Jonathan Lloyd Walker [Interview]

Photo by Kevin Clark Studios

Welcome to Day 14 of Trainwreck’d Society’s Annual Month of Horror Showcase! We have a fully loaded month of all things horror for you fine folks! October is our favorite month for this very reason, and we are so excited to share 31 full days of film showcases and interviews with some of the finest folks from the world of horror, just as we have been doing for the last 6 years. What started as a simple 5 day showcase, has now blossomed into a full blown month long event. You’re going to love this! Enjoy!

 

Hello Folks! And welcome back to another great week of interviews and showcases for our Week of Horror here at Trianwreck’d Society! And do we have a damn good interview for you all today! It’s the great Jonathan Lloyd Walker! He is a phenomenal actor that you know and love. Die hard horror fans are bound to recognize Jonathan from the 2005 classic film Land of the Dead. But even more impressive is his work behind the camera as a producer, writer, director, all of the above really, on such projects such as the extremely popular Van Helsing series, as well as his addition to the beloved Lake Placid franchise, which we will obviously discuss below!

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant on and off screen legend himself, the great Jonathan Lloyd Walker!

 

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What inspired you to get into the world of entertainment? Was it an early aspiration you can always remember having since your youth, or did you just find yourself in this world one day?

As a kid growing up in England I remember watching my Mum on stage in community theatre. I liked watching a crowd react to what people were doing on stage and I remember wishing I could experience the feeling of entertaining others. I was always a bit of a mischievous kid who wanted to get attention, good or bad, so my first steps into this industry was as a child performer.

What was your first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any kind of lessons learned from this project that still affect your work today?

I did some English TV commercials as a kid. In those days you didn’t get the money, your parents did… so I guess lesson number one was keep track of your money and make sure you get paid! I think a far more simple lesson was to always pick work that you enjoyed. If you do gigs simply for a paycheck but hate the experience then you’re selling yourself short emotionally. I try to always spend time making projects that I enjoy being involved with, ideally working with people I enjoy collaborating with. It doesn’t always work out that way but you can eliminate a lot of needless trauma but listening to your gut and avoiding work that takes more from you than it offers.

 

Photo by Kevin Clark Studios

 

In the world of acting, you appeared in the wonderful Romero-directed addition to the “Of The Dead” franchise he created, 2005’s Land of the Dead. I am curious to know how your experience was working on a film like this, and working under the direction of George himself?

It was a great thrill to work with George. He was, even late in his life, a passionate and dedicated filmmaker and storyteller. He gave me the opportunity to act opposite Dennis Hopper which was a dream kind of gig for most actors. It also gave me a front row seat to see the creature FX master Greg Nicotero at work. George also hated shooting during the day. He made a plan to shoot pretty much all of that movie at night, even the interiors. He gave all his actors, small parts and leads, a lot of input and he crafted that story as it unfolded in the shooting. At the screening he pulled me aside and really wanted to know what I thought. My opinion mattered to him and that felt like its own validation and reward. But more importantly it showed how much the work meant to him.

As a writer, you added to the Lake Placid franchise with Lake Placid: Legacy. What inspired you to get into this franchise? And what are your thoughts on the final film?

I was brought in by Peter Nelson at Sony. I pitched what I thought could re-boot the franchise a little, maybe take it away from camp and ground it more but still connect to the original story from the first film. Peter had some great ideas too. The broad strokes of that pitch were what got me the gig and most of those story beats ended up in the film.

I think the film turned out mostly how I expected it to. It’s always difficult making horror on a relatively small budget and without a big practical and/or VFX house selling the creature effects. But there are some good moments for sure. It was also a surprise when the production ended up in South Africa because the script I wrote had the story set in New England just upstream from the original lake in the first film. I don’t think the film ever named where they were so the exteriors don’t really say rural New York State but… maybe nobody noticed!

In your own personal opinion, what do you believe it is that makes the horror genre special? What sets it apart from other genres you have worked in?

Bottom line… real people stuck in the worst kind of circumstances facing the kind of things that give us all nightmares. Horror digs into our primal fears, triggers us in a way a crime drama or comedy just isn’t going to. When people tell you they couldn’t stop thinking about something you wrote because it haunts them, that’s high praise. Horror should always be like skating on thin ice. You know the danger and you know you have to do it… but chances are you’re going to fall through. There’s a dopamine and adrenaline response to horror which is a kind of high you just can’t get from other types of more conventional genres.

What is your favorite scary movie?

Hard to narrow it to just one. Goodnight Mommy ranks right up there with The Exorcist. Seen at different points of my life but both left a mark and still manifest for me from time to time.

 

Photo by Kevin Clark Studios

 

Do you have any plans for this coming Halloween? And fun traditions that you try to stick to every year?

I had a scary clown outfit I wore a few years back that people in my neighborhood still talk about. I went out trick or treating with my kids and people were avoiding me. Mostly the parents who couldn’t actually tell it was me. I was actually asked to wear the costume again to someone’s party which I don’t think has ever happened before… so maybe that’s becoming a tradition.

Other than that our house is known in our neighborhood as a fun place to stop on Halloween. Good decorations and candy for the kids and signature festive cocktails for the parents. Everybody gets a treat!

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Check out a series I produced for Netflix called Wu Assassins. It went live this summer so take a look if you haven’t already. Van Helsing season 4 began airing on SyFy in late September so get caught up on their website or tune in Fridays at 10 pm to see that. I’m one of the cast in TBS’s Snowpiercer which will air in March. Not straight up horror but certainly scary and edge of your seat in many places.

What was the last thing that scared the hell out of you?

I’m a parent. My wife called me in a panic one evening saying our son had gone missing at a community event and nobody could find him. Flashes of the worst kind of nightmares went through my head. Stuck out of town there was nothing I could do except hope for the best while trying to chase away the deepest of fears. He turned up an hour later… he’d been hiding, as kids sometimes do, not knowing or understanding the panic he’d caused. So, scary situation with a thankfully happy ending.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Again, kids. They make me smile each and every day. But the less saccharine answer is probably… Comicon. We went this year and met some of the most amazing and dedicated Van Helsing fans. Their passion and appreciation for what we make certainly made me very proud and exceptionally happy.

 

 

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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