There has been a ton of horror buzz regarding the newest release from Fatal Pictures, the short film titled Familiar. Between watching and reviewing both Familiar and Worm this week, I had the pleasure to speak with the film’s star, Mr. Robert Nolan.
FAMILIAR is about to begin its film festival run. The World Premiere Theatrical screening of the film is tonight: March 2 at 9 PM at The Projection Booth Cinema (1035 Gerrard St. E. in Toronto, Canada). Screening before the North American theatrical debut of BATTLE ROYALE. The event is sponsored by Fangoria Magazine with Fangoria writer Kelly Stewart hosting the ‘Fright Nights‘ event. Anchor Bay Entertainment is also a sponsor.
We’re joined here today by actor and box cutter enthusiast, Robert Nolan, and his massive ensemble team of attorneys. Let’s get started before this goes south and Left Hand Horror has to deal with a site injunction or something…
1. I read that you enjoy roles that spur your creativity and present a challenge. How did you come to find yourself involved in so many horror films?
It’s a terrifying story, Nate. There I was, an unknown actor, trudging from audition to audition looking for my first role. Confidence? No. Belief? No. Just the biting sharp desperate cold of an unrelenting winter whipping my rough threadbare coat against my common, simple face. Scars heal. I can take it. Life is tough. It takes no prisoners. But I didn’t know that. I just kept going. Sure, stealing cigarette butts from babies momentarily unattended by their mothers is a crime. But I didn’t care. I needed a fix. Another drag. That baby will sneak another cigarette from mommy’s purse when he gets home. Let him cry. I got my fix and went on to my next audition.
Well now, I’m an actor, so I wasn’t really looking for horror roles – I was looking for any role. That’s how it is when you start out – you gotta go for everything possible. What happens is you (finally) do something well, take a role that other actors won’t perhaps, something risky, makes them look bad they think, bad for the image. But you do it because “nothing human is alien to me” or as my friend Terrance would say “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto.” Look, Terrance is a good guy. He says a lot of wise things. But no-one knows what the hell he’s talking about. Sad. Don’t raise your kids to speak a dead language. Ah, people. They’ll never learn.
But to get back to my story. I follow the acting Guideposts of Michael Shurtleff (from the book ‘Audition’) and the philosophy of the great acting coach. Tom Todoroff – “Always do your best.” So that’s what I’ve done. Every role I was cast in, I did my best. That’s the standard. Nothing less is acceptable. Sometimes you don’t. But then you get back up and go for it again. I was cast in a lot of roles in student and independent movies. What roles you get depends on the project and who is casting it, whether you are a fit and what you do in the audition to express the character and become that part of the story that is the character, his motivations, desires, needs and actions. I like challenging myself to go to places I haven’t gone before. ‘Human beings are either growing or they’re dying‘ – (Tony Robbins). I’ve decided to grow. To do that you have to find things in yourself you’ve never consciously known before. We are all human and the human (history shows us) is capable of both infinities, sublime and hellish. As an actor, I intend to extend my range as far as I can go into all the dimensions of the possible.
But to get back to horror, I did some nasty roles well. When you do that, you get thought of for similar roles. Since I did some horrifying things on-screen, I became known for my ability to do that and that led me into more horror roles. It is a vast genre with a range in the quality of productions. Fatal Pictures is producing some masterful work with great story and depth thanks to the high quality of the writing by Richard Powell in dramatic character and story and the wonderful creative team assembled by producer Zach Green. And in FAMILIAR I got to work with Astrida Auza, a very fine actress who’s getting known in horror circles right now. A great story with great casting and the highest standards of production produces high quality. These are the kinds of projects I want to be part of.
2. When you were growing up, were there certain actors or films that had lasting impact on you and ultimately your then future career?
I love the old silent movies. The history of film is wonderful. The early silents were full of great stories and performances. Charlie Chaplin (Gold Rush, The Kid, Limelight, City Lights), Buster Keaton (The General, The Boat), Harold Lloyd (The Freshman) were some of my favorite actors. I love all movies. Seeing great movies and performances is inspiring. They show what is possible for you to do – if only you do the work that those actors did that made those performances possible.
