Exclusive: Bill Engvall Gives Us the Lowdown on The Neighbor


If you’ve had the opportunity to catch comedian Bill Engvall over the years during his incredibly successful stand-up career, you’d see a man that pledges his craft on making the audience smile, laugh, and leave the theaters happy. In the recently released film The Neighbor (review), from director Marcus Dunstan, Engvall takes his happy Southern boy persona to the complete opposite side of the tracks.

His portrayal of the creepy next-door resident, Troy, has already garnered him some pretty hefty compliments from the film community – it’s just that chilling. He was more than gracious to give us a few minutes to tell us about the project, so settle in and enjoy!

DC: Can you give us a brief description of the film as well as of your character, Troy?

BE: First off, I had a blast doing this film – it was really my first departure into a genre like this, and it was as much fun as I thought it was going to be. I guess you could put the movie in the murder/thriller category, and it’s about a guy who lives out in the sticks with two sons, and they’re just trying to make two ends meet, but the way they do it isn’t exactly the best way. They kidnap people and hold them for ransom, and we only ask for the amount and that they don’t call the cops and hope that they pay the ransom. What happens is, Josh Stewart, who is just wonderful to work with… his girlfriend in the film catches me one day while looking in her telescope doing something pretty nasty to someone, and I realize that she’s seen me, so we kidnap her, and then the battle ensues between Josh and myself.

DC: Were you apprehensive about taking a role such as this and venturing off from the roles where you make everyone laugh?

BE: I wasn’t apprehensive in the sense of, “I don’t want to do this”- I’ve been a horror film junkie ever since I was young – I go back to Vincent Price in The Screaming Skull, Worms, and the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I was glad that this wasn’t a slasher film – I’m much more glad that this is a psychological thing and intense, but my apprehension was that I’d never done this before. So here’s Josh Stewart and Ronnie Blevins – all these wonderful actors that have done these types of films, and you don’t want to be the weak link in the chain, so that was my only worry. They were so supportive, and I’ve got to tell you something: I was shocked at how easily I slid into this role.


DC: Now, you mentioned earlier about your character that he’s a dad who’s trying to make ends meet – did you see him more as a lunatic or the dad who wanted, in the end, to do the right thing for his kids?

BE: I think it’s the latter. There’s a great scene in the movie where I’m explaining to my son that we’re doing what we’re doing in order to get enough money so that we won’t be scared anymore, and we’re going to make it – we’ll be okay. You want to feel for this guy, but then you’re looking at it like, “You’re going about this completely wrong!” I just think he’s a dad that’s got a warped sense, and he doesn’t really see that this is wrong – I think he knows it, but he’s in way too deep.

DC: What can you tell us about the filming? Are you used to this kind of physical role as well?

BE: Things really did get physical – by the end of the shoot, I was physically worn out. There’s a fight scene between myself and Josh, and I’ve got a funny story about it: We would go to work about 4 in the afternoon straight through the night, so when we both come back to the hotel at 6 in the morning, these business guys are up getting their breakfast, and we come in all dirty and bloody, and these guys are looking at us like, “What the hell is going on?” (laughs) It was a very physical film – lot of dragging bodies around, and I was working a backhoe, and [director] Marcus Dunstan… I cannot give this cat enough credit – he was able to take me to a place that I hadn’t got to in order to be able to make this character the way he was. If you’ve ever met him, he’s like the sweetest guy on the planet, and you wouldn’t imagine that he’d be able to write this wonderfully dark stuff. He was so wonderful and supportive that it made it that much easier to play this part.

DC: Lastly, after the release of The Neighbor, what can fans expect to see from you down the road?

BE: Interestingly enough, coming out in November I’ve got a Christian family, faith-based movie! (laughs)

DC: Going back to the complete opposite end of the spectrum, eh?

BE: Definitely! I’m hoping that The Neighbor leads to more roles like this because I had a great time during it.

The Neighbor Poster art



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