Ernie O’Donnell [Interview]

 

23 years ago, a phenomenon in film industry occurred. A little indie darling of a film hit the big time and shook the world of cinema to its core. It is a film that we have talked about on multiple occasions here at Trainwreck’d Society, and a film that I am certain we will continue to talk about at lengths whenever possible. That film was called Clerks. The debut film of legendary filmmaker behind such classics as Tusk and Yoga Hosers. We have had the fortunate experience in the past to speak with two of the film’s stars, Marilyn Ghigliotti and Scott Schaiffo. I also had the honor of having some great conversations with the late Lisa Spoonauer, who sadly left us here on earth this year and will definitely be missed.

But with that being said, we have yet another brilliant actor from the world of Clerks! Today we have some words from the great Ernie O’Donnell! Ernie portrayed the trainer who so confidently explains to Dante Hicks that he may need to hit the gym after he struggles with an 8 lb gallon of milk. It is a brilliant moment in the film, and portrayed excellently by Mr. O’Donnell. Since Clerks, Ernie has gone on to appear in a half a dozen other films from his childhood friend Kevin Smith, as well as moving into the world as a producer on films like 100 Acres of Hell, Zombie Death Camp, and associate producer on the biopic Shooting Clerks, written and directed by Chris Downie and featuring several other cast members of the original Clerks.

We are so honored to have Ernie on the site today, who turns out to be even more charming in real life than the trainer he portrayed over 20 years ago. So ladies and gentleman, please welcome the great Ernie O’Donnell!


When you were filming your infamous scene in Clerks, were you able to fathom what may very well come out of doing this gig? What was your reaction, and of those around you, when it just sort of hit in a major way?

Nobody imagined that Clerks would ever become this iconic pop cultural movie. Most people probably thought it was going to be some locally recognized film but over twenty years later it still has a hugh following and a pop culture impact. Being connected to Clerks has opened quite a few doors. I was honestly surprised by its success but always new Kevin was going to do something great with his talents.

Was it appearing in Clerks that gave you the acting bug, or where you always interested in the craft? When did you decide to give acting a real shot?

I was always a performer of sorts but got interested in acting in the fourth grade when we had to act out a commercial in class. After doing plays and comedy skits in grammar school and high school I decided to give acting a real shot during my senior year.

What were those early days like in your part of New Jersey after the film was released? And does the area still receive a shit ton of visitors making the pilgrimage to the Quik Stop?

There was a lot of local buzz after the film was released and starting winning awards. People were very happy for its success especially our friends but then again there was always the haters. As far as the Quik Stop goes, people from around the world still visit it regularly. It’s crazy.

What was it like to revisit that time in your life in Shooting Clerks, which you are a star in as well as an associate producer? How was the experience itself overall?

Filming back at the Quik Stop was pretty dam cool especially since my 5 year old niece was filming that day also with me. I had a blast with the Shooting Clerks crew. They’re true independent filmmakers and it was refreshing and inspiring to watch their passion for the original.


Last year you co-produced & directed, as well as starred in the intriguing horror film 100 Acres of Hell. How did this project come about? What made you want to help bring this story out into the world?

I was approached by someone I went to high school with through Facebook. We hadn’t seen each other in years and the concept seemed very interesting. I was a hugh fan of horror and always hoped to get into the genre. This seemed like a great ground level project for me. After sitting in on multiple meetings ,the producers realized I had more to offer than just acting so they brought me on as a producer. The story is your classic 80’s horror type film. It’s filled with all the cool horror stuff I grew up with. We tried to create a classic horror icon along the lines of Jason and Mike Myers. It’s pretty bad ass.

So what is next for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

After starting my production company, Jersey Lights Productions in 2016 I’ve takin on multiple projects. Besides producing 100 Acres of Hell I’ve been developing an original animated sitcom which I’ll announce at the end of the summer. I’m involved with producing Unit Five an action comic, for the big screen. I’ve also partnered with Toy Entertainment to bring one of their screenplays to life and develop content for television.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Watching my wife Carla with my dogs Jake and Elwood.

Check out the trailer for 100 Acres of Hell, right here:

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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