Interview With Actor Ethan Embry

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by: Jerry Smith

Bratty private school kid. Silly bass player. High as hell record store clerk..Ethan Embry has played them all. From DUTCH to THAT THING YOU DO! to CAN'T HARDLY WAIT, Embry made a name for himself early on with playing likable nice guy roles in films that STILL play regularly in most homes.Showing he had many other sides to his acting ability, Embry appeared as tough as hell characters in the much loved CHEAP THRILLS and TV's Brotherhood. His versatility is one for the books and in Sean Byrne's THE DEVIL CANDY (now in theaters and on VOD), Embry gives audiences what, in this writer's opinion, is his best performance to date. Playing Jesse, a heavy metal-loving painter who has to fight demonic forces, both physical and supernatural to save his family, Embry brings an emotion and presence to the film that is unparalleled. We spoke to the actor about his choice to be in the film and what he'd like to do next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DCP: 

 I saw THE DEVIL'S CANDY at Fantastic Fest two years ago and it really stood out to me, the core of the film and the relationships within it really hit home for me.

 

Embry: 

 I'm glad you liked that element of it, that was the main thing for me when I approached the film. I really hate the stigma of the culture or subculture of people like us, you and me, who have kids. We're no different than the typical people out there.

 

DCP: 

Yeah, I agree 100%. There's such a pressure on people like us to "grow up" when we have kids and to let go of creativity and so on, so to see a film really approach just that and kind of shine a light on the relationship between a father and daughter in that world, it was refreshing.

 

Embry: 

Awesome, I'm so happy you latched onto that. When I started to work on the film, the first I did is kind of what I always do, break down the script. Especially one like this one, where it deals with madness, you really have to figure out a way to progress it so it doesn't just snap out of the blue. So first and foremost, before I even started breaking down the script, at the top of it, I wrote THIS. IS. A. LOVE. STORY. And that was it. For me, the whole thing was about the dad and daughter and about their love.

 

DCP:

 

There was a great Q & A back at that year's Fantastic Fest..

 

Embry:

 

I really wish I would have known it was going on, man! I would have went!

 

DCP:

 

It was a lot of fun, they gave us all a shirt with that Bukowski quote from the film.

 

Embry:

 

"Find what you love and let it kill you"? That's awesome.

 

DCP:

 

Yeah. At the Q & A, Keith Calder mentioned that Sean Byrne had went through a lot of changes regarding the direction the script was going and at one point, the character of Jesse worked at a call center, as opposed to being a painter. Did you ever see any o f those earlier versions of the script, or was your character always the metal loving painter in all you read?

 

Embry:

 

Those ones I never saw. Where I picked it up was right around a year before we started shooting the movie and he was always an artist. One part in that script that we ended up not using was this little montage at the begining, where you get kind of a little backstory of Jesse's character, where it explains that he was kidnapped and molested as a child. There were little pieces of scenes involving that where we shot them but ende dup trimming them out, little dialogue exhanges where it kind of clued into that. What made me really want to do it was first and foremost the relationship aspects but also it was a chance to portray someone who was into the darker aspects of music and that type of person. The character was written without it ever feeling like a caricature or satire of that kind of person, it felt genuine. It was cool to portray someone who was a little more like the way I raise my kid.

 

DCP:

You have no idea how close that character is to me as a person, so it felt really awesome to finally see a character in a film that wasn't comic relief or a silly exaggerated version of the things I'm into. One of the many things I love about the film is that while there are most definitely those terrifying moments that are uncomfortable to watch...

 

Embry:

Yeah, it gets uneasy, doesn't it! (Laughs).

 

DCP:

Seriously! One of the many things I love about the film is how the horror almost feels second place to the relationship drama aspects of the film, almost as if the horrific elements are there to serve the relationship. Those are my favorite types of horror films.

 

Embry:

Those are my favorite horror films too, where the scares feel like additions to amplify everything else.

 

DCP:

You mentioned the father/daughter aspects of the film kind of drew you into it, did you perhaps base anything on your own background of being a father?

 

Embry:

Oh, totally. Right on the script, it completely reminded me of my son and I. My son is now 17, but the early family stuff definitely reminded me of my relationship with my son. He has own influences now but when he was younger, it was all about going to Metallica shows or Misfits shows together (laughs).

 

DCP:

My kids are super into Slipknot and I'm still not sure how to respond to that. "That's awesome, I love that band with a passion, but you guys...." (Laughs).

 

Embry:

(Laughs). Yeah! People like to put people like us and our relationships with our kids down and say, "You're his parent and not his friend," which I do agree with, but there SHOULD be a friendship between a parent and their kid and that strong foundation to the relationship. Sure, sometimes I probably tend to make decisions based on that friendship first and maybe that's where I've maybe made mistakes in the past, but the friendship with my son is such an important part of my relationship with him.

 

DCP:

I'm really into metal and the whole genre of music surrounding that. You mentioned going to shows and stuff, where you pretty stoked to be knee-deep in all of that stuff with the film?

 

Embry:

Totally and they did a really great job with portraying it authentically, from the posters on the wall right down to the style of the wardrobe. Keith and Jess Calder (Producers) are really great about stylistic choices and we went through a couple of designers before really finding someone who got what the world was about. It's one thing to just have me wear my own clothes, but we needed multiples of everything, so finding that person who got it was important.

 

DCP:

How as it working with Sean (Byrne)? I love the guy's work.

 

Embry:

He's very kind and very gentle for the kinds of films he makes (laughs). My son and I watched THE LOVED ONES before I had to go meet with Sean and the day of meeting him, my son and I thought it would be cool to skateboard to the meeting. When we got there, my son took off to do his own thing and when it was over and I met back up with my son, he said, "Wait, THAT was the guy who made THE LOVED ONES?!" (laughs). You wouldn't expect it. Sean's a perfectionist  on set, in a good way and he's seriously one of the best directors I've ever worked with.

 

DCP:

You've played so many different characters, I'm curious, are there any kind of people you'd love to play that you perhaps haven't had the chance to yet?

 

Embry:

 I want to do a war movie! My character in CHEAP THRILLS had a physicality to him but he used to just to intimidate people. If you get a role in a war movie or something like that, you can't just get the part and show up a month later, so I've been working really hard to get the physicality down in case a job comes along (laughs). So I'm going to try to get just as big as I possibly can so that the ONLY role I'd be good at would be in that kind of a movie, a good guy of course.

 

DCP:

I can see you reading for a comedy and the people being "Uh this guy is great, but he's just WAY too cut!"

 

Embry:

(Laughs) Right?! They might be a little mad at me when I go back to shoot Grace & Frankie. I'll have to hide my arms in a love sleeve shirt or something.

 

DCP:

You know, Hugh Jackman is done with playing Wolverine now,..hint hint..

 

Embry:

Man, I would kill for a role like that. I like getting dirty and being physically exhausted. I'd love to play a role like that one.

 

DCP:

Let's start the campaign now, "Embry for Logan!"

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