Q&A: Pat Healy & Ethan Embry on “CHEAP THRILLS”; Win a Blu and Mondo Poster!
There’s a reason we’re still talking CHEAP THRILLS, and have been for over a year now. From its world premiere at SXSW, the small, stylish, thoughtful feature debut from Evan Katz was immediately recognized as something special. It’s a biting film, both hilarious and horrifying in equal measure and not unwilling to slap anyone in its vicinity. As the film arrives on DVD & Blu-ray, primed for endless revisits where it loses zero effect—the sound design on the finger chop is always that stark—FANGORIA finishes our talks with the film’s principal cast.
Anchored by two fantastic performances from Pat Healy and Ethan Embry, CHEAP THRILLS examines the lengths those with less will go to for more, including the devaluing of themselves and each other. Healy and Embry spoke to Fango about the film’s range of theme, one that hits wider societal truths, as well as more personal notes for both actors
FANGORIA: How did you initially connect with the themes of CHEAP THRILLS?
PAT HEALY: I’m not wealthy, I need to work. I’ve never had to do anything this extreme for money, but I can certainly relate. It’s not that far of a leap for me to rationalize all the things that my character does in the movie.
ETHAN EMBRY: Look at my entire career, I’ve done a lot of shitty things [laughs].
HEALY: We could argue some of those things we’ve done as movies are worse crimes of humanity. We were talking about all kinds of themes. I like the role that I have, because I get to go from A-Z and play every emotion in the book, but so does Ethan. He is this character who is rough, but his vulnerability really comes out in the end, too. I also like that you can see through the eyes of David and Sara’s characters. That’s what you enjoy if you like watching JACKASS, enjoy people debase each other. Which I think most of what reality television is, people feeling better about themselves by watching people debase themselves.
EMBRY: It’s pretty easy to feel like you’re doing alright after an episode of HONEY BOO BOO.
HEALY: Yeah, it makes you feel superior.
EMBRY: The theme that pulled me to this originally, I had just recently had to—I have a thirteen year-old boy and I just recently had to pack up his room and put all my shit in storage and move him to his mom’s house, because I couldn’t afford to continue the rent that I had. That was one of the most painful experiences as a parent, to not be able to afford a roof over his head for two months. In that period, I don’t know how far I would’ve gone if someone presented the same options to me. When you’re having hard times, I don’t know if it’s a normal train of thought, but bank robbery doesn’t sound like that bad of an idea. Spending my last ten grand on a kilo in Mexico doesn’t seem like that bad of a fucking idea.
HEALY: That night we had dinner before the movie, when we met, we discussed there were certain things that didn’t seem so far out of reach. I don’t have kids, but I went through that period in my thirties when I basically lost everything over a relationship. Lost my car, lost my home. I couch surfed and stuff, but I really didn’t know where to go. I was really just depressed and down and out for about two years. My career was…
EMBRY: When Adam Levine hit me on my motorcycle, I was fucking stoked [laughs].
HEALY: When was that?
EMBRY: Right before we started shooting.
HEALY: I didn’t realize it was him.
EMBRY: As soon as I hit the pavement, I was stoked. The last thing I saw was Aston Martin. I was sitting there, cracked rib, busted hip, torn apart heel and I’m going, “I’m gonna be ok.” [Laughs]
FANG: Ethan, you’re clearly publicized as being in the movie, but when you take off your hat much later in the film, there’s this realization. It really hits the viewer. Have you seen that reaction a lot?
EMBRY: It’s funny, I’ve been trying to change the roles that I take and the perception… There’s a show called BROTHERHOOD on Showtime and the reason I’m in CHEAP THRILLS is because Evan [Katz, director] was a fan of BROTHERHOOD. It’s another one of those things where we did three seasons of it, I’m in the opening credits and people who are big fans of the show are like, “Who were you?”
HEALY: I like that show, too and I had forgotten.
EMBRY: You don’t tie it. I was like 220 pounds and you don’t tie me together with that. And I love that shit, man. That’s the biggest compliment. When I get asked if I’m still acting and people have seen the movie. “I just finished this.” “I saw that!” That’s the biggest compliment in the world. I’m glad that you can’t recognize me. I don’t want people to tie me to the roles that I’m doing.
HEALY: It’s been a blessing and a curse, for me. People don’t tend to recognize me from roles, even though they like me. I just like to switch it up a lot. Now, I’m more comfortable in my own skin, so I’m more comfortable with being myself more. It’s a blessing, because “oh, he’s great, he can play anything.” It’s a curse, because people I don’t have a certain type to be locked into. It’s a blessing for my artistic sensibilities and kind of a curse for my financial. But it’s ok. For the first time in my career, I feel really nourished by the work. The work is really satisfying now. I’m really getting to sink my teeth into stuff and do great things.
But I don’t think I was ready for it before. I had a lot of things out of my life before I could get to this place where I was really comfortable with myself. I think you get really good once you just relax and you’re not trying so hard; you’re just diving in and doing the work. It helps a lot when you have great people and you get to shoot long takes actually talking to them and do real acting.
EMBRY: What’d you say, you’re 42?
HEALY: Yeah. I feel like I’ve been waiting all this time to finally grow into this age. I was playing the dads in the high school play, and spraying the thing across the side of my head to have gray hair. All the actors that we love are this age. There was a golden age of that in the 70s, with Duvall and Hackman…
EMBRY: Oh, I’d definitely put is in that category [laughs].
HEALY: Those guys were character actors who became leading men, and they became leading men when they were older. It doesn’t happen as much now, because everybody looks like a 23 year-old.
To win CHEAP THRILLS on Blu-ray and its stunning accompanying Mondo poster (above) from lauded artist Jay Shaw, e-mail Sam@Fangoria.com with the subject “CHEAP THRILLS” and tell me what cocktail David Koechner’s Colin asks the boys to make in the film. For more on CHEAP THRILLS, see our review here.