Your upcoming film Haunting of the Innocent - in a few words, what
is it about? And what did you draw upon to bring your character to life, how
much of Rib Hillis can we find in Tom?
Haunting Of The Innocent is
about man trying to avoid his fate, trying to become a force in his own
destiny and not just a pawn in some larger game played by forces beyond his
control. It's a story we all can relate to. It's a psychological thriller, in the
vein of Wicker Man and Let
the Right One In.
a lot of me in my character Tom. My own son, Dane, played my on-camera son in the
film. That alone grounded my character in the reality of being a father trying
to protect his family.
How did you get
involved with the project in the first place, and what led to you actually
co-producing Haunting of the Innocent?
idea of Haunting Of The Innocent started over drinks at our local bar one
night. One of our producing partners, Justin Jones and I, were at
our local bar, STK and we got into a conversation about my parents old New
England farm house and how creepy/haunted it is. We came up with the
basic outline of the film that night over cocktails: Los Angeles
based family goes home to a small town, to find that things aren't exactly
how they appear. The idea grew and we got teamed up with the
incredible Autumn Federici [Autumn
Federici interview - click here] and Raging Bull
Entertainment. We moved
the production from New England to NorCal, finding a perfect location in
the town of Paso Robles. It was truly one of those passion projects
in that was born out of some wild ideas one night over fireball shots...
you tell us about your director Matt Hish [Matt
Hish interview - click here], and your collaboration with him?
can honestly say that this film wouldn't be what it is if not for the
incredible vision, passion and commitment of Matt Hish. He knew
exactly how this film would look from the moment he was brought on board. It made my job and the jobs of everyone involved so much easier to
have such a focused and singular creative force at the helm. He took
the time to rehearse with all of us before shooting, so that our
characters and their experience in the story made sense for each of us and
more importantly for the film as a whole. I loved working with Matt
and his passion for filmmaking was inspirational and refreshing. He
is someone to watch for in this industry.
with Neil Dickson
talk about the actual shoot for a bit, and the on-set atmosphere?
was a small crew, who mostly already knew each other (at least on
the production side), which made our ambitious shooting schedule (16 days) possible.
We had an amazing DP in Miko Dannels, he and his team made Matt's
vision come to life. We were all committed to making the absolutely
best film possible, regardless of hours worked and effort. I couldn't have
asked for a better crew for this film, much of what is on the screeen is a
testament to them and their hard work.
future projects beyond Haunting of the Innocent you'd like to talk
I have three other films due to be released in the
coming months. First off, Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs, which I shot
immediately after Haunting Of The Innocent. Eric Roberts plays my father in this
disaster/monster mashup, slated to air on SyFy Channel this spring.
also did my third film for the legendary producer, Roger Corman [Roger
Corman bio - click here],
Sharktopus vs Pteracoda. This is the follow up to Sharktopus,
starring Eric Roberts and is due out in the spring.
from the sci-fi/horror genre, I produced and starred in the multi-award
winning film Birthday Cake, about a gay couple celebrating the birthday of
their adoptive child. This one was especially rewarding to me
because of the political importance of the message and the timeliness of
it. Birthday Cake is a film for everyone to see interested in the
idea of acceptance and family.
What got you into acting in the first place, and
did you receive any formal training on the subject?
is someting I found later in life, I wanted to be a professional football
player in my youth. I moved to Hollywood in my late twenties after living
in Paris modeling. I wanted something more rewarding, more fulfilling than
the ready-for-camera life of a model... and I found it in acting. Acting
gives us the chance to become anyone, to do anything, to feel and live
lives that we could never or would never try in real life. Being an
actor gives a person the chance to 'live' the life of anyone, from
hero to villian, sinner to saint. I love being able to 'be' someone
else, feel and live another life. In all my life, there has yet to
be a thrill like that of bringing a character to life. It is hard to
walk away from such a high.
the years, you have also worked on quite a few daily soaps as well as
reality shows. So how does working on those compare to working on an
Nothing can compare to the thrill and
satisfaction of shooting a film. The commitment to artistry and
quality of work is unequal. The daytime and reality genre are great
sources of entertainment and enjoyment, but if you are interested in
artistry and creativity, nothing compares to film.
Especially of late, quite a few of your
movies (Haunting of the Innocent included) are of the horror
variety - coincidence, or a genre at all dear to you?
love working in the horror genre. It is one of the most cutting edge
genres in film, always pushing the limits of what's acceptable and
possible, while also being the MOST entertaining genre. Ask any
actor what set they had the most fun on: a gut-wrenching drama or a horror
film, and I'll bet it's unanimous. Horror = FUN.
would you describe yourself as an actor, and some of your techniques to
bring your characters to life?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
The only way I know how to
do it is to believe it. Some part of me has to believe in what is
happening to my character, to bring that character to life, let them live
and breath. These people we portray exist on paper in black and
white until some actor breathes life to them. It may be the writer's
baby, but it is the actor who actually brings life to the character,
embodying them with whit, pain, love, humor... all the things that make us
human. I don't know how to do this other than believing that this
character and his life is real, buying into the idea that they exist and
live, feel and experience. That's what's fun about being an actor,
being someone else, living another life. When they say cut for the
last time and it's a picture wrap, we must go home to our normal lives. But for that brief time, we get to be somebody else, live and die
Actors (and indeed
actresses) who inspire you?
Gary Oldman - I believe he is
the best we have seen. He can breath live into any characer and make
us believe that it is exactly how they must be.
Christian Bale - I am
inspired by his abiltiy to let go of his vanity and ego, and truly let
the character come to life thru him.
Matthew McConaughey - he has
taken the road less traveled and made a name for himself as an actor and not
an movie star. That is inspiring in today's day and age. I am
inspired by artists who take chances, risk it all, and yet at the same
time maintain the humility that we are after all, just actors.
Your favourite movies?
and of course, films you really deplore?
that has no soul.
Facebook, whatever else?
Anything else you are dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
have recently added another job description to my life/career path, that
of Dance Studio Owner. My wife, Elena Grinenko from Dancing With The
Stars and two time World Champion, opened a dance studio in Sherman Oaks,
It is the immediate focus of my days right now, along with raising
our 4 month old baby boy, Magnus Zander Hillis. I am excited about
the future and all it has to offer for myself and my family. Thanks
for the time.
has been my pleasure,