Our 4am interview was not a problem due to international time differences when getting enthusiasm levels up to speak with nice guy, talented, solid performer in creepy paranormal psychological thriller, The Dark and the Wicked. His first horror project, Michael spoke about his ideals as an actor choosing roles, whilst also discussing cherished co-stars, Marin Ireland and Xander Berkely. Enjoy our chat as much as I did.
What drew you to the horror genre on this project.
MA – to be totally transparent Shane I’ve never really been a fan of horror films for no other reason they scare me, I don’t need extra fear or anxiety (laughs) When passed the script one thing I was drawn to it didn’t read like a traditional horror film and characters I felt from the first read were real people, both Bryan (Bertino) director and Marin (Ireland) co-lead agreed we could connect to.
Did anything weird or unusual happen during filming as often happens during a horror movie shoot.
MA – Not really, it was on a farm Bryan grew up on in the middle of nowhere-Texas and very un-Hollwood, we used natural light and buildings that were already there. Ninety percent were overnight shoots it would be 3 in the morning on a meal break, the unique noises you would here in this isolated area pretty eerie. We didn’t have act scared at all the later it got.
Did the location isolation contribute to the sadness of your character.
MA – not the isolation although I tell people this would’ve been the perfect pandemic production, we formed our own bubble, I don’t believe anyone really knew what we’re doing.
You worked with Marin (Ireland) before, you two have screen chemistry, tell me a little about her professionalism and talent.
MA – Marin and I worked back in 2016 on a film (In the Radiant City) I produced also, she and I only had one scene together, but did a lot of work on it. There was actually another actress scheduled to play Louise in Dark and the Wicked, scheduling affected that casting, I said to producers they should consider Marin. In terms of no other actress of my generation who’s equally amazing on stage, on screen, giving massive commitment at all times and she’s a big weirdo, so am I (laughs).
Bryan as a Director does he let you go, or do you stick to script.
MA – Specifically on this film it was a personal production for him, in fact he had written script on the farm. His generosity with two actors who had not been in a horror film before, breaking it down initially, once he got what he wanted, he immediately gave us opportunity to do what we wanted to do. Happy accidents come about and a way of exploring.
Do you see acting as a job or a journey the older you get.
MA – the only reason I consider acting as a job, because I receive a cheque but it’s what I love to do and paid for it, is mind-blowing. I can’t imagine doing anything else, overwhelming at times.
I admire your work, the way you mix up projects taking variable roles.
MA – yes, I get bored quickly at times so it helps not being settled into one type of character. I’m drawn as much to character, story, to who’s leading the ship. I’ve looked closely at roles before I liked but speaking to a director realising the connection isn’t there, I’ve not signed on; having rapport with the captain is as important as a captivating story.
Shudder is a unique platform in a crowded streaming landscape.
MA – Well, Dark and the Wicked, was made to be seen in the theatre from sound design, scoring, cinematography, all films are of an advantage seen in a theatre setting. We’re in unprecedented times, people are drawn more to movies now it seems as a way of escape. I feel like wherever people need to go to find that piece of quality entertainment, swept away in stories, I think it’s great.
For no other reason than not being a horror fan, I had never heard of Shudder (laughs) since release feedback has been unbelievable, the film has found it’s perfect home on Shudder making me happy fans of genre have that medium to go to.
Xander Berkely, a legend, I know he wasn’t on set long, how was he to work with.
MA – in and out like lightening, around for about a day and a half. but I spent time with him, he’s a lot of fun.
An adamant professional knowing exactly what he wanted to do bringing his own personal flair to what Bryan had in mind for him. The first hour on set he had a spider fall out of a tree onto his hat. The spider circles his hat for hours,, he made sure it was ok and in as many shots as possible. Bryan went back and cut the spider out in post as it was a little distracting.