Pancho Moler Talks 3 FROM HELL, CANDY CORN & Playing “Sick Head” in Rob Zombie’s 31
There’s something very interesting about the characters musician turned filmmaker Rob Zombie creates. They walk such fine lines between good and bad, black and white, always living in those grey areas we all refrain from acknowledging. Some love them, some do not. One thing’s for certain, though, you don’t forget a Rob Zombie character, and when the director decided to revisit his fan favorite characters from House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects in the form of 3 From Hell, excitement to see some of horror’s most iconic villains return was massive. Like Zombie’s previous films, the characters of Baby, Otis, and Spaulding aren’t alone in 3 From Hell. Richard Brake’s Foxy is a new fan favorite and this writer found what is, in my opinion, one of the best characters Zombie has written in the form of Sebastian (Pancho Moler), a show-stealing character whose selfless persona is a breath of fresh air in a group living in those grey areas. Moler plays Sebastian as a caring new addition to the gang, a character somewhat similar to how Matt McGrory’s Tiny was in terms of dynamic.
We thought we’d chat with Moler about Sebastian, 3 From Hell, Candy Corn, and his insane performance as Sick Head in Zombie’s 31 as well. Read on!
Dread Central: 2019 seems to be the year of Pancho, man. You’re firing on all cylinders with both 3 From Hell and Candy Corn.
Pancho Moler: Thanks man, that means a lot. We all put in the work, so it’s great to hear you liked it. You do your best and make hopefully some rad choices and I was lucky enough to work some great directors who made me look good [Laughs].
DC: With two films and recent appearances at Son of Monsterpalooza and other conventions, fans can’t seem to get enough of you. How does it feel to be embraced so positively by the horror community?
PM: Oh man, it feels great. I’m so fortunate to be a part of such a loyal and really great community. The fans just love Rob [Zombie] and Josh [Hasty, director of Candy Corn] are a part of that community as well, and it’s rad to work with people like that who write these great parts for you, where they don’t just make you look like a gimmick. They write characters for me that are human, that go through the same stuff as every other character and as far as the horror community, man, I feel so lucky to be a part of that world.
DC: You had previously worked with Rob on 31, which was a trip in itself, what led to your involvement in 3 From Hell?
PM: Well, I was the only person who had to audition for 31, to be honest. He works with a lot of the same people and knows what he wants, so he trusts those actors. With 3 From Hell, he sent me an e-mail saying “Hey man, it’s movie time again! I don’t know if you’re familiar with The Devil’s Rejects, but it’s a follow-up to that and I wrote a pretty awesome part in it for you. It’s the complete opposite of what Sick Head was and I’d really love for you to do it, are you down?” As if I didn’t know what The Devil’s Rejects was [Laughs]! It’s one of my favorite movies! I had two months until shooting when I got the part, so he asked me to grow my beard out, so I grew it longer than it had ever been before. It was such an honor to do it, I mean, dude, I got to do scenes with Otis Driftwood, Bill Moseley! A legend.
DC: I’m such a huge fan of The Devil’s Rejects, but truth be told and I’ve been outspoken about this online, I do believe that without a doubt, Sebastian is my favorite character that Zombie has written.
PM: Wait, really??
DC: Most definitely. He is such a genuinely good person. What I love about Rob’s films is that most of his characters live in those grey areas I mentioned, the bad guys are sometimes good and the good guys can be just as bad as the villains, and that works so well, but in 3 From Hell, we got Sebastian, who has zero ulterior motives, isn’t interested in himself and goes out of his way, time after time to just help.
PM: If you follow Rob’s movies, you see that the Firefly family, they are what they are and even though they’re supposed to be the bad guys, they’re still humane. The connection that Sherri has with Sebastian is similar to what she had with their brother, Tiny. Sebastian goes out of his to try to help them and in some ways, he’s kind of the next person to take that role. He feels good to finally have someone to care about him, so when Sherri connects with him, it’s like a brother and sister bond. All he has is being an artist, he’s been through a lot, so he just wants to make sure she doesn’t get hurt.
DC: The chemistry between Baby and Sebastian is one of my favorite parts of the film, but I also loved how your character vibed with Richard Edson’s Carlos character. He’s hilarious in the film. How was it to work with Richard?
PM: Richard Edson is a legend, I’ve seen so many of his movies. Sometimes you work with another actor and they’re just selfish, they only want to steal the scene, but Richard wasn’t like that. He did a great job and cared about making me look good too. We’d go over our lines and rehearse together and then we’d just talk about the characters and their relationship before we just went for it.
DC: 3 From Hell was very much a run and gun, fast shoot. With how that whole thing happened, was there any room for improv or was it 100% on the page? Did Rob let you guys do your own thing from time to time?
PM: Actually, most of the time, he let us do that. When it’s so fast-paced like that, a lot of his writing serves as a template or a guideline. You use it, but you’re also improvising a lot. That whole scene between me and Sheri, when we’re smoking weed and talking, most of that was all improvising. Sometimes even just the silent moments worked better than what we originally planned.
DC: The film works best during those moments, those introspective moments, which we hadn’t seen prior in the series. It added such a new tone to the film and really set it apart.
PM: There’s a lot of that in it, especially the scenes between Bill Moseley and Sheri or the ones with just Bill and Richard Brake. It feels special.
DC: Zombie is great at creating iconic characters, whether it be The Firefly Family or in 31’s case, Doom Head or your character, Sick Head. How does it feel to step into such wild personas? I mean, Sick Head and Candy Corn’s Dr. Death are such interesting roles. Zombie and Hasty created some fun ones for you.
PM: With Sick Head, I had to make the character believable to me. I came from Santiago, Chile, so it gave me the opportunity to speak Spanish throughout the entire thing. You have to embrace it but also have it make sense to you, I mean, why would a clown pretending to be Hitler be speaking Spanish? I think that’s what Rob liked about it, I did my research and came up with what made it believable to me. After the war, a lot of Nazis relocated to places like Spain or South America, so I used that to create a history for me, where Hitler’s doctor, the “Angel of Death” found this little person and did shock treatment and mind warped him into this very hateful and sick person. He created Sick Head, so that’s how the character came to life for me. It helped make “Murder World” my personal playground. With Dr. Death, he was really different. He had a dark side, but there was also an arrogance about him, he had a specific outlook on the world. I brought a lot of my experiences into that character and when you do that, directors either go with it or they give you notes on how to change it but I’m lucky to have worked with people who embrace that.