There are excellent movies in every genre. Great films like Sunrise (F.W. Murnau), The Unforgiven, Casablanca, Ben Hur, Spartacus. The Bridge on the River Kwai, Serpico, The Godfather, Scarface, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Lawrence of Arabia, Terminator, Citizen Kane, The Wizard of Oz, On the Waterfront, It’s a Wonderful Life, Some Like it Hot, Sunset Boulevard, Star Wars, The African Queen, Psycho, Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Maltese Falcon, Raging Bull, Dr. Strangelove, Bonnie and Clyde, Apocalypse Now, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Annie Hall, High Noon, To Kill a Mockingbird, North by Northwest, King Kong, A Streetcar Named Desire, Jaws, A Clockwork Orange, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Amadeus, Rebel Without a Cause, Stagecoach, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Silence of the Lambs, Ben Hur, The Wild Bunch, American Graffiti.
Actors whose work and performances I love: Marlon Brando (the master), Humphrey Bogart (work ethic, love of the art), Al Pacino (brilliant), Jack Nicholson (beyond the edge), Jimmy Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Anthony Hopkins, Clint Eastwood (the master of the minimal), Dustin Hoffman, Paul Henreid (subtlety and characterization), Peter Lorre (unique choices), Russell Crowe, Robert DeNiro (doing whatever it takes), Sean Penn, Jimmy Stewart, Jim Carrey (stretching the edge of comedy), Bruce Willis, Laurence Olivier (work ethic, challenging roles), Gene Hackman, Jack Lemmon (the highest standards), Woody Allen (innovation, timing), Michael Douglas, Orson Welles (breakthrough genius), Sidney Poiter (re-forming perceptions with grace and intelligence), Joe Pesci (wildman), Nicolas Cage (wilder man, unafraid), Denzel Washington.
They do great work. They’re fully committed to their roles. They give 100% in their great performances. They take risks. They go places no-one has seen someone on-screen go before. Gotta love that!
And of course, the ladies: Ingrid Bergman (vulnerability, fearless), Diane Keaton (honesty), Audrey Hepburn (grace, charm), Grace Kelly (work ethic), Judi Dench (courage, depth), Jodie Foster (focus, revealing), Katharine Hepburn (wit, intelligence, grace, standards, integrity).
3. Using Worm and Familiar as examples, how did you let (or force) yourself become immersed in these very dark roles?
The process (if you want the result to be an authentic human being) is to find those desires, impulses, thoughts and realities inside yourself. We all think we are kind, good people doing our best in the world. And we are. But the worst serial killing torturer you meet (don’t really do that!) believes the same about himself. So you have to let go of judgement about this person (he is a person after all just like you – now that’s a bit scary!). That takes you from outside looking in to inside looking out. So you don’t force your way in or lose yourself in the role – you find and discover your way in and find yourself to be this person living in these circumstance having these needs, desires, dreams, longings – and problems looking for solutions. Hello. This is you. The darker you. The you you did not know you were. But hey, relax, get to know me and get to know yourself because I’m you, you know and I’ve always been you and I want things too. The things you want. The things you need. The ‘bad’ things. The ‘evil’ things. You’ve always wanted them. They’re not so bad, so evil. That’s just the way you’ve been looking at them. Look at them a different way and you’ll see, like I see, that they are good and right and just and you deserve them, you deserve them all. You know you do. So why deny yourself anymore? No reason. No reason at all. You can have it. Yes, you can. All of it. Here, I’ll show you how. Easy. Just…
Well, that’s how you get in. But can you get out? You find what most don’t want to see – the dark places of the soul, the tortured, grieving, unjustly treated, abandoned, mourning, shunned, outraged, seething cauldron of burning pent-up frustration, desire, lust, horror and devilish delight that you hate to admit you love, you really do. That’s Hell. And it’s got a hold on you. A really good hold. It’s a Black Hole with a pull you can’t resist. Come down deeper. Relax. Go with the flow. You know you love it. Hey, look what I found down here. You know, if you want, we could just…
Hey, I just scared myself!
4. You’ve worked a lot of genres and mediums, is there one you would honestly call your favorite? Why?
Not really. I love them all. They are all forms of art. Wonderful illuminations of the human condition, values, relationships, moral dilemmas, social dynamics and of course, fun and entertaining. I do especially love great Horror, Westerns, SyFy, Film Noire, Romantic Comedies, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Mystery – and I love the fantastic early animations you see in King Kong (the original), Sinbad the Sailor and Jason and the Argonauts. There is something astonishingly magical about them.
