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Interview: Rurik Salle talks his villainous role in Dead Shadows and more!

04.21.2014by: Andre Manseau

French personality RURIK SALLE is very well known in France for his past journalistic work with the world famous horror magazine MAD MOVIES and now METALUNA. He's also an accomplished actor having appeared in SEED OF CHUCKY and the “X AS FOR XXL” segment in ABCS OF DEATH by Xavier Gens. Rurik recently starred in David Cholewa's DEAD SHADOWS as the villain opposite our very own John Fallon aka The Arrow who plays one of the heroes. We asked him about his experience on the shoot and more and here's what he had to say!

You're known in France for your journalistic work. First in Mad Movies and now in Metaluna! How did you catch the acting bug?

I was always interested in acting, and always acted in different things, for as long as I can remember. As a little kid, I was always acting in plays at school, and even sometimes short films. When I grew up, I just kept on doing it. One day, I realized that I had been doing it forever, and I thought “how come I didn’t realize yet that it IS my thing ?”, you know ? Like you’re looking for a flower and you travel the whole world to find it, and one day you find out that it’s always been here, within yourself, always with you.

The moment I realized that acting was that big a passion for me, I just went for it full time, working with great coaches, tried many different things, while trying to be very careful with my choices. Acting is not an occupation for me, it’s actually part of what I am. That’s the only way for me to do things : I gotta be 100% honest with them. Even though acting can be seen as the art of pretending sometimes, I always try to be as close to the truth as I can. When I see Gene Hackman acting, or Mickey Rourke, or Jean-Louis Trintignant, I don’t see actors, I see characters. I’m not comparing myself to them, I admire them ! So that’s what I’m trying to aim for.

What was it about the villainous role in Dead Shadows that appealed to you?

First of all, it was the project in itself. I met David Cholewa at Cannes, and he told me about the thing, and it surprised me! A reasonably-budgeted French sci-fi film with a lot of ambition? Damn, what was that ? I couldn’t say no! Also, David had already seen me play a bad guy in another film, and he chose me precisely. It’s always flattering, you know? It’s not a regular casting where you fight for it, it’s a director coming to you out of nowhere, because he chose you. It’s always a good sign.

You never know how a film is gonna turn out. You can expect a lot of things from a project and it disappoints you, and sometimes you just get onboard a film that turns out to be life-changing. I wouldn’t say Dead Shadows was life-changing, but it definitely became bigger than I expected. I mean, it was released in an awful lot of countries –even Japan, the country of my heart-, and now it’s released in the US by Scream Factory, which seems to be a really cult film company !

Would you say the shoot was tough for you or easy?

I could only speak for myself, but it was mostly easy. Of course, the budget was not big so the overall organisation probably wasn’t the same as the one on Gravity, but it was easy. I got along very well with the crew, especially the actors, and things went on smoothly. I mean, there are probably some ugly things to tell, but I’ll play the Hollywood game with this one, and I will only tell you how great it was. Ahahah… The shooting was rather fast, yet demanding, but I enjoyed it, and I was able to meet John Fallon, someone you might have heard of, and he became a great friend. That’s a cool reward !

You actually have a fight scene with our boss John Fallon aka The Arrow in the film. How did that go?

It was funny, because John and I actually rehearsed a full fight, but of course the shoot went totally differently so we kinda had to improvise on set. I studied screen fighting and fighting techniques with the great action choreographer Manu Lanzi, and fight scenes are always interesting to shoot if you have the freedom and the time to actually create something. My fight with John is actually pretty short in Dead Shadows, because of the shooting schedule and some crew people on the set who wanted to end the shooting night a little earlier, but we managed to do something intense I believe. John might be my friend, he actually really kicked me in the stomach at the end of the fight ! That’s Canadian spirit to you. But he should worry: I’ll get my revenge in our next film together.

Was acting with the VFX a challenge for you?

Not at all, because the VFX-made weird tentacle arm that I have at some point in the film was actually a low-quality claw stuck to my hand, which looked more like a Sesame Street prop than an actual fear-inspiring thing. But luckily, there was a heavy VFX job done on the prosthetic, and it was turned into a great effect that you can see in the final version of the film. I’m actually not a big fan of VFX. I like on-set prosthetics, I think it captures the magic of the films we loved growing up. I gotta believe in it, and I don’t believe in a few pixels stuck to the screen. VFX should only be used when you can’t do it live.

