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Exclusive: Crispin Glover Says His Character in SMILEY FACE KILLERS Could Be Connected to RIVER’S EDGE

From novelist Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho) and director Tim Hunter (River’s Edge) comes the terrifying true-crime-inspired horror movie Smiley Face Killers. Look for it in Select Theaters and on Digital and On Demand anywhere you rent or buy movies on December 4th and on Blu-ray and DVD on December 8th.

Dread Central is hosting a virtual screening and Q&A with Smiley Face Killers cast members Crispin Glover (River’s Edge), Ronen Rubinstein (Fox’s 9-1-1: Lone Star) and Mia Serafino (NBC’s Crowded) on Tuesday, December 8th at 4 PM (PST). RSVP to attend by following the link below.

Related Article: Dread Hosting SMILEY FACE KILLERS Screening + Q&A Featuring Crispin Glover Tuesday December 8th!

Dread Central was lucky enough to score a sit-down with Glover, who discussed the process of transforming for Smiley Face Killers and how his character may be connected to Layne from River’s Edge. Give our conversation a read below the trailer and synopsis!

As a strange wave of mysterious drownings of male college students plagues the California coast, Jake Graham struggles to keep his life together at school. Finding himself stalked by a hooded figure driving an unmarked van, Jake fears he may become the next victim in the killers’ horrific spree.

Dread Central: One of your first breakout films was River’s Edge (released in 1986) and now you’re appearing in Smiley Face Killers, both directed by Tim Hunter. What was it like to work with Tim again after all these years and how have you evolved as an actor and an artist?

Rivers Edge Poster - Exclusive: Crispin Glover Says His Character in SMILEY FACE KILLERS Could Be Connected to RIVER'S EDGE

Crispin Glover: Well, Tim is the reason I’m in the movie. It’s great working with Tim. I’ve been friendly with him since all the years we shot River’s Edge. He approached me to do it and I was in the middle of a film. I make my own films as a well; a filmmaker that’s been toying around for fifteen years. My first film What Is it,  this is the fifteenth year I’ve toured [with it]. I actually did a tour at the beginning of the year before everything shut down. I perform hour-long live shows of books that are profusely illustrated and projected behind me, then I show my feature film, then a Q&A, and then a book signing at the end. I’ve been doing this for fifteen years now. I’ve got two feature films that I’ve completed that I’ve been touring around with all this time.

I’m currently working on a third feature film, which is actually not part three of what will be a trilogy that the first two are part of. It’s a film with my father, he’s an actor, Bruce Glover. He’s in films like Diamonds are Forever and Chinatown. He and I had never acted together before so I developed this project for he and I to act in. I’ve been developing it for many years and was in the middle of shooting, or preparing for a production segment, shooting different production segments over the years, unlike most feature films where it’s done in one increment but I’ve done in smaller production segments for many years, and I was just about to do this production segment when Tim approached me about this film and my whole concentration was on my own filmmaking.

When I do a production segment I don’t have a big team around me. I’m really doing it myself. On the days of the shoot. I have a whole production team but I do everything so it’s a huge amount of work. I looked at the script and I knew Bret Easton Ellis, he’s an excellent writer, and I had experience working with Tim, so I looked at it but I just looked at the character to see what it was. I read through that very quickly because I was in the middle of other stuff with my own film, and my feeling was it did not need an actor, it just needed an interesting looking person.

I turned it down at first and Tim was really quite insistent, so I got on the phone with him and he said he really thought I would add something to it, and then he mentioned a prosthetic. Something has happened with contemporary prosthetics in that they look very much like a mask and I said, “Well if we could do something that was like what Lon Chaney was doing in the 1920s…” where you really see the facial features and that is done with hooks, that are pulled in various places, and it’s not particularly comfortable, part of the reason they really don’t do it anymore. But Tim said he was ok with it.

So I said, “You like the script, you think this is something you can do, make something interesting?” And he said, “Yes” and I just trusted Tim so I said, “Alright, I’ll do it, I’ll go in and meet with the fellow…” who did a great job with the prosthetic; he knew all the tricks with what Lon Chaney had done. We didn’t do the same thing as Chaney but that kind of technique which as I said has a hook up here and then a hook in the mouth that is pulled by a latex piece. I had to physically have the cords tied to a loop in my belt and it was a complicated and not normally done procedure, but it does have a great effect and it is a bit uncomfortable. My enormous respect to Lon Chaney because compared to what I did he had way more stuff, the binding of his arms and legs; he did incredible performances on top of the fact that he designed the makeup himself. What he did was amazing. I just had a very small amount of screen time really, but even that small amount of time, it hurts after just a little while, which is why they stopped doing it. But I asked for it myself so I couldn’t complain and it’s effective so I’m glad.

