CS Interview: Pat Healy on weird Western The Pale Door
ComingSoon.net got the chance to chat with indie genre vet Pat Healy (The Innkeepers, Tales of Halloween) to discuss the weird Western horror pic The Pale Door, which is now available in select theaters and on digital platforms! Click here to rent or purchase The Pale Door!
Much like co-star Noah Segan (Knives Out) and co-writer/director Aaron B. Koontz (Scare Package), Healy finds the world of Westerns to be “probably my favorite genre, if I were hard pressed to answer” and given that it’s rare “to do those these days” and his past starring in one film and one TV pilot, it was “very exciting” to get to go back to them.
“One of the things that I like about Westerns is it being about the mythology of America, and there is another mythology of America which is these witches and Salem and all of that stuff, and this was a very clever combination of those two things,” Healy explained. “I’m also a real skeptic when it comes to supernatural, so it was an interesting role in that he is a very logic-based person. He figures out all of these jobs and all of these things are basically based on facts and figures and logic and distance from here to there, and certainly presented with something that is unexplainable and goes into this kind of shock about it all. That was a cool arc. That was a cool journey and a cool thing to play, because with any role, you kind of say, okay, every part is me, but how would I react in this situation? And that’s probably how I would react, because I don’t believe in anything like that and I’ve never seen anything like that. So where I see it, I think I’d be pretty flummoxed and hard pressed to explain and know what to do with myself. So all those things were really interesting for me, plus there’s some actors that I knew and were friendly with and some that I didn’t know that I was fans of, like Bill Sage and Stan Shaw.”
In looking at the production, Healy found that one of the biggest challenges for him in getting into character was simply the speed of a low-budget production, in which he “didn’t really have a whole lot of prep time,” but that because he’s used to it from his career of “having done a lot of guest spots on episodic television” and ensure that he’s “really prepared when you show up on the set.”
“Since you’re dealing with period wardrobe and period detail and accents and effects and shooting at night, which is just difficult on its own, but shooting at night in Oklahoma in the summertime is just brutally oppressively hot and humid,” Healy recalled. “Because all of those things that I just mentioned, not to mention your blood and you’ve got to be here for this effect that they’re going to do in post, to work later and all that stuff, it’s going to interfere. It’s going to impact, sometimes in a good way, being on location is always good, because it affects you in ways you can’t expect. But you’re not doing this kind of work on all the things in a vacuum. You’ve got all this other stuff coming at you, and on top of that, you’ve got to be standing in a certain place and say it in a certain amount of time for just the technical reasons of filmmaking. So it’s always the more homework I can do and the more sort of secure I can feel in those choices, then the more freedom I have on the set and the less those things. Plus, there’s unknowable things. I mean, we were in tornado season, so we would stop shooting sometimes if there was a tornado coming, or, it would just start thundering and pouring or hail, and you’d just stop. So you just have to be always ready for that kind of thing. I’d like to think that there’s always challenges and there’s always things that don’t work exactly the way that you wanted them to or planned them to, and sometimes, they turn out better for that. It is sort of an allegory compared to the character, which is that you have this plan that’s written out and figured out, but then all these other things come in and intervene that you weren’t expecting and you have to figure out how to deal with them. I obviously couldn’t, as an actor, be in shock like the character is, but at least that character is in some sort of weird stage of shock that I felt probably worked well for the character.”
Despite this speedy production, Healy praised Koontz for allowing him to play with his character a little bit from scene to scene while also pointing out how playful the rest of his co-stars were, namely Bill Sage, and brightly noting that “we had a lot of fun.”
“I got to come up with my own voice and accent, which I wanted to be different from what the other people were doing, because he’s coming from probably a different education level and a different place than they are,” Healy expressed. “They were happy with that, and I think that there’s certain words that don’t sound great coming out of my mouth, or maybe I can’t sell as well as perhaps maybe saying it this way. There’s a certain scene in the movie where something really traumatic has happened and there’s a line that’s like, somebody says, ‘Let’s get out of here,’ which I think is the most said line in the history of movies. It’s in almost every movie that’s been out here. And I said something like, that’s a good idea or something. I thought, well, you know, that seems a little like he comes up with a clever line or something there. So it’d be better if he just sort of like, is just out of it. I saw the movie the other night and it’s really funny, actually. He says like, ‘Let’s get out of here.’ And I’d just done this really crazy thing, and I react to it in a way that I think I would. ‘What the hell was that?’ It’s just almost like nothing to say and just be like, have a look on my face like, ‘Wow, did that really just happen?’ I think it works really well. I assumed since they used it in the movie, that they think so, too.”
With his past in having worked with a few of his co-stars as well as sharing similar life experiences with other, the 48-year-old actor found that building the rapport with his castmates prior to cameras rolling was “pretty instantaneous.”
“I think that the producers are smart to have gotten us together and we’re all living in the same place and we’re all guys around close to similar age, within a similar age range,” Healy stated. “We were just together all the time and we were there a few days early and it just worked. I mean, I think that good directors and producers cast not only who’s right for the role, but who would make a good group of people to hang out. And they were all right with that. We all got together famously and it worked really well. We’re still friends, most of us.”
The Dalton gang finds shelter in a seemingly uninhabited ghost town after a train robbery goes south. Seeking help for their wounded leader, they are surprised to stumble upon a welcoming brothel in the town’s square. But the beautiful women who greet them are actually a coven of witches with very sinister plans for the unsuspecting outlaws-and the battle between good and evil is just beginning.
The horror western pic features an ensemble cast that includes Devin Druid (13 Reasons Why, Greyhound), Zachary Knighton (Happy Endings, Magnum P.I.), Melora Walters (Big Love, Venom), Bill Sage (Power, Hap and Leonard), Noah Segan (Knives Out, Scare Package), Pat Healy (The Innkeepers, Bad Education), Stan Shaw (The Monster Squad, Jeepers Creepers 3), Natasha Bassett (Hail, Caesar!) and Tina Parker (To The Stars, Better Call Saul).
The film is co-written by Koontz, Burns, and Keith Lansdale and directed by Koontz. The Pale Door is now in select theaters and on digital platforms and VOD and is set to hit shelves on Blu-ray and DVD on October 6!