Your new movie The Man in
Room 6 - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us
about your characters in it?
It's hard to put into a few words what
The Man in
Room 6 is about because it's such a sprawling epic tale! It's
seemingly about a young woman who suffered a trauma in her early life and
therefore has been institutionalized after being accused of killing the man in
room 6. We mostly see Carrie's journey from her trauma as a child, through
institutional stay and beyond. With stops along the way to see William's (the
man in room 6) backstories. Dr. Thomas is a physician who oversees the
psychiatric institution where Carrie is being held. After Carrie escapes he
goes to look for her. Just as Carrie seems to morph and change during the
story, Dr. Tom changes from being somewhat sketchy to full fledged manic in
his pursuit of Carrie.
What did you draw upon to bring your characters to life, and how
much David Wassilak can we find in Dr. Thomas?
I have some vague impressions of doctors when I was a youngster that involved
be treated like a kid, “What did you do that for?” Knocking me on the head
after removing small metal ball bearings from my ear that I had put in there.
“Cause I'm a stupid kid.” And then sometime later when having weekly
injections for an infection and the doctor trying to distract me from what is
happening by saying “What's you name?” as he shoves the needle in my butt.
I didn't consciously think about these events for the role, but they did help
to form ideas of what a doctor is for me. Other than it being my
visage/countenance on the screen I don't know that there is much of me in Dr.
Tom. The range of emotions are a extensions of things I may have felt in my
life extrapolated to fit the scene. That's what an actor should try to do.
How did you get involved with the
project in the first place?
I had worked with director Trevor
Juenger interview - click here] before
in Coyote and a short called
Revolver, and one day I got an email asking
if I would be interested in this new project, and I took a look at the
script and said “Sure!”
What were your first
thoughts when you read the script, and to what extent could you identify
with The Man in Room
6's approach to horror?
That it was a sprawling epic, that seemed to have some interesting
elements, and varied locales that made it different from other films I've
worked on. I'm not a slasher film kind of guy, so the approach here with a
concentration on eeriness, strange imagery, juxtaposition and tension was
appealing. An otherworldly quality is always interesting to me. As is the
idea of not knowing exactly what is happening... ever!
Do talk about
The Man in Room 6's director Trevor Juenger, and what was working with him like?
worked with Trevor before on those other projects, I had a idea of how it
was to work with him (and Carrie as producer and general calm presence on
the set). Their hands-on approach with most of the aspects of the piece
help to ground it in a way, so even if you are doing crazy things like
standing in the cold on a winter's morning or sitting in a bathtub full of
chicken soup--it's just another day. Trevor also has a knowledge beyond
just horror film, so that you can relate to other things as well. The
plays of Samuel Beckett for example. He also allows the actors a bit of
space to explore the character and bring in ideas to try. That always
makes for a good working experience.
The Man in
Room 6 wasn't the first movie you've made with Trevor Juenger - so
what can you tell us about your previous collaborations,
and how did the two of you first meet even?
We first met, I
believe, when I saw an audition notice for Coyote
and showed up to read
for a part. I guess he liked what I did in that film, and so asked me to
play a role in Revolver, and that led to
The Man in
Room 6. During Coyote I was struck with how inventive Trevor was in
creating sets from found environments that you wouldn't think would
necessarily work, but ended up working well.
Back to The Man in
Room 6: What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set
My first day on set, and it may have
been the first shoot of the film, was a cold dreary morning near a body of
water. We were there for hours, sometimes sitting in a van with the heater on
to stay warm between set ups. But the atmosphere then and at most of the
shoots was calm and relaxed as much as possible when shooting low budget.
I try to bring my sense of humor to the set, as dry as it may be, so to
help alleviate any tension that may exist (at least my own). And the crew
was almost too nice and accommodating.
Any future projects you'd like to
I have a feature length film that is on track to
finish by the beginning of next year. But it's been in the works for
almost 11 years! I think I wrapped my role about 8 years ago. But I've
since been involved with some writing and editing ideas as well has AD-ing
one shoot weekend on the project. It's called The Box by writer/director
Doveed Linder, whom I have worked with many times before.
What got you into acting in the first place, and
did you receive any formal training on the subject?
always liked movies and TV, and was introduced to live theater at a young
age. I did a bit of acting and directing for class projects in grade
school, but then had an experience of forgetting my lines in front of an
audience. So then I became involved in the backstage aspect of theater in
high school and only in the later years, got up the courage to try acting
again. While attending college, and not having an idea of what to do with
my life, I decided to take acting classes and perform at the college
level. After some encouraging words from directors and positive feedback
from audiences and critics, with my degree in Communications with an
emphasis in Theater, I continued on the acting path.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to
The Man in
While in college I did a short film and later did some extra work on a
feature or two, but didn't really do a lot of film until the early 2000's.
I've worked a lot with Doveed Linder on numerous shorts and a couple of
features. A lot of my previous work has been shorts in the horror and
suspense realm. I've done a western and a few comedies including the
feature Bad Grandmas starring Pam Grier and Mrs. Brady herself,
How would you describe yourself as an actor, and some of
your techniques to bring your characters to life?
like to think of myself as a versatile character actor. I certainly don't
have the looks of the leading man type, but have played main characters
for sure. The techniques I've used come mainly from the theater world,
where a lot of time is spent in rehearsal, unlike film, but the character
development, a focus on objectives, and some movement techniques of
Michael Chekhov, help to get into the role on occasion. I also try to
bring a natural style to the rhythm and texture of the lines.
(and indeed actresses) who inspire you?
I think the first
actor that inspired me after I decided to pursue acting more seriously was
Bud Cort in Harold and Maude. He had that way of totally committing
to the serious seeming attempts at the various suicides, but also having
that sly sense of humor as he breaks the fourth wall at one point. Much
later, I also remember being inspired by Cate Blanchett in Coffee and
Cigarettes when she is playing two very different characters interacting
with each other in the same scene. Now if we're talking horror
inspirations I have to go with Lugosi [Bela
Lugosi bio - click here] and Karloff [Boris
Karloff bio - click here]. True, their acting
styles are much different from what we would accept today, but that's the
origin for me. But I don't necessarily follow particular performers, the
performance itself has to really hit me to be inspirational.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Well, when asked this I usually go with Harold and Maude. As previously
mentioned I like Cort's performance and the overall dark humor with a bit of
an uplift at the end, and of course Ruth Gordon and the rest of the cast are
great, and also Cat Stevens' music. But I really don't have a lot of
“favorites” of things. I have things I like but don't keep lists and such
so it's hard to come up with answers to these kinds of questions. I sometimes
can't remember what I ate for lunch.
... and of course, films you really deplore?
COMIC BOOK MOVIE!!!! Well not all, I'm sure there a few films based on
graphic novels that are fine, but all this superhero crap, wtf.
Your website, social media, whatever else?
have website, don't so social media. You can see my film credits on IMDb:
else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
I just want to thank the Juengers for having me along and giving me a chance
to expand the character of Dr. Tom. Originally Dr. T was only in the script
until Carrie ran away from the institution, another character tracked her down
on the train and at the motel. So it was great to be able to give a bit more
dimension to the Doctor, and to have some more screen time.
for the interview!