Working With the Masters of Horror: Norman Reedus


Exclusive interview with the Pandorum, Boondock Saints star

Norman Reedus made his feature film debut with Mimic. Not a bad way to start – working with Guillermo Del Toro, arguably one of the finest creative forces in film today. The actor would be called back by Del Toro years later for Blade II, this time as Scud, the Daywalker’s new tech assistant (after the brief demise of Kris Kristofferson’s “Whistler”). Del Toro isn’t the only director to use Reedus twice.

Christian Alvart called him up when production on Pandorum (open in theaters now) was about to begin. The pair had previously collaborated on the serial killer thriller Antibodies. And, of course, there’s Troy Duffy, who made Reedus one of the Boondock Saints. A sequel – subtitled “All Saints Day” – is getting limited release later next month.

Reedus, who resides in New York, is certainly one who gets around the horror genre. Chances are, you’ve seen him in John Carpenter’s Masters of Horror episode “Cigarette Burns” or rented Messengers 2: The Scarecrow earlier this year. He’s a busy body. And, as he calls himself “artsy fartsy.”

I called up the actor for a candid chat about his career the morning Pandorum was released. You’ve got a movie opening today, congratulations…

Norman Reedus: That’s right, yes, it’s exciting.

Shock: Have you seen the final product yet?

Reedus: Yeah, I saw it the other day at 9am – that was brutal waking up that early. I just found out there was an iPhone app for it. [laughs]

Shock: You’ve bounced around to different genre projects. How do you pick the material you’re going to commit to and what was it about Pandorum that hooked you?

Reedus: I like these movies when they’re done well. Pandorum, in particular, Christian and I had done a film before called Antibodies. He and I were supposed to do another film, and that one fell apart, which is how he and I met for Antibodies. I just became really good friends with him. I got into a car crash in Berlin and he was by my bedside the whole time translating for me what the German doctors were saying. When he brought up Pandorum, I was like ‘F**k yeah, I’ll do it.’

Shock: What was the project you two were developing that ultimately fell apart?

Reedus: It was a film – I forget the name of it – people are bought like chess pieces and the higher ups, the wealthy business people, will buy someone, f**k their life up and do what they want. Like play their player against other players. It was a while.

Shock: Sounds cool, and I’m sorry to hear about the car wreck.

Reedus: I have a titanium eye socket and four screws in my nose.

Shock: Shit!

Reedus: Yeah, I got messed up. It happened after Antibodies. After shooting I came home to New York then went back for the Berlin Film Festival and that’s when it happened.

Shock: Pandorum looks like Christian’s most ambitious project yet.

Reedus: I was completely blown away by the film. It’s so well shot and he created this whole world in space. It happens in the far, far future. What I saw on the screen, from what he adapted from the script, I was completely blown away. Every single project he does, he jumps to another level. He’s such a good director. The thing with Christian is I have a rapport with him, I just trust him. It comes from just hanging out with him. The first time we met, we just went out all night then went out a lot of other nights. We joke around, Christian’s got a dry, German sense of humor. You go on a set there and everyone’s speaking a different language. All of the other actors were focusing on what they were doing and I was coming back and forth from the Boondock sequel. Doing both movies at the same time. It was nice to have that trust with Christian. He’s like a brother.

Shock: What’s your part in it all?

Reedus: I play one of the people that’s on the ship when Ben and Dennis wake up. They’re trying to get their bearings on who they are, how they got there and what they’re supposed to be doing. I’m the first person that alerts them to the dangers on the script. I just saw the trailer for it, and I’m the guy in there being dragged across the floor screaming “Noooo.” I’m basically that guy. [laughs]

Shock: What’s your appeal when it comes to the horror genre?

Reedus: I like that type of filmmaking. I like the suspense. H.R. Giger is my favorite artists, I just like stuff like that. I just had a photography show in Berlin and it’s very similar to this genre. I like to take scary, ugly things and make them pretty. John Carpenter, it was just an awesome guy to hang around. He’s got such a cool personality and he’s been around. He’s seen how the business works and his take on it is awesome. I’ve always been a fan of the genre.

Shock: Well, speaking of Carpenter, you’ve worked with some big guns – from his to Guillermo Del Toro. What have you taken away from your experiences with these guys?

Reedus: Guillermo is really amazing to work with. I’ve done two films with him and I hope we do more together. He’s just a little kid. He’d be behind the monitors during a fight sequence [on Blade II] and you’d look over at him and he’d be sitting in the chair going “Pow, pow, pow!” His enthusiasm and drive – he creates these worlds, his enthusiasm is infectious. Same with John. You go to work and you pick up their little nuances, it’s an interesting world to be in for a month or two.

Shock: You were working with Carpenter not on a feature but a different format, television, what was that like?

Reedus: You’re with him, you’re covered in blood. You’re hanging out with Udo Kier…it’s surreal. It’s weird because there are different types of horror movies. Some of them are very subtle and they jump out at you. With John, it’s subtle but at the same time…Udo Kier’s pulling his entrails out and feeding them into a movie projector. You’re thinking, “God, this could be so corny,” but when John puts his hands on it, it’s not corny. Movies go from bad B or C movies, but John brings them to another level. He has the talent where he could say, “Pull your eyeball out and stick a fork through it,” it could be retarded, but you know it’s not, because it’s him.

Shock: It certainly must feel great to keep getting called back by these directors…

Reedus: It’s because I do everything they say. [laughs]

Shock: You’ve stepped behind the camera for a short film – is this paving the way for a feature debut?

Reedus: I’m actually in pre-production for one right now. We’re going through legal mumbo jumbo. It’s a film called I Was a White Slave in Harlem based on the book about Margo Howard-Howard. It’s a very interesting character piece. I’m in the process of that now. And my short films, they just premiered in Frankfurt as well. If you go to you can get them. I don’t know, man. I’m one of those artsy-fartsy guys. [laughs]

Shock: I’m sure plenty of our readers are Boondock Saints fans, so I should make sure we cover that. Is there any fear in getting the sequel out there? Or are you pretty confident it’s going to knock the fans out of the park?

Reedus: I’m pretty certain it’s going to kick a lot of ass. [laughs] It’s a good feeling. It’s really Troy Duffy’s vision. He’s another one of those directors that has his personal style. His personal style is what attracted all of these people. It’s bigger and larger and it’s going to kick ass.

Shock: Are you going to continue the genre streak with a few more pictures?

Reedus: There’s a film called Meskada which is this dark drama. And there are some other things that are coming out or I’m going in on. I did one called Red Canyon I did and that’s completely gory and twisted. It’s about a brother and sister who go back and try to figure out something about their past. The role I play is insane. The worst person in the world. I wear like this chemical warfare mask and the movie’s filled with rape and violence. My mother hates it. [laughs] She lives in Hell’s Kitchen now and I remember playing my three short films and she said I ruined Christmas.

Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor

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