10 Years Behind the Mask: An Exclusive Interview with Leslie Vernon Actor Nathan Baesel

If you live in the Los Angeles area, this weekend offers 2 unprecedented opportunities to meet and interact with the cast and creators of a legendary indie horror movie. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, directed by Scott Glosserman from a screenplay co-scribed by David Stieve, arrived in 2006 and quickly became a cult sensation. The film is notable for its meta presentation (creating an alternate reality in which characters like Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger actually exist) while deftly mixing found footage and traditional methods of cinematic storytelling.

If you haven’t experienced Behind the Mask for yourself, it’s available to stream on Shudder.

Nice, normal-looking Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel) has an obsession with movie-style slashers like Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger. Leslie decides to follow in the footsteps of his heroes, and, ever the self-promoter, invites a documentary filmmaker (Angela Goethals) and her crew to follow him around as he constructs his own grisly legacy.

This Friday (January 5th), Behind the Mask fans can pick up the first issue of the 6-part prequel comic Before the Mask at Dark Delicacies in Burbank. The signing will be attended by Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, David Stievve, and Scott Glosserman, along with illustrator Nathan Thomas Milliner. The event kicks off at 7 PM; you can get directions and purchase tickets, HERE.

This Saturday (January 6th) promises to offer an event of epic proportions when Behind the Mask holds its 10th Anniversary screening at the LA Live Stadium 13. Everyone from the Dark Delicacies signing will be in attendance, along with cast members Ben Pace (Doug), Britain Spellings (Todd), Hart Turner (Shane), Bridgette Newton (Jamie) and Behind the Mask composer Gordy Haab.

The organizers have hinted that other celebrities will be in attendance, as well as a camera crew who’ll be shooting footage for a Behind the Mask 10th Anniversary DVD re-release scheduled for March. If this event hasn’t already sold out (which it will) you can purchase tickets, HERE.

before the mask comic 198x300 - 10 Years Behind the Mask: An Exclusive Interview with Leslie Vernon Actor Nathan BaeselDread Central was lucky enough to sit down with Behind the Mask’s leading slasher, Nathan Baesel, who’s clearly excited for this weekend’s festivities. We discussed the film’s enduring legacy, unearthing some juicy bits of history along the way. And, of course, we just had to ask about the status of the long-gestating “Spreemake”.

Dread Central: We understand that Scott Glosserman, David Stieve, Angela Goethals, Ben Pace, Britain Spellings, Hart Turner, and Bridgett Newton will all be attending the screening on the 6th. Will this be the largest gather of Behind the Mask alum since the wrap party? It’s kind of like your guys’ 10-year High School Reunion.

Nathan Baesel: It is and we’re such a stupid group that get-togethers of two are an event. This thing is going to go south real fast. The police will be called in at some point. At least once.

DC: When you were making this film, did you have any idea you guys were making a future cult classic?

NB: We all believed if we did our jobs competently then the cleverness of the story and quality of the script would take care of everything. In the end we mostly managed to execute both extremely well and in some cases delivered really exceptional moments. We’d hoped people would respond to the qualities in BTM we loved and I think I can speak for everyone in saying we’ve been so gratified in seeing that people did.

DC: What was it like for you working with horror icons like Kane Hodder, Robert Englund, and Zelda Rubenstein?

NB: Yeah, no pressure, right? I was really lucky in that they were all extremely gracious people with a fantastic work ethic and were dedicated to the idea of telling our unique story as well as possible. They were great collaborators which made working with them so inviting. Robert was so supportive of the work I was doing which was incredibly affirming of the direction we were going with Leslie. It’s admittedly an unusual film but once I got his blessing I committed even further to mining all the gems in it.

Behind the Mask Poster 211x300 - 10 Years Behind the Mask: An Exclusive Interview with Leslie Vernon Actor Nathan BaeselDC: I’ve seen you at a number of conventions in California over the past few years. Do you enjoy the convention experience and are you ever surprised by the level of fandom Behind the Mask has inspired?

NB: I never expect anyone to even recognize Behind the Mask let alone me and it never ceases to amaze me that people are happy to pay me money to sign my name on pictures of myself for them. That’s a concept I hope I never get used to the idea of.

DC: Of course, everyone wants to know about the sequel/prequel/remake/reboot. We’re excited to follow the further adventures of Leslie Vernon in comics, but when can we expect to see you guys in another feature film?

NB: Fortunately, I’m not in that department, that’s someone else’s headache to work out. All I have to do is show up and say words. But I will say, I like the idea of there being such a gap in time between the original and future sequel. Frankly, I think the more time between them the more highlighted will be some of the fun ideas we’re playing with in the sequel.

DC: What was your most embarrassing moment on set? Give us the scoop on some Leslie Vernon bloopers!

NB: Every camera setup was an opportunity for fresh lunacy and it came in high frequency. We had a ridiculous amount of fun shooting the movie and I’m so glad that gets across to people who’ve really responded to Behind the Mask.

I like scented candles and I don’t care who knows it. I lit my hotel room on fire one night when my candle burned to its base and popped out of the holder from the heat, spreading flammable wax everywhere. I woke up to my dresser in flames. The hotel was surprisingly understanding. I was obviously not their first moron.

DC: How has your participation in Behind the Mask affected your life over the past 10 years?

NB: I’ve got unbreakable bonds with a group of people that I love, both folks from the film and around it. I’ve been able to support my family from it and leave behind something my children can appreciate when/if they’re interested in seeing what dad did at his creative best. I’ve got a legacy. I feel honored to have that.

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Written by Josh Millican

Josh Millican is the Editor in Chief at Dread Central.

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