together Laid to Rest that if he could create a spectacular kill for me, I would be there in a heartbeat.”
Of course, just because Hall and Schaech have connected both personally and professionally, it doesn’t mean that Hall didn’t try to have some fun at the expense of Schaech on the set of Laid to Rest.
Schaech explained, “Honestly, I dread getting molded or going under the clay. Rob definitely knew that it freaks me out so when they had to create the mold for the movie, let’s just say he probably tortured me more than he had to.”
Although Schaech has found a home working within the horror community, his next project is actually a comedy for Sony Pictures. This doesn’t mean that he’s planning on leaving the horror genre behind any time soon though.
“I think why I like working in horror so much is that there is just so much love within the genre,” said Schaech. “I just want to continue to add something to the horror industry and help the genre grow with quality work. It’s such a blast to get to do these types of genre projects.”
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