Exclusive Interview: Actor Brett Rickaby Talks Bereavement and More!
In 2005 writer/director Stevan Mena introduced genre fans to the twisted world of serial killer Martin Bristol in his breakout indie horror flick Malevolence, which was the middle part of a trilogy of films surrounding the serial killer as envisioned by storyteller Mena.
Now the indie horror filmmaking maverick is back with his follow-up to Malevolence called Bereavement (review here), a prequel that introduces us to Martin's world soon after he was kidnapped at age six by psychotic recluse Graham Sutter, who is not only a kidnapper but a serial killer that tortures and kills teenage girls on his pig farm in the middle of nowhere.
Graham raises the young boy to be more like him by teaching Martin (who suffers from CIPA- a condition that makes it impossible for the youngster to feel any sort of pain) about suffering while Sutter forces the young boy to watch him kill and torture each of his victims, which was also part of Sutter's own twisted personal search for redemption through bloodshed of those unable to accept pain into their lives.
Recently Dread Central had the opportunity to catch up with the madman himself, Brett Rickaby, who delivers a star-making performance in Bereavement with his raw and emotionally unhinged portrayal of Graham Sutter in the movie. During our interview we had the chance to speak with Rickaby about maintaining the humanity in a maniacal character like Sutter, the pressures he faced being a first-time lead actor in Bereavement, what's up next for him and more.
If you haven't had the opportunity to check out Rickaby in Bereavement yet, you may recognize him from Breck Eisner's 2009 remake of The Crazies, where the veteran actor played Bill Farnum, a farmer who becomes infected by the town's contaminated water supply and subsequently burns his house down with his family trapped inside, a chilling demonstration of just how bad things can get when you get a case of 'the crazies.'
Even though in real-life Rickaby is an easily likable gent, he offered up his own musings on why he seems to only get offered roles that skew a bit on the manic side lately. "They say in acting you meet your demons along the way so I suspect that there's a little bit of a guy like Graham Sutter in me somewhere. I mean, I'm not going to kill anyone or anything like that, but I can definitely see why I get offered roles like The Crazies or like this one."
"Growing up, I guess you could say that maybe my family didn't always have its act together all the time, and I know that's something they would all back me up on, too, so I don't feel weird saying that. But I definitely didn't have the most normal family dynamic around me growing up so maybe that comes through in these kinds of roles. I don’t know- I think I'm a pretty nice guy, but it seems people like seeing the crazy version of me doing movies for some reason or another," added Rickaby.
The actor went on to discuss how Mena took him by surprise when he offered him the leading role of Sutter, which marked the first time Rickaby was going to be tackling such a huge role in a feature film.
"I really wasn't familiar with Malevolence or any of Stevan's previous work when I was offered the role of Sutter in Bereavement," explained Rickaby. "I got the offer for the lead in Bereavement as I was finishing up with a theater show I was doing in New York, and I was completely stunned, in a good way, to be getting the offer from Stevan before we even had a chance to speak. Especially when you consider I really hadn't done any other leading roles before."
"That was a huge honor in itself that he was willing to take a gamble on me. But then we finally talked and I think we really hit it off from that first conversation. Then I had a chance to read the script and watch Malevolence for my own reference, and I knew that getting to work with Stevan on this was going to be a something really incredible."
"Sutter wasn't a huge character in Malevolence so I was interested to see what he had planned for his story in the prequel. But Stevan's the kind of guy who has very strong ideas, and I trusted in his script and the character he created. We did collaborate a little bit in bringing Graham to life- he wrote such a great story to tell that I just had to trust that if I was willing to traverse the emotional terrain as a guy like Sutter that hopefully it would come through as Stevan was crafting the movie. And I think it has- or at least I hope it has," added Rickaby.