5. Tell the Fister Roboto readers a little about some of your upcoming projects and which has you really excited.
‘SICK – Survive the Night’ (Horror) is a feature film by Director Ryan M. Andrews (Script co-written with Chris Cull). Now in post-production. Should be complete by fall, 2012. It begins in a world of turmoil. Two years after the infection began, billions have died, Governments have collapsed and the human race is on the brink of extinction. The human population has taken refuge in isolated enclaves as civilization struggles for existence and the plague continues to spread. I play McKay Jacobs, a civilized, thoughtful man who has reluctantly accepted his role of defender of one such outpost. My abrasive partner is Seph (Richard Roy Sutton), an impulsive man who both gets us into and out of a lot of trouble. Supplies and medicine are scarce and we make dangerous excursions into the cities to secure them with our small but brave ragtag team (Sandra DaCosta, Christopher Thompson, Devin Upham, Cengiz H. Fehmi, Sabrina Tom, Kneel Green)
It is on one of these desperate sojourns that disaster strikes. But we do have allies. Scientists continue to work on a cure. Lead scientist, Dr. Fehmi (Debbie Rochon), works closely with key scientist Dr. Leigh Rozetta (Christina Aceto), a young, maverick scientist who’s been living in a secret underground Government facility since the outbreak began. After constant failed attempts to find a cure, Leigh sneaks away to return to the house of her parents (Astrida Auza, Thomas Gough). We meet up with her but through a series of disasters we are forced to take refuge in a house as night falls and zombies emerge to rule the darkness. There is only one question: can we survive the night?
The feature film, WORM (Fatal Pictures) is in early pre-production. It is based on the horror short WORM which is continuing to receive critical acclaim (over 80 reviews so far) as it ends its festival circuit tour. Written by Richard Powell and produced by Zach Green. Fatal Pictures also produced the horror short FAMILIAR which has its World Premiere Screening on March 2, 2012 at the Projection Booth Theatre in Toronto and the night is sponsored by Fangoria Magazine. FAMILIAR was reviewed by Fangoria Magazine as a “…a chilling, carefully controlled mini-masterpiece…”) and recently previewed in Fangoria Magazine #305.
Also cast in the feature HUMAN PIECES (Horror) by Director Ryan Ellis. Great script! I’m the lead very very bad doctor doing terrible things (you really don’t want to know) who must be stopped. It looks like it will go to camera by mid-2012. It is a thrill-ride with similarities to ‘Bourne Identity’ and ‘James Bond’. I play the devious doctor villain who must be stopped at any cost. From a screenplay by Roy French who has a published series of action-thriller books out (The Raven).
Just cast as a Nazi Interrogator in the DocuDrama OPERATION GREENUP: THE REAL INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (TV) by Driector Min Sook Lee (‘She’s The Mayor’, ‘The Real M*A*S*H*‘). Gotta bone up on my German accent! Shoots Mar. 11. Here’s a clip from ‘She’s the Mayor’ –http://www.earthbook.tv/shesthemayor/
I’m cast as a devious doctor in several episodes of a 13-part web-series called OUT OF TIME (SyFy Thriller) by director Rodney Smith (DOMINION, SYMBIOSIS) shooting soon.
I just completed CASABLANCA RANCH playing Victor Laslo, the idealistic leader of the resistance to Nazi oppression. Adapted from the movie, Casablanca, it is a light humorous dinner-theatre production. Wonderful to get out on stage again and do some comedy.
Toward the spring I’ll be playing the role of an FBI agent in THE PICO INCIDENT (SyFy Feature) investigating the strange incident at an isolated farm house in the US. Things are not what they seem.
