Sean Patrick Flanery is one of the more iconic actors of this generation. He played a crucial part of the horror franchise “SAW”, and also starred in “Suicide Kings”, “Indiana Jones”, among many other classics. Well known for his friendship with screen sidekick and fellow actor; “The Walking Dead” star Norman Reedus, Flanery opened up in our interview about some of the horror classics, as well as some Indies I’m sure many horror fans will want to get their hands on.
BREE: Starting out with the obvious fan choice of you and Reedus, what do you think made “Boondock Saint’s” the cult classic it became?
FLANERY: I think a couple of things. One – it didn’t have a marketing campaign behind it to tell people to like it, so it’s kind of like your favorite obscure band that you discover. Part of what’s so appealing is that you’re the only one who’s privy to it – you know what I mean? If there’s a billboard every time you turn a corner with “Big explosions”, “You’re going to love it!” or “Go see this film, every critic gave it five stars!” – it’s like, okay. So there’s a certain appeal there. And also, I think it’s saying something that was pretty accurate, like some of the lines in the film like “You should be on every street corner”. Everybody wanted something like this to happen. There are a lot of people that do heinous crimes and they go away for three months and then get out on bail, and that pisses a lot of people off. This was a film that was saying, “This is fucked up. They should fucking die.” It was saying what a lot of people were thinking.
BREE: What made you want to get into acting?
FLANERY: A chick – same thing as everything in my life. A chick. It always goes back to that. Every dude will tell you the same thing, unless they’re liars.
BREE: Haha, so you got into acting to get chicks?
FLANERY: Well, not exactly. I went to the University of St. Thomas, and I saw the most beautiful girl that I’d ever seen at the time, leaving a building every morning. So as every red-blooded boy would do, I went to business affairs and I dropped an English class and signed up for whatever the fuck they were teaching in that building. It ended up being the theater department. So I got into it. When I graduated, I wrote a piece of children’s theater and I was going to move out to LA and produce the play, and that’s how things happened.
BREE: Out of all your TV and movie roles, what production would you say you are most proud of?
FLANERY: It depends on the criteria, but final product wise, definitely “Powder”. I’m proud of that as a final product. You know, it’s the nature of the beast. That wasn’t necessarily the most fun to film – it was the most creatively rewarding – but not the most fun.
BREE: “Powder”, was gut wrenching. Did you find that role more strenuous than others?
FLANERY: Honestly? No. There are some people that will act like acting is this big tumultuous process; I don’t find it as such. I don’t have to go to a place of tragedy to pull out a character. Other people claim they do – good for them. I don’t think it’s that taxing of a job; and that’s not to make light of it, I love the craft, but I don’t think you have to pee on yourself and live on the street to play a homeless person – I think you can imagine what that would be like.
BREE: Now, I know you also have a black belt. With your advanced fighting background, do you favor doing your own stunts?
FLANERY: Started martial arts when I was nine. I got into Brazilian jujitsu in the 90’s … Now I have an academy in LA. I’m there pretty much every day if I’m in town, teaching. It’s a huge part of my life. So absolutely, I do my own stunts all the time. With stunts, it comes down to this – usually when you have a stunt man, it’s because they can do whatever the action is more gracefully than you. I’m the first person to let somebody be graceful for me if it were the proper situation. Like I would let somebody double for me if it were a dance. If there were some ballroom dancing I would let them double my ass, cause it would make me look good. Anything that is complimentary – anything that makes you look like you have a high proficiency in something that the character is supposed to have a proficiency at, but in some areas of my life, I’ve been an athlete since I was six years old. So I would not make them shoot a scene to the point where you could tell it wasn’t me, if it was something I could do just as well.
BREE: Here we are at Wizard World… I know you and Reedus do these conventions together often. When you’re not training or travelling, what are some of the recent projects you got involved in?
FLANERY: I'm about to start “Kepler’s Dream", I’m leaving to go to Bulgaria in three days to film the movie … it’s a movie about operation Valkyrie, where they tried to assassinate Hitler in WWII. (Thus the new WWII haircut). I’ll be there for a month and a half. And I have a book coming out April 4th. It’s a novel I wrote – it’s about that person you meet when you’re a kid that kind of, gives you that first perspective on life’s before and after. It’s about that first taste of love … that gives you that feeling that you wind up unsuccessfully chasing the rest of your life. It’s about that moment. That first, I mean first feeling, it’s like a high. It’s that feeling. Some adults in hindsight discount it as puppy love, but if you think about it, it’s a monumental moment, that first feeling – you’re like what the fuck is this?
BREE: “Suicide Kings” will forever be a favorite of mine. The cast and storyline are one of those that have such a dynamic that you never forget seeing it. What’s one of your favorite off camera moments from filming?
FLANERY: Ah, “Suicide Kings” with Christopher Walken. We would go and get Chinese food and he would always make me imitate the waitress who was oriental. Every time we would walk in there she would say “spring roll Mr. Walken? Spring roll Mr. Walken?” and he’d laugh his ass off and say “Dude, Sean, do the waitress. Do the waitress!” And I would. He would laugh his ass off. On set he would go “Sean do the waitress please, it’s hysterical”, and I’d bust out laughing while trying to film. But yes, it’s a movie I’m proud of – thank you. It’s funny because, I call my mom for every film. I’d be so excited, telling her all the actors that were in it, and she’d just be like “that’s nice honey. Are you eating well?” But then I got a gig on Young and the Restless, a soap opera, and the way she acted you would have thought I was Elvis fucking Presley.
BREE: Do you ever find it difficult to tap into character?
FLANERY: So many people in this industry create these tumultuous upbringings, like being raised in the streets or having abusive parents – and I would never make light of that if it happened, that’s terrible – but then you go to a premiere and meet them and their parents are still married and you come to see that they all actually gets a long, it’s like they make up a story in their mind to build up about pulling their craft from some horrific experience. My mom and dad are stellar individuals. I love them. No horrible stories.
BREE: What’s one horror scene you remember as being literally uncomfortable during?
FLANERY: “SAW”. It was probably the least bizarre set we used, but in the scene I’m using pliers to pull my molar out. Well, they were real pliers, so pinching on your tooth with a real pliers – ugh, just the feel of the metal on your tooth, and then having to pinch down, it was the weirdest feeling. Plus I had to run into the wall, so if I held that pinch and hit the wall too hard, it would have yanked my actual tooth out. All the other things in “SAW” were fake sets – like the razor blades I was pulling out of her throat were made of rubber and what not – but the pliers were disconcerting to say the least.
BREE: “Devil’s Carnival” isn’t a widely known horror film, but the unsettling premise of the reliving your sins is one I found intriguing. Can you talk a little about that one?
FLANERY: Okay, “Devils Carnival”. It had some other actors from SAW as well. It’s killer. Like, it’s really pretty cool. I haven’t seen the second one, but the first one is cool. The devil has a carnival. At this carnival, you have an opportunity to possibly fix them – relive them – correct things. It’s a neat concept for a film. I believe the point is to saturate yourself with sinning, before you start correcting… ‘Cause if you can get a correction, then I say lets get a shit load of sinning in before you go fix it! You get a ticket, come in, wander around, and you experience different things from your life. I don’t want to say much more, but it’s really an awesome film.
*This interview with Sean Patrick Flanery and myself originally published in Scream Horror Magazine, and is available at stores in the UK and US.