Your new movie Holy Terror - in a few words, what is it
about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?
It is a story about a couple that have lost their son and believes
something is not right in his passing, due to disturbances in the family
home. The couple enlists a medium to contact their son but the
seance doesn't go well. After the seance, the medium contacts and
brings in Jacob, a priest that is tormented from a terrible past
experience long ago and has an internal battle with his own
faith, to attempt to put things right through an incredibly
dangerous exorcism, to save a soul and ultimately find his own redemption.
This is the foundation of my character Jacob who, as a young
priest, was strong in his belief and, many years later after
the terrible experience, is now a mere shell of the man he once
was. He is tormented with the thought of the same experience
happening all over again and is reluctant to be involved, knowing that it
would destroy him but also feels that this may be his last chance to
put things right, should the exorcism be successful and have his faith and
did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much Scott
Butler can we find in Jacob?
I spent a lot of time
researching exorcisms, watching documentaries about exorcisms and the
modern day priests that performed them and understanding the process.
I also created a backstory and fleshed out life around Jacob
and who he is, in and out of his religious duties. I do this to all
of my characters, even down to the music they listen to, their parents, siblings,
their childhood, loves and dislikes. I believe this helps fill
any unnatural void that can occur while performing a scene and bring
life and naturalness to a character. I also provide a
connection between scenes that helps to bring truth in the imaginary
world, where the character came from before entering the scene, his
objectives and the obstacles that stand in his way.
I think there is some of me in Jacob, I have certainly had experiences in
my life that have left me with emotional scars and the wonder of how
I could have put things right or to live with what has happened
and move on. Like Jacob, I am somewhat reclusive and deep in thought
most of the time. I find the best path to natural acting is to bring
as much of your own self into the character so that you have a solid
foundation that is already there to build the character upon.
What got you involved with
the movie in the first place, and to what extent could you relate to the
movie's horror theme?
Gregory Hatanaka, who is one of the
producers, got in touch with me (I'd worked with Greg on the movie Hunter
and we kept in touch) and asked if I was interested in working on Holy
Terror. He said that he thinks it would be a strong role for me, a
real challenge and could be ultimately rewarding. I was sent
the script and just could not put it down, which is rare for me, and
texted him back right away, very fired up for the role.
I have a deep love for the horror genre, especially the ones that
lean more to the psychological thriller type. I'm not
a huge fan of jump scare movies, they feel to me like a fun fair ride,
that you go through, experience some forced emotions and then ultimately
forget about hours later. I prefer movies that take you through
an emotional journey, where it makes you feel deeply involved,
like you are in the room with them and feel a long lasting connection to
the characters (far beyond the actual time the movie runs for) and
what they are going through, you feel protective of the characters
you care for.
One of my all-time favorite movies is The
Shining, this movie doesn't
really fit the traditional horror genre, but is a good example of the
type of movie that I love that comes somewhat close to the genre.
I have watched it many times, and every time I watch it, I feel this
same sense of dread, like when you have a re-occurring nightmare (I
had this for years as a child) that feels just as dangerous and
new/unknown every time. When I watch horror movies, I turn all the
lights off and play them on the big screen to get the maximum effect.
Do talk about Holy Terror's
director Rich Mallery, and what was your collaboration like?
was my first project with Rich, I sort of briefly met him via some emails
for a role in Samurai Cop 2: Deadly
Vengeance (that didn't happen due
to some scheduling conflicts). I first met Rich in person for a rehearsal
at his home for some of the movie's more complex scenes, a few weeks
Rich is a wonder to work with, he is this quietly confident genius,
extremely creative, knows what he wants and has this intense focus on
the monitors while shooting. I sensed his genius the minute we
started rehearsals and this only added to the excitement I already had
running up to our first day of filming. His script was
fantastic, he has this momentum and flow in his writing that just sucks
you in. After having read through the script in its entirety a
couple of times, I would look at scenes to memorize my lines and
find myself getting sucked into reading the whole script again, I had to
remind myself to focus on the scene for line memorization, this happened
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
this was one of the most fun shoots I've been a part of. Although
everyone took their roles very seriously, both cast and crew, everyone was
enjoying every minute of what we were creating, in fact our sound guy,
Arihel, would often shout "let's make some movies!" when the
camera would roll, you could feel the excitement from everyone. The
other thing I loved, was that each and every person on the set was a joy
to work with, humble and down-to-earth, no egos. I wish all shoots
could be like that, but sadly that's not always the case, in those
situations you just make the best of it.
future projects you'd like to share?
