Andy Powers has worked steadily in television for the better part of 15 years, featured in the likes of ER, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and the HBO prison series Oz. His latest work, Clown, is a truly disturbing take on the time-tested truism that clowns are unbelievably creepy. He spoke to us about the part in a one-on-one interview.
Question: So clowns. Scary.
Andy Powers: Super-scary.
Q: Why is that?
AP: I think it’s because places like circuses and carnivals… the rules don’t apply there. There’s a wonder to them, but they’re also places where dark and dangerous things can happen. I liked this project because it really gets into that, the sense of how evil and terrifying clowns can be.
There was something during the shoot that brought that home for me. One of our drivers was terrified of clowns. He also had a mouth on him. One night, during the shoot, I came out into the street in full costume – the clown suit, the blood, everything – and he was asleep in a van. I ran up and jumped on the windshield. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so scared in my life.
Q: That’s relatively new for you, playing a monster.
AP: That was part of the appeal. I’m not a horror movie fan, or maybe a batter term is. I’m a reluctant horror movie fan, mostly because they get to me. I watch them and think, “I’m going to die.” Not figuratively. Literally. They scare me to death. But I admire and respect the hard work that goes into a good horror movie. It takes a lot of talent, from the actors, the director, the editors, the cinematographers. And if it works, it’s fantastic, because you really do want to know what happens next. Good horror movies are good stories well-told, and you have to love that.
And you’re right, it’s not something I’ve done before. I did the audition and the casting director told me to be “super evil.” That was a first for me. It was a unique and very interesting story, and once I met John Watts, the director, I knew it had the ability to be something very different. And yeah, there was something about playing things that dark, that intense that was a big part of the appeal of it for me.
Q: How did you handle the slow change of the character, the development into a monster?
AP: That was one of the really cool things, as an actor. The character’s transformation was very slow and gradual. I had to block it out scene by scene. I had to decide how strong his instincts were, what kind of ailments he had, and a very meticulous chart of the character’s descent. You shoot things out of order, the first scene you shoot might be the last one in the film. So I needed that chart to know where the character was in the moment and at what stage he might be at. It was really tremendous.
Q: And the make-up?
AP: The make-up was tough, but like the old actor’s cliché, you can use that toughness. You sit in the make-up chair four hours a day, and it was a little bit different every time. Our make-up guy had about 30 different looks for the character – he had some charts of his own to make sure it all synced up – and each one was just a little different. So you get into the chair, and it’s the middle of the night, and this guy pokes at your face for hours on end, and you haven’t seen the sun in what feels like forever. It’s gets to you. You’re bad tempered and angry and exhausted, and you haven’t even started shooting yet. But you’re playing a monster, and if you can channel all that energy, it really gives you a foundation to do some very good work with. You can just turn around and put it all on the screen.
Clown opens today on Blu-ray and DVD.