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Friday, October 18, 2019


   Go ahead - I dare ya. Head on over to IMDB and give Bill Oberst Jr's page a look and see for yourself the absolutely BLISTERING amount of work this man has pulled off since 2007. He is a complete workhorse in the business, and chances are if you've seen damn-near any horror movie over the last decade you've probably seen his talents. I first had the opportunity to interview him after his incredibly chilling performance in the Facebook short "Take This Lollipop" and I've wanted to pick his brain again ever since. Luckily for us (and all of you as well) the chance to speak with him recently arose when he was gracious enough to call in and discuss his latest role in Devil's Junction: Handy Dandy's Revenge - so grab a cold one (or a warm one - it's getting chilly out there), read on and enjoy!

ZT: Bill, what can you tell us about the film and your character, Mr. Jolly?

BO: Handy Dandy is about a bunch of ventriloquist dummies that aren't quite dummies, and it's set inside of an abandoned television station in Detroit, and my character plays the nemesis of Bill Moseley's character, who was quite fun to work with. I'm the former host of a television show called "The Mr. Jolly and Handy Dandy Show"  - Mr. Jolly has been thought to have been dead for years but...I can't say any more (laughs). The cool thing was we shot in an actual abandoned TV station where lots of shows were shot, including one called "The Mr. Jolly Show" - it really had a creepy feel to it.  

 ZT: An earlier interview that I had I discussed this topic with another actor, and I'd like to get your take on it as well: some actors just seem to have that "perfect fit" with a specific genre, and yours is horror - everything I've seen you in has not only been portrayed perfectly but with a sense of passion - is there something about the horror framework that's in your blood?

 BO: Well, first of all, thank you for saying that - I used to say that it was because of my face. I'm not the traditional handsome guy - I've got these acne scars, but as I've done more and more of these films I've noticed this archetype called "The Wounded Monster" - it's purely psychological - Frankenstein was one - it's the monster that society helps create by the way they were treated. I really identified with that because when I was a kid I was overweight and I had this bad acne, so I was ostracized like hell - I was also into books instead of football, and it was like a creature from another planet, and I think that's why I like these roles so much because no matter how much people seem evil to society, keep it up and sooner or later you'll find a wound. I try to do the same thing Lon Chaney did which was to find the humanity in the monster, and I think that's why it resonates so well - I'm not a good soccer dad. 

 ZT: You've done your share of on-stage work as well as on-camera stuff - do you have a preference? Does one more than the other allow you to expound upon a character's traits and actions?

 BO: Both are very different - live stuff is like a blind date where you meet this audience, and you know you'll never do this again for the first time, and if you're good at the end you'll get a good-night kiss, which is the bow. With film the camera is like a hungry lover - it's voracious, and it wants what it wants RIGHT NOW and if you don't give it, it's going to somebody else, so there's a lot more pressure there. There's much more technical stuff to be aware of with a filmed performance as opposed to a live performance where you can just focus on the emotional stuff. 

 ZT: Which to you is more appealing: the strong, predominant leading role or that cameo shot that comes out of nowhere and just knocks everyone on their asses?

 BO: The second guy - I'm not a leading actor - I mean I've done leads before but they've got to be "messed up" leads (laughs). Now if this was the 40's and 50's and they were still making movies with Roger Corman and Vincent Price and the old Universal Monster stuff, I could be lead in that, but they don't write like that anymore. If I'm the lead I'll generally be a bland character and that's not me. The worst is when someone wants to bring you in for a couple of days just to get your name next to the title of something - they want me to play a sheriff in the middle of an investigation, and he drives up saying "I don't know what's going on here!" - shit like that. But if I get that role I'm going to bring some kind of malevolence to it so the audience says "that son-of-a-bitch did it!"

 ZT: Has there ever been a time where a producer or director came to you with an idea that you refused - no way you'd breach a specific subject?

BO: There's only one thing that I will not do, and that's play a person who says they represent God, or is in touch with God and does something morally despicable. It's a personal thing because of my own faith, and I know that shit goes on -  there's plenty of it in the world, but I don't want to add to it. I'll play a preacher who's bad, but I won't play a preacher who by all appearances seems to be an honest and true man with good intentions but does these horrible things which seem to perceive from his relationship with God - that's my weak point, but I'll eat my own vomit all day long (laughs). 

 ZT: Lastly, what's coming up next for you on the work slate, or does Bill Oberst Jr take a nice, relaxing break for a spell?

BO: Can't do that! You cannot do it! If you stop, you'll probably think "Well, I DO want to stop." No, I can't do that - I need to do this. When I did the movie Dis with Adrian Corona I said "you seem pretty determined to do this movie" and his response was "there's two types of creative people: one that does something for attention, and the ones that do it to get release." We're both the second person there, and I do this because this stuff is inside of me. If I quit I'd go crazy - I have to do this until I die...and hopefully I'll die while I'm doing it, maybe on-camera. 



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