I have a few more projects
coming up with Gregory Hatanaka and Rich Mallery, a follow-up to the
fantastic cult classic 80's movie Hundra, starring
the incredibly talented Laurene Landon, entitled Hundra 2:
Warrior Queen. Also a follow-up to the 70's classic
Lady Cocoa which sounds like it will be a lot of fun, and
a fun family movie called Christmas Cat. I also
have a role in a movie dedicated to the life of James Dean, playing his
friend and confidant Bill Bast, coming out later this year.
There are a few more horror movies that are coming up too, Cadaver,
Blink and a third one that I am in
talks with to play "Jack the Scarecrow" for the
horror-western The Devil's Beneath, all produced by
Whitley Films Productions. I worked with the owner Jacob
Whitley many years ago on my first lead role in a feature and it
would be a dream come true to collaborate with him again. From
what I'm told the "Jack the Scarecrow" character will
involve some incredible makeup that is a central part of his background
and why he is the way he is in the movie. This role will be a
very challenging character role, which is very exciting as
I enjoy the challenge of going deep into a role.
As far as I know
you found into acting via video game design - so could you elaborate on
that, and what can you tell us about your training as an actor?
been working in video games as an artist since 1989 and still continue to
work in that field, as I love both creative mediums. In early 2009 I
was between jobs and decided to try something new while on my first break
in 20 years. I thought back to how I was interested in the idea of acting
as a child, but sadly never pursued it, I was very shy back then and
I think that's what held me back. Since I've been acting I've
found that my work in games has helped me immensely with creating an
imaginary world around me, having worked in green screen and voice acting
where your surroundings are not the environment you are playing in while in
I found my first acting class while living in San Diego called Actor's
Workshop Studios and decided to audit the class, knowing absolutely
nothing about acting. I thought to myself, "if I'm not good at
this, then at least it might help me to improve my public speaking
for my video games job." I remember walking down the
corridor towards the class and then thinking "what am I
doing?" and proceeded to walk back to my car. I then stopped and
told myself that I should at least check it out, so then went back
and took my first step into acting, this was literally the turning point
for what has happened since.
I remember being super nervous and self conscious at first, but
became more and more comfortable over the proceeding weeks and
started auditioning and booking local short and indie films. Thinking
back now, I feel that it was great to start out in a smaller market,
as there isn't as much pressure and everyone leads pretty normal
lives outside of their filmmaking, so are very approachable. Some
time later I won the best actor award at the Canada International
Film Festival in 2011, this is where I made the decision to take this
new path very seriously and move to LA.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Holy Terror?
working on a lot of smaller films and some local cable TV, I was lucky
enough to land a role in the Warner Bros release 16-Love,
directed by Adam Lipsius, working alongside Lindsey Shaw and Chandler
Massey, which was just amazing, an experience that I will always
cherish. This movie did very well in its initial theatrical release
and in its video-on-demand releases.
I was also extremely grateful to land a role in the Lionsgate
release Wiener Dog Internationals, directed by Kevan Peterson,
playing alongside the character Judge Brown (played by Bryan Batt), I
also worked in scenes involving Morgan Fairchild, which was just
unforgettable. I have several other movies available on
video-on-demand including Conspiracy Theory, Last
Day of School and a few others.
films, you have also done your fair share of theatre work - so do talk
about that aspect of your career for a bit, and how does performing on
stage compare to acting in front of a camera?
have only worked on one play, when I first started out acting, it was
a comedy of Shakespeare's plays, with a somewhat Monty Python feel to them.
