Today's interview is from the slippery devil himself Dan Ellis the star of many classics and professional Hockey player :) Ha-ha I'm kidding he's the guy who starred in many Gore movies , welcome Dan to the interview ...
Matt : Fresh out the block, you’ve had some proper comedic performances in a lot of horror movies giving such a twist to them all, with the odd dramatic change have you always wanted to be a actor?
Dan : I was what they used to call a “latch key kid” back in the day. My mother was a single parent and had to work a lot to keep us afloat. I would come home from school and make myself something to eat then I'd park myself in front of the television till mom came home or I passed out. I loved movies and they used to show movies every night at 8 o clock and since we only had 4 channels, it was before VCRs or cable, my options were limited. On Saturday or Sunday nights it was a completely different story, that's when “The Kool Ghoul” was on. He was our local late night horror/monster/B movie host and we did not miss his show for damn near anything! Scared the shit outta me sometimes but I loved it!
We were pretty poor for most of my childhood, another thing that didn't really sink in till later in life, but when we did have money we'd treat ourselves to a trip to the movies. My mom took me to see some crazy stuff when I was little but I think she thought I wasn’t paying attention anyway so what the hell right? At the drive-in they had a playground right in front below the screen and moms and dads would send their kids to go play while the grown folk watched the movie. You'd have 15+ kids down at this playground, at night, mostly unsupervised and probably some seriously inappropriate movie playing above. She probably figured I was down whooping it up with some new friends but not me, I was watching whatever movie was playing. I love you mom and thank you so much for everything.
At some point the way people watch movies can change and for me it did at an early age. Hell, I must have been 7 or 8 and I began to closely watch the actors, their faces, when they spoke, how they said what they said and not just what they were saying. I thought he idea of pretending to be someone else and make people believe you were who you said you were was the coolest thing ever. There were people willing to pay you for this? How cool is that? I had never thought of what actors did as a job before, I never knew that was a career option and when it did dawn on me I knew right then what wanted to be. It's all I've ever wanted to be.
I'd been a ham most of my life and when I was in 3rd grade I was presented with some choices of schools to continue my education at years end. It was a list of all the local public schools and one of them was S.C.P.A. (the School for the Creative and Performing Arts) and when I saw that I knew what my choice was. It was part of the public school system but you still had to audition, so I told my mom about it and she signed me up and took me down. On the way to the audition my mom asked me if I was nervous and, with the confidence only a 9 year old could have, I said “I don't get nervous mom, I get excited”. I'm still the same today!I was accepted and I can't tell you how happy I was! One of the best days of my life still. There’s a whole mess of shit in between that and where I am now but I have to save something for my memoirs. So I suppose the short answer is, yes, yes I did. Hahahaha
Matt: Bloodshock is still under the breath of a lot of people after SinS what was it like being cast into such a perfect role and the opportunity …
Dan: I really can't express how excited I was honestly. First of all, it was Marcus and we had been wanting to work together for years. Secondly there was the story itself and how he wanted to shoot it. There was no doubt in my mind!
I knew of the Japanese series and how crazy those films were so the chance to be involved in the American series was just a no brainer. Marcus told me the story, how he wanted to shoot it and what he wanted from my character. I knew it was going to be a challenge and I was going to get to expand my range a bit and show people, and myself, a different side. I've been labeled a character actor and I'm absolutely fine with that, a lot of my idols are character actors, but I can do more and I want to do more.I am always flattered to be considered for anything but this, well, this was special.
Matt: Over the years its clear you have an amazing friendship with Ryan Nicholson and his movies, be honest, what is it like to work on set with and any funny stories to go with over the years?
Dan: Ryan is a really fun guy to shoot with. He has his serious side on set, like anyone else, but working with Ryan isn't work at all. Ryan is just one of those guys you can't help but love. He listens and he's open to input, it's always nice to work with someone that wants to know how the actors feel about what they're doing. Besides all that we really click on set and off, we share a fucked up sense of humor and a lot of the same views on things. We do, however, have some differences of opinion on films. There is some stuff he likes that I can not stand and vice versa but that’s just some good discussion material there.
Matt: Is it true in your spare you are an avid gardener (I jest) do you have a pastime on your slower periods
Dan: Why yes, my hydrangeas are magnificent! Ha ha ha!
