TWS Week of Horror Day 8: John Franklin [Interview]
October 30, 2016 Leave a comment
Isaac from Children of the Corn & Cousin It from The Addams Family are the same person. If you read nothing else of this article, I just want you to know that fact.
Alright, I can only imagine that you are in hook, line, and sinker at this point. How could you not? You have a damn soul, right? Hell, even if you don’t you have to appreciate the weight of the amazing man we have hear on Day 8 of the Week of Horror. It’s fucking John Franklin! This man has contributed so much to the world of horror, and it is an absolute honor that we would even look in our general direction. But, I am pretty sure that TWS celebrates the world of horror films in a way that no one else does, that is why this genius agreed to be anywhere near us. I know that is very Trump like of me to say, but I really believe that is true.
But, enough about us, let’s talk about John. This cat is cool as a cucumber in Antartica. Such a sweet, genuine, and all around nice dude who has made a fascinating career in the world of acting and writing. You may know him for his acting, but he is also a brilliant writer. Read the collage of sentences below and you will probably release that you have always loved his writing. And if you didn’t before, I’m positive you will after this interview.
So, my beautiful Trainwreckers, please enjoy this amazing interview with an amazing and interesting man, Mr. John Franklin!
You made your big break back in 1984 playing the iconic Isaac in the very first and original film adaptation of Stephen King’s Children of the Corn. And 15 years later you reprised your role in Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return, which you also co-wrote with your writing partner Tim Sulka. So tell us if you would, what made you want to return to the insane mind of the Isaac character? And how did you become involved with the writing process?
My writing partner and I wanted to write a sequel since 1984 when the first Corn came out, but no one was doing any. Suddenly, years later 2 through 5 were knocked out. My acting manager had a connection to Dimension/Miramax. We set up a meeting and pitched Isaac’s Return and they were “Great! We were running out of ideas!” They wanted to end the series with 666, but it made so much money, they got greedy and kept kranking them out. I haven’t seen any of them after 666.
Going back to the original film, did you have any idea that Children of the Corn would be such a commercial success, as well as gathering a cult following that would lead to several additions to the saga? Was there a good feeling while shooting this one?
The first Corn was my first feature film so I was more concerned about showing up to the set knowing my lines cold and hitting all of my marks. I had no concept at the time of worrying about box office or sequel potential. I was blissfully naive! Ah, those younger days!
And in one my favorite roles of you, even though we don’t see much of you, you were freakin’ Cousin It on The first two Addams Family movies! Growing up to these films, I loved Cousin It. How was it doing this performance? And more importantly, how was it wearing that extremely long wig? I imagine a “smell” must of occurred after some time, right?
It (no pun intended) was so cool to be Cousin Itt. It was however, an endurance test. During the first film, the costume weighed over 30 pounds! They had me wear a neck brace and this sort of frame to give shape to the costume. I had a battery powered fan, but could only run it between takes. Every 90 minutes I had to get out of the suit for a break. I tried to stay in for many hours the first day, but once they turned those huge lights on, that dark brown costume just become an oven. I had a personal hair wrangler, Vance Hartwell, who took great care of me and the costume. I would drink several gallons of water every day. My complexion was the best of my life! Vance made sure the costume was fresh the next day. Great guy, moved to New Zealand and worked on the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
You also worked with some heavy hitters in those films. The likes of Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, etc. Did you manage to learn some stuff from these powerhouse, theatrically exposed actors?
Chris Lloyd was always in character on set, so you were talking with Fester. I bumped into him once on his way to his station wagon and he was very nice and very shy. Raul was SO much fun on the set, he would burst into opera or show tunes in between takes. On the last press junket there was a two hour delay and he asked me to help him practice his lines for Man of La Mancha. It was an honor and so cool to be treated as an equal with respect. Angelica taught me also to always be humble and to know that everyone has their own issues and insecurities. Arriving at a press junket in NYC, I got onto a crowded elevator to go up to my room for a needed night’s rest before the next day’s 10 – 12 hours of endless reporters. After the doors closed, a voice in the rear of the elevator said, “John? Is that you?” I turned around and there was friggin’ Angelica Huston! Almost nine months after we finished shooting the movie and she remembered MY name and what I looked like! I was stunned! I will never forget that act of CLASS and caring for your fellow actor. She is amazing, not only as an actor but as a human being. I just really teared up, I hadn’t thought of that memory for many years.
As we mentioned previously, your work has extended beyond just acting, you also have a growing list of writing credits, including the graphic novel series Prime Cuts. Can you tell us about this project? How did this come to life, and what does the future hold for Prime Cuts in other mediums?
Prime Cuts started off as a feature film script that my writing partner and I wrote years ago. It is based on the Sweeney Todd legend which was popular back in the Penny Dreadful days. We loved the concept and wanted to do a twisted teenage version of it. Years later, Tim moved to NYC, met some producers who loved it but didn’t have the bucks to make a film, but did for a graphic novel. We adapted the script and Volume One came out over a year ago. It got enough interest and sales to knock out Volume Two which came out earlier this year. You can now download Vol. I for free! Go to Indyplanet.com — hopefully you will like it and buy Vol. 2. We’d love for some producer to see the graphic novel and say, “This would be a great, funny, dark and twisted feature film!” We will then pull out the online file cabinet and send over the script! There are several parts written for me.
I have come to learn that you manage to attend a lot of Cons when you can. How do you enjoy these events? Do the become routine and standardized or are they all individually entertaining?
I wouldn’t say “a lot.” I usually only do 1 – 3 conventions a year. 2014 was Corn’s 30th Anniversary, so I think we did 5 or 6, but that is rare. I don’t want to make my living at conventions as some actors do. I don’t disparage what they do, but I have a very busy life. I do LOVE the ones that I go to. The fans are always so kind, welcoming and down to earth. I mentioned to a fan this past June in Indianapolis that I grew up with White Castle hamburgers. An hour later she came back to my table with a bag of fresh, hot sliders! She didn’t want any money or anything. I insisted that I sign a picture for her, a friend, her dog. She gave in remembering a relative. But seriously, there was nothing but kindness in her gesture. Every convention is unique, but the fans, some with all their tattoos and piercings are some of the greatest people I have ever met.
So what does the future hold for you? Any projects in the works you can tell us about? Anything we should be looking forward to?
I really want to concentrate on my writing.
1. I have written a comedy pilot for Courtney Gains and myself called Horrorfied. In it we play sort of guys like us going to horror conventions. Andy Palmer & Warner Davis, the director and producers of Fun House Massacre have just optioned it and are shopping it around town. Internet, cable, my back yard — wherever! I really love it and want it to come to life. We of course, never make fun of the fans — only ourselves!
2. I have also written a young adult/coming of age novel called, Bad Habits: Tales of a Catholic School Survivor. It really could almost be a memoir of my childhood going to Catholic school in the 1970s. It’s funny, it’s touching, it will make you cry — unless you’re a nun! (JK) I’m currently shopping it around to get a literary agent.
Acting is fun, but writing is my passion.
What is your favorite scary movie?
The answer changes from year to year, but my go to answer is always Halloween. It just hits all theotes for a great scary movie!
What was the last thing that made you smile?
Thinking about the amazing Angelica Huston! I hope I get to work with her once again, perhaps with less hair.