LAMB (Horror) is a short film by WRI/DIR Matt Spencer of Lost Mile Studios (http://www.lambmovie.com/) coming up in May. I’ll be working with Astrida Auza again in this, so that will be great. I’ll be a powerful and mysterious stranger who negotiates a horrifying deal with a desperate man involving an awful sacrifice. Trailer here: http://youtu.be/6KUUcu59aVo
In post is PROJECT BREAKWATER (SyFy Mystery Thriller) from WRI/DIR Brian Clement of Handsome Robot Pictures. I’m a mysterious Deep Throat informant – Teaser trailer here: http://youtu.be/s2_1K7pOLC4 – My cast interview here: http://youtu.be/qzeffDL8uSs
Also in post is THE PROSPECTOR’S CURSE (Horror) – by WRI/DIR Josh Heise where I play the Prospector. A wonderful playful horror tale set in 1895 about a long-suffering prospector who finally finds gold. – “The vengeful corpse of an old prospector haunts two gold thieves as they struggle for salvation.” Should be released in May. SFX (and amazing ones!) by The Butcher Shop‘s Carlos Henriques who worked on RED: WEREWOLF HUNTER (I had a scene with the star, Felicia Day).
Just cast in the feature CANSWER (SyFy Mystery) by WRI/DIR Alfredo Salvatore Arcilesi with whom I’ve done four previous short films (GOD’S ACRE, LAVENDER FIELDS among them). Working with actress Kelly-Marie Murtha again, who is busy, talented and really cool too and actress Sarah Cunningham whom I haven’t worked with yet. To be shot in May.
A couple more things in negotiation at the moment.
6. Can you pander to the horror snobs here and tell us your favorite horror film?
The Exorcist is the scariest horror film I ever saw. Kept the lights on for weeks, jumped on and off the bed to avoid that evil underneath and hoped the Sun would never set.
7. Films like Worm and Familiar aren’t at my local Redbox yet. Where can we find the Robert Nolan/Fatal Pictures films?
WORM is nearing the end of its film festival run after garnering several awards and many great reviews. It has been picked up for distribution by American Horrors TV – http://bit.ly/uMcqW5 WORM just premiered on the channel on Feb. 14, 2012 and will be in the cycle of horror screenings. You can also watch for CONSUMPTION by the same Fatal Pictures, also on American Horrors TV. Future distribution may include a DVD release or on iTunes.
FAMILIAR is about to begin its film festival run. The World Premiere Theatrical screening of the film is very soon: March 2 at 9 PM at The Projection Booth Cinema (1035 Gerrard St. E. in Toronto, Canada). Screening before the North American theatrical debut of BATTLE ROYALE. The event is sponsored by Fangoria Magazine with Fangoria writer Kelly Stewart hosting the ‘Fright Nights‘ event. Anchor Bay Entertainment is also a sponsor.
Keep up to date on developments on both WORM and FAMILIAR at the Fatal Pictures website here: http://www.fatalpictures.blogspot.com/
Here’s my contact info. I also post my latest projects on my blog.
Agent – Hines Management (Teri Ritter – 416-463-8773)
* Official Website: http://robertnolan.info/
* IMDB – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0634349/
* Twitter – http://twitter.com/robertnolan
* Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/robert.nolan3
* LinkedIn – http://ca.linkedin.com/in/actorrobertnolan
8. Lastly, what can we, the fans, do to keep you out of films that INSIST on using freaking box cutters?
Kill the writers. Hey, I don’t control them. In fact, they’re out of control. It’s a freakin’ plague of out-of-control horror writers out there. But I know the real story. Box Cutter manufacturers. Yeah, them. They have their greasy, slimy hands in every nook and cranny of writers’ minds. Every one. And they won’t let go. Never. Yeah, sure, call me crazy, kid. Tell me I had Fruit Loops for breakfast again but I’m telling you now. They know where you live. You. They know what you write. Yeah, they know. And they just don’t know things. No, no, no. They do things. Things you don’t ever wanna know what they are. Okay, I warned ya!
Hey, gotta go kid. I’m outta here. Don’t try to look me up. I ain’t got no address no more. I ain’t got no name. And you never seen me, right? Yeah, I’m disappearin’ myself. So who you talkin’ to. There ain’t nobody here but you. Yeah, you. And If you’re smart, if you’re really smart, you smarmy little freak, you’ll do the same as me. Ah, you’re all wet, kid. Look like you been on an all-nighter. Your brain outta ammo? Don’t get so bent. I didn’t mean nothin’. I have a big mouth. But this is a big stink. I gotta get psyched up for what’s out there. You too. Okay, I’m off to my girl. I’m gonna put the moves on her one last time. Maybe make a quick buck and hit the rack by ten. Everything is up for grabs. Ah, what’s the use, you ain’t listenin’! I’m outta this rinky-dink rathole.