Ever since his stunning turn as tortured Private “Pyle” in Full Metal Jacket put him on the proverbial map back in 1987, actor Vincent D’Onofrio has managed to continuously turn in a string of memorable performances over the last 25 years.
Whether it’s his comedic turns in flicks like Ed Wood, Adventures in Babysitting and Men in Black, or some of his far more serious roles in JFK, Strange Days, The Cell, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, Thumbsucker and the aforementioned Full Metal Jacket– Vincent D’Onofrio always delivers with a rare tenacity and fearlessness, leaving him one of the most incomparable and unforgettable actors of his generation.
Recently Dread Central had the opportunity to speak with D’Onofrio about his latest project, Jennifer Lynch’s Chained, which follows his character Bob, a reclusive serial killer who imprisons a young boy after murdering his mother after a cab ride gone wrong, exploring the themes of nature versus nurture and whether or not human beings are inherently evil.
Check out the highlights from our exclusive interview with the acclaimed actor and hear more from D’Onofrio about his experiences working on Chained, his brief role in the upcoming thriller Sinister and what appeals to him as a character actor.
Chained is currently out on DVD and Blu-ray everywhere courtesy of Anchor Bay Films.
Dread Central: Can you discuss what appealed to you about Chained when you were first considering taking on the role of Bob?
Vincent D’Onofrio: The initial appeal was Jennifer- all Jennifer. We had wanted to work together on Boxing Helena but for some reason that I can’t even remember now, it didn’t work out. So then a friend of mine told me about this script and that I should read it; I loved it and the character but wasn’t even sure if Jennifer even wanted me for the role at that point but of course, it worked out in the end.
Dread Central: There’s no doubt that your character is a bad guy; but yet, you almost feel sorry for him at moments throughout the movie during certain moments. How did you find the humanity within such a malicious character like this one?
Vincent D’Onofrio: I wanted to find out two things when it came to Bob- how I should approach this role and how did I feel about him as a character, not as a person? As a person, I don’t really care what his excuse was because he is a monster- there’s no doubt in my mind about that. But as an actor, you can’t really think that way; you can’t judge your character. In his world, there are justified reasons to kill people or keep a young boy chained up in the house so my approach was to first and foremost find the humanity in him.
This story in Chained lends itself a lot to the behavior of these characters so that gave me so much material to draw from and work with. I had to find Bob’s moral compass which seems strange when you’re talking about a killer but in this world, even a guy like him has his own set of rules that he lives by.
Dread Central: How was it collaborating with your younger co-star Eamon (Farren) on Chained? You guys had such great chemistry- did you stick mostly to the script or did Jennifer let you two improvise at all?
Vincent D’Onofrio: We did improvise just a little on this but for the most part, we stuck to the script. It was fantastic so we didn’t really need to do much with it at all. But Eamon is such a great actor; you know, sometimes you meet an actor for the first time on location and sometimes you hit it off, sometimes you don’t. But with Eamon and me, it happened immediately; for such a young actor he has this really fantastic concentration to him that made working with him such a pleasure. I could tell after the first day’s work that he was a very committed actor and I think the two of us got along so well because we recognized each other’s commitment to these roles.
Dread Central: I wanted to ask because I think you have such an interesting career and I’ve always enjoyed the unique characters we’ve seen you portray over the years- what is that you look for when you’re considering a project? What keeps your attention?
Vincent D’Onofrio: You know, I just spent the last ten years in the world of television so I kind of feel like I’m starting over again in movies; to be back is really great but the business has really changed so much in that time and even the kinds of films that are being made now are just so different.
What I’m always looking for are great characters; I’m a character actor and I’ve embraced that. I don’t want to take on roles where there’s nothing for a character to do- even if it is a really small role, there still has to be some kind of interesting aspect to it for me to want to take it on. But I’ve always loved fascinating characters- no matter how flawed- so hopefully I’ll continue to take on more great characters in the future.
Dread Central: Speaking of minor roles, you recently popped up in Sinister; how was it working on that project?
Vincent D’Onofrio: Oh, that was a really fun thing I did for Ethan! We’re really great friends and we share jobs with each other all the time with each other. He called me up and told me about this great horror movie he was involved in and asked if I’d come down for a half-day and do some shooting on a laptop. It was really easy but a lot of fun; I haven’t seen the movie yet but I’ve heard great things about it so far.
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