Clancy Brown Talks Having Nothing Left to Fear
From the psychopathic, Christopher Lambert-bothering Kurgan in Highlander to tyrannical prison warden Byran Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption through to new recruit-maiming drill sergeant Zim in Starship Troopers, it’s safe to say that I am one of the many movie fans who have more than just a handful of favourite Clancy Brown roles.
Brown joins an impressive cast that includes Anne Heche and James Tupper for Nothing Left To Fear, the first horror film to come from former Guns ‘N’ Roses guitarist Slash’s production company ‘Slasher Films’. Akin to Seventies horror classics The Wicker Man and Rosemary’s Baby, Anthony Leonardi III’s debut feature channels fears of the occult, secret societies and the supernatural with a modern twist.
We snapped up the chance to get the first word from Clancy himself on his latest role as the ominous Pastor Kingsman, head of a mysterious Baptist church that seems to have much more influence on the residents of its small home town than you may realise…
Aaron Williams: Which of your roles are you most fond of?
Clancy Brown: That’s not a fair question; I like them all! If it’s sunny outside, I like one; if it’s rainy, I like another. God, which one am I most fond of? I love the Highlander, I love the Kurgan. They’re all emblematic of a time in my life. Shawshank was the role I was doing when I got married, so I like that one. I like the role I was doing when my daughter was born, Starship Troopers, so I have great affection for that. I like Pastor Kingsman because he’s sort of a next iteration of these preachers I’ve been playing, which I think is kind of a fascinating theme. I was a prison guard for a while, and now I’m the guy who plays a pastor. It’s an interesting phase I’m going through.
AW: What kind of research did your role in Nothing Left to Fear require?
CB: You can over-research it. It didn’t require the same kind of research that the pastor I played in “Carnivale” required. What I ended up doing was going around these small town churches in and around Louisiana and listening to sermons, seeing what the messages were, and I’ve gotta tell you – they were a lot scarier than they were in the movie. Me going around in those little churches was far more frightening than the movie itself!
AW: Scary? How so?
CB: Well, they were very political. Not fire and brimstone, but they were directing their flock a lot. They were telling them what to do, what to think and so forth. In Nothing Left To Fear, the thing that I loved about it was Pastor Kingsman was not that kind of overbearing guy. He was a guy that truly did care about his congregation and had to do certain things to protect them, including sacrifice somebody for their sake. He didn’t like the fact that he had to do that. He felt guilty about it. He felt bad. It was like he didn’t feel worthy. I don’t think he ever feels worthy of the task that is given him. I think that humility is sure lacking these days!
AW: How did you land the role of Pastor Kingsman?
CB: I just played another kind of pastor in a film called Hellbenders with Clifton Collins, Jr. He called me up and said, “I gotta send you this script that my friend Slash is producing. I think you’d be perfect for it!” I really enjoyed the script. I think it hit all the right notes as far as the horror conventions that you had to have, but it also had a much deeper heart, much deeper soul, which all the best horror films really have. They’re really about social issues and human choices. I love that and I love putting that in a supernatural setting because you can get away with even harsher messages with tougher morals.
AW: How did production go?
CB: It was a good set! I wish we had more money, I’ll tell you that too! If we had more time – because money relates to time – it’s not really about money, it’s about time. It was a good, fun cast. We did the best we could with the amount of time we had and the resources we had. I think every one of us would do it again. That’s more the norm than not in a film. It’s always a happy adventure to make a film, I think.
AW: I have to ask – did you get to meet Slash?
CB: Oh, yeah! It was great to meet him! He’s an icon. There’s only a few [people] I get star struck by. I can say “hi” to Morgan Freeman, then go into the other room to get a drink, but Slash I would stare at so I was a little nervous about him! My son is a big Michael Jackson fan, so I said Slash played guitar for this Michael Jackson tribute thing and I said maybe you can call him up and talk to him! My son had no idea who Slash was except he thought he was Michael Jackson’s guitar player. So he had all these questions about Jackson and Slash got this huge kick out of it.
AW: What is your most memorable working experience?
CB: A better question is “What is your most unmemorable one?”, but then I couldn’t answer it because I wouldn’t be able to remember it! There’s a lot of good memories. I remember doing Nothing Left To Fear and it was so damn hot where we were in Louisiana during the summer. I did a film after that in the same place in the fall, with Jason Statham. I was talking to Jason and I said, “Aw, man I swore I would never come back here and do another movie because it was so miserably hot and awful when I filmed There’s Nothing Left To Fear.” And he looks at me and he goes, “You never film here in the summer!” I’ve done ten films here in the last six months. I did one in the summer and I said I would never do another film in the summer. You do it in the fall, you do it in the winter, you do it in the spring, but you get out of here by June.
AW: Which of your roles do you get remembered for the most?
CB: Depends how old the people are. I’ve had people come up and say stuff to me about Bad Boys, stuff about Cowboys and Aliens, “Carnivale”, Highlander. I’m kind of surprised that people even recognise me from these anymore, I’ve got so grey and chunky. It depends.
AW: You get cast as the villain a lot. Is this something you’ve come to embrace?
CB: The villains are the most interesting, aren’t they? They’re very complex. They’re often not really villains. They are often like Pastor Kingsman – they’re just doing the best they can in horrible circumstances and forced to do horrible things – or they have a world view that is unconventional and believe that they are justified in what they are doing and they’re doing it all for the right reasons. The best villains are always reflections of what’s going on in society at that time. If you can tap into that psyche and figure out what that is. In Shawshank, the guy was such an asshole, but the reason that he was an asshole – was that he was an asshole! (laughs) I found a picture of a guy that had a scowl on his face and I think, in the book, Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption, they talk about the fact that Byran Hadley died of stomach cancer. It’s like, what kind of guy dies of stomach cancer? What kind of guy is so tied up that he allows that stuff to grow in his gut? What does that turn you into and how long has it been growing there? There’s always a reason. You just have to tap into that.
Dread Central would like to extend our deepest thanks to Clancy for taking the time out to speak with us. Nothing Left To Fear is out now on DVD, Blu-ray, On-Demand, and On-Download.
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