I was also offered a role in a play in Las Vegas two years
ago, which was very exciting, but had to turn the part down as my focus
was more on my work in LA. I remember that I had this
sense of incredible excitement and pleasure from playing my roles in that
play (I had 4 roles) mixed in with this intense fear of doing my
first play live in front of an audience. The play went down very
well and I won a best actor award from the theatre group, which was
you describe yourself as an actor, and some of your techniques to bring
your characters to life?
I try not to think of myself
as an actor when I am working, in the sense of "ok, I'm on set, now
it's time to do my job and act", this would add a falseness
as to why I am there for me. Instead I prefer to let
myself just naturally transform into my character, with my prepared choices
When I am in mid performance, I actually feel completely that I am that
character in that situation, the cameras, crew and lights all dissolve
away and all that is left are the other characters that I interact with,
the scenery and the imaginary scenery to fill in the fourth wall. When
I hear "cut!" I snap out of it, like when a hypnotist clicks
their fingers and you come out from under their spell. When given
direction, I mould those changes into my own sense of what I am doing in
the scene, like layering clay onto a sculpture, letting it evolve with the
creative input from the director, for whom I put my full trust into.
Actors (and indeed actresses)
who inspire you?
There are many that I love, including
Robert De Niro, Michael Caine, Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, Tilda
Swinton, John Hurt and many more. I also love the
work of Al Pacino, he has this intenseness, this richness that is
undeniable. I am also a big fan of Lance Henriksen, who I had the
pleasure of meeting at an after party for one of his movies, Lake
Eerie, we talked for about an hour about ghost stories whilst
drinking wine, was a surreal and amazing night. As he left he turned
around and said "I hope to work with you someday", my heart
nearly stopped, that would be a dream come true. I also have enjoyed
pretty much every character Harrison Ford has ever played,
I love his work.
Your favourite movies?
I have many movies that I adore, I was an 80's kid (still am, if I'm
being honest), it was a decade of such intense creativity and a sense that
anything was possible. I loved Labyrinth, Neverending Story, The
Lost Boys, Blade Runner, the original Star Wars trilogy, I could go on
Recently I have been really enjoying the retro comeback, with
Stranger Things and a lot of 80's style modern music. But there's
this one movie that I just fell in love with called Turbo
Kid, I was a BMX kid growing up, spent a lot of time doing tricks
and racing around on the local track. Anyway this movie just has
such a big heart, it was so passionately created by people who really
cared about what they were making and put everything that they love about
that wonderful era into that movie. I'd love to give a big
shout-out to the creators, Anouk, Yoann-Karl and Francois, I
have had the pleasure of chatting with them a little on Facebook
(they are the nicest people) and really hope to meet them in
person someday. Go check it out, it's on Netflix and Amazon!
Outside of the 80's, I love The Shawshank Redemption, The Green
Mile, Schindler's List, Pan's Labyrinth (I love the work of Guillermo Del
Toro), and several foreign movies, Run Lola Run and everything by
Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Amelie, Delicatessen, The City of the Lost Children.
Oh and I love Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki... ok, I need to stop
now, I could go on all night!
and of course, films your really deplore?
You know, I try
not to hate any art, I just love that people create things and put them
out there for us to experience. I've only ever walked out of one
movie in my life, I didn't hate it, I just didn't feel that I needed to
stay any longer, like when you feel you've had your experience at an art
gallery and decide to leave. I always find something to like
about anything I've watched or listened to, certainly there are things I
have more of a connection with, but I try not to have negative thoughts on
other people's creativity.
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Anything else you're dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
If you have a
dream, pursue it! Anything is possible, I started acting at the age
of 36, everyone told me I didn't stand a chance, I started way too late.
Well, I feel like I've had an amazing past 8 years in this industry,
I've worked on over 70 projects, won two awards, met some amazing people
and had some incredible experiences, I am excited for the future.
Just believe in yourself and listen to what your heart is telling
you, not what others want you to believe.
And lastly, Holy Terror
debuts on Amazon Prime on April 1 and the on other cable and digital
platforms in May.
photos courtesy of
Guillermo Proano/PR Photos and David Levin/DJL Photos