Same thing goes with action scenes : the greatest action scenes are the ones you know are true. In France, we have an acting legend named Jean-Paul Belmondo. He did amaaaaazing things. Actually, to me, in action movie history, there’s Buster Keaton, Jackie Chan, and Jean-Paul Belmondo. These guys are probably the three greatest on earth, when it comes to risk taking. And you know why we remember them ? Because we believe in what they did.

Agreed! Now, do you have more fun playing villains, or do you prefer heroic roles?

I like both. It may sound cliché, but it depends on the role. But I’ll always prefer playing a colorful villain to a bland, empty nice guy. I don’t need to make housewives feel comfortable, I’d rather make them feel naughty out of insecurity and kinkiness! But there are also parts that are somewhere in the middle. For example, Matthew McConaughey in Killer Joe, the incredible Friedkin film. Yeah he’s a killer. Yeah he’s a naughty one. But is he a bad guy, or just a guy doing a filthy job? What about Tom Berenger in Platoon: a soldier turning mad. Is he a villain? These are interesting characters. But I like full-on characters also: I've played a nice funny doctor, a mean father, a drug addict, and it was always a pleasure because the parts were inspiring. I wouldn’t wanna be pigeonholed in one type of thing; I’m willing to try out many things.

Looking back what was your favorite Dead Shadows scene to shoot?

It was the first one I shot, which is also the first time I appear in the film, and the first time I meet John’s character. Lots of firsts! It was cool because it was relaxed, and there was a lot to play with. At first I stay back and let my naughty crew scare the hero. I’m like a menacing presence within the group, but silent. Then I get to talk to the hero nicely, peacefully, but in a frightful way. Then John’s character comes in, and I make fun of him, and then tension rises and I finally leave the scene with an dark look. There was a lot going on in that scene, and it was very interesting shooting it.

Any plans to direct a film yourself in the near future? If so what kind of movie?

Oh yes, absolutely ! Actually, every month I’m directing a web-show that is like a short film, a mixture of fiction and cult culture news, and it’s called Distorsion. I’m also acting in it. It’s a good way to try many things. And yes, I definitely want to direct films, that’s for sure! I have many projects, ideas and desires, they’re actually pretty personal. When it comes to the very near future, I’m about to sign on for a project that I will be directing. It won’t be fiction, but I can tell you, it will be crazy. I’ll be sure to let you know first. In France, we have a saying, and I’m sure you have a similar one: “one should not sell the bear’s skin before killing him”. I haven’t killed the bear, so I won’t sell his skin yet. And I love animals!

I was told that you’re also an accomplished musician. Can you expand on that for us?

Oh yes, I’ve been a musician for ever.  My father offered me different instruments when I was a little kid, like 2 or 3 years old, so it’s always been rather natural to me to play music. I have my instrumental heavy band Fugu Dal Bronx, which is uniting guitar, bass, drums and violin. Reviews wrote things like “a cross between John Carpenter and Megadeth”, and I think it might be true in a way.

We also love Ennio Morricone and Goblin. I’m from italian origins, and it might have something to do with that, ahah.. But we definitely don’t try to copy anything. There’s a lot of different influences, and the music is very personal.  I also write film music. I did a lot of soundtracks to silent films by DW Griffith, and I did some music for a recent John Fallon project called Billy Trigger! It was a privilege to have my music used as the main titles theme to a film starring my friend and Fred Williamson.

What's next for you as an actor?

I am actually involved in several projects these days. One has started shooting, it’s an absurd comedy/thriller feature where everyone is corrupted, and I mean everyone. The director is heavily into politics, and the film is a great slap in the face to the extreme right wing. I play an old-school, ridiculous cop in this one.

I have a few other feature projects as well, including another sci-fi film from France. And I also happen to be working on one project with your John Fallon. We have a great friendship, we had on-screen chemistry in Dead Shadows, and we definitely don’t wanna leave it at that. I won’t tell you more, because the movie world is an always-changing world, but when our project gets made the way we want to to, it will be fantastic.

I’m actually interested a lot in acting more in English. I’m fluent, which is cool, and the music of the language is very different from French. I feel comfortable with that, and I hope to get a lot of opportunities. I mean, if you wanna have a great film, you gotta have a French guy in it! ;)


You can get DEAD SHADOWS on DVD HERE and on BLU-RAY HERE!

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