I really like to watch movies, that consumes a lot of my free time but I have been doing some writing lately and hope to have a script or two finished by years end. I'd like to try my hand at directing so I have been debating doing my own film as well.
I also like to build things when I have time. I have a shop in my garage and some projects in there to take my mind off things. There's something about making things and working with your hands that I find satisfying.
Besides that my kids are my biggest hobby right now. They take as much time as I can spare and then some, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Matt: Its known you love horror movies well any what have been your essential viewing this year ?
I hear a lot about films that people really like so I have a list of things I want to watch.
“We are still here” and “it follows” are a couple I want to see, heard a lot of good things about them but I'm not really into found footage or paranormal type stuff, I like slashers, monsters and the surreal/bizarre films the most. I have to say, I am not a Rolodex of information like some fans. I remember movies I like and that's where it ends; I couldn't tell you the cast in half of them, who directed it or any other bits of trivia. I know people that can tell you damn near anything about any movie but I've just never been that kind of fan. I really respect those people, super cool to talk with and I learn a lot from them.
There is so much content out there! It's not just main stream either, the underground/independent scene is full of people doing some really amazing stuff but unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to watch a good chunk of it yet. Sad huh?
I keep my eyes and ears open, I'm a member of a few facebook horror groups and I follow a some websites to stay as up to date as possible. I always welcome suggestions from people on things to watch.
One of the good, and bad, things about the horror community is the varied opinions. You can talk to 100 people and get 100 different opinions on films and I really like that but you never know when a “Man, it's fuckin killer” endorsement is more of a “Man, I had to turn that shit off after 5 minutes” in reality. I will watch damn near anything, regardless of a negative review. I don't think its fair to not personally give something a shot just because so and so didn't like it and I wish more people shared that opinion.
Matt: Who has been the best and worse people to work with over the years and why?
Dan: I guess I've been lucky since I really get along with everyone I've worked with. Sure, there have been some folks I have wanted to strangle for one reason or another but that's life right there. You're not going to get a long with everyone all the time but for the most part everyone has been pretty cool.
Here's the deal man, when I do a production, I completely dedicate myself and I become so emotionally involved with the project, and the people, they become family to me. When we wrap it's really sad for me and I get pretty depressed for a few days after. It's kind of like that feeling you had when you were a kid and your best friend moved away. You work so close to all these people, sometimes under very unsavory conditions and by the end of the thing you can't help but gain some really cool relationships.
Dan: I've told this story too much so I'll summarize, my mom took me to see “The Phantom of the Opera” when I was about 6 and I was hooked. I wanted to be Lon Chaney, learn how he did what he did and become monsters of my own.
I remember watching guys like Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood a lot but Lon Cheney in particular fascinated me because he took it to a whole different level. I was amazed at how he could alter his appearance and, the characters he got to play were fantastic! London after Midnight Oliver Twist and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, any of those roles would be so much fun to do! I used to go to the library and get whatever I could find on monster make-up, effects and on the master Lon Chaney himself.
I've always wanted to be the monster, heroes had no appeal to me except for war movies but I didn't watch too many of those. I loved the critters, the vampires, freaks, monsters, the deformed things that crept in the shadows and the bad guys; those roles always looked like more fun to me. They scared the shit out of me and that's the reason I respected them so much I think. People feared the bad guy, the monster and the psychos and that was interesting to me. since I was usually on the wrong side of that fear since I spent a lot of time home alone watching scary movies. I remember the commercial for “The Exorcist” used to scare the shit out of me. I would hear that music and make a run for all the lights in the house! I guess because of that I thought it would be empowering to play one of those roles. As I got older, and less of a skerty cat, I really started to appreciate the other characters more, they all had purpose, and if I was going to truly do this acting thing I would be remiss not to study them as well.
Matt: Any hints on what the future holds for you ? The return of BBK, Hanger 2 ?
Dan: Ha-ha, that would be nuts huh? Anything is possible right?
I'm focused on hitting some cons this year, Texas Frightmare in particular, and see what comes my way between then and now. There may be a couple others as well, I know “Bloodshock” will be making the rounds (check your local fest/con) and it would be cool to sneak in and watch it with everyone at a few of them.
As always it is a pleasure chatting to Dan and his insight on all his work and the industry he loves, follow his movies ....
Dan Ellis on IMDB ...