DC: Before we get back to Smiley Face Killer and your career as a whole I wanted to talk about The River’s Edge a bit because I’m a huge fan of the film and your performance is so compelling. I wanted to ask about Layne, because we’ve all had friends like him growing up, people taking things way too seriously and lose their perspective. At the same time, there is something so generally endearing about him like he’s genuinely doing it for his friends because he thinks, in my interpretation, that friendship is extremely important. I just wanted to ask you, and maybe you could talk about Tim’s direction, but what made Layne tick? What were the character’s motivations, where did you draw from to get that performance?

CG: Well, you know, there are multiple things. First, one of the more evident elements is I speak with a bit of a dialect in it, which is kind of an extreme Southern California west coast dialect. I grew up in the area so I can sort of naturally get to that but it is an extreme version of it. When I read the script I remember that it was a fairly quick thing that I realized would be good for it but there was a more nuanced aspect.

You mentioned it even with what you were saying, when you said there was an endearing quality in that he was doing it for his friends, which is on the page in the script. However, that actually isn’t what I was playing. Maybe that’s not the right way to phrase it; maybe it is what I was playing but to me what was important for the character was the character actually wanted attention which is actually insincere. Layne says, “What I’m doing is for my friends,” but, in fact, it’s really quite self-serving.

There’s an adage: “Play comedy like tragedy and tragedy like comedy” and this film was essentially a tragedy and yet there is an element of playing it like comedy. There are performances like that but it doesn’t happen in the United States that often; it happens, but not often. That’s part of what I like about the character, and the film; the film has a dark quality but there are elements of humor throughout so it has a dynamic that I think is compelling. I’m proud of that movie and I’m always glad it came about. I always enjoy talking about it, but that’s what my interpretation would be.

DC: That’s very interesting. Where do you think Layne would be today if he was a real person?

CG: I was joking with Tim Hunter about it, that Smiley Face Killers was the obscure sequel to River’s Edge and that my unnamed character is Layne. He got arrested, got into drugs, and then in jail he had some kind of pipe accident and got burnt. That’s where Layne went to, but of course, that’s a joke.

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Crispin Glover in River’s Edge (1986)
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Crispin Glover in Smiley Face Killers (2020)

DC: Your filmography is really extensive, but in the villains you’ve played specifically, you have this ability to be very scary by saying very little. Obviously, I’m talking about Smiley Face killers, but also I don’t think you say a word, also the Thin Man in Charlie’s Angels, and it’s not something everyone can do. How do you make silence scary?

CG: I’m not sure if I’m necessarily concentrating on it being scary but I do love silent film. We’ve been talking about Lon Chaney, and there is a different art form, not necessarily in the acting, but in the actual filmmaking. And I think silent film, when it’s good, is more powerful because you’re looking at it visually and there’s no interpretation of language; visual is our primary source of interpretation. Even if there is a millisecond, language has a slight delay and there is a bit more consternation that the mind has to go through.

So if something can be purely visual it’s that much more powerful. I always, if I can get away with it, say as little as possible. I think it is more powerful generally. Sometimes with certain characters, it’s very important that they speak and have a lot to do verbally. I love it when I don’t have to say anything but in the same way as anything you’re concentrating on that is important for the character to get accomplished, what the character needs to do, and that’s the same whether there are words or not. Even when I was in acting classes as a young teenager I always tended to like characters that were a bit unusual, strange, crazy or whatever; I’m attracted to that artistically but I enjoy all kinds of characters as well. I have no issue with playing a scary or creepy character. I find it fun.

DC: Are there any final words about Smiley Face Killers you’d like to leave us with?

CP: December 4th it’s going to be available [on VOD], and it’s going to open in certain theaters and On Demand. And then, like I said, I’m completing my own film. I believe in January or February of next year I should have it completed but where I’ll be touring with it or releasing it that I don’t know. There’s more information on, Instagram, Facebook, those kinds of things.

Also American Gods Season 3, I’m in that, which is also out in early January and I’m working on a new thing right now, I just started a new production. I’m just grateful I’m working right now. I was not expecting it, but that just started so I won’t talk about that too much. Other things are coming up and people can find out about them on online.

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Are you excited to check out Smiley Face Killers this weekend? Will you be attending our virtual screening with cast Q&A on December 8th? What did you think of our exclusive interview with Crispin Glover? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also carry on the convo with me personally on Twitter @josh_millican.

Written by Josh Millican

Josh Millican is the Editor in Chief at Dread Central.

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